I made my way directly to the Dallas Road bluffs at Beacon Hill Park that day in 1998 I drove to Victoria for a vacation from Fort McMurray where I’d been working in the bush doing research. I got out of the car, walked to the edge of the cliffs and took a lingering look out across the ocean I’d been missing since moving away a few years prior to pursue a degree, and then work. The reminders in that trip sparked chemical reactions in the salt water in my blood. I didn’t last long. By 1999 I had moved back to the Island, where I’ve remained ever since.
Surveying from the bluffs that day nearly 17 years ago there was nothing to see on the sea other than chop and foam. The brightly-coloured canopies hauling neoprene-clad kiteboarders that now launch from the foot of Cook Street on any day with enough wind hadn’t yet arrived. Today, with just such a wind blowing for the first time of this project I walked down the beach to satisfy my long-held curiosity about this sport and the people who animate it.
“I got into it because I’ve always had an absolute love of the ocean and the coast,” says Wade, a lifelong resident of the Island, who’s been kiting for five years. “It’s a sport where once you have the gear it’s just you, and the wind, and the water. It’s natural.
It feels _awesome_. It feels great, just being out on the water, being in the elements, it’s amazing.
I’ve gained a lot of knowledge about the wind, getting more involved with weather, weather predictions, watching what’s going on, what the waves are doing. I’m just constantly trying to learn more about weather in order to be able to predict wind better. For example, you get to know that when it’s just ripples on the water, you’re looking at 8 knots. 10-12 and you start to get sparse whitecaps. Once you get up to 16-18 knots you have pretty consistent whitecaps. And then over 20 is solid whitecaps, 25-30 is rolling whitecaps, and then over 35 the whitecaps are actually being cut. You become really good at noticing what’s going on.
You become more closely connected.
Another avenue that I’ve started doing on the Island, I’ve taken up hunting - I find that that really connects you with what’s going on in life. I find that we’re so disconnected with the whole food processing system…I go to the store, I buy my meat that someone’s raised and killed it in a slaughterhouse, someone’s cut it up for me, and I just get this piece of meat in a bag. You’re so disconnected from it all. I wanted to do my own hunting so that I could actually be connected to that whole process, because that’s where we came from.
So I’m looking for that in a variety of places. And I have it here. I feel really comfortable with the ocean and water. I feel a strong connection with everything that’s going."