Father and Son: The Medyskys Two directions always cross paths
Kiteboarding became a part of this family over a dozen years ago. Their summer home at Sauble Beach was always where they enjoyed being free from the constraints of work and school. Kiteboarding brought a new dimension to this. There was a lot of anxiety when “the boys” took up kiteboarding, but steadily and surely both Sam and his dad became skilled riders. Dano’s support for Sam’s kiteboarding began with the first big competition in Corpus Christi, Texas and it has not wavered since that win. Since that time, they’ve successfully built up their kiteschool and have travelled together to a number of events, and amazing kiting spots. Sam has brought his dad into his circle of kiteboarding friends many of whom are welcomed at the family “cottage” during the summer months. Father and son, best of friends, the two follow their dream, each in a different element of a lifetime but with kiteboarding as the steadfast tie that binds.
Brief description of who you are and where you grew up?
Sam: I’m Sam Medysky the 2014 AWSI Kiteboarder of the year and 5 time Canadian national kiteboarding champion. I grew up in a small town north of Toronto, Ontario. I was a typical child playing hockey in the winters and baseball in the summer. When I was young my parents had me skiing and snowboarding at a young age. This sparked my enthusiasm for board sports.
Dano: My life is the typical immigrant success story. My parents worked hard so that their children could be well-educated and succeed in life. Growing up in a cultural minority in Toronto, Canada taught me the value of hard work and the meaning of family. Happiness in your work, life and play is the end result. I constantly remind myself of my humble beginnings and my kids have never forgotten this important lesson.
How did you get into kiteboarding?
Sam: I started out skiing and then snowboarding at a young age with my dad. We would spend our summer in Sauble Beach on Lake Huron in Canada. There I learned to waterski and wakeboard behind my grandparents’ boat. My dad taught me to sail some smaller dingy boats at a young age. My next door neighbour was a windsurfer which I thought was the coolest sport ever. He taught me to windsurf when I was seven. Not long after I got into windsurfing, my dad brought home a windsurfing magazine with an article about kiteboarding titled “the sister sport to windsurfing, kiteboarding!” It was soon after that my dad ordered a kite and we began the long and rough learning curve of kiteboarding in the early days.
Dano: Back in the nineties, my sister who was living in Europe at the time, sent me a Surfer magazine from France in which there was an article about the invention of an inflatable water kite. Shortly after, we got a Wipika 8.5 classic and my son and I set about learning to kite surf on our beach at French Bay. The rest is history.
How did your Kiterider school come about?
Sam: Kiteboarding gear back in the day was hard to get and it was expensive. Once my dad and I figured it out he decided that opening a school was a good idea. Being a highschool teacher and having the summers off, this was a perfect summer gig. The lessons would help us get gear cheaper and make some money to travel to some windy locations during time off in the Canadian winter. The school has slowly grown and become one of Canada’s top schools. We still do lessons today in Sauble Beach on Lake Huron. The school is stocked with all the latest gear from Best Kiteboarding.
Dano: Being a high school physical education teacher provided me with the opportunity to spend the summers teaching others to kiteboard. It also helped pay the bills for traveling with Sam, who was still a minor, to kiteboarding competitions all over North America. Our school was officially opened in 2001 at Sauble Beach. To this day, we are still a family-run business with Sam now being co-owner. We take great pride in personally teaching each and every student who wants to learn to kiteboard.
What is the #1 tip you give to beginning kiteboarders?
Sam: Kiteboarding is 75 per cent kite flying skills. Learn to control the kite before attempting anything with the board. In hockey we have a saying “if you can’t skate, you can’t shoot, so you can’t score.” So start with mastering the kite and then get the board under your feet. It’s a tough sport in the initial stages but you just have to keep at it.
Dano: Have patience and practice flying the kite as much as possible.
What’s it like traveling with your son and the other pro riders?
Dano: Awesome. The guys treat me no different than one of their own buddies. We’ve had many interesting adventures in different countries throughout the world.
Where are your favourite kiteboarding spots?
Sam: There are a lot of amazing spots around the world which makes it tough to decide.
Cape Town, Sout Africa, has some of the strongest winds you’ll kite in making for massive jumps, loops and insane down winders.
Taiba, Brazil is the first kiteboarding Mecca I went to after graduating highschool. Its got great winds every day, a beautiful flat water lagoon and lots of good friends to share a sessions with.
Cape Hatteras, North Carolina was one of my first kiteboarding trips out of Canada and I still try and visit every year for at least a month. And of course attend the Real Watersports Triple S. Hatteras has everything: amazing flatwater and amazing waves. Combine that with the people there and you have it all.
Sauble Beach, Canada will always be a favourtie: there is no place like home. In the summer months Sauble Beach can offer some amazing conditions for downwinders and flatwater sessions. Conveniently located at my doorstep with my family at my side.
Dano: I really like Brazil for the waves and the wind. Turks and Caicos is great place to teach, though quite tame compared to other places I have been.
What’s it like to have a father that not only kiteboards but has his life revolve around it?
Sam: I’m pretty fortunate to have my father so involved with kiteboarding. It has helped me get to where I am today. I think it’s helped him as well. He lives a very active life and has been able to make great friendships through kiteboarding. He’s had some amazing adventures around the world. I look at some other retired folks and what they are doing and I can’t see my dad doing anything else or he’d get bored. It’s arguable that he maybe talks on the beach and socializes with kiters more than he actually rides, but he loves the sport and everything that comes with it. Especially after-session cocktails… he’s retired why not?
What did you learn from your son?
Dano: Sam’s helped me achieve my goals by showing me the importance of “following your dreams.” He’s also helped me progress with my own riding style.
What did you learn from your dad?
Sam: Nothing comes easy in life. Good things come with hard work. If you’re going to do something “don’t half ass it.” Do it correctly the first time. Always double check. Measure twice, cut once. Watch out for security breaches!
What is your biggest accomplishment? How did you achieve it?
Sam: Being where I am today. Living my dream of traveling as a professional kiteboarder. Sure I’d love to be able to say I’m world champion but for now I’m so happy traveling, exploring, meeting new people, pushing myself on the water and sharing the sport of kiteboarding with others. I’ve always stayed persistent (ask any girl I’ve been with). Since I was in school all I thought about was kiteboarding. Today it’s the same. What I get out of kiteboarding I try to put back into it whether that be money, experience or my time. I couldn’t have done it with out the support of my family and friends though. I have a lot of people to thank that have helped me along the way since I was a little grom.
Dano: Retiring to a saltwater lifestyle. Hard work and some luck!
How does a retired teacher afford to live in the Turks and Caicos?
Dano: I made some wise investments early in my life. Throughout my career I acquired a unique set of skills that have served me well both as an entrepreneur and a kiteboarding instructor in my retirement years.
What advice would you give someone looking to live the kiteboarding lifestyle (retired or pro)?
Sam: There are so many different ways to go about it if you’re motivated and want to compete. Train hard and ride as much as possible. Be that approachable person on the beach that lends a hand. A good attitude goes a long way in a small sport like kiteboarding. If you’re not as motivated to ride professional but want to live the lifestyle and kite as much as possible, teach. There are tons of schools all around the globe that are looking for instructors. Its a great way to travel, kite and make money.
Dano: You definitely need a source of income, and there’s different ways of doing it. Be sure to squirrel away some money in a nest egg then get some transferable skills that are in demand. With the internet now there are many opportunities to create a stream of income to support your lifestyle. It also helps to be lucky and have a supportive family.
What are the generational differences that you see between father and son?
Sam: Well…. Dano is usually in bed at 8:30 p.m. I’m more so a 11 p.m. bedtime person. I don’t mind roughing it sometimes whether it be crashing on a couch for a few nights or picking the cheaper flight with more stops and travel time involved. Dano is more of a convenience person. He tells me, “I’ve done that shit. When you’re older and have money you don’t mind spending a bit more to be comfortable.”
Maybe it’s true. I’ll let you know when I’m 60. Dano is a solid kiter on the water but he’s not pushing his freestyle game much these days. He’s worried he’ll get hurt. I keep telling him it’s only water, and if you’re not crashing you’re not learning. I’m not sure if it’s a generational thing, just Dano, or age, but damn he repeats himself a lot, especially if it’s something he doesn’t want me doing or using.
Dano: I often think back to my relationship with my father (his name was Sam too) and the differences and similarities I have with my son. Being able to travel the world to numerous kiteboarding events from a very young age has led to a strong and positive relationship with my son. It has taught me patience and understanding in allowing Sam to make his own decisions. Most important is being there for him when he needs my support.
3 things you couldn’t live without?
Sam: Ocean, sunshine, my vision
Dano: Sun, sand and pineapple with Nutella.
3 things you never leave home without?
Sam: iPhone, sunglasses, watch
Dano: Spectacles, testicles, wallet and watch (that’s 4!)
What do you enjoy when you are not kiteboarding?
Sam: Snowboarding. Sometimes when spending all my time on the water I really miss the snow. I’m Canadian. We are winter. Also lately I’ve really been enjoying going to the gym. Dano got me into the gym action at a young age. I didn’t always enjoy it but over the past six months it has been nice to to do something not involving a board.
Dano: Working out in the gym, road cycling, playing tennis, sailing and watching the sunset.
If it wasn’t kiteboarding what would you be doing right now?
Sam: Not sure. I would like to say that I would have gotten more into snowboarding but to be honest I likely would have followed the Canadian dream of being a pro hockey player like Wayne Gretzky. I’m not sure what I would be doing for work, maybe something like working in construction, home renovation or some sort of contractor work?
Dano: Laying on a beach in the sun.
Sam: Try and take over the world… haha no, not sure. Continue riding as must as possible. I’m now working with Best kiteboarding and the R&D team to develop the product. I’ve really taken a liking to that, so hopefully I can continue to stay involved in the industry even after being a rider.
Dano: A Caribbean sailing adventure with my kids and my wife, if I can convince her.