No place like home for ‘WA’s Kai’

Reuben CarderGeraldton Guardian
Patrick Smyth, cruising on a wing foil in Exmouth. He is one of only a handful of people wing foiling in Geraldton.
Camera IconPatrick Smyth, cruising on a wing foil in Exmouth. He is one of only a handful of people wing foiling in Geraldton. Credit: Supplied

A local junior kitesurfer whose style has been compared to that of Hawaiian surfer Kai Lenny loves Geraldton and hopes to stick around in town.

Patrick Smyth has already won a national contest and has offers from up and down the coast to work as a kitesurfing instructor when he is old enough, but mum Conny says this is where he wants to be.

The 15-year-old is helping bring new types of water sports to Geraldton at a time when the city is looking to enhance its reputation as a top wind and water fun destination and get young people to stay in the region.

His kitesurfing career could take him across the world to places such as Maui, Hawaii, but if he was not in Geraldton his top pick would be somewhere nearby in WA.

“Patrick wants to live in Geraldton in the long run,” Conny said.

“He also loves fishing and diving. So, he sees himself working on a charter boat, instructing kitesurfing and he is dreaming of going on the Global Kite Association pro tour.”

Patrick has already worked on a fishing charter in Exmouth and foiled and surfed there.

“I don’t think he’ll venture too far from here — he loves it here,” Conny said. “There are about three or four people who are doing wing foil in Geraldton. Patrick, he surfs, SUPs, foils, does wing foil.

“He’s a little ripper and does it all.”

Lenny, 27, is a Hawaii-based big-wave surfer, stand-up paddle surfer and racer, and kite and windsurfer, among other sports.

Patrick is already looking at a career in kiteboarding, after already winning his first competition in the eastern states.

“The dream at this stage is he’d like to be a pro rider,” Conny said.

“As a back-up, he’s thinking of being a kitesurfing instructor. His career will definitely be something to do with water.”

Patrick also sees fishing charters as another potential back-up plan.

But his kitesurfing career has started well so far, and he is already working with an even younger crop of riders coming through.

Kiteboarding is great, accessible summer fun and can be easily learned within a few lessons, although it pays to get professional lessons because of the strength of the local winds and the power kites can generate.

Conny said some people were more natural than others, but most people could learn kiteboarding within about three to 10 lessons.

“People generally learn it pretty quickly,” she said. “Definitely get lessons from a professional instructor because it can be dangerous if you don’t know what you’re doing; the first lesson is all about safety. It definitely pays to get someone as a teacher.”

She said Patrick was likely to be out diving around the Geraldton area at any given moment.

In wing foil, people ride a smaller board with a hydrofoil to raise the rider out of the water and cut surface tension. A foil wing is a handheld wing based on a similar design to line kites.

Geraldton is rated as one of the world’s top destinations for kite and windsurfing. Geraldton’s Jaeger Stone, a Red Bull Storm Chase windsurf competitor and newly crowned Mid West Sports Star of the Year, said at the awards he regarded Geraldton as a windsurfing paradise.

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