ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - They are almost as much of a fixture along the Sunshine Skyway Bridge as the pelicans: Kiteboarders love the wide-open water and steady breezes at the southern tip of Pinellas County.
“It’s all based on the wind. So definitely we need a decent breeze, but not as much as you’d think; anywhere really from about 10 mph on up. We’ll be out here on any given day,” Best Pro Kiteboarding owner Drew Christianson explained from the sandy shoals of the bridge’s approach.
Christianson says the sport is growing in popularity. Best Pro sells the gear and also offers training. He says it takes six to nine hours of instruction to get up and running.
“Wind is kind of a weird thing where you can’t actually see it but you can feel it,” he continued. “So that’s what’s so cool with the kite is that you can power up by pulling in the bar, leaning back, and just catching the wind.”
Christianson has been kiteboarding since he was 13. He says he’s seen kids as young as 10 and adults as old as 75 skimming through the waters near the Skyway.
“It’s fun,” he added. “You’re getting pulled around, you’re enjoying the water; it’s kind of the perfect sport for a place like Florida.”