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Get to Know 15 Knots Kiteboarding in Puerto Rico

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I've been reading a lot about kiteboarding. It's one of the fastest-growing sports in the world, and it's taken root in Puerto Rico thanks to schools and shops like 15 Knots. I recently spoke to Juan Carlos Morales, owner of 15 Knots, who told me all about what makes kiteboarding so much fun, and why Puerto Rico is the perfect place to learn, master and enjoy this unique sport.

What is Kiteboarding?

Photo © 15 Knots
A

Kiteboarding is basically waterskiing with the power of a kite. In kiteboarding, you use the power of the wind to generate propulsion. It's actually a combination of three sports: waterskiing, windsurfing and paragliding.

You often here the term "kitesurfing" instead of "kiteboarding," and these terms are used interchangeably, and both are correct. Typically, kiteboarding refers to when you ride above the wave and do triks; kitesurfing refers to using your kite to tow you into a wave."

How long has the sport been around?

Photo © 15 Knots
A

The sport began worldwide in 1998. Velauno brought kiteboarding to the island, when Jaime Torres became the island's first kiteboarder. I was actually the third kiteboarder on the island, and the youngest. I've been doing this since I was 12 years old.

15 knots was created 2008, and has been the main kiteboarding school in Puerto Rico for the past three years.

How difficult is to learn how to kiteboard?

Photo © 15 Knots
A

One of the reasons this is such a fast-growing sport is that people are realizing that they it can be done by anyone. It only takes between 1-2 days to learn how to kiteboard.

There are three main myths about kiteboarding:

  1. It requires a lot of arm strength – The fact that you use a harness to kiteboard means you don’t have to use your arm muscles as much as you'd think.
  2. I'm scared that the kite will drag me out into the open ocean and not allow me to come back! - Selecting the right wind condition means you can go out into the waves and come back with ease.
  3. The kite will pull me airborne like an airplane taking off! – Once you learn how to use your kite, you'll understand how unlikely this is. As soon as you let go of the bar, your kite stops moving!

People tend to think kiteboarding is dangerous, but this isn't true. You just need a little bit of training, and you'll be ready to go. It also helps that the equipment was reinvented in 2006, and is now safer than ever. You don't need any certification, and you won't need a wetsuit. All you need is willingness to learn and a sense of adventure. Then you'll understand why this is the second-fastest growing sport in the world!

What does 15 Knots offer?

Photo © 15 Knots
A

We love this sport, and we want to let everyone know about it! And we want to make it easy for people to learn to kiteboard. We have a one-day course that anyone can take. We'll supply the equipment and teach you how to fly a kite on the ground before you get on the water. We spend one hour just showing you the equipment and letting you get comfortable with it.

We also offer the first introductory lesson for free. Just come by our shop every Friday, Saturday and Sunday at 11 am. We're located at the Beach House Hotel in Isla Verde.

We're also the first kiteboarding center in the world to offer tandem kiteboarding. We started this after we were asked to teach a blind kid how to kiteboard – we set up a bigger board so that he could ride in the front, with the instructor behind him - and our tandem rides were born.

Our six instructors are all certified. In addition to lessons, we also provide rentals, trips and equipment sales. And we'll even throw in a free air compressor, so you don’t have to pump your kite with a hand-pump.

What's the best place and season for kiteboarding?

Photo © 15 Knots
A

The best places to go are Isla Verde and Ocean Park in San Juan. The beaches here provide safe launching spots and great conditions.

As for the season, it starts in December and lasts through mid-September. However, I wouldn't recommend coming in May, as it rains a lot during this month. So from December to April, you get terrific winds and waves, and from June to September you get good wind and warm waters.

The ideal conditions to kiteboard are when the windspeed is 15 knots ... which is where our name comes from.

A final note from the interviwer

Photo © Zain Deane
Juan Carlos is serious about promoting kiteboarding, and he's an enthusiastic ambassador for the sport. He certainly got me amped up about it. And I know that, just as I tried my hand at surfing and scuba diving in Perto Rico, I know I'm going to give kiteboarding a crack. And Juan Carlos is going to be the man I call when I do.
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