Nickname: Mike D
What do you rep? Naish Kiteboarding (Switched to North right after this interview… go figure.)
Where is home?: Hood River, OR
Best part of living in the Gorge? Endless activities and endless rad people to teach you how to do it all.
Favourite board and kite: Naish Skater 5’2, Naish Pivot 9 meter
Best kite memory: I’ve been fortunate to have epic sessions in places like Squamish, Cape Hatteras and the Virgin Islands, but I’d have to say an Oregon Coast downwinder with eight of my best friends and future wife takes the cake. We even got called in by military driving Humvee’s down the beach, told we caused a cease fire and had to vacate the area immediately. We convinced them our fastest exit was downwind and they let us pass. 25 miles of pumping head-high waves and a great wind right back to beers and a hot tub on the beach. One friend snapped his directional, another had a kitemare and hitchhiked back, but it was tough to beat.
Worst moment: Finding myself with a deflated kite, shivering on Wells Island in the middle of the Columbia River trying to hike through to get to the other side so I could swim back to the Oregon side of the river. My 5/4 wetsuit was not doing the trick for a guy who had just moved from Florida and was new to cold water. The trees and bushes were too thick to get through so I had to back track and swim around the island. My friend decided to navigate around as well and offered to tow me across, 80 per cent there the kite Hindenburgs. My board slips, hits him in the back of the head and his outside line grazes a powerline that was inches from folding over and giving him an elevator ride straight to electrocution. Let’s just say I swam it in from there, only to find myself on train tracks and immediately jumping back in the water to dodge an incoming train that was making it clear with the loud horn it was not happy about me being there. I made it back to safe land and coincidentally ran into someone searching for a secret launch. I assured him that wasn’t the way and scored a ride back to the launch.
Kite heros? Andre Philip, Ben Wilson and my first instructor Phil “Big Air” Nelson.
Favourite riding spot: Cape Hatteras, North Carolina; best of both flatwater and wave downwinders with ideal temps.
Favorite trick: Big air: still the fundamental reason why kiting is the best sport in the world.
Ride With: Jesse Richman, my wife, the Hood River community.
Dream hookup: Like person to hook up? I’d say Richard Branson. It would be cool to hang with him on Necker and hear his stories about adventure and business and have him flying the Naish flag.
Breakfast spot: Anywhere that has coffee. Bonus points for breakfast burritos, but I just need coffee to get going. The best is Dog River, in Hood River, Oregon.
Best lunch spot: Local Grind Island Style BBQ, Hood River Sand Bar, but an honorable mention for Waterman’s Bar and Grill at REAL Watersports.
Dinner: El Puerto de Angelas III, Hood River, aka Juniors, aka the Margarita Place, aka 3 Doors. My go-to? Pollo en Mole con una Grande Perfecta Margarita.
Best trip: Honeymoon to French Polynesia. Foiling around Bora Bora while my wife was getting rescued (out of view) by a French police boat was pretty unforgettable.
Bucket list: Mauritius, of course. Cape Town second, Marshall Islands third. Oh and Namotu Island Fiji, Oh and Pacasmayo, Peru. I guess I have my work cut out for me.
Music: Either Hip hop/R&B like Drake and Khalid or acoustic like The Head and the Heart or Ben Harper.
What would surprise people most about you? I got my pilot’s license in high school and recently learned to paraglide.
Drink of choice: Old Fashioned.
Props to: Robby Naish for insipring so many people. I hear stories everyday about how Robby’s career and interactions at different events and locations inspired so many people into lifelong passions in watersports.
Last Words: Fun to reflect on these questions and remind myself I’ve got a dream job doing what I love in the best place to do it. See you on the water.