Situations can be perfect.
As people, we can not be.
The journey begins.
What is the story about kiteboarder-business innovator-chef Paul Menta?
Home–Key West, Florida
The best thing about thing about Key West is being able to ride a bike everywhere and be out on the water in a couple of minutes. Some people go for a walk in the park; I go for a dive in the boat.
Born–March 1, 1966
Born in Philadelphia, most people wonder how I got into this sport since there’s no water in Philly. Concrete is a substitute for water and when it gets hot all you can do is get in trouble. In the summers I went to the Jersey shore for surfing and to the rivers for waterskiing.
- Profsssional Kiteboarder
- Owner of the Kite House, www.thekitehouse.com
- Master Instructor for PASA (Professional Air Sports Association), www.pasakiteboarding.org
- Owner, Key West Legal Rum
- Owner, Three Hands Fish
- Owner, Stoned Crab Restaurant
- Owner, Ibis Bay Resort
How it All Began
I became a Pro Kiteboarder at the ripe age of 30 making me the oldest pro on tour. Starting out later in the sport, I had a different mindset than my fellow pro riders. First off, I had a son to think about and had to treat it as a business. A bit different than being 20 years old where you get to drink and check out chicks. Instead I had to figure out an income and really check out the sport. So I created a business plan written around Kitesurftheearth.com in 1998.
At that time, the Internet had exploded and I made Kite Surf the Earth to chat and share information with other people in the sport throughout the world. I traveled to find the spots to do it in and documented it on my site. After traveling around the world twice, I found out it could be done in several places but the biggest challenge was people learning how to do it. I saw instruction as a better business opportunity and spent the next two years being a chef and running my kiteboarding business.
Encountering all walks of life from celebrities to senators 80 year-olds to a 10 year-old child. I’ve taught them all.
Kitesurfing the Sport
I changed a lot of things about the sport. Most times I would go in one direction when people would not agree and think I was completely wrong. A year or two later, things I was doing would be incorporated into the sport. Read below:
The reason is from all of the traveling and teaching. I had my pulse on the sport by talking and meeting people all over the world. The companies can only get a certain amount of information from one area. I got it from worldwide. From the instructors I was training and the students I was teaching. Feedback came from different sources.
As a result, I’ve written two manuals for PASA on Water and Snow Kiteboarding in the USA. I’ve also written and been an advisor for Kiteboarding Magazine, the Kiteboarder, SBC Kiteworld Canada, and KiteWorld UK.
Major Accomplishment: Holds Guinness Record for Fastest Kite-Surfing From Key West to Cuba
Riding against 15 to 17 ft waves was a challenge and like the support boats, the riders had to constantly throttle up and slow down to keep control in the midst of the heavy breaking waves and gusting winds. I was frequently trying to take visual range points to run on based on the support craft. I would see the 56 ft. Bertram only every third wave and it would vanish the rest of the time, since the seas were so high. Read more: http://kitesurftheearth.com/cuba.htm
Into the Air: A Kiteboarding Experience
I was the narrator and a featured personality for the movie “Into the Air”, which has been shown all over the world. Created to show a lifestyle and bring more people into the sport; it has been featured in film festivals, theaters, on television and shown on airlines as the in-flight entertainment. Watch the trailer : www.cineforcefilms.com
Producer of Kiteboarding Events and Competitions
I’ve produced two years of the Velocity Games and numerous events that included marketing, event production, event set-up and hosting.
The Velocity Games consisted of kiteboarding, skateboarding, BMX, skateboarding vert ramp, and a fashion show. Production involved everything from organizing all venues, troubleshooting, physically building the courses and working with city and government officials to make sure the event was safe. In a three to four day period, over 100,000 people attended the games. Some photos:
Craziest Place I’ve Ever Kiteboarded:
Lake Atitlan in Guatemala
Lake Atitlan in Guatemala is at the base of three volcanoes at just above 10,000 feet. The water was pure. The bluest blue I had ever seen because of the sulfur content.
I hired a local fisherman to take me out and I launched off the roof of his boat. The guy was looking at me like I was insane. It was a wooden boat with a wooden cover that was shifting everywhere when I was on top of it. Before I launched he was holding the roof of his boat asking me what I was about to do.
At 10,000 feet plus, the altitude was getting to me and I had the worst sickness and feeling in my stomach that I had ever had. I did however learn how to launch off boats. I later used this for teaching and innovated using boats to launch from instead of beaches. www.world66.com/centralamericathecaribbean/guatemala/lakeatitlan
Most Memorable Kiteboarding Session
In Front of the Ruins of the Wind Gods in Tulum, Mexico
No one had ever done it and after touring the ruins with my best friend, we wanted to kite in front of where the Wind Gods were worshiped. It was very spiritual experience.
After kiting and talking to the caretaker of the ruins, he took us later that night to meet with a Shaman for a cleansing ceremony after paying homage to the Wind Gods. It was one of the best experiences I ever had.
I have a special relationship with marine predators, one of respect, understanding and frequent exposure because of my time on the water. Sharks have bitten me twice while I was kiteboarding and most recently, a rare but serious barracuda attack while spearfishing. More on this story here: http://fksa.org/showthread.php?p=20519#post20519
One time was the shark’s fault. One time was my fault.
The first time I was attacked while kiting near dark. The shark went after my kiting lease during feeding time. The second time I landed on the head of a shark. I thought I had hit a rock and reached down to see what I was on. It was pinned and snapped back to bite me.
Catching the Next Wave: Paddlesurfing
Paddlesurfing is becoming a very popular thing. You can paddle in waves and surf with it. Do an eco-tour through mangroves and keep your body in shape for doing other sports since it gives the best core strength workout. And I like it because there’s an easy learning curve. Anyone can do it. http://fksa.org/showthread.php?t=3934
Things I Do in My Free Time
Kiteboarding, Surfing, Spearfishing in Blue Water, Freediving, Stand up Paddle Surfing, and spending time with my son.