Chasing Wind with the Saskatchewan Windriders
They were partly responsible for bringing Redbull into the city of Regina with their Kite Farm Competition in 2015, but what happens to all those crazy snowkiters in the summertime?
They swap snowsuits for wetsuits and tackle the wind and waves in Southern Saskatchewan as kitesurfers and windsurfers.
If not familiar with either sport, kitesurfing is a water sport that’s an intense mash up of wakeboarding, kiting, paragliding and a dash of gymnastics. A kiteboarder harnesses the power of the wind with a giant kite while gliding across the water on a board. Kitesurfer’s manage to swing sick jumps with their kites, catching air as high as 15 to 20 metres above the water.
Photo Credit: Corrie Coons
Windsurfers combine surfing and sailing to also glide on top of the water and over waves. Although they might seem like a crazy group as they often head out in weather most people prefer to stay indoors for, they’re really just passionate about what they do.
Known officially as the Saskatchewan Windriders, the provincial club includes more than 60 members from all over Saskatchewan but a large portion are from Regina.
Having joined in for a few beginning sessions snowkiting and even flyboarding with the crew (a flyboard is connected to a jetski and uses water propulsion to launch the participant into the air above the water), I have first-hand experience with how welcoming and fun the Windriders’ community is.
But both sports aren’t always easy to start. (For a good laugh, check out my attempt at snowkiting north of Regina and my first time windsurfing at Lake Diefenbaker as the 2015 Saskatchewanderer). The biggest challenge to finding success kitesurfing and windsurfing is getting enough wind to head out and practice. The most optimal speeds for kitesurfing are roughly 30 kilometres an hour in the summertime. But thankfully locations nearby like Foxes Point in Rowan’s Ravine Provincial Park and Regina Beach on Last Mountain Lake whip up some great wind. In fact, that’s your best option to snag a kitesurfing lesson with Explore Sports owner Aaron Hackle. You can rent gear from his shop in Regina Beach, plan a lesson with a certified instructor or pick up a gift certificate for a friend. You might be surprised at how much fun you have and how addicting the sport is despite the non-stop crashes in the water while learning.
And the sport is clearly not just for men either. Several women, including the club’s current president, Caitlin Stewart, are passionate about kitesurfing. Caitlin grew up at Regina Beach as her dad was involved in the windsurfing community. She picked up a kite and board in her late teens and has been hooked since.
Photo Credit Daniel Koenig
And local kitesurfer Corrie Coons has competed at Canadian Nationals three years in a row, earning multiple first places in border kite race cross, international freestyle and big air – dominating both the male and female competitors.
Photo Credit: Corrie Coons
Throughout the summer, the Windriders host several events. Most recently they held their 31st Annual Wind and Water event at Lake Diefenbaker near Elbow on Father’s Day Weekend. It’s part kitesurfing competition depending on the wind and part good-times with friends no matter the weather. Camping out at Tuft’s Bay everyone brings their gear, including some extras like paddleboards, unicycles, yoga mats, slacklines and spikeball to ensure the event is a success.
It’s no surprise then that when the wind blows in Regina, you’ll find kitesurfers and windsurfers booking time off early from work to head out and hit the waves and water and harness the power of Saskatchewan’s wind.