ROAD TRIP – Kiteboarding Chucktown from the Spring 2021 Issue of Kitesurfing Magazine.
WORDS BY SHEA GIBSON, FORCE KITE AND WAKE TEAM RIDER AND IKITESURF METEOROLOGIST
THE KITEBOARDING SCENE
Sullivan’s Island Station 28.5 and Isle of Palms Third Avenue are the two main spots to ride in Chucktown. There’s an additional remote locale along southwestern Folly Beach at the Charleston County Park and any other desolate barrier island or spit you can get to by boat. Onshore flows are very common as the land-sea interface provides rideable winds for a good portion of any year. The local kiters are very friendly and always willing to lend a hand, which delivers proof that southern values still exist in Chucktown. Crowds can get a little thick around Station 28.5, but a good bit more spread out along the other barrier island beaches nearby. All beaches currently allow kiteboarding without any bans or issues, and the kiters plan on keeping it that way. Heed the local rules, stay out of the small local swim zones at both the Folly and IOP piers and always use the 100 foot rule to stay away from beach goers and surfers. Everyone shares the stoke in Chucktown with great fellowship and pure fun on the water.
During the warm season, SW/SSW sea breezes are the dominant pattern with moderate winds and warm, salty waters. Plenty of sandbars at low tide make for an abundance of open slicks, with high tide a little bumpy but still great for down winders. Outside of some decent ground swells kicked up by winds, waves can build fairly sizeable from offshore lows and occasional tropical cyclone swells. Great for directional riders! Meanwhile inside the harbor, one can enjoy foiling in the deeper waters with 360 degrees of wind directions to choose from. Just need the right spot to launch and land. There are oysters inside the ICW tributaries and back marshes, so don’t even think about it back there (winds are not as reliable either).
FOR LOCAL WIND AND WEATHER FORECASTS + KITEBOARD COMMUNITY
My local Facebook group: https://www facebook.com/groups/ChucktownWindReport
Favorite Local Wind App: wx.ikitesurf.com
Full suits 3-5 mm with booties and gloves are needed in the winter, but shedding to spring suits in the spring ultimately turns to just boardshorts and bikinis in the summer months. A 12 meter kite will do for most days; however, keep that 8 and 10 handy if the forecast looks to zip up. Lighter sea breeze days and offshore winds are perfect for foiling for those who bring it all.
ANNUAL WIND SPORT EVENTS: You have to register to ride in the annual Fort 2 Battery during the month of April. This event originated with local kiter and sailor Tim Fitzgerald. This event is growing every year and includes an all-out drag race of everything that catches wind along with several additional foil races across the harbor. For sailing, we also have the well-known Race Week Charleston event, which is all run out of the Patriots Point Harbor Resort and Marina.
WHERE TO EAT:
Mex 1 Cantina on Sullivan’s Island is choice! They offer a wide variety of tequilas and awesome Mexican food that is much more robust and hearty than your standard Tex-Mex ranchero food. While you eat fresh locally caught fish tacos, you can enjoy surfing and sometimes kiteboarding on their multiple TV screens. An occasional surf band or other local talent on some nights adds to the great nightlife experience it offers as well. Across the street from Mex 1, Poe’s sports the Edgar Allen Poe theme has the best burgers in Chucktown. On Folly Beach, the prime spots are Taco Boy, The Washout and Surf Bar.
WHAT TO WEAR AND HOW TO FIT IN:
Board shorts and t-shirts or guayaberas (I just happen to like the latter) with sandals or flipflops is all you need in the summer months. Keep it all “beachy” or casual whatever you wear. You’ll sweat too much if you overstyle it. Fall/winter/spring, check the air temp forecast. It can go from 30F to 75F or vice versa in a 24 hour period. So again, bring those summer clothes just in case. Drink local craft beers, see local bands and don’t get too hungover to ride when it is time. Be chill and guys, hold doors for the ladies. Smile and don’t be afraid to say hi to others when they look at you. It’s all part of our culture here. Just don’t try to fake a Southern drawl, ya’ll.
Force Kite and Wake keeps a thick stock of everything you need along with a great team of coaches and great customer service. Brands currently include Liquid Force, Cabrinha, North, Duotone, Airush and Lift Foils. Stan and Amy Radev have a great staff always ready to help you for all your kite needs so stop on by. Also for surf shops, be sure to check into Parrot Surf Shop, owned by Angelo Vlceck for all your summer and winter needs. They also carry a wide variety of skateboard equipment and apparel if you wish to hit the SK8 Charleston skatepark located in North Charleston.
Fly in to the Charleston International Airport for the ‘ole commercial route, East Cooper Airport for the private route. Drive in from a vast array of roadways or boat in from wherever. It’s ridiculously easy to get here.
WHERE TO STAY:
There are a couple of KOA places to camp if you drive in, but the local Air B&B’s really are quite the popular feature for short term rentals here as we “keep it local.” Alternatives include hotels with widely varying prices on both IOP and Folly Beach, as well as several others smattered across the inland cities.