Interview with LaRoy Rutledge

Authors: 
Joe Hadzicki
Article type: 
Discourse

There is a whole range of radical, recreational sports dependent upon excellent kite flying skills: kite buggying, snow kiting, hang gliding, and paragliding, to name just a few. One of the fastest growing water sports in the U.S. is foilboarding (also known as hydrofoil kiteboarding), an extreme segment of kiteboarding. In place of a flat kiteboard, picture a small surfboard with a carbon fiber wing attached one meter below it. At speed, the wing lifts the rider and the board a couple of feet above the water, creating a virtual “magic carpet” ride. The first foilboards were towed behind boats or jet skis (think surfer Laird Hamilton: www.youtube.com/watch?v=N01vrLwAWiM), but in recent years kiteboarders have adopted their use. Using kites in place of motorized watercraft, foilboarders are able to glide through the water with reduced friction, reach higher speeds, and kiteboard in lighter conditions than ever before.

Foilboards have taken this sport to a whole different level. The sport is gaining in popularity because it is so efficient, allowing riders to go fast with very little wind – perhaps twenty knots across the water in winds of only six or seven knots! But it also requires the rider to have very good and precise kite flying skills.

A local hero in the San Diego kiteboarding community, LaRoy Rutledge, is an inspiration to many younger riders and is generous with his help and advice to newbies. He’s ridden with the best in a whole host of sports from drag racing to surfing, and from snowboarding to kiteboarding. LaRoy is passionate about foilboarding, which he discovered two years ago. Though he has high level skills, he also has a common sense attitude and the ability to relate to the beginning foilboarder. He emphasizes how important it is to be able to fly instinctually and have mastery of safety systems for all kinds of situations because things can get dangerous quickly.

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