Daniel Patterson didn’t finish high school. He went straight into a pre-vocational course, then into an apprenticeship. He’s 40 now and has been working as a fitter and turner for 23 years, the last six of those as a fly-in fly-out worker.
For half of those 23 years, he’s also been a kite surfer.
“I was down at Narrowneck at Main Beach and saw a heap of kites on the beach. There was a competition going on and this one girl in particular flying a kite,” Daniel said. He hints at the fact that he might have had a soft spot for the girl moreso than the kiting. He asked her how to get into the sport, she hooked him up with her own school, he booked lessons and that was that.
“I had my first lesson and got my own gear,” he said. Fast forward 12 years and Daniel is now ready to launch his own kitesurfing safaris, specifically targeted at people who want to improve their wave riding skills.
He’s taught more than 100 people to kitesurf, managed a kiting school in the Dominican Republic, spent a year in central America kiting, been an ambassador for Ben Wilson Surf for the past five years and is now a National rider for Ozone Kiteboarding. So starting his own safari program probably isn’t that much of a stretch.
“Kitesurfing has been the fastest growing sport ever since it came out – about 15 years ago,” he said. “The fastest growing sport in the world.”
For a relatively young sport, there have been plenty of changes, Daniel said.
“Initially they had C kites,” he explained. “If people didn’t have a lot of experience, they could easily get into trouble.”
“Initially with those C kites, the safety system and depower wasn’t that good. People became unstuck, got hurt, got in trouble.”
Daniel said since a range of hybrids were brought out, kites are much more user-friendly. People can progress their skill-level so much quicker because they spend less time re-launching their kite.
“Less down-time helps with the learning progression,” Daniel said.
While working fly-in, fly-out in Western Australia, Daniel had the opportunity to hone his wave-riding skills on the west coast, having Margaret River as his base.
“Working in the desert and having such regimented working conditions and then arriving back in Margaret River, it’s pretty much paradise,” he said. “You get your life back.”
“You’re out of jail and you get to play for that little period of time,” Daniel said. “It’s just awesome to de-stress, get wet and just have a life again.”
And it was that dichotomy – one week working in the middle of the desert on a mine site and the next riding waves under a kite in paradise that led Daniel to explore a more sustainable lifestyle.
“Yeah, it was a process,” he said. “Number one was realising I wanted to get out of mining, have a normal life and be home every night. It’s hard to be away from friends and family for long periods.”
“The next thing was, even working in a normal job wasn’t giving me fulfillment and being in that trade for 23 years, I was becoming quite frustrated and bored with my situation.”
“I started to think to myself, there’s got to be a better way to earn a living and what better way than to use your passion as a means of doing that.”
Hence Global Waves Experience was born. Daniel will run regular safaris to some of the world’s best kitesurfing destinations – with a focus on waves. First cab off the rank is Fiji where a safari will run 9 – 17 July, but that’s just the beginning.
“I haven’t locked others in yet, but I’m looking at Indonesia in September, and then Mauritius and other central American destinations.”
“I’d love to do Morocco too,” he said.
And what sets Daniel’s offering apart from other kite safaris is the personalised experience with a maximum of eight people per tour.
“We’re going to tailor every aspect of the safari so it’s a complete package. You get accommodation, transfers, food, progressing wave coaching and even video analysis which we’ll use as a tool for rider feedback.”
There’s also dedicated boat support, full use of the resort’s equipment as well as a fishing trip, massage and some drinks. And Daniel says that before the wind comes up each day there will also be surf charters at one of the reef breaks down the road.
“The neat thing is, the Fiji coastline, we’re going to do massive downwinders, 20km long. There are seven reef breaks along the way, and on top of that we’ll have the opportunity to go out to world-famous Cloudbreak, Restaurants and Nomotu Lefts,” he said.
While partners are welcome on the trip – with fantastic non-kiting partner packages available, the kiting package is being pitched to intermediate to advanced riders who want to take their riding to the next level.
“I’m targeting quite a specific audience, wave riding enthusiasts with sound wave skills, who froth on charging waves and are keen to progress their riding,” he said.
For a brand new enterprise, Daniel and his Global Waves Experience has come out of the blocks firing with some highly regarded brands already on board. Daniel’s safari-goers will be able to access kite and board demos and get retail packages while on safari.
“For kites we’ve got Ozone on board – which is a very well established kiting brand, well known for their Reo surf kite. They’re one of the top-selling surf kites in the global market as far as performance and construction goes,” Daniel said.
“And for surfboards we’ve got Firewire, Kelly Slater bought into Firewire recently and Tomo is one of the designers.”
As we wrap up I ask Daniel what exactly draws him to kitesurfing, both for pleasure and now for business.
“I enjoy it because of the stoke I get just from being out in the elements ,” he said. I just enjoy the freedom and disconnecting from every day life. It’s such a good reset for me.”
Global Waves Experience runs its first Fiji safari from 9 – 17 July. Get more at globalwavesexperience.com.
PHOTO CREDIT: Lamp Photography