11 Sep Houston Kiteboard Club – A Slingshot Sports Demo Center
What is going on in Houston?
If you’ve been thinking to yourself that something must be going on in Houston, Texas the last few years in the world of wind sports…you are right! Phil Midler has been running the Houston Kiteboarding shop in Texas City, TX since 2005 and his shop is located right on Galveston Bay between Galveston and Houston. Thanks to a world-class teaching location, excellent winds, and the best staff in the business (proclaimed by Phil) they have been very successful first with Kiteboarding and throughout all the hydrofoil sports. Just before the pandemic broke out Phil met a man living in Surfside, TX named Todd Jones. Todd had taken a few lessons from a surfside local and was just starting to get some rides. He was learning in the Surfside surf break and having a very tough time. He was referred to the Houston Kiteboarding shop for gear and after a few conversations was convinced to start riding at our local site on the shores of Galveston Bay. The shallow, smooth warm waters and consistent wind allowed him to progress at a much quicker rate and after a few months, he moved to Texas City to be closer to better conditions. Todd thought there was a need for better access and more amenities at the local riding area and decided to team up with Phil to make a plan on how to make this happen. With the two putting their heads together they came up with a plan to purchase 8.5 acres on the Galveston Bay shoreline and started the Houston Kiteboard Club to operate and build the community that will help drive future wind sports growth in the Texas area. Todd was instrumental not only with buying the waterfront property but also the vision and commitment to make the plan happen. This is how the Slingshot center and Houston Kiteboarding Club was born.
Houston Kiteboard Club runs a day-to-day operation out of a waterfront location that is the cornerstone of the community and growth. Houston Kiteboarding runs the shop, school, and all gear sales. There is a mini shop at the property for smaller items (in the description below), but the large shop is 1 mile from the beach location and has everything a water sports enthusiast could want or need. The Club has over 600 members and is growing exponentially. People can visit the beach and try it out for 2 days with a $10 day pass. If you want to keep frequenting the location there is a yearly membership of $250. Phil is adamant that they are not building a daily use center, they are building a community of riders and want their clients to come back, session after session.
Here is what the Houston Kiteboarding Club offers:
- The property is 8.5 acres and has over a half mile of waterfront access, including 5 entrances that use artificial turf for launching, landing, and rigging areas.
- There is a gravel road with plenty of parking, RV pads for camping, and even RV on-site spaces for nightly rental.
- The site is operated and run by Houston Kiteboard Club which is a membership organization, and members have 24/7 access to the property for $250/year.
- Houston Kiteboarding offers services like lessons, coaching, rentals, up-wind jet ski service, and instructor training on-site with a full Slingshot Demo center.
- Kiteboarding, kite foiling, wing foiling, e-foiling, surf/sup/downwind foiling, and other watersports lessons are offered.
- All equipment is provided, and there are also inexpensive rentals available on new in-line Slingshot gear. We have everything Slingshot makes on-site for inexpensive rental to try before you buy.
The Houston Kiteboard Club already boasts over 600 members in its first year and is growing quickly. There is a good mix of both men and women of all ages so there is always a good mix while you are hanging on the beach or shredding on the water. To keep the community spirit alive, Houston Kite Club runs monthly events with larger events a couple times a year to bring their members together around all wind sports categories. Club members are encouraged to help each other with progression and have access to discounted services and first picks during demo gear sales.
“Our site is great because of the miles of waist-deep water with a hard-packed sandy bottom…no sea grass, no shells, just hard-packed sand for miles. We also have our predominant winds blowing from the Gulf of Mexico with no obstructions for 2000 miles, so our winds are SMOOTH and we regularly get 15-20mph most days year round with 20-30mph + winds in the fall, winter, and spring. Our teaching location has a 5-mile-long man-made dike that was built to protect the Texas City port channel on the windward side of our riding area. This dike is only about 3-5 feet tall but blocks any waves from really building before hitting our area with our predominant winds. The entire coastline in Texas City has a levee built to protect the city and industry so there are no houses or obstructions that need to be avoided along the shore and the entire shoreline is shallow so you can self-rescue anywhere in the area easily. Our area is also situated so we can ride pretty much any wind direction. If the wind is from the west, which is the least common and worst direction for our riding location we have the 2-mile-long beach at the end of the dike that is perfect on a west wind direction and is just down the road.” – Phil Midler
The Houston Kiteboarding Club riding location also encompasses one of the best areas to tanker surf in the world. It was featured in the surf film “Step into Liquid”. Galveston Bay is on average about 4-6ft deep and the Port of Houston dredged a 50ft deep channel the length of the bay to accommodate tankers, container ships, cruise boats, and other large transport vessels. The constant need to dredge and the shallowness of the bay when these boats run down this channel creates a plunger effect and the shallow shoals make for ample breaks along the 18 miles of the shipping route. Vessels big enough to surf foil run 24 hours a day 7 days a week and never stop. If you go out for 2 hours of surfing, you will usually ride 3-5 boat wakes. The best part is you can see the boats coming from the kiting area with enough time to grab your gear, jump in the boat, and catch the wake.
The Houston Kiteboarding school and mini shop is also onsite with small items like pumps, hats, shirts, booties, harnesses, etc. just in case you get to the beach and left that harness back in Houston. The large shop with hundreds of kites, wings, boards, wing boards, harnesses, etc. is only 1 mile from the beach location so even if you need to pick up another big-ticket item it is only minutes away. The school has many Jet skis with rescue sleds on site for lessons and clinics as well. There are also newly installed showers, benches, tables, and shaded areas with fresh sand to relax before or after your session.
At the Houston Kiteboarding Club, you ride all year round with the average temp never going below 55 degrees and the water temp staying warm all year. The summers are hot, and get a good sea breeze every afternoon that is always enough to foil and usually picks up to around 15-20mph late in the day. The Fall and Spring winds are the highest with Feb-May providing a mix of North wind cold fronts with winds 25-35mph and South winds of 15-25mph. In June and July, there are S or SE winds of 10-25 mph strong sea breeze and August and September are usually pretty light at 10-15mph daily sea breeze. For October-January there is a mix of North wind cold fronts with strong winds of 25-35mph with south winds of 10-20mph mixed in. We get a lot of sun year-round and rain is usually short-lived.
Houston Kiteboarding Club is close to two international airports with inexpensive rental cars. The Houston Hobby terminal which is a Southwest Airlines hub is only 30 minutes from the property and the Houston Bush Intercontinental airport which is a United hub is only 1.5 hours away. At both terminals, you can rent a car for the week for about $200 or so and you will need a car in Houston. If you are feeling the itch to check out the city, they are located about 45 minutes from downtown Houston and about 15 minutes north of Galveston in Texas City, right on Galveston Bay.
If you were scratching your head trying to figure out where to travel to for your next kiting destination, look no further than the Houston Kiteboarding Club in Galveston Bay, TX.