Pittsburg, California, a moderate-sized industrial city located in the East Bay region of the San Francisco Bay Area, has hopes of establishing itself as a sports destination, thanks to two things it has in abundance: wind and water.
With its inaugural Launch the Launch Ramp Kiteboarding Competition at Riverview Park along the Sacramento River, Pittsburg is setting theambitious goal of becoming the next big home of kitesurfing. The Launch event, held in late June, featured wakeboarding, windsurfing, surfing and paragliding – although kitesurfing took center stage.
According to local news source The Daily Democrat, Pittsburg city officials and local kiteboarders hope a reputation for good kitesurfing will help lead the area to a new source of revenue for redeveloping its modest downtown area. The recent event attracted elite kitesurfers, but Pittsburg would like to become a destination for participants at all levels of the sport. (The sport is already a good source of income in areas like Aruba and the Outer Banks, where tourists will pay for rental equipment, or for a lesson and some water time, and Pittsburg hopes to have similar success).
“The city has spent about $170,000 (plus staff time) to install two launch ramps for use by kiteboarders, paddleboarders and others who have been going to places like Stinson Beach in Marin County, Point Pinole, Sherman Island near Antioch, several beaches in San Francisco and numerous other Bay Area spots to catch a wave and a strong gust,” wrote Sam Richards of the Bay Area News Group.
Currently, nearby Sherman Island remains a favorite destination for kitesurfing. Pittsburg officials maintain that their city has more amenities than Sherman Island, and it’s hoping to attract those kitesufers with facilities, hotels, inns, shops and restaurants.
According to The Daily Democrat, city officials would like to see Pittsburg become a stop on the professional kiteboard tour, a series of events overseen by the American Kiteboard Association.
While kiteboarding’s participation numbers are still small – it is, after all, an extreme sport – the number of global participants appear to be on the rise. According to a 2012 study conducted by the International Sailing Federation (ISAF), approximately 180,000 kites and 75,000 boards (known as hulls, in the parlance of the sport) are sold globally every year, and the average annual growth rate has been estimated at 10 percent. The 2011 kiteboarding World Championship held on Sylt Island in Germany attracted approximately 110,000 spectators over six days of events.