Kiting since: 1996
Average number of days kited per year: 250 to 300
Approximate total days of kiteboarding: 4,000-plus
Home: Maui, Hawaii
Sacrifices: “When I kite for longer than six hours, I become land-sick, and the room moves around when I watch TV. It’s a small sacrifice to make.”
If you try to envision the kiteboarder who has had the most sessions ever, chances are you wouldn’t imagine him to be a 62-year-old retiree. But you would if you’ve ever met Jim Bones.
The Kite Beach fixture started riding in 1996, back in the days of two-line kites, when a handful of intrepid pioneers endured stratospheric loftings and being dragged across reefs and into trees just to get their fixes.
Every windy day since his first ride, Bones has logged four- to five-hour sessions surfing waves, cruising flat water and hanging out with whales and turtles. He has even endured the pain of kiting while injured, like the session during which his bicep was torn. “The thrill you get kiting is hard to replace, so it’s all worth it,” he says with a grin. “You get to fly like Peter Pan, for God’s sake, and what greater thing can be done in this life than to kite a five-hour wave?”
With so much time on a kite, the Naish team rider has had his share of incredible experiences. He has seen a whale rise up beneath a windsurfer and has watched in awe as the sailor slid down the massive creature’s back. “I’ve also fallen asleep while kiting — twice,” he says, laughing. “I was tow-in surfing all morning and then went out kiting for five hours. The sun was shining directly in my eyes, so I closed them for a minute. Next thing I know, I hear this cannon’like boom from my kite crashing. I’m suddenly sinking in the water and wondering where I am.
“Life is short, so do the most fun thing first,” Bones adds with a chuckle. “To those who don’t get as many sessions as they’d like, I’d have to say, ‘Kiteboarding is the most fun thing you’ll do in your life, so don’t hesitate!’”