Kitesurf Sailing News

Barack Obama Kitesurfing: Kite challenge, Obama vs Richard Branson, in the Virgin Islands

Are you wondering how former President Barack Obama is adjusting to life under the Trump administration? Know this: he seems to be doing just fine learning to kitesurf!

Mr. Obama and his wife, Michelle Obama, took a vacation to the British Virgin Islands, where they have been hosted by Richard Branson, the chief executive of the Virgin Group.

On Tuesday 7th February 2017, billionaire Richard Branson published a blog post, along with photos and video, showing Mr. Obama trying out some high-adrenaline water and athletic recreation in the Virgin Islands, in a friendly competition off the coast of Branson’s Moskito island: Mr. Obama was learning to kitesurf!

In fact, now that Obama is free from many Secret Service-imposed restrictions that did not allow him to partake in activities like surfing, Branson offered Obama the chance to learn how to kitesurf.

In order to have a fun play and because the  perfect conditions to learn to kitesurf, Branson and Obama agreed to set up a friendly challenge: could Barack learn to kitesurf before Branson learned to kite with a foilboard? They agreed to have a final day battle to see who could stay up on the board the longest.

Kitesurfing (also known as kiteboarding, kitesurf or simply kite) is a fairly new sport   that which outfits a surfer on board with a handheld kite for propulsion. Holding onto a kite foil board means kitesurfing while riding a surfboard with a hydrofoil that lifts the board above the water surface. Kitesurfing has really taken off in the past decade. It is a sport easy to learn and really enjoyable.

Pictures published in a post on the Virgin Group website show the 44th president Barack Obama learning to kiteboard.

Barack started learning to kitesurf on the beach for two days, picking up the basics and flying a kite as if going back to being a child again. Then he went into the water, standing up and getting a feel for the kite. Finally, he put the board at his feet and gave it a go.

“One of the first stories Barack told me when he and Michelle arrived on Moskito Island was how, just before he became president, he had been surfing on a dangerous break in Hawaii. When he came in from an exhilarating session, the new head of his security team turned to him and said: ‘This will be the last time you surf for eight years.’ For the next eight years he didn’t have the chance to surf, enjoy watersports or do many of the things he loved. (…) I challenged the ex-president to learn how to kiteboard before I could learn to foilboard. (…) Being the former president of America, there was lots of security around, but Barack was able to really relax and get into kitesurf. After all he has done for the world, I couldn’t begrudge him his well-deserved win. (..) Regarding me, I soon learned that foilboarding, even if you can kitesurf, is a completely new kite-sport. You come shooting out of the water, crashing down at high speed, and very much need a helmet and impact vest. Now Barack has left, I’m going back into the water to practice for the next challenge”, Branson wrote on Virgin’s website.

In the battle video clip, you could see the Obama and Branson friendly competition to see if Obama could learn to kitesurf more quickly than Branson could learn how to kite with a hydro foil board. As you could see in the video, Barack and Richard fell many times, but they kept trying again and again to kitesurf and they made progress over the days. Obama and Branson were neck and neck until the last run on the last day, when Richard got up on the foilboard and flew above the water for over 50 meters. But Barack go 100 meters on his twintip kiteboard! Finally Obama won by 50 meters!


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