20 YEARS LATER...
Kiteworld’s founding editor was Hugh Miller. The opening statement in his first editorial in issue #01 read, ‘I don’t think I’ll ever be the same since I first went kiteboarding. I’ll never again be able to sit comfortably in front of this computer if, out of the corner of my eye, I can spot the flag on the flagpole next door snapping at the signs of an approaching southwesterly. Kiting’s slowly taken over my life, and it seems about time for a magazine that tries to capture exactly what it is about the sport that’s so engaging. That shiver of elation you get when you finally manage to stand up on the board and cruise off, thinking you’re Duke Kahanamoku.’ Little of kiting’s transcending, wild appeal has changed. In fact, we close this issue with the very same passage of writing by Bjorn Verduijn that appeared ahead of Hugh’s editorial in that first issue in 2002. Re-reading it again now twenty years on, apart from the references to his tiny mutant board and huge inflatable 16 metre kite, the esoteric benefit that we take away from a kite session resonates just as strongly; perhaps even more so in today’s culture of increasingly high-speed living. In kiting we’ve all found something meaningful; a powerful escape and source of revitalisation. The early Kiteworld team developed a magazine character that reflected the evolving, thrilling dynamics of kite sports as a whole and reported candidly on the heroic trail blazers and characters who were fuelling development, on water, land and snow, as well as in the design lofts. I started as Kiteworld assistant editor in 2003, having been swept up by the passion of that early editorial team when I found myself staying in the same hostel as some of them in South Africa. Simply being in the right place at the right time I, perhaps unwittingly, lived through a job interview on-location, successfully winning a junior position on the team a few weeks later. Pretty soon the kitesurfing side of kite sports started to dominate our content. The early days at the Kiteworld offices were so exciting. FedEx packages shipped urgently from places like Maui, Cabarete, Hood River and WA would hurriedly be opened as soon as we got our hands on them. Splaying the photo slides onto the light box often revealed images of riders risking life and limb to truly break new ground, claiming world-first manoeuvres. We had the responsibility of curating the content and putting the scale of the achievements in context. As world tours got started and the sport split off into multiple directions, kiteboarding was evolving right before our eyes, month after month. When I took over editing the magazine in 2007, it was my job to continue pushing. To maintain relationships with contributors, to track the key developments and stick to the editorial principles, reflecting real change and accomplishment, with an informative but approachable manner. I hope we achieved that. Kitesurfing initially developed alongside the dawn of public internet use; when the sharing of information was still a long process. While the web became a more powerful resource of information, kitesurfing was also maturing into a wonderfully accessible, recreational hobby and participants can now choose how extreme they would like to make the activity. There’s even an industry association in the GKA that takes care of sustainable pathways and developments. Essentially, the sport is in a much more stable situation than ever before. You don’t need me to tell you that the media landscape has changed, too. While we’ve adapted to the digital environment, in our hearts Kiteworld will always be a print magazine that tried to cut uniquely to the core of an emerging kite culture. 2022 marks the twentieth year for Kiteworld and a double decade feels like the right time to neatly close the door on proceedings. Trying to comprehend the megaloop that Joshua Emanuel is throwing in the shot on this page would have been absolutely unfathomable to us when we launched the magazine. We’ve all been so thrilled to have witnessed each stage of development from the frontline. In this last issue we’ve tried to reflect just how far the sport has come. Mark Shinn finishes, sadly, just shy of 100 Mark My Words columns – sorry Mark! His authoritative yet whimsical voice brought a commentary on the sport’s developments into perspective for everyday riders. His column has long been the feature so many of our readers flicked to first of all each issue. Find his final column submission here and my interview with him here. Ydwer van der Heide and John Bilderback have been our prized staff photographers. Never afraid to kick back at an editor’s over pedantic requests, John has, in fact, been the longest suffering contributor, gracing our pages with his breathtaking work since that first issue. Immensely talented and dedicated, these guys are real masters at work. The star makers. Ydwer claims the most Kiteworld covers of any photographer, with a total of 19. Find John’s last feature here and Ydwer’s here. I’ll leave you to discover the thread of this issue as it takes you on a journey from feature to feature, linking up key moments in the sport’s history and the characters who’ve added so much colour to the scene. I must, however, direct you to a superb profile by Holly Keenan, focusing on the most dominant competition rider today and a female icon who’ll surely carry the sport forward, Mikaili Sol. There are obviously a lot of people who we’d like to thank, but to avoid this becoming an exhaustive list, you’ll find them on this issue’s masthead. Obviously, Kiteworld wouldn’t be here at all without the drive and vision of founding editor, Hugh Miller. There were a few years that Ian Roxburgh didn’t design the magazine, but for the vast majority of issues, from issue #01 to today, his creative direction has been the bedrock of the engaging look and feel of every publication. He’s not only made us look good, but has been so much fun to work with and always strived to give each issue its own character and theme. Final thanks here goes to our long term chief tester, Chris Bull, whose never-ending passion for kiteboarding and ability to continue to deliver so much enthusiasm, whatever the conditions and wherever we've tested gear, has honestly helped refresh my own enthusiasm many times. Testing has been such an important part of the magazine and Chris really has been an amazing test partner, relentlessly motivated to ride and help us provide in-depth rundowns on so many products over the years. The real glue that has formed Kiteworld’s spine comes from the mix of our wonderful contributors and dedicated readership. It’s been a real joy to work alongside such dedicated and creative individuals, while being driven by the feedback and support of those who read the magazine. We’re truly thankful to you all. We’ve poured all we can into Kiteworld and it’s been a wild ride, but it’s time for a new chapter. After almost 20 years in position, I’m very excited about exploring new avenues in this sport I enjoy so much. In this last issue, we've tried to reflect a little of the journey that Kiteworld (and kiteboarding as a whole) has been on over the last twenty years. I hope it entertains, reveals and inspires you as much as it did us in pulling it together.
Please, if you can, read it on the biggest computer screen you can for the best experience! So many of the images and dynamics of this issue are worth it! See you on the water, Jim Gaunt Kiteworld Editor
Main image: The future is here. Joshua Emanuel, somewhere near Cape Town, South Africa Photo: Thomas Burblies