Harnessing the power of the wind
Jeffrey Thieux was born in New Orleans and was transferred to Madagascar at a young age while his father was in the Army. When they returned to France he lived between sea and mountains, surf and ski. He was a passionate for Agronomy but his creativity made him evolve into a first-rate hair stylist, owner of one of the top salons in the center of Monte-Carlo, frequented by the who-is-who in the area. In one of my hair appointments he started talking to me about his passion for sports. Growing up bicycling, skating, snowboarding, surfing and waking, it is evident kite-surfing arrived at a time where Jeffrey was longing for ecological calm, away from the noise of an engine with the inevitable gasoline consumption that goes with it. The board + kite combo became a dream come true, when he became a kite-surfer!
Kitesurfing, also known as kiteboarding, and sometimes as fly surfing in Europe, involves using a power kite to pull a small surfboard on water, or a wheeled board on land. It is a surface water sport combining aspects of wakeboarding, windsurfing, surfing, paragliding and gymnastics into one extreme sport.
It is one of the most popular extreme sports of the new millennium. Kite surfers use inflatable kites tethered to harnesses to glide through water and air. Kite surfing is still in its infancy, but is quickly becoming a safer sport due to innovations in kite design and safety systems. Many riding styles have evolved to suit different types of riders, i.e. ‘wake’ style, wave riding, freestyle, jumping, and cruising.
A kiteboarder harnesses the power of the wind with a large controllable power kite to be propelled across the water on a kiteboard similar to a wakeboard or a small surfboard, with or without foot straps or bindings. Kitesurfing is a style of kiteboarding that’s specific to wave riding, using standard surfboards or boards shaped specifically for kitesurfing.
The Camargue area ideal for kite-surfing
Jeffrey loves the Camargue in France, and he was happy to describe it to me: “It is so wild, immense and free, with pink flamingos everywhere, and rice fields with unimaginable colors. A spot with incredible basins perfect for free-style.” Authentic small villages inhabited by truly marvelous people. Paradise found only three hours by car, and we still travel to the four corners of the world to do kite-surfing! “When we fall in love with this sport, it becomes an addiction, a feeling of freedom and to slide without engine, awesome when we make silhouettes in the air,” he added.
Like father like son
Jeffrey believes that kite-surfing is easy to learn, that you just have to know the sea, the wind, that’s all. But if you want to venture in free-style, he says it is like riding a bicycle, but when we want to do acrobatic movements it becomes much more difficult. It is a sport accessible to all and without a specific physical requirement, that can be practiced almost everywhere, and lately year-long training centers that also provide equipment rentals are erected in beaches all over France and everywhere in the world.
He travels everywhere to see kite surfing competitions in France, accompanied by his young teenage son Loulou, who is a Monaco native, and who having only practiced for three years is progressing rapidly and is ready to compete. Proving that the fruit does not fall far form the tree!
Jeffrey believes that in the near future kite-surfing will be included in the Olympic Games. In 2012 the number of kite-surfers was estimated by the International Sailing Federation (ISAF) and the International Kiteboard Association (IKA – founded in April 2008) at 1.5 million people worldwide. That’s why Jeffrey would love to create an association in Monaco so Loulou would be able to “kiter” with his friends, and at the same time make it possible for young people to discover this sport. Jeffrey said: “Loulou and I are fan of all the sports, passionate for sport events to the extreme, no matter which one. It is always a pleasure to share the same passions.”
This is kitesurfing
“I’m learning kite surfing. It’s a little surfboard you have on your feet with straps, and you have a big kite like a power glider in the air that pulls you. You don’t need waves to move, and it makes a big spray of water as you go.” Bertrand Piccard – Solar Impulse