I’m sure that almost all of my fellow children of the 1990’s have woken up on Christmas morning and after a few hours and a lot of help from Daddy eventually transformed a box of sticks and paper into that marvel that was, and is, the kite. After a week of compulsive kite flying, we would find ourselves the proud owners of two sticks and a piece of canvas that would be left in a cupboard to moulder along with the roller skates, Tamagochis and all the other short-lived fads of the 90’s.
However, there are a growing number of people of all ages who never quite got around to putting that kite away. Our generation’s need for speed has led to the combination of the relatively mild pastime of kite-flying and the not-so-mild sport of surfing to create the completely insane pseudo-sport of kiteboarding.
At first glance kiteboarding looks less like a sport and more like a prolonged form of suicide, with kiters burning through the waves and pulling off jumps, flips and spins that appear to circumvent gravity. Forget diamonds – gale force wind is a kiter’s best friend, and the search for the perfect conditions means that kiters can show up on almost every beach in Ireland.
One of the best areas in the country for wind and waves is the northwest of Ireland. Unsurprisingly, the many beaches of Leitrim, Sligo and Donegal regularly sport a fleet of multicoloured power kites blasting along the shores. Realising this, three kiteboarders from the Sligo area have decided to make living out of doing what they love best and have set up a company offering lessons and equipment to new and experienced kiters – LSD Kiteboarding.
The school is the brainchild of Peter, Eamon and Paul Armstrong. The boys started kiting nearly ten years ago with homemade kite buggies and boards and learned how to do everything the hard and painful way. Now fully qualified kiting instructors, the team’s goal is to introduce others safely and quickly to their highly addictive hobby of kiteboarding. Whether offering a beginners package or advanced one-on-one lessons with Eamon – the current Irish champion – the instructors draw on their years of experience to create lessons to suit any student. With kiteboarding, the sky really is the limit.