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Christian Shaw

Graduated: Cornell University 2014

Degree: Interdisciplinary Studies in Sustainability, Agriculture, and Business



The Christmas Bonus from Quiet Sun Productions on Vimeo.

Q. Name the college kiteboarding club you were a part of and tell us about your involvement?

A. Cornell University Kiteboarding Club.  I founded the Club in 2010 during my first semester at Cornell after being inspired by the crew in Florida.  I actually almost moved to Florida to attend FAU or FSU and join the CKA.  I remember when I was a senior in high school and looking at colleges I called up Brian to get the low down about the club at FSU. When I ended up at Cornell and had to face the reality of a non-existent college kiting scene. I wanted to get other kids out there riding with me on Cayuga Lake, and as a poor student I had an intimate understanding of the financial barriers in our sport.  I started the club and continued to reach out to the CKA. I was fortunate enough to get a lot of guidance from Matt Sexton throughout the whole process.  The club has been growing well over the past few years. We have a shed full of gear, and a solid young crew coming up to take the reigns. Hopefully we’ll be hosting some comps in the near future!


Q. Where were your local spots?

A. I grew up in Ithaca, NY before attending Cornell and started kiting on Cayuga Lake at the beginning of high school.  I was the youngest of a small but dedicated crew who really brought me under their wing in my early days.  It was almost like having a bunch of kiteboarding uncles, and actually still is.  My favorite spot is Myers Park, just 5 minutes from my family’s house, and there are a few other really great places to ride nearby like Stewart Park and Emerson Park.  Trips up to Lake Ontario (1.5-2hrs) for some wave-riding (1.5-2hrs) are really great when you can swing it.  However, due to the poor weather, inconsistent wind, and difficult workloads during the school year most our club is more focused on traveling during breaks and supplying the gear to do so.


Q. What school did you attend, the program you were enrolled in and your top achievements?

A.   While at Cornell I set out to learn as much as I could about the big picture surrounding sustainably with the hope of moving on to consulting. At the start I focused primarily on renewable energy technology like solar, wind, bio-digesters, pyrolysis etc.  In my last year I first heard the word permaculture and soon came to learn that it is an ecological design science that encompasses many of the things I was passionate about at Cornell, and in my younger years.  Later that year I found myself in Havana, Cuba at the International Permaculture Conference that changed my life.  Along with the Kiteboarding Club, I went on to found the Surfing and SUP clubs with the same goals. I call it the Cornell Watersports Conglomerate.  I was also part of the Chi Phi fraternity on campus and involved with student groups such as Cornell University Sustainable Design.

Q. What are you doing now?

A. Since I graduated in December I’ve been busy with a few different projects. I spent some time working with Matt Sexton and the Otherside crew at Keys Cable and Adventure Park where we hosted a watersports style Permaculture Design Course that jump-started their amazing garden that has been growing rapidly over the past few months. The vision for that project is something special that combines watersports flawlessly with a sustainable lifestyle. Apart from a bit of travelling the rest of my time has been spent working tirelessly on the Plastic Tides project with my good friend Gordon Middleton. He’s the project’s videographer and I first worked with him on a kiteboarding film in Puerto Rico called The Christmas Bonus.

Bermuda 2014 Full Series from Plastic Tides on Vimeo.

Q. What were your best times in the CKA?

A. My best memory from the CKA was a sound side down winder through the slicks north of Rodanthe with Matt Sexton, Mark Barber, Morgan Skipperdene and some other crew.  I drove down from Cornell for a long weekend in October 2010. That trip was legendary and I’ve gotten the tradition going again. We’ve scored wind and waves in the OBX during Cornell’s fall break the past two years now.


Q. Where do you see the CKA going in the future?

A. I couldn’t be more stoked on the new momentum behind the CKA.  It has truly changed my life and allowed me to do things I would have never thought possible.  I’m bummed that I wont make it to Nationals this year because I’ll be in Bermuda for the Plastic Tides expedition, but I have no doubt that there will be many more awesome CKA events.  I have the highest hopes for the future of the organization and would love to see it established as the first legitimate national tour.