Dave Shah — Kiteboarder


Q: What does kiteboarding involve exactly?

A: Kiteboarding entails riding a board on the ocean or any relatively large body of water and attaching to a large kite that runs somewhere between 5 and 17 meters as a source of pull. The sport is comparable to wakeboarding, but allows for greater freedom while jumping or performing freestyle maneuvers. Kiteboarding is an extremely diverse sport, offering riding styles ranging from riding huge waves to jumping a 10-story building.

Q: Where do you typically kiteboard?

A: My favorite spot is undoubtedly Kite Beach, Maui. However, I am frequently travelling to new locations such as Bali, Indonesia, Cape Town, South Africa, and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Locally, I enjoy kiteboarding at Belmont Shores in Long Beach and Seal Beach.

Q: How many hours do you put in?

A: During the Southern California season, which ranges from March to November, I kiteboard for an average of about 12-14 hours per week. During the offseason, however, I travel frequently to train, shoot photos, and compete. My pilot’s license proves to be very useful here.

Q: When did you start competing, and what competitions have you been involved in?

A: I started competing in 2011. My first competitions were races here in California. Soon, I progressed enough to compete nationally, placing 12th in 2013. It was around this point that I found a greater interest in big air, freestyle, and wakestyle. Before long, I had found a new niche and began competing in these areas.

Q: What kind of people do you meet in kiteboarding?

A: Since I began kiteboarding at age 8, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting athletes from locations around the globe and learning about numerous new cultures. In fact, it’s nearly impossible to predict whom I will run into at each session. Often times, I am surprised by recognizable faces, like that of the Google founders, or even one of the sport’s greatest activists, Sir Richard Branson. The networking that goes on at the beach after a fun session on the water is simply incomparable. Kiteboarding has led me to new business opportunities and brought me guidance that is invaluable.

Q: So are most people in the sport older than you?

A: Definitely. Besides being a moderately expensive sport when starting out, the sport of kiteboarding often intimidates spectators. Viewers are in disbelief when they see a kiteboarder jumping over 60 feet high or surfing a 60 foot wave. So naturally, adults shield their 5-year-olds from giving the sport a go. Please do note, though, that the sport has become incredibly safer and there hasn’t been a better time to learn.

Q:Is it hard balancing kiteboarding with school?

A: Absolutely. While kiteboarding is highly addictive and dangerously fun, I find it imperative to find a balance between work and play. Kiteboarding has been a huge part of who I am and I look forward to many more years as a professional kiteboarder. Nonetheless, I’ve refused to give up my other passions. As an avid aviator, I’ve recently earned my pilot’s license, starred in a TV show, and become an activist for a cleaner ocean. Down the line, I hope to pursue a career in venture capital and make the American Dream even more accessible.


To learn more about Dave, visit his website at www.daveshahkiteboarding.com.