LOS ANGELES — Professional kiteboarder Adam Koch of Seattle, Wash., will make history this month by becoming the first person to cross from Catalina Island to the California coast on a kiteboard.
Leaving from Isthmus Cove on the leeward side of the island, Koch, 24, will sail toward the mainland, aiming for his final destination of Seal Beach.
“With a crossing like this, it’s all about preparation and anticipating the unexpected,” said Koch, a long-time Gorge Games competitor who is currently ranked sixth in the world by the Professional Kite Riders Association (PKRA).
“Once I take off from Catalina, I’m exposing myself to Mother Nature. The conditions could be optimal near the island, but could be nasty in the middle. I have to be ready for anything,” he said.
The distance of the crossing will be anywhere from 26-30 miles, and the estimated time to complete it is three hours. Koch’s historic journey will be aired later this year on Fox Sports Net’s program “Evolution of Sports,” and on NBC’s “The Extremist.”
Catalina Island is a recognized part of Southern California’s iconography, and the channel between the island and the mainland has long represented a challenge for a variety of water sports.
While similar down-wind events, such as the Gorge Games’ Blowout, take place regularly, the distance and the severity of conditions will be a first for the sport of kiteboarding.
Combining elements of windsurfing, snowboarding, wakeboarding and surfing, kiteboarding is a relatively new sport that has been gaining enthusiasm since it began roughly six years ago.
Southern California has strong kiting enclaves that are centered in the Seal Beach area. Avid kiteboarders can also be found in Belmont Shores, Torrance and further north in Los Angeles County.
The sport has also been consistently growing in places like Hawaii, the Gorge, Brazil and all over Europe. One of the biggest events on the PKRA circuit is the Cabarete World Cup, which is held in the Dominican Republic.
Local kiteboarding fanatic David Tyburski of Wipika, who is ranked fifth in the world, won the Cabarete event last year. Fellow locals Jeff Tobias (Slingshot), Sky Solbach (Naish), Will James (North) and Jaime Herraiz (North) will all look to overtake him this year.
Koch currently lives and trains in Maui, Hawaii, and is sponsored by Naish Kiteboarding, Red Bull and Rip Curl. He learned to kiteboard here in the Gorge, and has been riding professionally for the past three years. His biggest pro win came at the 2001 Gorge Games, when he won first in the men’s freestyle division. He also placed third in the 2002 Blowout.
For more information about Koch’s upcoming Catalina-to-California kiteboarding adventure, visit www.reevolution.tv.