Future’s So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades

Published on May 28th, 2015

by Bill Springer, Forbes
I met Don Montague on a seductively fast catamaran in St. Martin earlier this spring. But it wasn’t until the next day when he returned to the boat with a team of very smart, and very talented guys, and a bonafide boatload of sensors, electronic equipment, computers, cameras, and a crazy-fast chase boat, that it became obvious that he wasn’t just another sailor.

In fact, I was soon to learn he’s the world-champion windsurfer who went on to literally help invent kiteboarding with Robby Naish and others. And oh yea, he also helped found a “little” alternative energy company—Makani Power—that was acquired in 2013 by Google and is now part of the Google [x] team that’s working to make widespread clean energy a commercial reality.

But after a fantastic day spent sailing on the turquoise blue waters of Marigot Bay, we didn’t talk about any of that. In fact, what Don and his team have accomplished is pretty widely known in windsurfing and kite surfing circles, so we didn’t need to.

Instead, he talked with the clear-eyed passion of a true pioneer about the speed and power that’s possible when you attach an extremely efficient kite and intricate control system (that of course Montague and his team have invented from scratch) to an extremely light and strong hydrofoiling hull (ditto) that’s capable of mind-boggling speeds and precise control.

“Have you heard about the Kiteboat Project?” he asked. “We use a kite instead of sails for power and the boat we’re testing these days on San Francisco Bay sails pretty comfortably at well over 30 knots. We’re constantly testing and refining and improving. You should come check us out.”

Now, that’s an invite you just don’t get every day. I was on a plane to San Francisco almost as soon as we returned from St Martin. – Read on

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