Aside from its career directing kite, blimp, and hot-air-balloon traffic, the wind also works part-time as a hair-blower on fashion photo shoots. Try a new wind-based hobby with today's Groupon: for $20, you get a two-hour, on-land, introductory kiteboarding lesson at Helm of Sun Valley in San Mateo ($60 value). Classes are offered Friday evenings from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Helm of Sun Valley's trained and experienced instructors take a safety-focused approach to teaching high-adrenaline winter and summer board sports. In a two-hour ground lesson, a seasoned wind-harnesser introduces fledgling kiters to the sport and imparts an understanding of wind window theory and the ocean drape hypothesis. From the comfort of the beach, breeze-surfers-in-training can absorb how to launch, steer, and land a kite and how to safely manage their zephyr-gliding steed. Instructors provide all equipment as well as give up to 12 students per class essential knowledge needed for future water lessons and obscure game-show categories. After the lesson, students have the opportunity to purchase a training kite and instructional DVD should they choose to further their kiteboarding careers.
Helm of Sun Valley
Over the course of 50 years, the family that runs Helm of Sun Valley has amassed an inventory of top-shelf gear for wintry recreation and summertime watersports. Before stocking their shelves, the shop's athletic staffers take skis from Alpina, kiteboards from Cabrinha, and water skis from Connelly for test spins to appraise their performance. Standout sports gear snags a spot inside the store, along with apparel and accessories. Employees also rent out and tune up equipment. They specialize in fitting snowboard boots to feet, sometimes fashioning custom ZipFit liners by molding foam around arches. New kiteboard owners can master the sport by attending lessons, during which instructors teach basics on land before waving pupils onward into frothy crests.