Kiteboarding Obama leaves Richard Branson in his wake
Revealing video footage and photographs show former US president enjoying high life
The former president, whose eight years as president ended last month when he was succeeded by Donald Trump, learned to kiteboard while vacationing last week on a Caribbean island owned by British billionaire and adventurer Sir Richard Branson, who published an account of their trip on Tuesday.
Photographs and video on the website of Branson’s Virgin Group show the former president, a life-long surfer, figuring out the increasingly popular sport in which people ride a board while being pulled behind a kite.
“Being the former president of America, there was lots of security around, but Barack was able to really relax and get into it,” wrote Branson.
Obama and his wife, Michelle, were spotted last week in the British Virgin Islands and people posted photographs of them on social media. Branson owns 120-acre (48-hectare) Moskito Island, which is part of the archipelago.
Kiteboarding was chosen in 2012 as a sport for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, replacing windsurfing. The decision was criticised at the time because the sport can be lethal, and it was reversed within months.
According to Branson, Obama studied the pastime for two days and flew a kite from the beach, “as if going back to being a child again”, before heading out into the waves.
The billionaire was trying to learn a similar sport, foilboarding, which uses a modified board that rises a few feet above the water. He wrote that he challenged the ex-president over which of them would succeed first.
Obama triumphed, he said, by kiteboarding for 100m (328ft).
“After all he has done for the world, I couldn’t begrudge him his well-deserved win,” wrote Branson.