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Rick Iverson: Kiteboarder

(Photo - Iverson) An aficionado of wind and wave, Rick Iverson now combines the two. On weekends, he heads to Waddell Beach near Santa Cruz, straps a 9 square meter sheet to himself via four 70-foot ropes, steps onto something akin to a wakeboard, and lets the 20-knot winds pull him to sea.

"Kiteboarding gives you so much power," he says. "You can catch every wave you can see. Just dig in your heels and carve out a turn."

A PEP-II engineering physicist, Iverson has worked at SLAC since 1983. Having grown up in Newport Beach, Iverson began surfing at age 11. He tried hang-gliding but found it too dangerous. Windsurfing was fun, but he says, "you need a milk truck to haul your gear."

Colleague Pantaleo Romandi introduced Iverson to kiteboarding while the two were working on the Final Focus Test Beam in 1999. "As soon as I started, I sold all my windsurfing gear," Iverson recalls. "At that time, windsurfing shops happened to sell kites but no one knew how to use them. We taught ourselves."

Mastering the kite is not a simple feat. Still, Iverson says it's easier to learn than windsurfing—and the lightness of a kiteboard lets him jump 30 feet.

Although Iverson enjoys kiteboarding in the relatively calm San Francisco Bay, he prefers Waddell for its waves. Still, the open ocean can have its downsides. While out one spring afternoon, Iverson saw whales traveling north and headed over. "I ended up kiting right through the spray. They've got terrible breath. You don't want to do that."

Random encounters with krill breath aside, Iverson is happy to watch the sun sink through the fog as the wind tugs him through the waves.

—Krista Zala
SLAC Today, July 12, 2006

Image: Rick Iverson on the water. (Click on image for larger version.)