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Travel BLOG
February 18, 2014

Meet a Local: Kitesurfer Lydia Snider

We recently caught up with local entrepreneur and kitesurfer Lydia Snider after her talk wowed us at Event Santa Cruz, a monthly series featuring successful businesses in Santa Cruz and the dynamic people behind them.


When Lydia Snider bought her first wet suit, it was a big deal. Having grown up in Washington D.C., 3 1/2 miles from the White House, the first thing she did after moving to the West Coast was run straight into the ocean and quickly realize she wasn't in the Atlantic anymore…brrr! So she traded her annual purchase of a full length wool coat for a wetsuit. “My wetsuit is my wool coat now,” says Snider, a social media strategist and avid kitesurfer. Photo: Allen Jones Photo: Allen Jones


Controlling a kite with the power of a Mack truck, while simultaneously maneuvering a board on water at an average speed of 30 miles per hour takes guts, stamina and adrenaline—all of which Snider possesses tenfold. But shortly before learning to kitesurf eight years ago, a scuba accident left her afraid of the waves. Caught off guard while diving, a rogue set of waves carried Snider into a life or death situation. She smartly avoided being slammed into a rocky cliff, but fear gripped her chest every time she saw waves crashing, even from a distance. Ultimately though, she kept her eyes on the prize and realized the desire to learn to kitesurf far outweighed her fear of the waves.  It took Snider almost a year to learn to kitesurf, but her learning curve was steeper and longer than most—she insisted on learning in the challenging wind and wave conditions at Waddell Beach, a place usually reserved for seasoned kitesurfers. Photo: Kim Kern Photo: Kim Kern


Anyone who’s ever driven Highway 1 from San Francisco to Santa Cruz has surely seen the kites at Waddell Beach, a premier destination for kitesurfers around the world. It’s hard to miss what Snider describes as “a carnival of brightly-colored kites on an all-you-can-eat buffet of waves.” It was at Waddell that she first discovered and felt her calling to this extreme sport, despite having no prior board or kiting experience. Just 17 miles north of Santa Cruz, Waddell Beach is great for sports enthusiasts and spectators alike. “People love it," says Snider. "It’s a great stop on your way down Highway 1. It’s right before Davenport, so if you were going to have lunch in Davenport, you could stop and watch the kitesurfing for a little bit, or do a little hike in Big Basin and then watch. It’s a nice little spot." “a carnival of brightly-colored kites on an all-you-can-eat buffet of waves” “a carnival of brightly-colored kites on an all-you-can-eat buffet of waves”


Of all the frequently asked questions Snider has received, her favorite was, “Can an old, overweight guy like me learn how to do this?” Her reply: “Well, you won’t be overweight much longer if you do this sport.” And kitesurfing knows no age limit says Snider, who knows of people who continue the sport well into their golden years. “It can be extreme, but it doesn’t have to be. There are people in their seventies and eighties who are still doing this—maybe not at Waddell, but mellower spots around the world.” Bottom line: “Take kitesurfing lessons,” Snider insists, and "be prepared to feel sore in muscles you didn’t know you had!" Photo: Tammy Tremaine Photo: Tammy Tremaine Check out our website for more information on water sports in Santa Cruz County!


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  • Suzanne Wouk 4 years 184 days ago
    Wow Lydia! You look like you are having so much fun.
    The last pic is classic. It needs to be framed!