Ashburton kitemaker Peter Lynn was ecstatic to hear that the sport of kiteboarding would feature at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
“It’s just incredible, I’m over the moon. I never thought it would happen in my lifetime,” he said from his home yesterday.
For Mr Lynn, a pioneer of the kite buggy, the emergence of kiteboarding as a worldwide phenomenon ends a personal crusade after years of deliberation over design and testing at Lake Clearwater.
He reckoned he tried 147 crafts in the pursuit of the best design, most of which are still lying in his yard.
“We used our kids as crash test dummies in the early days. It was very difficult on Lake Clearwater. The winds struggled to get around the 15km/h and there was a lot of times something would break or you would get thrown off,” he said.
Still, it was case of “if we can learn to do it here you can do it anywhere”, he recalled.
Even the windsurfers he was sharing the lake with were annoyed.
He said they called him and his family the “Clowns of Clearwater”.
“They used to tell me to f*** off you bloody idiot. I remember another time I got stuck and it was around dusk and I asked a windsurfer to help but he was not interested,” he said.
A close friend was not convinced either. He suggested Mr Lynn should just go out and buy a boat.
Nowadays it was different and many windsurfers were less hostile while some had even adopted kiteboarding.
“It used to be around a ratio of 50/2 windsurfers over kiteboarders on Lake Clearwater. That has virtually gone the other way now,” he said.
Mr Lynn understands the Olympic event, which will replace windsurfing, will be a course event and less spectacular than conventional kiteboarding. It was unlikely there would be any aerial hi-jinks.
However, he said kiteboards matched even the fastest sail boats on the planet.
“Kiteboards hold the outright record for speed. They have taken records from sailboats. Some can get up to around 50 knots that is 85km/h,” he said.
The sport has also become safer.
Equipment and training had advanced and while there were still fatalities it was no more dangerous than downhill skiing, according to Mr Lynn.
He expected the sport to keep growing following the Olympic exposure, but he said kiteboarding was not a new concept.
“George Pocock was the kite traction founder and he had a book written in 1827. Also there is evidence kite-winded craft were used during the Polynesian Diaspora from Hawaii.”