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Old 05-20-2018, 10:58 PM
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RickI RickI is offline
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Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: Florida
Posts: 8,697

Matheson Hammock has a long history in the Kiting Community. Lonny Morris was there before anyone else for kiting and wrote a summary of the history on Facebook. I thought it would be good to include that history here. Thanks Lonny!

"Lonny Morris: ... since you started kiting @ Matheson in 2010 I think you need a bit of a history lesson on the spot. I was the first person to ride Matheson with a kite in 2000. It was an old windsurfing spot that actually used to have an active windsurfing scene. Although due to the shallow water it was never a great spot because you couldn’t ride there much of the time with the tide. After I started kiting I realized the shallow flat waters would make an epic spot to kite for freestyle training, and thus it became my main spot and soon many others joined. And it was epic, for a time...

The evolution of Matheson was, as you might expect, very natural. Friends came, students learned, people visited and stayed. We were all quite innocent in relation to the dangers of kiting that are obvious today, and especially those unique to Matheson and the “beach” parking lot. Around 2003 Matheson was becoming quite crowded. If you can imagine a Wild West scene occurring at a beach that was Matheson with issues almost every day. Several people had been substantially injured by then, with blunt force trauma injuries, kite lines taking fingers and one very close friend being so substantially injured that he eventually lost his life in 2004. That is something none of us that knew him will ever forget. We loved our spot, and a few of us knew we had to start some form of self-regulation to protect innocent riders that didn't know better and protect access for the rest of us.

The sign that Rick posted was produced and installed by me in 2004. It was based on a number of rules that were being initiated at several kite spots across the country at the time as well as some issues that pertained mainly to Matheson. I sought out Rick's guidance at the time because he was and still is the preeminent authority when it comes to kite safety. No single person has done more to protect kiting access in Florida than Rick, and we all owe him a debt of gratitude for his efforts. As you can imagine with several issues related to kitesurfing at Matheson, the park management started to take notice of the activities at the beach and it was not in positive light. By 2005 we had 3 or more schools teaching, most of them doing nothing to preserve access to the space, nor obeying the self-imposed regulations that were well known, and in fact, only made it more dangerous for everyone. There were also several riders that simply didn’t want to be regulated, told how to kite, or felt they knew better because they thought they were better. Several of us worked tirelessly - paying for buoys, raking the beach of rocks, getting in arguments with riders, trying to appease park management regarding their issues, and spending hours simply policing the beach. When I say I and the many other riders that gave their time to protect the spot didn’t sign up for that, I can assure you we didn’t and it took much of the love and stoke away from Matheson.

By the time Adventure Sports began the concession at Matheson in 2010, the County had reached an impasse with kiting and was preparing to shut down the spot permanently. Self-regulation with the riders had not achieved the results necessary to safely allow kiting to continue in the eyes of the County. Quite simply, had it not been for the actions of Adventure Sports there would be no kiting at Matheson period. Within 3 months under Adventure Sport’s stewardship Matheson was a wonderful place to kite once again. I could just show up, pump up my kite and ride – no aggravation, or nightmares. If anyone could be bitter about paying a fee to do that don’t you think I would be? Guess what, I am not, and in fact, I am also paying member at 76th, and Crandon. Why? Because the sport I love as much as life, whether we like it or not, has to be regulated, must be managed, and we as a community need to support the companies that are performing the management. As long as the costs are reasonable, we should be willing to help support the companies/people that are managing our kite spots, not because it is legal under the strictest application of a deed, but because it is the right thing to do."

FKA, Inc.

transcribed by:
Rick Iossi
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