MANATEE COUNTY — Steve Sipes could spend every moment out on the water.
The roll of the ocean and a steady breeze bring him a sense of freedom he can harness only by capturing the wind.
“It fits me,” said Sipes, an avid kiteboarder. “I wake up thinking about the wind.”
And now, the East County resident is sharing his passion for kiteboarding with his new venture, Kiss the Sky Kiteboarding. The business offers lessons to those who wish to learn the sport.
“People are afraid they might get hurt or they aren’t strong enough,” Sipes said. “The way I teach, they can learn the skills without being overpowered by the kite.”
Sipes’ own journey to the wind and water began about two years ago as he crossed the Skyway Bridge.
“I kept seeing these guys out there riding (something),” Sipes said. “Without warning, they would launch into the air and float above the water. I was hooked before I ever took my first lesson.”
Sipes took his first lesson with his brother, who was visiting from California. Despite the coldness of the day, Sipes loved every minute, and the experience only furthered his ambition.
He purchased some gear and found another local with whom he could practice. At the time, Sipes was leading Young Life East Manatee, and soon, he began taking some of the high school students out with him.
“Just for fun, I was teaching,” he said. “It was an opportunity to spend time with them and do something I really loved. I still really love the teaching part of it.”
Turning his passion into a business seemed like a natural transition when Sipes learned in April that his position with Young Life East Manatee was being eliminated. After speaking with another kiteboarding instructor, Sipes went to North Carolina in May to earn his certification to teach through the Professional Air Sports Association.
And now, Kiss the Sky Kiteboarding is ready for business. During a four-hour lesson, Sipes teaches his students the basics of kiteboarding — how to use the equipment, safety and weather considerations, for example.
“I get them to the place where they can begin to control the kite, get up on the board and start riding,” Sipes said.
Sipes usually conducts lessons near the Skyway Bridge, but location varies depending on the direction of the wind and other weather conditions.
Individual and group lessons of up to three people are available. For more information, visit www.ktskiteboarding.com.
Contact Pam McTeer at [email protected].
Kiss the Sky Kiteboarding
WEB SITE: www.ktskiteboarding.com