I remember the first time I saw Meryl Streep – it was in the film “ Manhattan” with Woody Allen – I knew that she was destined for stardom (to date no one has had more Academy Awards nominations & wins). I had exactly that same feeling when, while limin’ on the beach in front of the Cow Wreck Bar in Anegada, I saw a young blonde pistol of energy, Madison "Madi" Van Heurck (16), go kite surfing. You can count on it – Madi, as he is affectionately known by his friends, is destined for a top spot as one of the world’s most famed kite surfers. Madi is extremely intelligent as well as being a “rubber man” on his board; not only is he excellent in his craft but is also one of the most erudite young men I have ever met. From St. Thomas, Madi is being home-schooled with support from his father, Nicolas – a Navy contract pilot, and mother, Maria – a helicopter pilot, so that he can participate in the PKRA – the Professional Kite Riders Association this year.
I spoke with Madi as he was pumping up his kite before heading out over the azure, turquoise waters of Anegada’s northern shore. “Kitesurfing is a combination of surfing and wake boarding where you are getting pulled by a kite and balancing on a board. It’s not like anything in particular, but the feeling you get would be comparable to standing up on a miniature high speed boat. You use the power from the kite to stay up in the water and get flying through the air. My father first learned how to kite and I learned by watching him – I also love to wakeboard, surf, and skimboard. I love to do anything water related. As in any sport, kite-surfing can be very dangerous if you don’t know what you’re doing. To avoid the dangers, you must make sure you have good equipment – take a lesson, and learn to read the weather conditions.”
“The sport is so new that there are no classes in the PKRA – just men and women – they haven’t made a juniors division yet. We are judged in 7 minute heats and during that time you try to perform as many tricks as possible. The judges score you on technical difficulty, power, height, smoothness, style, innovation, etc. – 360s and 720s are among the easiest tricks.”
Madi has been kite-surfing for three years and has already taken a 3 rd place at the Mexico Red Bull King of the Air Qualifier on Cozumel Island in Quintana Roo, Mexico; a 2 nd in the Michigan Red Bull Qualifier and a 3 rd in the Belgium PKRA Championship. He arrived at the Cow Wreck with other kite-surfers from St. Thomas. “I like to come to the Cow Wreck because the wind is really steady out here and it’s away from all of the other islands. It’s a great change and a beautiful island. As far as my equipment goes, my kite is called the Torch II and I ride any size from four square meters to twelve square meters. My board is a 114 centimeter Sol custom made by Naish Kiteboarding. Kitesurfing is a sport that everyone should try. It is amazingly easy and too much fun.”
This is one young man to watch for in the coming years. Madi told me that his goal is to be in the top 5 on the World Tour but I’ll bet my last dollar that he makes it to #1 – in my book at least!