How To Unwind After Being President Of The US For 8 Years?
Barack Obama learned to kitesurf.

February 7, 2017

Barack Obama has earned a holiday.

So what does downtime look like when you’re fresh from being President of the United States for 8 years?

Apparently, it means racing Sir Richard Branson to see who can master a fast-paced dangerous watersport first. On an exotic private island, of course.

Branson invited Barack and Michelle Obama to enjoy a holiday on his private island in the British Virgin Islands just after the family left the White House. Free of his Presidential responsibilities, Obama was able to unleash his thrill-seeker side and take part in all the potentially dangerous activities he wasn’t allowed to do as president.

So Branson set down a challenge.

Branson wrote this entry on his website:

“One of the first stories Barack told me when he and Michelle arrived on Moskito Island was how, just before he became President, he had been surfing on a dangerous break in Hawaii. When he came in from an exhilarating session, the new head of his security team turned to him and said: “This will be the last time you surf for eight years.” For the next eight years he didn’t have the chance to surf, enjoy watersports or do many of the things he loved. So it was tremendous to offer him the chance to learn to kitesurf.”

Here’s how it went down:

“Barack started learning to kitesurf on the beach on Necker for two days solid, picking up the basics and flying a kite as if going back to being a child again,” Branson wrote. “Then he went into the water, standing up and getting a feel for the kite. Finally, he put the board at his feet and gave it a go. Being the former president of America, there was lots of security around, but Barack was able to really relax and get into it. ”

“As you can see in the video, Barack and I both fell many times, but we kept trying again and again and made progress over the days. We were neck and neck until the last run on the last day, when I got up on the foilboard and screamed along for over 50 metres, three feet above the water. I was feeling very pleased with myself, only to look over and see Barack go 100 metres on his kiteboard! I had to doff my cap to him and celebrate his victory.”

Original report from with footage and images by Jack Brockway.