How Coronavirus Is Impacting Kitesurfers Worldwide

compiled by John Bryja

As Kitesurfing Magazine goes to press, it’s early days in the Covid-19 pandemic. This page marks the point in time that the world was enveloped by the Corona Virus. Pro kiters were scattered around the globe and their experiences were shockingly different, while hauntingly similar. 

Peniche, Portugal

“I’m at home in Peniche, Portugal. I thought it was too risky and slightly selfish to try and get back to Canada at this time. Didn’t want to add to the chaos and petri dish. Plus the thought of possibly having Covid-19 or contracting it on my way back to North America and spreading it to family and friends seemed horrible. So I figured I already work remotely, I’ll just stay home and hopefully kite and surf on my own. But we just had full state of emergency go into effect Wednesday. They’ve closed down all the beaches for kiting and surfing. Locals were pissed and the vibe not super friendly but overall I’d say everyone is starting to take things seriously. Especially with the news that Italy just overtook China in total deaths. It’s crazy to see the mindset of the baby boomer and older generation to this situation. Hopefully in North America there will be enough examples of how countries reacted and the outcome from those reactions and that in turn will influence people to take the recommended precautions from the authorities. Fingers crossed it goes faster than we all think and it mutates to a less deadly virus instead of the opposite and that we’re all back on the water as soon as possible. For now I’ve just been joined by my girlfriend who’s off work and cooking up a storm and finding fun home and art projects to work on. So I’m just going to continue working (with an adjusted work flow and goals) and try to use this time to reflect on what’s important in life, take a look at my perspective and see what I need to adjust. Was chatting with a friend yesterday and they said they’ll use this time to reset and create new good habits. I like this mindset, so let’s go with that for the next month or however long it takes.” —Craig Cunningham, Duotone

Craig Cunningham, Canadian Duotone team rider is riding out the Corona storm in Portugal.

Stranded En Route

“Yeah it seems like everyone is shuffling around scrambling to get back home or locking down where they are. I was actually flying out to the Marshall Islands on March sixth with a six hour layover in Hawaii. During my flight to Hawaii the MarshalI Islands quickly went from no alert to closed borders in the matter of a few hours. I landed in Hawaii and all of a sudden could not get on my connection.  Been on Oahu ever since waiting this thing out and getting in some fun sessions!”—Evan Netch, Cabrinha

Cabo Verde to Canada

“I’m lucky to have made it home to Canada from Europe without too much trouble. After the GKA event in Cabo Verde I had a short trip planned in the UK to run some Aluula demos. When I arrived there had only been 100 cases of Coronavirus recorded in the UK. Three days later there were more than 500 cases in the UK and the United States had just stopped all flights coming from Europe. Luckily I was flying to Canada, but I decided to cut my trip short and cancel the demo just to make sure I got home. Heathrow Airport was now the only airport that had flights from Europe to the US. It was easily the most insane airport experience I have ever had. There were thousands and thousands of people in the airport trying to check into their flights and get home. It was shoulder to shoulder, half the people were wearing masks and gloves, and there were so many different lineups crossing each other that it was nearly impossible to find where you needed to go. I also had three massive board bags that I needed to tow around. People were freaking out and fainting on the floor, no kidding! Luckily I was four hours early because it took 2.5 hours to check in and get through security. Once I got through it was smooth sailing and I made it home to the West coast of Canada where I am now in self quarantine for two weeks. Everything is much more relaxed over here, people are keeping their distance from each other for the time being and we will see where it goes!” —Reece Myerscough, Ocean Rodeo

Reece Myerscough sessions GKA event in Cabo Verde before narrowly making it back to North America.

The Netherlands

“So far the coronavirus has had a huge impact on our daily life. In the Netherlands we are advised to work from home, don’t go close to people and if you have any symptoms stay in quarantine for two weeks. Luckily we are still allowed to go outside if we keep at least 1.5 meteers from other people. We can still kite, but a lot of people don’t go because they don’t want to get in a situation that they need help and get rescued or have an accident and go to the hospital. There is already way too much pressure on hospital staff and other caregivers. I live in a quiet area close to the beach so I can still go kite, but I’m extra careful, keep proper distance and only use my own pump that no one else can use. I’m driving in my wetsuit to the spot, go for a little ride, mostly to clear my mind and stay active and healthy, and go straight back home. I FaceTime a lot, call my grandmother everyday and my boyfriend who I haven’t seen for two weeks and who is now in lockdown in Belgium. I hope that in the cities in the Netherlands everyone is living by the advice the government is giving us so we can still enjoy going outside and getting some fresh air and movement. My thoughts go out to all people affected by the virus and I’m glad that everyone is sharing so many positive vibes during these hard times. I think next week will be a really hard week in the Netherlands with a lot of cases, but the hospitals are preparing the best they can. All the best to everyone, stay healthy, stay safe, stay away from each other but call each other and help each other where possible.”—Annelous Lammerts, Cabrinha

Miami, Florida

“We’re all working remote from home, plans for travel are cancelled, and many future events are now cancelled. We are hopeful that in a 6-8 weeks we will see a resurgence of interest for people to demo new equipment. It’s a new challenge trying to balance a three-year-old with professional responsibilities for my wife and me at home, but we are slowly adjusting. We are seeing a gradual recovery for our partners in China and Hong Kong, but for Italy where our friend Alby Rondina is, it’s a tough situation. Getting out on the water seems like a good way to take away the stress of the pandemic and practice some social distancing. Yes, we have toilet paper (and a bidet!).”–Todd Greaux, Cabrinha

Cape Hatteras, NC

“Dare County has closed so we have the sessions to ourselves. It totally sucks to be on lockdown but at least we can get in the water.”—Matt Nuzzo, Real Kiteboarding

Hood River, Oregon

“The coronavirus has affected all of us. Luckily I wasn’t caught traveling when the outbreak happened and I was at my home in Hood River, Oregon. Hood River is a small town and at this point in the pandemic, has remained relatively isolated however, we are still practicing serious social distancing and offering support to our elderly community members. Our neighbors are our best friends. Sensi Graves and Brandon Scheid who have been the only people that we’ll continue to spend time with and we can even catch a chilly kite session here or there with. So I’d say we’re quite lucky in the grand scheme of things. On the other hand, all of my travels for the next few months have been postponed or cancelled so it will be interesting to see how all of those plans play out.”—Colleen Carrol, Duotone

Jupiter, Florida

I’m in Florida, lots of beaches shutting down, but here in Jupiter today it’s firing!  —Eric Rienstra