NANTUCKET — The breeze feels warm and salty as Juraj Bencat, 42, soars over a deserted Pocomo Point. The kiteboarder’s view is stunning and his landing is graceful. It’s late afternoon but Bencat has no intention of going home before nightfall. On the shore, his 2-year-old dog Sena yawns and digs deeper in the sand.
Bencat is no summer tourist. He’s out here all year long, whenever there’s wind. The more wind the better.
“When nobody else wants to be out, I want to be there. I want to be riding it. I love it up in the air when it’s stormy and crazy,” he said. “There’s just so much excitement going out in the big waves, jumping high and doing all kinds of tricks.”
He’s kiteboarded on nights when the full moon rises orange and on days when the only spectators are seals. He’s had a bird’s eye view of schools of fish returning in the spring and million-dollar yachts with women wearing the latest summer bikinis. He prefers the foamy, angry seas in the winter when it blows 40 knots and the locals refer to the island as “the Rock.”
Bencat worked as a structural engineer in Slovakia before making his biggest leap, taking a job as a carpenter on Nantucket. In his off-time he does residential design projects.
Today he’s also an International Kiteboarding Organization certified instructor and owner of KiteTucket, a kiteboard school where the lessons are held on the beach and in the water. His clients range from 10 to 76 years old.
“If I can make a living out of it why not?” he said. “The season is so short, I wish I could only be teaching kiteboarding. It’s ideal being outside enjoying the summer.”
He said no experience is needed. “We can teach you how to catch the wind. It’s fun, it’s exciting,” he said. Occasionally he has to rescue a rookie kiteboarder, but nothing serious, he said.
Over the 15 past years, more than 50,000 kiteboarders have been certified worldwide. Since 2014, the number of certifications has increased by 8 percent each year, according to the IKO.
Bencat is definitely high-tech. His board automatically records his jumping height, airtime, and landing G-force.
He doesn’t check it but he is currently 54th in the nation in total height, according to a woosports.com leaderboard. That’s behind such characters as the Yeti, DJ Guacamole, Night Rider Kent, and Mike “Wind Jesus” Zinser. His highest jump was more than 50 feet. The world record is more than 90 feet.
Kiteboarding got some attention last winter when former president Barack Obama tried the sport in the British Virgin Islands.
Bencat said it’s similar to teaching skiing and that it is a great core exercise that uses the legs and midsection more than the arms.
Stan Grossfeld can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org