Chesterton Tribune



Kiteboarders can register now for Downwind Classic April 8 at Porter Beach

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Surfers who can’t quite get the velocity they crave just by riding Lake Michigan’s waves can always try strapping a kite to their back for a serious wind-assisted amp.

It’s called kiteboarding, and on Saturday, April 8, the Duneland-based Stoke Riders kiteboarding school will be hosting the Race the Lake Downwind Classic at Porter Beach for intermediate and advanced riders.

Stoke Riders owner Tyler Spence has been teaching folks to kiteboard for over four years--he’s certified by the International Kiteboarding Organization (IKO)--and, after summering in Dune Acres for most of his life, decided to move to Chesterton “full-time” in 2016. The reason? “We have the best beaches for kiteboarding on Lake Michigan,” he says.

Kiteboarding combines the “thrill of surfing, paragliding, and parasailing all in one,” Spence explains. “It involves being pulled on a board similar to a wakeboard or surfboard while being attached to a kite that propels you on the water, over the waves, and through the air. All you need is enough wind and the right wind direction to catch what kiteboarders call ‘The Stoke!’”

The Race the Lake Downwind Classic is not for beginners, Spence says. The event is open only to kiteboarders with an IKO Level 3L certification, “which means you’ve passed a series of progression benchmarks and are now a safe rider with the ability to kiteboard upwind and downwind without crashing.”

The entry fee is $30 and the registration deadline is Saturday, March 25. Register at

Proper wetsuit attire is required and check-in time will be from 8 to 9 a.m.

No-wind make-up dates, should the gusts on April 8 prove not up to snuff: April 9, 22, or 23. For updates on the Downwind Classic, check the Stoke Riders Twitter feed at @stoke_riders

Competitors will be randomly assigned to a team of at least five members--so far enough kiteboarders have registered to field seven teams--with each team being launched in waves, intermediate riders going first with “the more advanced riders to follow to help anyone in need of assistance,” Spence says. The winning team will be the one whose members all finish, with the fastest cumulative time.

“In order for a team to win, each rider will have to make sure all teammates complete the journey,” Spence notes. “Especially with the cold water, each team will need to have a buddy system to check on one another.”

All competitors, moreover, will be entered in a raffle with a chance to win a new 2017 carbon fiber kiteboard designed by the event’s main sponsor, Brokite, whose co-owner, West Hansen, is famous in the kiteboard community not only for his creations but for his Bro Crew posse, who’ve “carved more waves with more style over more miles than any other kite crew.”

Spence noted that he’s been working with the Town of Porter and Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore “to ensure the event runs smoothly and safely,” and that volunteers will be stationed along the race course “with warm water in case any of the riders’ extremities get cold.”

“Kiteboarding is all about connecting with nature by harnessing the incredible power of the wind,” Spence says. “The feeling of being propelled over the water is unparalleled and anyone can do it. All you need are the right instructions, equipment, knowledge of wind conditions, and the will to do it.”

The Race the Lake Downwind Classic is also being sponsored locally by Pedal Power Rentals, which rents bicycles in season--beginning on Memorial Day--at the Dorothy Buell Memorial Visitor Center.



Posted 3/22/2017





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