These Things I Know is one of our longest running features, appearing in several issues each year. I always looked forward to receiving the mail with the content because we managed to maintain a really consistent calibre of high achievers. Sadly, that standard comes crashing down this issue as I try to summarise my own musings from the last 20 years. I always appreciated that coming up with the personal and subjective information for the feature was quite a difficult task, and we’re grateful to all who took the time to do it. I figured it was only fair that I should give it a go before the end, so here goes:

WORDS – Jim Gaunt

Main image photo: Kyle Cabano, Cape Town, 2022

These Things I Know is one of our longest running features, appearing in several issues each year. I always looked forward to receiving the mail with the content because we managed to maintain a really consistent calibre of high achievers. Sadly, that standard comes crashing down this issue as I try to summarise my own musings from the last 20 years. I always appreciated that coming up with the personal and subjective information for the feature was quite a difficult task, and we’re grateful to all who took the time to do it. I figured it was only fair that I should give it a go before the end, so here goes:

WORDS – Jim Gaunt

Main image photo:

Kyle Cabano, Cape Town, 2022

Jesse Richman evading the fate that Patri McLaughlin’s kite is about to suffer at Jaws earlier this year. Working my way through image submissions like this and calling it ‘work’ isn’t something I’ve ever taken for granted! Photo: Erik Aeder

01: KITING MAY HAVE EVOLVED, BUT IT STILL ATTRACTS WILD CHARACTERS

Back in the day this sport was littered with real mavericks who, some might say, had a screw or two loose. Kiteboarding may generally be a much safer recreational past time now, but those who are still truly attracted to strapping themselves into a powerful kite and heading out in the strongest winds to push the limits are equally as deficient in fear as the pioneers. I’ve always noticed there’s something in the eyes of such characters. You can get lost in the colours if you hold their stare too long. It’s a calling.

02: I FEEL MASSIVELY UNDERQUALIFIED...

...when I open emails with photo-story submissions from the likes of Patri McLaughlin and Jesse Richman with their humble approaches to see if we’d like to possibly run something of their latest experiences in massive waves. The biggest achievers are often surprisingly modest.

03: GROMS GROW UP FAST

When Jesse Richman was first getting some limelight in the sport he’d appear as the cheeky grom in his brother Shawn’s videos or the Naish team videos. Literally, everything was ‘sick’ and he’d throw horns at every passing incident, but it simply turns out that he really is one rad dude. I remember John Bilderback emailing me at the time to give me the heads up on Jesse’s skills. “Hey, look out for this kid, Jesse. He’s the real deal.” JB is rarely wrong about skills or personalities and Jesse has flourished into one of the best kiteboarders that the sport has and, I believe, will ever see, but he also gives being a good human a very decent shot, too.

04: KIDS CHANGE YOUR PERSPECTIVES AND PRIORITIES, BUT THEY DON’T MAKE YOU SUDDENLY STOP ENJOYING THE THINGS YOU ALWAYS HAVE DONE

Watching your own child grow is as much a wonderful experience as all the cliches suggest. I’m grateful that for the last four years I’ve been able to organise my work around spending lots of time with my daughter. Time for your own hobbies and interests shrink when you have children for sure, but I still feel like a youngster myself, am always squeezing in water time, but also miss hugging strangers at music festivals at 4am quite so regularly!

05: THE PASSING OF A GOOD FRIEND REMINDS YOU THAT LIFE IS SHORT

That’s it.

06: SHARED EXPERIENCES ARE THE BEST

Many unforgettable kite sessions have crept up on me when I’ve gone to the beach alone, however, hands down my best kiteboarding experiences have been shared. A six day downwinder in northern Brazil, increasing in the remote feel of our surroundings the further we went, from Prea to Atins with Surfin Sim Fem, will forever be hard to beat. The crew, Andre, Jalila and the fellow clients who welcomed me onto the trip where we got to experience the ‘Magic River’ was very special and the first time I’ve used a kite for transport over hundreds of kilometres.

07: KITE RACING WILL SHINE AT THE OLYMPICS, BUT WON’T NECESSARILY SEE GREATER NUMBERS OF KITERS SUDDENLY START RACING

It’s difficult and technical and the top guys and girls are incredibly talented and hard working. Training is full on and races are won and lost in a heartbeat incident. It’s truly elite level sport with performance balanced on a knife edge of skill, management and, of course, some luck.

08: AUTOFOCUS RULED

I have rarely ridden in boots and never hit a kicker or slider with a kite, but Elliot Leboe’s Autofocus, released 2008, was probably my favourite ever kiteboarding movie. I’m not sure if that means I should have been a wakeboarder, or just that Elliot’s editing and spotless music selection, mixed with the type of riding from the likes of Andre Phillip that I could only ever seemingly dream of doing, made it all the more appealing.

09: CAPE TOWN MEANS A LOT TO ME

It’s such a powerful place and I managed to capitalise on many situations through being in the right place at the right time while there.

10: KITING CAN REALLY GRIP A PERSON’S ADDICTION

I’ve really enjoyed seeing how this sport gets under the skin of people, even those who may have had very little affinity for most other sports. The autonomy and free roaming sensations it can immediately offer people of all sorts of ages, in so many more accessible places in the world than surfing or snowboarding, is very powerful.

11: AIRTON COZZOLINO IS A REAL TRAIL BLAZER

Man... he’s so good. I watched him a lot during my time reporting on the GKA Kite World Tour, just mesmerised by what he can do strapless. I think if I had to name one rider that is still competing who has regularly reset our understanding of what’s possible, time and again, more so than anyone else, it’s him. People are only just starting to catch him, but he’s been untouchable when it comes to innovation and riding control for several years.

12: CHRIS BULL IS THE BIGGEST KITE ADDICT I KNOW

And I’ve met a lot in the last 20 years. As our long time chief tester, I’ll miss listening to all his analogies about a kite’s personality, most often describing their temperament like wild dogs, or similar to a sports car that you can still nip to the shops in. I forgive him for jumping too close to me one too many times and fracturing my ribs, because he’s a legend.

13: THEY SAY YOU SHOULDN’T WORK WITH YOUR WIFE

The key to it though is knowing how to manage (each other)!

14: I’M OF COURSE MOST GRATEFUL TO

My parents and my wife, Dan. Editing this magazine has been a privilege, but has certainly taken plenty of time and energy, often at the expense of others getting perhaps as much help as they need from me!

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Captions from the top:

Going wild in Brazil with Surfin Sem Fim. Photo: Bruna Arcangelo de Toledo

The Magic River Video - Epic Downwinder with Surfin Sem Fim in Brazil

Livestream commentating on the King of the Air with Colin Heckroodt

Ninja wars. One of these shots is Airton Cozzolino, styling out a wipeout. The other is me navigating the south coast shorebreak around 2012

Ant and Dec in the house. #CollaborationNation is always fun with Rou – hosting the UK Kitesurfing Industry Awards in Brighton, 2016, staring down the hecklers

Always special times in Cape Town