Kitesurfing with Jeff Raney – PB Monthly

Most days you can see Jeff Raney, a Carlsbad-turned-Pacific-Beach local, giving art lessons at Pinot’s Palette in Liberty Station, but on days when the wind speed is 15mph or more, you can find it on the ocean above. the waves on his kiteboard, admiring the view.

“The addiction is so real,” Raney said of his love for kitesurfing, “it’s crazy! “

Kitesurfing, a term often used interchangeably with “kitesurfing,” although technically the former is practiced in the waves of the open ocean while the latter takes place on flat water, is an extreme water sport that is growing in popularity. since its origins in the 1980s.

This hybrid sport takes the best and most epic aspects of windsurfing, wakeboarding, surfing, snowboarding, paragliding, skateboarding and sailing, and combines them to create a next level aquatic experience.

Raney said Monthly PB he caught the kitesurf bug while working as a bartender in Carlsbad 17 years ago, after a conversation with one of the bar’s regulars.

“He came over to my bar one day and he said, ‘Jeff, I was at home watching TV, and I saw this guy – on ESPN or whatever – fly through the air with a surfboard strapped to him and a kite, “” Raney recalls. “And I’m like ‘OK, are you talking about windsurfing?’ And he was like, ‘No! It was a big kite, high in the air, and it was riding in the water and hovering in the air. And I thought’ Wow! ‘And that fascinated me.

After taking a few “quick partial lessons”, as he put it (coupled with an intense amount of personal research), Raney officially fell in love with kitesurfing. Seven years later, he started giving kitesurfing lessons to his friends, family and acquaintances. Today, he regularly teaches one-on-one kitesurfing at 1750 Fiesta Island Road, to anyone 12 and over – $ 75 an hour, $ 60 an hour if the student has their own. equipment.

Kitesurfing lessons

While it’s common for hotels and resorts to rush tourists into kitesurfing lessons, Raney said he was meticulous in his teaching methods. Beginners should start with the land lessons, which are basically learning how to fly the kite. Once the wind speed reaches 12 mph, he can start the land lesson.

Everyone’s learning window is different, but Raney reports that it usually takes around three to four hours of land lessons before a newcomer is ready to try kite flying on the water. Students are encouraged to procure their own equipment if possible so that they can practice outside of class.

All facets of the sport are covered, from setting up and maneuvering the kite, to self-launching and landing, to “body dragging” (the act of a kitesurfer using his kite to drag yourself in the water downwind to control the kite, or to the wind if it is torn from your board) and self-rescue (which requires the use of the sail to bring the kitesurfer back to land ).

“As long as you get lessons and you’re smart and don’t mess around, then you’re going to have fun because kitesurfing is just an amazing sport,” Raney insisted. He added that the problem occurs when people attempt to kitesurf without proper lessons or instruction.

According to Raney, the more experienced levels of kitesurfers tend to keep an eye out for inexperienced and uneducated kitesurfers; an entire kitesurf site could potentially be closed if a passerby is injured by a wayward kite.

“You don’t want to be that newbie going somewhere where you really shouldn’t be, where it’s more intermediate or advanced,” Raney warned. “It’s a very fragile sport right now.

Tips for beginners

People who want to get into this extreme water sport need to be in good physical condition, advised Raney, which means there are no serious back, knee or shoulder issues.

And while some surfing, snowboarding, or skateboarding experience can be helpful, it’s not a prerequisite. Some beginners don’t have any experience on a board of any kind, he shared.

“I ask them, ‘If you’re going to skateboard (and skate) on a sidewalk, which foot is ahead?’ And they don’t even know it, ”Raney said. But that’s okay, he assured; it could just mean a little extra time spent on streams.

Interested? Raney has this advice:

1. Get in-depth lessons from a qualified instructor who has good credentials and a lot of experience.

2. Don’t buy material by yourself; get recommendations from your instructor.

3. Do your homework, watch informative YouTube videos and join kitesurfing / kitesurfing groups on Facebook.

“If you really want to get into kitesurfing, it doesn’t happen overnight,” said Raney. “It’s not like surfing when you sign up for a surf school on the beach and hopefully within an hour you’re going to hang in there and then you can go home to Kentucky and say, ‘I went surfing! »Kitesurfing is much more complex and detailed; it takes time to do it.

Jeff Raney poses with his kitesurfing gear at Belmont Park.

(Savanah Duffy)

Due to the variability of the wind, Raney regularly connects with an app called iKitesurf, which rates the best times to give lessons and indulge in his own kitesurfing fun for the day. iKitesurf monitors the wind speed at given locations based on wind sensors at the kitesurfing sites. There is one at Silver Strand, on PB Pier, at the end of PB Pier, and one at Fiesta Island.

“We rely on Mother Nature; it is a sport dependent on the wind, ”he observed.

The winter season can be the most dangerous season for kitesurfing as the wind speed changes instantly; the more extreme the winds, the more extreme the circumstances in which kitesurfers can find themselves.

Although there is a danger factor in the sport, Raney said the equipment has been increasingly safer since the sport began. The updated safety trigger design, which allows the kitesurfer to release the kite from their body in an instant, is something Raney wished he had in 2007 when he broke his ankle kitesurfing in Carlsbad. “I learned from that,” he said, “and I would really like to have a little more know-how in this situation.”

Extreme fun

In addition to nearly two decades of experience under his belt, Raney has won two medals for competitive kitesurfing. In 2017, he won second place in the Southern California Kiteboarding Association Big Air competition at Belmont Shores in Long Beach. The following year, he “came back in force” to win the first prize for having flown 12 meters in the air in kitesurfing. (Heights are measured by a device called a “woo,” which is placed on the kitesurf board.)

Success stories aside, Raney recalled one of his funniest trips to Baja California, when he and a group of kitesurfing enthusiasts decided to make a game of jumping over a capsized boat at low tide.

For Raney, the trip was a positive experience and earned her some of the best images for her YouTube channel. His friend, however, was not so lucky; a jump too soon made him land directly on the hull of the boat.

“I filmed it all and put it on Chive TV because I didn’t want him to hear the end of it,” Raney said with a chuckle.

But this is not an unfriendly response; Raney explained that although the back of his friend’s leg was badly bruised and grazed, the bulletproof vest he was wearing had saved him from sustaining more serious injuries.

Despite the danger, Raney said kitesurfing was “her love”.

“Almost get addicted to this and indulge yourself in it,” Raney urged passionately. “Because it’s a way of life. Kitesurfing is becoming a lifestyle.

• IF YOU ARE GOING: The Beginner Zone is located on Fiesta Island. The lower intermediate zone is located on Sail Bay. The middle / forward area is the open ocean – from Tourmaline Beach to Ocean Beach. During the summer, be sure to kitesurf only in the surf area.

• For more details on Raney’s lessons: Visit the “Kitesurf Lessons San Diego” Facebook page, email [email protected] or call (760) 840-0028. Students must be 12 years of age or older.

• Editor’s Note: This is the second profile of a PB Monthly kitesurfer. We recounted Helen Spear’s love for the sport in a story you can read online at

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