Adrenaline-Seeking Techies Converge at The Gorge For Kiteboarding and Cliff Jumping

By Kym McNicholas , written on September 13, 2012

From The News Desk

The kiteboarding techies are at it again -- traveling the world looking for new spots to satisfy their hunger for excitement.

An annual event called, MaiTai, which started in Maui by Charles River Ventures Partner Bill Tai and professional kiteboarder Susi Mai in 2007, landed at the Columbia River Gorge, Hood River near Portland, Oregon this summer. (Watch the video above. Great footage!)

The event first moved beyond the islands to include Salt Lake City, Utah for the winter version of the sport, snowkiting in 2008. And this summer, the event which attracted about 150 kiteboard loving professionals including entrepreneurs, investors, and for the first time ever, folks from Hollywood converged at this hot outdoor adventure destination along the West Coast. It was the brainchild of MaiTai attendees Aaron Sales and Matt Sweeting.

Screenwriter Karen McCullah, known for movies "10 Things I Hate About You", "Legally Blonde", and "The Ugly Truth", as well as Motion Picture special effects expert Morris May, known most recently for his work on "Spider-man 2", joined Venture Capitalist and Angel Investor Bill Tai, PeopleBrowsr CEO Jodee Rich, Site Manager of Dallas Data Center Google Inc. Dave Karlson, Ryan Hartman of of INSITU Robotics Academy, Nike's Head of Global Talent Acquisition Lori Harrod, and many other business professionals, as well as professional kiteboarders from around the world, including Jesse Richman, Erika Heineken, and Johnny Heineken.

I really thought this kiteboarding craze would blow over (a little joke). But more and more people are signing up to learn. I talked to Francis Pedraza, CEO of dream building company Everest, who's taking his first lesson this week. Brenden Marshall, CEO of Chef and dinner party planner match-making company Kitchit just picked up the sport. And Scott Zimmerman, co-founder of entrepreneurial adventure company Xola, and his Director of Operations Alyssa Ravasio tried it for the first time at the Gorge.

And this adrenaline-pumping activity is only going to grow in popularity, with kiteboarding now a sport in the 2016 Olympics. Also a new movie featuring the sport along with surfing called,  "Of Men And Mavericks" hits the big screen in November, which will stir up even more excitement. Jeff Kafka, who owns Wind Over Water kiteboarding school in Burlingame, California, and has also helped coach Google Founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, is in that movie along with Gerard Butler.

So, counting on the continued interest in the sport, Bill Tai and Susi Mai are taking the MaiTai brand global, pairing it with start-up competitions in Brazil and Australia in 2013.

But no matter how big this event gets, Maui will always be that one place where the original kiteboarding techies who've been part of this event from inception, will gather each year.