Rider: Keith McGeown
Co-founder of Elementsportz, Keith isone of the top wave kiters in Ireland.Originally from Drogheda and now living in Belfast he gives us some backgroundinto his passion for wave kiting.
How did you start kiting?
I started surﬁng in 93 when I was in college.Once I graduated I
decided to do my ownendless summer surf trip around the worldthat lasted a glorious
18months… Most of thistime was spent living and surﬁng the northernbeaches of Sydney where I had a house. Youcan’t beat surﬁng before and after work,especially in boardies or a steamer!
When Igot back to Ireland I was frustrated by the lack of water time and inconsistent swell I wasgetting, after having been swell-spoiled in Oz,Indo and Hawaii. A friend suggested checking out kitesurﬁng but being a surfer and having seen it in the mags I kind of dismissed it. Butafter some convincing I decided to go have alook at some lads doing it in Dublin. Onarrival some fella was doing 3’ or 4’ jumps andcrashing down like a rock. At that point Ithought to myself 'that looks like fun!'. 3 dayslater I booked a lesson. That was June 2001and I've not looked back
Is any of your family into surﬁng orkiting?
Ya my partner, Sweva kited and competedback in the day but she hasn’t been on thewater for a while, career break I think they callit. I’ve had my 2yr son Killian on a long boardand an SUP but he’s still a little too young forit yet defo potential there tho! I’ve swapped allhis Bob the Builder dvds with surf movieshoping for a brain-wash effect:-D
Where is your favourite beach and what conditions are best?
It’s hard to call a favourite spot as there are somany both in Ireland and aboard, and on theright day and in the right conditions anywherecan be magic. And the same place can just asquick do the nasty on you too if the windshifts or the tides are wrong! Scored theMullet a couple of times last year in perfectcross-off which was very nice, just a park andride down the line… There’s a reef inDonegal (secret spot?)that on the right tide,wind and swell direction can be amazing - butit's so rare to score it with everything on. Keepwatching the charts! It's hard to beatRossnowlagh as beach break though.
Whats the deal with the shorts over wetsuit look?
I used to wear boardies over the wetsuit back in my freestyle days to save the wetsuit. Asanyone that rode with me back then would tell you I spent half the time getting dragged upthe beach unhooked from a missed handlepass or other trick, and the shorts saved manyan innocent beach-goer from a ﬂash of McGeown cheek! Now I only ride waves Idon’t bother with the shorts, it just makes abig swim back to the shore more hassle. Youcan forget about looking stylish if you’ve akilometre plus swim to make and rollersbreaking on your head the whole way in.
What gear are you riding?
I’ve been riding Ozones since 07. Found themmega stable in the waves and because theyhave their own factory, build quality is secondto none. In this year's quiver I’ve a 10m C4and 8m, and a 6m Catalyst. All fast with loadsof depower. And the biggest factor for me...no pulleys! Gives me all the windrangewithout the stress of something breaking or jamming when a big set is bearing down. As for boards, deﬁnitely wave boards…Haven’t owed a twin-tip in a couple of years. Iride a 6’1 Al Merrick K-small custom, a 5’11Firewire yum yum and a 5’8 SlingshotCeleritas. Each have their conditions forexcelling which makes choosing on the daypretty easy. All strapless of course.
A lot of the Northern kiters are ﬂying Ozones. Are you responsible?
I guess I had a part to play in that, EddieHawkins as well but the reality is people willride what they like, what suits their style andmost importantly what’s reliable. You can readall the hype on the internet and in themagazines but the fact is until to try it youcan’t tell if it’s for you or not.
Luckily thelocal riders all love the kites.
Can you jump on a wave board?
O’yes but be careful most wave boards aren’tconstructed to handle the impact of a heavylanding on the deck. I normally take out the5’8 if I’m having a strapless jumping/trick session. It’s good craic when the waves aresmall or not there at all. It’s also good topractice keeping your feet on the board whenin the air, something that comes in very usefulwhen you’re trying to get out the back on thebigger days. Just try not to land on anupwards facing ﬁn…
Whats your worst wipeout story?
Other than the 3 months on crutches I’vebeen very lucky. Couple of big swims over the years but if your going to go out in waves thenI guess you have to be prepared for that long swim to the shore.
Favourite kite clip?
But if you want inspiration in the waves Ithink you have to look beyond kiting intosurﬁng and what’s going on there. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7M_o3TmMilk
Whose your kite daddy?
When is the next big event in yourkiting life?
Just waiting the next big swell. When I startedit was all about the wind and any wind woulddo... now it’s hard to get excited for anything less than 18knots and a 3m swell. Just a windsnob now I guess... ; )