Kevin Langeree: Dutch courage helps kiteboarder scale new heights

Story highlights

  • Langeree risked the wrath of the Dutch police by kiteboarding Amsterdam's canals
  • Ironically considering his son's career, the kiteboarder's father has a hatred of the water
  • The 26-year-old wants to break the record for the highest jump in the sport

(CNN)He enters Amsterdam's canal network on a small board -- no more than 1.5 meters in length -- quickly unfurls the kite attached and in seconds is skimming over the water.

This is urban kiteboarding and this is Dutchman Kevin Langeree's first foray into a pastime that could conceivably have landed him in hot water with the Dutch authorities.
    "I think the whole stunt lasted 20 minutes," Langeree told CNN. "I think another five minutes then I probably would have got in trouble with the police.
    "With cellphones, they can locate you so much quicker and we saw them come past at one point but luckily that didn't happen," added the 26-year-old as he recalls his escape from the long arm of the law.
    Urban kiteboarding might be a dangerous pastime in waterways often shared by cruise ships and tankers, but given the thrill he experienced it's a risk Langeree is willing to take.
    "I compare it to an F1 driver," he explains. "It's dangerous but the guys are all well trained so that the risk to them is that much smaller. Sure, there's a risk but that's all part of extreme sports.
    "I do this sport because it gives me the rush and feeling of being alive. You walk on a thin line -- you will or won't get hurt. Most extreme athletes want to take that risk and get the buzz and feeling we're alive. I love to push myself and see where you can take the sport."
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    However, it's something of a miracle Langeree chose the profession he did given his father Martin has a lifelong aversion to the water.
    "Seriously, he hates the water and won't go in the ocean," says Langeree, laughing. "OK, maybe sometimes, but it needs to be really warm for him to go in the ocean and, even when he's in there, he hates it. I guess I didn't get that from him in my genes!"
    Surfing and kiting were Langeree's chief passions growing up.
    While doing the former on the beach as a 12-year-old, he came across kiteboarding for the first time and was transfixed.
    "The first time I saw it I was like, 'This is a miracle,' as it was putting together my two favorite sports. I was hooked right away."
    It helped that he was a natural too and he joined the World Tour two years later. He won the Freestyle World Title in 2009 and last year was crowned Red Bull King of the Air -- billed as the Olympics of his sport.
    His venture into urban kiteboarding is his latest drive to feel that rush of adrenaline.
    The Amsterdam adventure was years in the planning, with Langeree living just outside the city and dreaming of the day when he might tackle the canal.
    When the call came from his camera crew, he had only just returned from competing in Morocco and initially turned down the offer.
    "I was like, 'I don't think I should do it today, I'm not feeling good,' and the guy was like, 'Dude I think you should do it,' so I was like, 'OK, whatever.' '"
    Langeree is pleased he took the risk, slipping off the back of a scooter and into the water en route to Amsterdam's Central Station. Before the wind dropped, he stopped, the scooter picked him up again and the stunt was done.
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    It has understandably given him a thirst for more urban adventures.
    "I've got a couple of other urban ones I want to do but I'm afraid I want to keep those a little bit secret so no-one gets to them before me," he says.
    "But I think this is pretty unique -- I've not seen many people do something like this before. You just have to keep your eyes and ears open to what might be possible."
    His other targets are to go higher than anyone has ever been before on a kiteboard.
    Measuring that can be an inexact science, but he estimates he has, to date, scaled heights of 23 to 24 meters.
    "But I think I can go way higher, maybe twice the height, who knows maybe even triple the height. I don't know if it's possible or if there's the equipment to make that possible but there's only one way to find out."
    Kiteboarding is a sport in which the Netherlands often dominates thanks to its waterways and high winds. Langeree's sister Jalou is also mixing it with the world's best.
    "We're not like soccer players but the recognition is getting better for me and my sister," he says.
    "My goal is to enjoy my sport for as many years as I can to help with the growth of it and to make it more mainstream."
    As for what he'd say to others on copying his urban adventures, he adds: "I'm thrilled with how it went and that I came out without getting hurt but it's not something I'd recommend."