A week or so ago I was sitting at a picnic table having a Gatorade watching the the last few kiteboarders of the day getting in one last session before the sun set behind the horizon. At the table next to me was a group of guys, one of which with long blonde hair and a beard that everyone seemed to recognize but when someone came to say hi to him he didn't just shake their hand he gave them a genuine hug of friendship. This man had a really great energy about him and as I watched I noticed something familiar ... I had seen him in a clip in the kiteboarding movie called "Chapter One" ... I was pretty sure it was Sam Medysky, professional kiteboarder and one time voted kiteboarder of the year.
I knew Sam. Over 10 years ago I had taken my first kiteboarding lessons in Aruba and I came home wanting to learn more so I signed up with him and his dad to continue the journey. It was a cold April or May day and Sam and I were in the water talking about many things from sailing to martial arts and life in general, one subject of which we discussed was the book I was reading at the time from Malcolm Gladwell about 10,000 hours being a marker to achieve master status at something. As I couldn't not overhear the conversation at their table I noticed one of his friends was talking about the exact same subject! Life is funny that way, the little ironies, coincidences and synchronicities.
Here I was on a dream trip to the outer banks to gain my own kiteboarding instructor certification and hone my skills while at the table next to me was one of the people who helped me learn the sport thousands of miles away and over 10 years ago. It's amazing when you are "in the flow" the cool little experiences and encounters that occur. Sam looked different now. He seems to have grown into a fine man since I last saw him. Back then he was much smaller and skinnier but he always seemed like a good "kid" and that same vibe seems to radiate from him know.
At the time, his dad seemed pretty cool too and he and I talked about how he ordered a kite that he and Sam learned to ride before being inspired to start a kiteboarding school. The coincidences didn't end at that picnic table. Last January I was in Turks and Caicos and I was streaming through the water riding a warm sunset thermal wind virtually alone except for a couple of other kiters off in the distance. I was practicing my upwind pointing as one of the other riders approached and I used the opportunity to compare how high he could point versus myself. As he streamed past I noticed that unmistakable mustache ... it was Dan Medysky, Sam's father... what a small world I thought.
So here I was at a picnic table sitting next to Sam wondering if I should say hi... what would i say? Maybe I would go up and thank him (and his dad) for teaching me to kite... or maybe I would congratulate him on his life's journey and the successes he's had, or maybe I would make some joke about how different he looked now... In the end I said nothing and just felt that warm glow you get from warm memories and good vibes.
After I finished my lessons with the Medysky's I bought some gear and would drive the 3 hours north to practice in the same bay the Medysky's taught. There I would see Sam and his dad teaching others to ride occasionally saying hi or waving a "shaka" there way. They were always very attentive to their students and spent the day teaching sometimes getting in a session of their own after their students were done for the day. Then one day the wind was blowing off the charts and no one was on the water in the bay so I went to another beach to watch the waves, and ironically there was Sam and his dad setting up their kites in over 25 knots of wind. This I had to see.
Sam took off first riding his blue and silver kite with the giant Slinghshot and Red Bull logos .... within a minute and with what appeared to be no hesitation he launched what looked like an 80 foot jump and looped the kite, landed and did it again! This was the first time I had seen that! His dad then took off on the water, riding significantly more conservative but still impressive nonetheless given the wind and conditions. I thought it was pretty cool when a dad could be a hero to a son and vice versa and how I would love to inspire children of my own one day.
Now here I am many years later having recently seen both him and his dad and having just come across a post about Sam turning 27 yesterday while clicking through links about surf and wind conditions. So why not write a post about the encounter .... Happy birthday old friend, acquaintance, journeyman, fellow traveler through time and space ... I'm glad to see dreams do come true. Maybe coincidence will cross our paths again one day but until then I'll raise my glass of ice coffee perched next to me as i type this post to both you and your dad and say thanks for being a part of my journey and one of my kiteboarding teachers along the way .... Cheers, Aloha and all the best!