Every movement starts with a story. But without a dedicated, passionate team working relentlessly to turn a coffee conversation into action, there won't be any story worth telling and ultimately spreading.
Why all of a sudden Hill who never seems to do much about the oceans has gone on a quixotic quest to save the oceans? I’m not a very charitable person. I don’t have a whole lot to give in the first place, in terms of possessions anyway. I hardly make ends meet every month and I have to give it a second thought and do a thorough calculation if I want to buy my parents a trip to somewhere exotic. I'm also not the most generous person with my time either. But what drove me to go on this crazy ride in the name of saving oceans? It might not sound the most attractive thing but it is really about guilt.
Over the course of the past 10 years, seeing the increasing amount of people going to do beach cleanups every weekend, I also got increasingly agitated. On one hand, I was annoyed by the trash lying about, and on the other, I just can’t bring myself to do beach cleaning. In fact, where I used to work and live on a coastal beach club in Taiwan, every morning, I’d walk down to the beach with all my kite gear and would walk past my South African neighbour who would walk up with a bag of trash. I always thought he is so great but at the same time, I also thought that oh...you just made me look so bad. During the 4 years, I lived right there by the beach. I have never once just voluntarily gone down to my beach to pick up trash. Part of me would rather go kiting. Another part of me just doesn't believe the act is making any difference or is effective. It is so laborious and boring. But I keep telling myself that one day I’ll do something about it. Something fun and practical in my view.
So that one day has finally come. This project, putting ‘Kitesurf for a Cleaner Ocean' together is by no means easier than doing a weekly beach cleanup. And many people would ask how much impact you’re actually making or going to make with all these efforts and money? I came to realize that it is not about debating whether it is the most effective way to solve the problems. Sometimes it is simply about choosing a medium that you believe in, run with it and do it wholeheartedly. Because every little bit helps.
I've been around the ocean and waterways all my life & always wondered why as humans we treated it like a garbage can? I've always wanted to take a more proactive approach to address the "why?" of the situation, but just never had the time and commitment line up, until recently. As a windsurfer since 1983 and then kiteboarder since 2012, to enjoy the water as much as we do, it's time to give back and protect this precious resource, and I'm just honoured that Hill asked if I would be interested to join, and I'm pleased to be on board.
BOARD MEMBER & DEVELOPMENT CONSULTANT
I have been in the sports and watersports industry pretty much all my life in one way or another, as a competitor, trainer, event’s organiser and through the media. The seas, oceans and rivers have played a big part in both my work and recreational life, so it is massively sad to see over the years how we have turned these beautiful environments into our global rubbish tips.
At first, you see it when you are out kiting or paddling and think, that’s not great, but soon forget about it as your training session unfolds and stories of great ‘daring do’ are told back on the beach. Sometimes you think, this is bad, something should be done about it, but you carry on working as you have a competition to run. Then sometimes you find yourself stopping your filming as you realise the stunning backdrop you are interviewing in, is ruined by plastic trash blowing around peoples feet.
I have been half-conscious of this for years, but never really thinking to do much about it, at least not directly, easier just to complain to friends and ‘point the finger’ at who is causing it all. It’s such a big problem, there is nothing I can do to fix it - I think I have been part of that group of people who wants to do something, but never really knows how to or could find the time to be involved.
Then a long-time friend and kiter, Hillian Siu asked me to help out with a crazy idea she had to kitesurf from Hong Kong to Macau to raise awareness of the ocean plastic problem in our local waters. But Hill’s idea went further than this, she also wanted to do something to try to address the problem and use kitesurfing as the vehicle to do it. Impressively Hill achieved the Hong Kong to Macau crossing, even with all its difficulties of crossing some of the world’s busiest shipping lanes and having to deal with three different countries borders and waters – launching Kitesurf for a Cleaner Ocean!
The goal is now to build on this success and use our kitesurfing passion to help the oceans we kite in to recover. I love the notion that kitesurfers are being asked to kite, so nothing outside of the zone, the winds up and you will be out there anyway. Just once in a while your session has an extra meaning and raises some funds to help to take on the challenge of cleaning up our mess.
I for one am really looking forward to seeing the movement grow, getting in some great kiting and having fun with a lot of people around the world, as we support something that will start to take on the plastic trash problem.
KITESURF & MEDIA CONSULTANT
Having grown up in California competing at the highest levels of NCAA swimming and water polo, and then involved with windsurfing, I appreciated the outdoors and ocean in a way which became more apparent in when I moved to Asia. The main call to emotion was the difference in pollution which Asia had, mainly in terms of bad air, when I first moved to the region. Water quality was an issue in some places, but Asia has plenty of unspoiled beautiful locations where you could dive and escape the scenes of an overstretched planet.
I am attracted to this cause as I started kiting in Asia in 1998, with the famed 2-line kites, and continue to use the water in many ways, mainly with open water swimming, and large events we organize, and competitive outrigger canoe racing. This exposure, along with diving, was got me started in this space over 10 years ago, as I could not understand why there was not much of a global public discussion or awareness on the topic. We have since become a vocal, international creative leader on the topic, working with United Nations Environment, the World Bank and the Clinton Global Initiative to bring about entrepreneurial solutions, programs and awareness-raising activities which help to get people engaged, and be part of the opportunities for change. One of these such programs is our Global Alert app, in English and Spanish, which allows people to report trash hotspots anywhere in the world’s waterways or coastlines.
We also work to bring the sports community into the environmental discussion, as athletes are the ones who use land and waters for training and competing, and are often more aware of the pitfalls of our failure to protect. Sports and our Ocean Ambassadors, which include a few kiters, can help to bridge the gap with those who might not see the environmental changes happening under their noses, and who can inspire others to follow. Without sports, and the appreciation for the outdoors, I would not be doing what I am with Ocean Recovery Alliance. We like to support new good events when they come along that can capture the imagination and spirit of a new community, like kiting, and this event is one of them.
I’ve been enthralled with the beachy lifestyle from when I was a kid. Growing up I dreamed of living close to the ocean and after high school in Georgia, I headed out on an adventure to go to the University of Hawaii. Making some friends while studying, I enjoyed going to the beach and learning how to bodyboard and bodysurf. I also became a lifeguard eventually and taught swimming and water safety. My studies took me to Asia where traveled, lived, and worked for five years. I noticed that some places did not have the clean water Hawaii is known for and wondered how that might be changed for the better. After meeting Owen Jellison and at his suggestion, Hill and I discussed linking up with the For a Cleaner Ocean team to help make the world’s oceans cleaner together.
BOARD MEMBER & OUTREACH CONSULTANT