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Riding The Waves With Great Lakes Kiteboarding

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Riding With Passion: Great Lakes Kiteboarding

 The First Kiteboarding School In Michigan Bringing People Out Onto The Water For More Than 15 Years

Kiteboarding On Clear Blue Waters

Riding waves... Feeling the wind... Seeing the sea animals just below the water's surface... A fairly new action sport, kiteboarding is an exhilarating way to experience the water (and the air – jumps can easily reach 50 to 80 feet high). And one of the best places to experience kiteboarding is at Tawas State Park with instructors from Great Lakes Kiteboarding. Just the rider and a giant, inflatable kite.

The first kiteboarding school in Michigan, Great Lakes Kiteboarding has been bringing people out onto the water for more than 15 years. And founder Brian LeFeve believes it's their passion for the sport that has kept them ahead of the competition.

“We have a passion for it,” said LeFeve, “and people love how we do it. When you love something it's easy to transfer that passion to somebody else when you're teaching them. You’re sharing something you love. I love to see their smiles, their excitement... Nothing can take the place of that.”

The instructors at Great Lakes Kiteboarding have been kiting for at least 10 years. They have a reputation as the best instructors. They teach a certain way. They teach the “real stuff,” said LeFeve, who has been kiting for 20 years.

And 20 years is a long time... Kiteboarding has only been around since the late 90s. Before kiteboarding, LeFeve was working as a wind surfing instructor. They were sent a kite. After figuring out how to use the kite there was really no going back for LeFeve.

The amount of air one can catch while kiteboarding is substantially more than any other water sport – easily up to 80 feet. It also requires less equipment – no gear or sails required. Said LeFeve: “It's just you, your kite, your board...” And the board is really small compared to other surf boards.

Doing Tricks While Kitboarding [Courtesy/Great Lakes Kiteboarding]
Riding The Waves [Courtesy/Great Lakes Kiteboarding]

And despite kiteboarding's simplicity, it actually is more versatile than wind surfing. They can go out and surf on lighter wind days and work the kite for power, generating their own wind. They can ride wave after wave. There are a lot more opportunities and abilities compared to a typical surfer.

When kiteboarding came to the forefront, wind surfing took a huge hit and decline, recalled LeFeve. People gravitated to kiteboarding because of how easy it was to learn and because it required less strength. That opened it up to children, non-athletes, seniors...

“We have a 73 year old man doing this with us for the past three years,” LeFeve said. “There's such a broad spectrum of age and ability. There's an article in AARP about all these 70 and 80 year olds getting into it, which is really cool.”

The five kiteboarding instructors at Great Lakes Kiteboarding teach at two or three-day kiteboarding camps at Tawas State Park. Students set up camp or hook up their RV's at the campground and get ready to test out a trainer kite on land. Once they are deemed “self-sufficient” and know all of the safety aspects, they can get out on the water with confidence, usually the same day.

And there's no better place to go kiteboarding for the first time than Tawas State Park. The location is unique for kiteboarding because it's a two-mile peninsula that goes out into the lake, creating thermal, consistent winds. The protected area has very little waves. It's very flat, it's shallow.

Teaching Kiteboarding Instructions [Courtesy/Great Lakes Kiteboarding]
Father & Son Kiteboarding [Courtesy/Great Lakes Kiteboarding]

“We've had pros come out here and they're blown away by what we have,” said LeFeve. “We're lucky to have this in our backyard. It's a very well-known place for wind surfing and kiteboarding.”

LeFeve himself has traveled all over the world, kiteboarding, and it's still one of his top five places to kite. While he has entered professional competitions and remembers surfing next to dolphins or in the same vicinity as sharks, some of his favorite memories are still from his time spent at the Great Lakes.

“I have experiences of jumping really high off of huge waves and riding bigger waves,” he said. “People don't realize the wave size at the Great Lakes.”

He commonly jumps over 50 feet.

LeFeve's passion for kiteboarding comes as no surprise to anyone who knows him. He grew up sailing and wind surfing since he was about six years old. He spent his summers on Lake Huron, loving the water. He swam. He surfed. He's always been on the water. Now he wake boards, wind surfs, surfs and does stand-up paddle board racing.

“I just have a draw to the water,” he said. “It's a passion.”


Olivia Richman

A graduate of East Connecticut State University in Journalism, Olivia has written for Stonebridge Press & Antiques Marketplace among others. She enjoys writing, running and video games.

Harbortown RV Resort

Make Sure To Stay At:

Harbortown RV Resort, which is a Southeast Michigan RV resort with a lovely setting just right for camping near Lake Erie. The campground is loaded with plenty of trees, a pond, a creek and landscaped grounds.


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