NM3 Northern Michigan Mens Magazine — June 2008
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Northern Exposure
Stephanie Zalucha

“Are you going to take your sandals off?”

Matt Myers motioned toward my black wedge flip-flops as he faced an unmarked trailhead. My best friend, Lisa, and I had agreed to an almost-blind date with the Myers brothers, who still hadn’t given us a clue as to where the day would take us. Looking down a dirt and pebble trail, Lisa and I hesitantly slid off our sandals and followed the barefoot brothers through the woods.

Forty-five minutes and 100 barefoot ouches later, we knew where we were going. The trail turned to soft, white sand and snaked up the dunes to reveal a stunning, bird’seye view of sparkling shores and bright, green treetops.

Now, with only wisps of tall dune grass standing between us and the steep drop to Lake Michigan, it was an alluring hike down to the immense sandy shore.

Our day on M-22 was an overdue reminder of the simple beauty that lies right in front of us in northern Michigan. It was also my first introduction to the Myers lifestyle -- and it’s impossible to not appreciate how they live. A way of life marked with passion, awareness and simplicity is elemental to Matt and Keegan Myers. They have acquired these traits as kiteboarders and want to share them with their community.

Kiteboarding, or kitesurfing, is a wind sport that uses a large kite specially designed to pull a rider on a board through the water.

Kiteboarding and kitesurfing refer to two different styles of riding. Kiteboarders enjoy freestyle or wakestyle riding with the use of kiteboards, which are very similar to wakeboards. Kitesurfers ride a small surfboard and concentrate more on waveriding. Both styles take advantage of similar kites. The three main types of kites used are foils, leading edge inflatable (LEI) and supporting leading edge (SLE). In addition to the kite and board, a control system with two to five lines and a bar is used to steer the kite and can be connected to a harness that fits around the rider’s waist. The required equipment has evolved, and recent innovations have made kiteboarding safer and easier than ever before. In combination with professional instruction, almost anyone can learn to kiteboard and take advantage of the enthusiastic lifestyle it creates.

almost anyone can learn to kiteboard

There’s a first time for everyone. How Matt and Keegan began…

While traveling through the South Pacific Islands in 2000, Matt was first exposed to kiteboarding in Hawaii. The sport was still new and had only just become popular in the mid ‘90s, due to the European creation of the LEI kite. This design increased safety and allowed the kite to fall in the water, keep its shape and re-launch from the water.

In 2001, a year after his trip, Matt was so inspired that he and Keegan bought their first kiteboarding kite and daringly attempted to teach themselves in Traverse City. After several dangerous disasters, they packed the equipment away. There was no such thing as a kiteboarding school at that time.

Not completely discouraged, the brothers spent the following summer in Europe, sleeping in a tent on the beach and spending every waking moment trying to master the sport. Kiteboarding was extremely popular in Europe, and hundreds of kiteboarders were on the beach every day.

The brothers watched, practiced and learned as much as possible.

Returning home to Michigan with newly-attained skills, they quickly realized that the Traverse City area could potentially be one of the best kiteboarding spots in the world with its dominant westerly winds, wide-open beaches and massive fresh water. They spent the next

Summer kiteboarding daily from the beaches of Lake Michigan. Each time the brothers went waveriding, people approached wanting to learn to kiteboard.

Though “broke” as college students, the brothers didn’t even look for summer jobs, because they needed to kiteboard every day. To make their lifestyle feasible, they eventually decided to start teaching locals how to kiteboard. The idea of making a living by sharing the sport they love blew Matt and Keegan away and, oneby- one, more students came. After graduation from MSU in 2003, they made the decision to give their all to their start-up kiteboarding business for the next few years, to see where it could take them.

the brothers have built one of the largest kiteboarding schools in the nation

Today, following what they love with hard work and dedication, the brothers have built one of the largest kiteboarding schools in the nation. Their business is based in Traverse City, and they also operate in Puerto Rico and Patagonia, Argentina, during the off-season -- to keep their clients on the water year-round.

Get Lost on the Beach.

Often, it’s too easy to get caught up in the details of life and forget to slow down to enjoy the Northern Michigan air. In our rush, we can even take where we live for granted entirely.

Fortunately, for the Myers, I am certain that kiteboarding will never allow this. Kiteboarding has introduced them and many others to most beautiful highways and hidden beaches our region has to offer and they couldn’t be more thankful. There are many activities we can pursue this summer, however, there is a growing group of people in Northern Michigan who believe that the very best way to fully appreciate and enjoy our area can be done with the simplicity of a kite on a windy day.

Often, it’s too easy to get caught up in the details of life and forget to slow down to enjoy the Northern Michigan air.

Get Wet

Broneah has designed the two-day Northern Exposure kiteboarding camp as the ultimate way to learn and experience kiteboarding. Take part right here in Traverse City every Saturday/ Sunday, or Monday/Tuesday of the entire summer to learn the muscle memory of flying a kite, the techniques needed to ‘water-relaunch’, and the skills to practice when combining riding the board. The school is outfitted with a plethora of in-season kiteboarding gear, jetskis for easy rescues, and safety equipment to keep students of all sizes and ages protected. Your coaches Davis, Nate, Kegan, and Mox are ready and excited to show you the ropes.

Visit www.broneah.com 231-392-2212 Northern Exposure 2-Day Camp: $599 One-Day Lesson: $399 NM3 Summer Special: 3 for 2 – Any group of three Northern Michigan locals can participate in any lesson program for the price of two with mention of NM3 (2008 summer season).

Places to go

Point Betsie: One of the windiest places in the Midwest, kiteboarders can often be found in any southwest wind at ‘the point’.

Frankfort: On a strong south wind, kiteboarders will voyage to the north side of the north break wall to ride head-high waves. You can also find nearly 30 surfers, kayakers, and Stand-up paddlers enjoying the swell.

Platte River Point: When the wind blows west to northeast, this is the point to be to witness kiters riding small shore break and even up into the flat water of the Platte River.

Vans Beach: Nestled just south of the harbor in Leland, Vans beach receives some of Michigan’s finest, consistent, dumping waves. Head here on any strong north wind to see some impressive airs and wave riding.

Petobego: Tucked away just three miles south of Elk Rapids, Petobego pond and its relentless current into East Bay has created miles of waist-deep, sandy bottom conditions. It is a hike to get there, but is the most popular kiteboarding spot in the area.