As the wind starts to weave through the intricacies of Hatteras Island, as it often does, adrenaline begins to course through the veins of every watersports junkie to have ever walked these coastal shores. It is no different for Ed Tack and Justin Davis of Radikal Kiteboarding. The first kiteboarding shop you hit as you enter Hatteras Island from the north, it is eagerly tucked on the sound side of NC Highway 12, making its presence known in hues of bright blue and lime green.
I recently sat down with Tack to learn more about the craft of kiteboarding and more about what made Radikal Kiteboarding come to fruition. While Davis has deep island roots, Tack “followed the wind” to the area in 2006. Fresh off of a venture in Florida, he dove further into the rapidly growing island industry taking on various jobs as an instructor, something that came naturally as he has a teaching degree, which he also put to use in a more traditional sense at Cape Hatteras Secondary School. The two were roommates, both thriving in their passion for kiting and both experienced in the field, so with a little needed push from Davis and friends, Tack jumped on board and Radikal Kiteboarding was born.
While most of their competitors are largely retail, Tack stuck to what he knows: teaching. Dubbed as more of a watersports “school”, they have 3 full-time instructors on staff, topped with Davis at the helm of the drone camp side of the business. While they offer Stand-Up Paddleboarding (SUP), jet-ski and surfboard rentals, they also provide lessons in surfing and kiting and for the adrenaline junkies, they additionally host the Jetovator, a unique contraption that attaches to the jet-ski exhaust to give the “jonesing” their ultimate air on calm days.
Locally coined “the Tri-Villages”, Salvo, Waves and Rodanthe are easily the hub for wind-driven watersports on Hatteras Island as it is consistently the windiest part of the island. Because of this, the majority of his competitors are essentially in his back yard. How does he deal? With a whole lot of heart! Kiting and teaching are his passion. With that, they strive for self-sufficiency within their lessons as they try to get people into the sport, on their own, as safely and inexpensively as possible, offering comparable lessons at competitive pricing while using only experienced instructors. They are also the only ones who are large in the hobby drone business. I was a little curious how they came to pair the two, but as he explained it, kiting and drones really do go hand-in-hand. Kiters can get the aerial view using superior technology at a decent price and with the different levels of drones available, they can go as far into it as they’d like. As this part of the business is Davis’ expertise and passion, they are each living the dream within their part of the business: “Do what you like, like what you do”.
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