While most people despise windy weather, University of La Verne freshman Sean Farley makes the most of it. For him, the wind is far from a nuisance, it is a boon. The wind is not simply a weather element to Farley; it is a vital instrument that allows him to do what he does best – kiteboarding.
Mexican-born Farley has been kiteboarding for three years and is currently the Mexican national champion. He has participated in competitions all over the world—from Hawaii to South Africa—and is sponsored by brands like North Kiteboarding, Dakine, Red Bull and Bomber Eyewear.
It all started when his father, Michael Farley, bought him a magazine on the sport.
“I knew he would take to it, as it incorporates all the disciplines he enjoys,” Michael Farley said.
Kiteboarding – or kitesurfing as it is sometimes known – involves using a power kite to pull a small surfboard over water, or a wheeled board on land, or a snowboard over snow.
The sport originated in France in 1984 and is becoming increasingly popular around the world.
Kiteboarding on water is the biggest part of the sport and the method that Sean Farley is most involved with.
“Since kiteboarding is such a diverse sport, everyone can have their little aspect they love,” Sean Farley said. “Personally I try to do everything I can with a kite and every kind of board. The fact that we’re using wind to do incredible things, not polluting a bit, and having such great fun is the best thing.”
Sean Farley trains as often as possible, but said that it is difficult to do so in California due to the lack of strong winds.
“We’re fully dependent on wind, and Southern California doesn’t cooperate too much with it,” he said. “In Southern California beach restrictions keep us in certain areas, but I mostly kiteboard at Seal Beach, Belmont Shores and Sunset Beach.”
Sean Farley usually competes once a month and has won 10 prestigious titles, including five first place positions.
His father spent 20 years on the professional sailboat racing world tour and is now a professional yacht captain. Having had an interest in sailing all his life, it was only fitting that Sean Farley took up an associated sport.
“It gives us great pleasure in watching Sean advance in the ranks of his chosen sport. I only wish that equipment had been available in my youth,” Michael Farley said. “His mom, sister and I are his biggest fans. Whenever we can, we are there to watch him compete and we will continue to support him and watch him at his upcoming events.”
Kiteboarding is seen as an “extreme sport,” meaning certain risks are involved. Sean Farley said that it is important to be aware of the dangers and manage them appropriately.
“Accidents are part of any sport, but preparedness and focus helps keep them away,” Sean Farley said.
“In kiteboarding we fall every minute when we’re out there pushing our limits, yet most of these won’t do any more than what a belly slap from a trampoline does,” he added.
So far the 18-year-old has managed to avoid serious injury.
“Bad accidents in kiteboarding are when people cannot control the brutal amount of force a kite can produce, and end up being dragged over parking lots, into rocks and trees,” Sean Farley said.
“Fortunately, I’ve always been careful enough to where such an accident has never happened to me,” he added.
Sean Farley and his friend Eduardo Ochoa Sanchez learned to kiteboard together in Mexico.
“My dad and his dad are very close friends,” Sanchez said. “When the first kites arrived in Mexico our dads tried to get a kite for us. Sean and I grew up in a very similar scenario. We were both inspired by water sports thanks to our dads.”
Kiteboarding is an activity that anyone can take part in. The female world champion is a mere 11-years-old, and Sean Farley said that he meets 80-year-old kiteboarders on the beach.
“Everyone can do it; it’s truly easy to do, but it requires lots of instruction and guidance,” he said. “It’s important not to use any friend who kiteboards as a teacher. Instruction is definitely a must.”
Kiteboarding can be an expensive sport, with beginner packages of board, harness and kite costing $2,000 or more. However, stores such as Kites Etc. in Sunset Beach do deals on equipment after taking lessons with them.
As an undecided major at ULV, Sean Farley regularly has to miss classes due to his sport. Today he leaves school for two weeks to be filmed for a surf and kiteboard reality show.
Competitions regularly clash with his class schedule, but fortunately for Sean Farley, his professors are cooperative and understand the importance of his other commitments.
His father’s paternal pride explains why Sean Farley is so successful at what he does.
“What really sets him apart is his ability to focus on his goals and follow through with whatever it takes to achieve them. He has always excelled at whatever sport he has taken up,” Michael Farley said. “I have no doubt that he will succeed in whatever he decides to do.”
Rhian Morgan can be reached at email@example.com.