The enormous kite powers Darren Toms along.
The enormous kite powers Darren Toms along. RON BURGIN

The big winds mean surf's up

YOU will never get a better workout, according to kite surfer Darren Toms.

“My stomach is still hurting from Sunday’s ride. You get hammered all over, really, even pumping up the sail is hard work,” he said.

Toms has been kite surfing since he witnessed the Australian Kite Boarding Championships at Elliott Heads in 2008.

“I just saw them out on the water and thought it looked bloody awesome,” he said.

“I saw an instructor who got me going but I taught myself.”

The initiation did not go all to plan, and he learned the hard way the sport could leave you with a few bruises.

“I got dragged along the sand a few times, and got a bit too far up in the air sometimes — it can be hard on your ankles if you don’t land correctly,” Toms said.

A kite surfer uses a board with or without foot-straps or bindings, combined with the power of a large kite to propel the rider and the board across the water.

The sport emerged in France and the US in the 1990s, although the premise of using kites to power vehicles has existed since the 1800s.

In that period, George Pocock used huge kites to propel carts on land and ships on the water, using a four-line control system — the same system in use today.

The intention was to establish kite power as an alternative to horsepower, partly to avoid the hated “horse tax” that was levied at that time.

Today it is done simply for enjoyment.

“When you first get up and ride, or when you do a trick or get some air, the buzz is awesome — it’s an amazing feeling, almost like you’re flying,” Toms said.

Elliott Heads and Burnett Heads are the two hot spots for kite surfers in the Bundaberg area, while Agnes Water also proves the perfect playground when there are northerly winds.

A small group of locals are part of the burgeoning sport, which has a widespread following in the larger cities along the coast.

“About 12 or 13 of us do it in Bundaberg, and my wife has started learning. It isn’t that hard to pick up when you learn the basics and have some lessons with an instructor,” Toms said.

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