Kitesurfing at 85-Years-Old FRED

INTERVIEW AND PHOTO BY NANCY SCARDAONI LELIVELD 

At 85, Fred continues to inspire all who have the pleasure to share the shore and the water with him. Whether it be a smile, wave or a launch, he has impacted many of us. Most aspire to be that healthy and active at his age. I was honored to chat with Fred and find out some of his secrets. He said “they’re not secrets, just common sense.”

85 and ripping! Fred kitesurfing at Oliphant, ON, Canada.

Kitesurfing Magazine: When did you start Kiting?

Fred: I’m a late bloomer. I started to windsurf around age 40. At the age of 69, I biked down to Sandy Bay in Oliphant and sat and watched three young local guys kiting. It looked so exciting and I knew I had to investigate this. The next summer I went to Jack n Jill’s and bought my very first kite package. The kite was a Naish 14 meter C kite. This was early in the kiting era and I wasn’t aware of the dangers. I did get a couple of pointers here and there from others on the water, but I basically taught myself. Definitely not advisable.

KM: Can you tell us about the twintip board you made yourself?

Fred: Yes, I built that board when I started kiting. I think it’s about 15 or 16 inches wide and a little shorter than me. I took three cedar fence planks and glued them together. I ordered four fins, I acquired the straps and then applied four quarts of varnish. I’m still using it and it works great.

KM: How do you maintain your strength and stamina?

Fred: My garden keeps me very busy and stocked up on all my fresh vegetables. A lot of stir fries. Chicken, turkey, wild salmon, sardines and herring. No red meat or alcohol. I also eat a clove of garlic every day.

KM: I hear you have a really great garden?

Fred: Let’s just say numerous kiters love Fred’s famous Oliphant cucumbers.

KM: When you’re not kiting, what fills your day?

Fred: Every morning I do stretching, squats and push ups. I have good knees and good hips. Last winter I cross country skied 32 times, usually around four to six kilometers each time. In the summer when it’s not windy I swim. Last summer I swam a lot. Not just swimming but freestyle swimming, 46 or 47 times. On the days that I can’t swim, I bike.

KM: How do you deal with fatigue when kiting?

Fred: I just stop kiting. I have a lot of common sense.

KM: How old do you feel?

Fred: Mostly I feel I am 80-something even though I do things most 80-something-year-olds don’t do. My presence of mind is not the same as that of a younger person, but I am motivated to carry on.

KM: What is your favorite wind direction and wind speed?

Fred: West or North West, blowing 25-40 kmph. Its the steadiest wind you could ask forat Oliphant.

KM: Do you have a session that really stands out or is memorable?

Fred: After supper sunset kiting on a NW with a couple of other local kiters.

KM: What do you fear most about kiting?

Fred: I fear I am not going to be able to do it any more, but then I go out and prove myself wrong. When the kite is in the air and the board is on my feet it’s the greatest feeling ever. Kiting still has a very firm grip on me and I thank everyone that helps me continue to do what I love. You all know who you are.