FKA Kiteboarding Forums  

Go Back   FKA Kiteboarding Forums > General Discussion > Kiting Magazine Articles > Popular Publications
Connect with Facebook

Thread Tools Display Modes
Prev Previous Post   Next Post Next
Old 03-10-2007, 10:29 PM
admin's Avatar
admin admin is offline
Site Admin
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 224
Default Naples Illustrated

"Flying High"

By Chris Wadsworth ( NAPLES ILLUSTRATED)

As the sun begins its lazy descent, a lone man rips through the waters 50 yards off a Naples beach. His kite, more parachute than child's toy, billows above him, pulling him and the board he rides first north, then south along the shoreline.

An unusually strong late afternoon gust of wind yanks at the figure on the water, sending him soaring 10, then 20 feet into the sky. For a moment, he hangs there, suspended above the sea before smoothly splashing down again.
Another joins the intrepid adventurer. Now two figures cut through the surf, then a third appears, and a fourth.
This is no mere coincidence. These men are kiteboarders who come together to chase the wind and the waves. They are a band of brothers — onshore and off — encouraging, teaching, lending a hand and, at times, protecting each other from the extremes of their chosen sport.

Jordan Poppa personifies the typical Neapolitan kiteboarder. Young, athletic and, contrary to stereotypes, nary a beach-bum bone in his body.

He's a property manager with Welsh Companies Florida Inc., a local commercial real estate company, who lives in North Naples with his wife of one year and his kite of five."I started off wakeboarding and snowboarding. That's how I got into board sports," says Poppa, 24, who went to school at Eckerd College in St. Petersburg. "One of my roommates was a really good windsurfer and wanted to experiment with kiteboarding. Back in 2001, 2002, most people learned by themselves or through a friend. That's how I got into it."Indeed, kiteboarding gurus speak of the 1990s as if it were another era entirely — and perhaps it was.Kiteboarding — also sometimes called kitesurfing — only developed as a sport on the beaches of France in the 1980s,according to Aaron Sales, editor of Kiteboarding Magazine. For the next decade or more, it was a fringe sport with athletes cobbling together homemade equipment. It wasn't until 1999 that the sport erupted into the mainstream in Maui. Famed surfers, including Laird Hamilton and Rush Randall, got a hold of some kites and kiteboarding caught fire."The first time you catch air, it allows you to fly," says Sales. "There are very few other sports that give you wings. It's the excitement of being able to harness the power of the kite, being pulled up in the air, being able to steer and coming down for a soft landing."Today, Sales estimates there are about 150,000 kiteboarders worldwide, about 25,000 of them in the United States.

Opposite: What a rush! Top right: Enrique Gianello went from novice to professional instructor in three years. Bottom right: Djindil first saw kiteboarding on television in Canada, and then tried it himself when he moved to Naples.

Poppa is happy to be among this elite group. He was taken the first time he tried kiteboarding."It's like taking off in a helicopter," he says of the leaps that can go 30 feet into the air and higher. "There's a sense of weightlessness. When you jump, there's a sense of calm. You're up in the air and everything gets quiet except your lines whistling in the wind."Poppa's kiteboarding buddies in Naples include dentist Al Djindil, anesthesiologist Lee Anderson and Enrique Gianello, the owner of Gianello Tile & Marble and one of the few cer tified kiteboard instructors in Southwest Florida.These men, and perhaps a few dozen other kite enthusiasts in Southwest Florida — including a professional photographer and a bail bondsman — make up a gang of sorts.

"It's a very tight group of people," says Djindil, 33. "That's not to say newcomers aren't welcome — they always are, but because there aren't many of us and it's kind of an extreme sport, there is a camaraderie."

Djindil and his wife, fellow dentist Andrea Cameron, are originally from Canada, where Djindil first saw kiteboarding on television. He was intrigued, even fascinated by it. When the couple moved their practice to Naples in 2003 and bought a bungalow near the beach, the kiteboarding bug bit hard.

"I was walking down the beach one day, and I saw a cou recalls. "I approached them, talked to them, researched it online, bought the gear and got hooked. The rest is history."

Djindil initially spent about $1,500 on a kite, board, har ness, helmet, gloves and assorted kiteboarding gear. He says this is a standard investment for a newbie to the sport.

As a passionate kiteboarder, Djindil spends much of his time in between seeing patients checking detailed meteoro won't do when you need precise data on wind direction and speeds, tides, currents and more.

When weather conditions are right, Naples kiteboarders turn out to their favorite haunts — the beach at 18th Avenue South, Tigertail Beach on Marco Island and Lighthouse Beach on Sanibel Island.

When the wind and surf are up, you will find the group helping each other set up, launching one another's kites and attaching them to the harnesses all kiteboarders wear. They also keep watch for trouble.

"We're all kind of looking out for each other and making sure nobody gets hurt," Djindil says. "We also have a real good rapport with the beach patrol guys because they're the ones keeping an eye on us."

These wary and watching eyes can sometimes prove to be very important. Kiteboarding is an extreme sport and one that can prove dangerous, even deadly.

Rick lossi of Boynton Beach is an experienced kite-boarder and the founder of the Florida Kitesurfing Association. He tracks kiteboarding accidents and has reports on 49 fatalities worldwide since 2000. The most likely factor in a kiteboarding accident is something called a lofting, a common kiteboarding term lossi himself coined six years ago after a gust of wind picked up his kite, dragged him across the beach and through a grove of trees and slammed him into a fence.

"If a kite is sitting up there, and you see a sudden boost in wind velocity, very likely you're going straight up and straight downwind," lossi says. "If there is something hard downwind — even sand has knocked people into a coma — you're very likely going to be hurt." No matter how safe they play it, nearly every kite-boarder has at least one frightening tale to tell.

"It's not unusual to have the kite get out of control and start dragging you underwater like a submarine," Anderson says. "You're kind of twisting and turning out of control."

Anderson took up the kite-board in 2005. Today, at 58, this anesthesiologist with Naples Community Hospital clearly doesn't fit the image of a sun-blond surfer boy tearing it up and performing tricks for the ladies — although his wife does get a kick out of his hobby. "She thinks it's fun to watch," he says.

Instead, Anderson, who calls himself an "old windsurfer just trying something new," has taken the recommended approach to kiteboarding — professional lessons, including a recent week at a kiteboarding school on South Padre Island in Texas.

Training is the mantra of the kiteboarding community. The majority of injuries and deaths occur when people haven't been properly trained. "It's kind of like learning how to defuse mines — it's not something you want to learn as you go along," Anderson says.

Enrique Gianello took the fast track to kiteboarding — from complete novice in 2003 to professional instructor three years later, with a few rough patches in between.

The native Argentinean's first exposure to the sport came while he was on vacation. He was crossing the Sunshine Skyway Bridge, which spans the mouth of Tampa Bay, when he spotted something in the distance, something that looked like mushrooms floating in the air. Those mushrooms were kites.

"I started going down the other side of the bridge, and the kites were getting bigger and bigger and bigger," recalls Gianello, 42. "When I got down to the beach, I saw these guys gliding on the water. I got so hooked."
His early kiteboarding days were riddled with trial and error, including a broken toe and other injuries. Nonetheless, Gianello persevered and, earlier this year, he traveled to the Dominican Republic where he trained and received his instructor's license.

He's now opening a school in Naples called Wind Stalkers Kiteboarding. He hopes to share his passion with others; the excitement he feels about the sport is palpable.

"Kiteboarding is addictive," he says. "You get hooked as soon as you see the kite — it's so majestic in the air. When you fly the kite, you feel like it is a part of you. When you get on the board, you feel freedom. You're gliding over the water with so much power. It's impossible to go back."

Who are the typical Neapolitan kiteboarders? Regulars say it runs the gamut. There are teens out learning on calm days while older folks cruise by them on leisurely sails. There are young men jumping and twisting and turning, try such as Damien Leroy, a top-ranked professional kiteboarder who calls Naples home. There are hard-core athletes enjoying the all-over muscle pump from a marathon kiteboarding session.

"You use your entire body," says the tall, toned Djindil. "You're edging really hard with the board against the wind. Your upper body is steering the kite, and you're leaning back ... to balance the pull of the kite."
And yes, there are the beach bums — all bronzed skin, coated in a sheen of salt, hair tousled and wind-whipped. They are a part of the scene, and, with a paternal pride and maybe a bit of envy, the regulars watch out for them too.

"This is their passion and what they want do, and you can't fault them for that," Poppa says. "If they want to take a couple of good years out of their lives while they're still young and just kiteboard — why not?" NI
Reply With Quote

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump

All times are GMT -5. The time now is 12:30 PM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.11
Copyright ©2000 - 2024, vBulletin Solutions Inc.

Do not advertise outside of [COM] Forums.
Do not show disrespect for others in your postings.
Users can be denied access to this Site without warning.
FKA, Inc., it’s officers and moderators are not responsible
for the content of the postings and any links or pictures posted.

Report Problems by PM to “administrator” or via email to

Copyright FKA, Inc. 2004, All Rights Reserved.