Let’s go surf a kite

Words and photos by Dave Barry

Kite-surfer Dez Robertson sweeps across Scarborough’s south bay, back and forth, again and again.

The mesmerising display of wind power was watched by countless people on the beach, on the piers, on cliff paths, in houses and hotels.

Viewed from the top of the old town, only the crescent-shaped green and blue kite was visible, appearing to bounce along the rooftops, from side to side.

In a south-easterly wind, Dez spent a good hour skimming the surface of the sea, often in the shallowest part, where the incoming tide lapped at the sand.

A kite-surfing veteran of 15 years, he skilfully manoeuvred his way across the waves, tacking upwind using the same sailing principle as yachts.

As he bounced across waves, he occasionally lifted off and at one point turned 180 degrees in mid-air, losing his short kite-board.

The £1,600 kite was attached to Dez by a harness around his midriff, over his wetsuit. He controlled its movements with four dynemer lines with a joint breaking strain of 600lb. A fifth line is used to collapse the kite in case of emergency.

Dez was test-flying a Sculp demonstration kite for a company called CrazyFly. The rim and spars have air in so if it lands in water it’s easier to relaunch. Made of strong nylon, it is rigid when inflated with an air-pump.

Dez, who has two surf-kites of his own, is one of three people in Scarborough who practise kite-surfing, which is classified as an extreme sport and is therefore dangerous. “It depends on how experienced you are and if you have the right gear and are reading the wind conditions”, he says. “Safety is always paramount”.

Dez’s kite journey began with power-kites, flown from the beach. He progressed to beach-based kite-buggying and land-boarding before going to Fuerteventura to learn the basics of kite-surfing, including self-rescue.

He says he has never been interested in conventional surfing. “I haven’t got the patience for spending most of the time in the water, waiting for the right waves”.

Needless to say, kite-surfing depends on the wind. “It’s all about reading the wind and finding the right conditions, using the wind-window principle when flying my kite”, Jez explains.

Odd as it may sound, the wind is better a few miles further south. “We usually prefer Fraisthorpe near Bridlington. The wind is more consistent”.

Aged 48, Dez is a father of three who has lived in Scarborough since 1978. He works for Promech Solutions in Eastfield, manufacturering low floor buses and coach parts.