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Paul Beiderwell: A true ‘turf and surf’ man

PaulBeiderwell kitesurf good smallBy Linda Segall    

To most people, “surf and turf” is a menu choice—seafood and steak. To Paul Beiderwell, surf and turf—or rather, turf and surf—expresses what he does—for a living and for fun.

“Turf” refers to Green Vision Services, the business he operates, which he describes as primarily a grass-cutting service, although he says he has also done some extensive landscaping. He’s been providing these services for homeowners in the Riverside and Ortega areas of the city for more than 20 years.

“I did the ‘corporate thing’ for a while,” he said, explaining how he got into lawn service, “but I discovered the company I worked for wasn’t employee-friendly. To keep my sanity, I decided to open my own business.” Lawn care appealed to him. It was something he knew well, since he had done it as a youngster; and it gave him the freedom to be outdoors as well as to schedule his own time.

At one time, Beiderwell was on the go from sunrise to sunset, servicing 85 yards a week. “That schedule was extremely tiring and hard on me,” he confesses. “Over the years I’ve let the business ‘relax’ so that the schedule is not as demanding.” He now has about 25 contracts. “People are happy with what we provide, both in the quality of our work and in our prices, which are generally about 20% less than others.” he says.

His less demanding work schedule allows him to engage literally in the “surf”—through kitesurfing.

Beiderwell got into kitesurfing in 1998, a period in which his lawn service company was at its peak and its demands were physically draining. “My relaxation was limited to collapsing on the couch and watching TV,” he says. “One evening I came across a channel with the kitesurfing championships from Maui. I was captivated. A week later, I had a trainer kite, and a month later, I had purchased my first full-sized rig with a board and various pieces that go with it.”

The sport was in its infancy then, and not much information was available on how to kitesurf safely. He says he was lucky. “I didn’t understand the power of wind on a piece of fabric. I didn’t know that a kite generates enough power to pull a car down the beach. I had no idea how close to death I was! I just set up the rig and let it happen.”

PaulBeiderwell trainingAs he mastered the sport and learned to appreciate its very real dangers, he decided to help budding kitesurfers learn how to do it safely. At the time there were very few trainers and learning was very sketchy. In 2002, he became certified to train others. “Some of the best kitesurfing in the state is right here at Huguenot Memorial Park. The park’s conditions can be right for any level of kitesurfing. People with any skill level, in any wind direction, and at any tide level can find a safe place to practice,” he says.

Because the location is so well suited for the sport, it attracts kitesurfers from all over. “At one time the city and park management considered closing the park to kitesurfing for at least part of the year because they were concerned about kiters injuring other people,” he says. “I didn’t want the park to close to kitesurfing, so I got into training people how to do it safely.” He estimates that since 2002 there have been more than 500,000 hours of kitesurfing at the park without a single injury to the non-kiting public.

Beiderwell has taught more than 500 people, from ages 7 to 77, how to kitesurf, using a 14-step lesson plan that exceeds the certification requirements of PASA (Professional Air Sports Association). He starts with the basics, teaching his students about meteorology and concentrating on safety. The powerful kites are tethered to the instructor during the most dangerous part of the lesson and until students learn to control the kite in a safe way. Students don’t sign up by the hour; they sign on and work with him until they become competent, he explains. “Anyone who takes lessons and develops good safety habits can have hundreds of hours of fun without even stubbing their toe.”

PaulBeiderwell kitsurfsmallHe emphasizes that kitesurfing is a sport and requires the acquisition and honing of skills. “If you have good winds, you can learn the basics in two to four sessions,” he says. “Some people like my wife Linda are ‘fair weather’ kitesurfers. They go out to cruise the flat water. Others are into riding the waves and doing tricks, which require more skills.”

To Beiderwell, kitesurfing offers a way to let go of the day’s stress. “My wife says it’s a

Paul and Linda Beiderwell

Paul and Linda Beiderwell

 way to ‘defrag the hard drive’,” he says. One thing is for certain: Paul Beiderwell is a turf-and-surf man, and if the wind is up, you can probably find him at Huguenot Park, riding the surf.

Paul Beiderwell operates Green Vision Services. He can be reached at 904-424-2721.

 

SIDEBAR

What is kitesurfing?

Kitesurfing, also known as kiteboarding, is an extreme water sport that uses the wind to pull a rider through the water using a wake or surf style board. The rider has control over the kite and often performs tricks or rides waves in the water, similar to a skateboard rider on land.

Kitesurfing differs from parasailing, which Beiderwell describes as a recreational activity. “In parasailing, the person pays a fee, gets strapped into a special parachute rig, and is pulled by a boat. He has no control. In kitesurfing, however, the rider is in control; it is a sport requiring skill.”

Watch a demonstration of kitesurfing at Huguenot Memorial Park:


 

 


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