If you were in Palm Beach on any given day in 2019, there was a good chance you saw Markus Edegran. You didn’t see him on a billboard or in a local TV ad or at the bar. But if you looked out at the water, and saw a guy kiteboarding, there’s a good chance it was him.
“I picked up kiting recreationally about four years ago, but now I’m all in,” he told us as he stood on the beach, readying his gear, checking the conditions. A lifelong sailor who has competed in the top echelons of the sport, Markus has recently turned his attention to kiteboard racing. You see, back in 2018 the rumor-mill started churning that kiteboard racing would be included in the Paris Olympics in 2024. Since then, he’s been training.
“I try to get on the water twice a day, every day,” he said. “I spent last spring in Palm Beach, then I went to San Francisco for the summer because that’s where the best guys race. When I rolled in there I could barely make it around the course, but after kiting all summer I was able to compete and hang with them.”
Markus is a natural-born competitor, and has raced sailboats all over the world. So the switch to kiting wasn’t too hard—there’s wind, there’s water, and you have to control the wind to go fast. How hard could it be? “The transition from racing with a team to racing by myself hasn’t been too difficult,” he said. “When I was sailing with a team I was always thinking about how I could improve myself. There’s a major teamwork aspect to racing sailboats, but there’s also a lot that you just need to do on your own. I started sailing in an Optimist by myself as a kid, so I’m kinda going back to my roots.”
After Markus got out for a training run, we took a quick break and talked about how his racing background is helping him in kiteboarding, and what it’s like to charge across the water at speeds up to 30mph. “At the end of the day, 90% of the racing is speed, so I’m trying to tweak my form and get more comfortable on the foil so I’m able to push harder and faster,” he told us while we floated around in the waves, waiting for the wind. “Heading dead downwind is what I’m best at, and when it comes to racing, I’d say tactics are a strength. Depending on the venue and the conditions, strategy plays more or less of a role. Sometimes the wind is shifty and there’s a lot more strategy. When there’s a really consistent breeze, it’s just a drag race.”
We had to ask though, how the Olympic announcement is changing the sport. “Things are heating up, for sure,” he said. “There are teams forming from different countries, and everyone is getting a little more serious. What’s really cool is that since the format of the Olympic teams will be one guy and one girl representing each country, a bunch of female teams are getting into it, while in the past it’s been a pretty male-dominated sport.”
“I don’t have a ‘coach’ really, I just go out for training sessions with guys that are faster than me,” he told us. “I study what they’re doing and ask them questions. Luckily, we’re far enough away from the Games that everyone is still friendly. I’m kiting with a guy who is top three in the world and he answers any questions. But he might not be answering so many questions in three years.”
So for a guy who has done a few international competitions with his kite, made his way out to San Francisco—the birthplace of kiteboard racing—to train with the best. What’s next? Markus’ answer came quickly: Baja. “Everyone’s going to Baja because the conditions are so good,” he said. “The breeze comes from the same direction, at the same time, every day. And then there’s this big island just off the coast that eliminates all the waves. So you’ve got flat water with consistent wind at the same time every day. It’s ideal for kiting.”
As we sat on the beach at the end of our day, we talked to Markus about what it's like living according to the wind, going wherever the breeze and the tides take him. “I’m not gonna lie, it's pretty awesome,” he told us with a laugh. “When I'm out there, most of the time it's pushing hard and training. But every time I get to a new place, just getting out on the water and cruising around, it's pretty magical. It’s not just being on the water, but with kiting we're flying above the water. I'm just standing there, flying along, and it's like totally silent—it's super peaceful.”
If that’s not the Good Life—visiting new places, meeting new people and getting out on the water—we don’t know what is.