REAL Kiteboarding had the opportunity to make news for NBC’s Today Show at the end of this Summer. Host Matt Lauer had seen kiteboarding developing over the past few summers from his Hamptons summer home, and it was something that he wanted to do. Known as an action sports buff, Matt was ready to take on kiteboarding as his next sport.
REAL coaches Matt Nuzzo, Adam Mitchell and Katie Johnson loaded up the REAL truck and headed to Long Island on the weekend of August 25th. Stocked to the roof with Naish Helix and Boxer kites, Jimmy Lewis kiteboards and standup paddle boards, they were ready for any conditions that were thrown at them.
The morning of the shoot greeted us with cool NE winds in the 15-20 mph range. The forecast called for the wind to decrease throughout the day, with little to no wind by the time the Matt showed up from NYC. While the wind was solid, the REAL mobile team racked a few hours of stock footage for the NBC film crew in the morning. The videographers seemed stoked to be out of the city and filming on the beach. Everyone was joking about how “hard” our jobs are – the REAL team ripping on the water, and Team NBC taking sun and relaxing during our riding breaks. To get from the studio in New York City to our location, Matt Lauer took the NBC chopper out to the Hamptons. After a short ride from the nearest heli pad, he showed up on the beach.
Lesson #1 for Matt was how to change into his wetsuit without a changing room. He was a quick study and managed not to flash anyone in the process! Matt was very excited about learning to kiteboard, and he was adamant that we did not try to do anything for him. “If I can’t do it, then I can’t do it… but I am not going to fake it for TV. ‘Today’ reports news, so it has to be factual,” he told us as we all got a little more nervous about the feat ahead of us: The wind was forecasted to die (even though it was still blowing), we had exactly 1 hour 47 minutes and 32 seconds to teach Matt to ride before his chopper whisked him back to NYC, and he was not going to fudge anything to make the shoot happen!! We blasted through a short meet and greet on film and went right into the teaching section of the shoot. We called on Katie, our Zero to Hero expert, and directed her to get Matt going quickly. Matt got the trainer kite flying skills quickly. He was not only skilled with the trainer, but he also was a great listener. Pushing through the trainer kite section, Katie moved into the inflatable kite flying, kite control and body dragging techniques. This was a whole new ball game for Matt. Having had only 25 minutes on the trainer kite, going to a 12m inflatable kite was quite a jump.
The first time flying jitters went away quickly, and Katie had Matt body dragging in no time. We were excited about Matt’s quick success! The wind continued to fade, and the clock ticked down to take off. Matt’s wife Annette and his children showed up at the beach to say hi. They all loved the look of the sport and were excited to see Matt pushing through the beginning stages of learning to kite. The next step was getting Matt up on a board and riding. Adam made the call to rig bigger and change locations a little for the water start section. As with most people learning to kite, the first few water starts were classic. The entire film crew and Tammy Filler, Today’s producer, were laughing like crazy when they saw Matt fly over the board and belly flop on his first few tries. Once Matt got the feel, though, he boldly made the statement, “Ok guys, I got this now. Let’s do it!!” Shortly afterward, Matt was up and going with his first few rides! Tired from the intensive training session, he changed out of his wetsuit, kissed his kids and wife goodbye, and was whisked away to catch his chopper ride back to NYC. Matt admitted that there was a lot more to learning to kiteboard than he had thought, and that he was really looking forward to his next lesson.
REAL takes Matt Lauer from “Zero to Hero” in 1 hour 47 minutes and 32 seconds!!!