Thursday, September 3 , 2015, 9:34 pm | Fair 69.0º




Captain’s Log: Hanging on Air to Harness the Power of Wind

Look up and around, and just might see the brave of heart hang gliding or kite surfing

By Capt. David Bacon, Noozhawk Columnist |

Harnessing the power of wind to lift off the surface is living a fantasy we share with our ancestors. Our afternoon sea breezes create perfect conditions along our coast for getting our feet off the ground or water and appreciating a look at our world from a bird’s-eye view.

Hang gliding is a hoot, and I grin big-time when these folks just step off a cliff, run down an incline facing the wind, or allow a stronger wind to lift them in place. Talk about a leap of faith!

I freely admit, however, that once accustomed to stepping into the air, it would be a blast to hang on air and maneuver about for extended periods.

From my charter boat, WaveWalker, we watch a good number of these winged craft hovering and gliding above beach cliffs that cause sufficient updrafts to achieve flight. We see them as specs in the distance when they fly off the mountain behind our town and soar over the hills and back roads. Sometimes it seems like they are all over the place and having a blast.

A newer thrill combines water and air and is called kite surfing. I’ve watched (and carefully avoided colliding with) these folks off Leadbetter Beach and East Beach, when I cruise back to the harbor from a charter in the mid- to late afternoon when the wind is up. This is a fairly new sport, and the responsible active members are working with the local authorities, such as the Waterfront Department, to establish safety guidelines in an effort to peacefully coexist with other activities.

It is astounding what these folks can do. They race across the water, suspended from a kite by strong thin lines of material such as Kevlar. They lift themselves up with the strength of their arms, off the water and do aerial acrobatics, which seem to defy gravity. I’ve watched them ride into the face of a wave and launch skyward 100 feet. Speed and agility are their strong suits.

This looks like way too much fun for the weak of heart. It’s pure adrenaline!

— Capt. David Bacon operates WaveWalker Charters and is president of SOFTIN Inc., a nonprofit organization providing seafaring opportunities for those in need. Visit softininc.blogspot.com to learn more about the organization and how you can help.




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