Castaways to South Padre Island

Another excursion to South Padre Island has come to a close.  This yearly pilgrimage continues to be such a great threshold from snowkiting to kitesurfing and this year was no exception.  After the best winter in memory, and kiting deeply imbedded in our lives we headed south, to the place we know oh so well.  Where we can fall so quickly into the groove, and bask in all the island has to provide.



The Castaways are an assorted lot.  Friendships that have formed from connections during previous trips, high school friends, east side riders, and a shared bizarre sense of humor.  It is not in any way an exclusive group as we are just part of the Minnesotan clan that makes the journey south each year.

We were fortunate to have a mechanical problem arise at the house we had arranged to stay and were relocated into one of the nicest digs on the island.  This $1.5M home allowed us to live like kings.  The sunrise illuminated the entire main space as the floor-to-ceiling glass wall peered out across the short dunes and across the ocean.  Love it when things come together and provide such unexpected gifts.



We all commented on the change we all have made in our diets over the years.  Not too many years back, we were grilling brats and burgers on the beach.  These days every meal includes fresh, organic, lean, wonderful creations.  Feed the body, feed the stoke…for years to come.

We arrived to a rockin 10m session.  The new launch at the In-Law flats worked out perfect though a bit disorientating.  The winds then were a bit light for few days.  Mainly 14s.  There was a lot of hanging out and BS’n, and letting go of the lists of our lives up north.  About 10pm one night the winds started to howl.  We shot out to the waters edge to ride.  I had brought some flares purchased a few years ago for Denis and my Lake Michigan crossing.  Unfortunately they were no longer active.  We shot the car lights out across the water and rigged.  The police showed up wondering what on earth was going on out in the middle of the dunes.  Once they figured out we were just crazy kiters, they were stoked to see us hit the water.  Randy, Reds, Roger, Adam and Keith hit the water while I waded out to take some shots.  What a bizarre experience.  Once out of the car lights it was quite dark.  Voices replaced sight as you could hear the crew calling out to each other as they approached.  Adam was hootin and hollarin in pure joy the entire time.



Unfortunately the big winds returned as part of our crew headed home after their long weekend.  It’s amazing how the whole sense of this place changes when it dries out, gets hot and the mega winds return.  Or maybe it’s the second stage of the groove that we all get in as the ritual of the day on Padre becomes routine.


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We had a bit of beautiful riding on the coast, but the conditions never really kicked in.  The locals blamed it on the colder gulf waters this year.  It was unfortunate not to get the incredible downwind wave experience but the sessions on the bayside were classic Padre; fan steady winds to boost you skyward, brilliant blue skies, shallow clear waters…oh so good.

120 GB of video later we end this trip with so many great memories.  I’ll be editing for quite some time.  Until then below are some shots from the week. Some of mine some from Roger Burke.

I am so grateful to be able to go through the padre experience each year with such an amazing group of individuals.  On and off the water, you guys rock!  Happy, thank you, more please.

About the author


Tighe Belden has been riding the wind for over 30 years. He has been active in the windsport community for over 3 decades, as an instructor, event coordinator, creator of Lakawa and now End of Session, and stokes people on the latest gear as a Tech Ambassador for Slingshot Sports.

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