PM360 recently spoke to Nichol Pelchat, Sales & Marketing Manager at Valeant Pharmaceuticals, about what’s it like to surf the sky.
PM360: How did you get into kitesurfing?
I’m a “sensation seeker,” so I’ve always been attracted to adrenaline-raising sports such as skydiving, white-river kayaking, catamaran sailing and scuba diving. After the birth of my first son, Louis, in 2008, I felt routine was taking over my daily life and I developed a strong urge to try something new and exciting. While I was walking with Louis along the shore of a lake, I happened to see kitesurfers and knew I needed to try it. I took a course during my holidays and instantly fell in love with it! I also started kite skiing in the winter to practice maneuvering my kite.
How did your first try at it go and how have you improved since then?
As with most beginners, it took me a lot of time to learn basic skills with both kite and board. Fortunately, my sailing experience really helped me understand wind dynamics. With kitesurfing there’s always something new to learn with an abundance of skills and tricks to practice. While family and work commitments mean I can’t enjoy my hobby as often as I’d like, I always try to improve my skills at every session.
Are you brave enough to try any tricks?
I love risk and feel safe in water. I started jumping really early and can now jump pretty high—about 15 to 20 feet in the air. The riskiest trick I tried, but not yet succeeded at executing, is called a “megaloop,” in which you command your kite to do a full loop while at the highest peak of your jump. This gives the kite even more power and lifts you even higher.
Where are you favorite places to kitesurf?
Cape Hatteras in North Carolina is my dream kitesurfing spot. The sound provides a huge playground of flat water, ideal to try new tricks. The other sides are great for wave-riding. There are numerous amazing places to kitesurf. My next destination would be Brazil.
Do you have any advice for people who are looking to give it a try?
Kitesurfing can be very dangerous if one doesn’t know the kite and wind dynamics and safety measures. That’s why it is absolutely essential to take a course with a certified instructor. Most people won’t be able to ride on the board after the six-hour class, but they can usually start riding after another six hours of practice.
Do you have any other hobbies or interests you would still like to pursue?
I will definitely take flying lessons when time allows it. For now, I’ve just bought a motorcycle and love the experience. I’m looking forward to the next season, and am already looking at taking racing classes—of course!