Kite surfing and snow kiting with the pioneers

The deep blue water of the Lake Silvaplana is a kind of alpine mecca for the kite surfing scene. Stefan Popprath founded the kitesailing school here when the sport didn't even have a real name. A true pioneer' s story.

The native Solothurner had already come to the Engadine in 1991 - actually to work in the accounting department of the Silvaplana Kurvereins. Instead, he discovered the Maloja wind for himself. "Back then, Reinhold Messner had just tried to cross the Antarctic by having himself pulled by an umbrella using skis. I thought to myself: This could be fun - and with the steady wind it might also work for tourism." No sooner said than done: Already in the winter of 1994 he taught his first student "snow kiting" on the frozen lake. The step into the water was just the logical conclusion: "It was all about the same question: How can I use the traction of the kite to move faster - and in a way that makes it fun? His problem: There was hardly any usable equipment. There was a lack of suitable boards, there were no kites that could be launched from the water. Only after countless equipment tests, handicrafts and self-experiments did the breakthrough come at the end of the 90s. In 1999 he opened his school - as the first in Switzerland and one of the first in the world. (David Schwarzenbacher, Best of the Alps, 2017)

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Stefan Popprath - Mr.Kite

Kite pioneer, Founder and co-owner

"Even as a little boy, everything that flew thrilled me. I made my first kites, which I flew back at home. But first I went in a completely different direction professionally: I kept my nose in pots and studied my second passion - cooking. I was excited about my profession as a cook and after my apprenticeship I worked in different places in Germany and abroad and met many exciting people. But somehow I wanted more and at 25 I decided to go back to school. I attended the Tourism Business School in Bern. This change opened new horizons for me and with great enthusiasm I came to Silvaplana in 1991 to do the bookkeeping in the Kurverein. Of course, I found the Maloja wind here and came back to my first passion: flying kites. Soon I built my own high-tech kites and bought equipment for myself and my friends."

"We organized events and parties and had a great time. My hobby became my profession and my dream came true. Against this spectacular backdrop in the Engadin at a lake with clear water and reliable Maloja wind I had founded my company. In 2004 the sole proprietorship became a limited liability company and the business became a company. Today we have a permanent spot in the sports center of Mulets and kite surfing has become an integral part of Silvaplana's image. Today my nephew and successor Yannick and his team will make this spot at Lake Silvaplana an unforgettable kite surfing experience for you." Stefan Popprath, kite pioneer, founder and co-owner of Swiss Kitesurf GmbH

Yannick Galbinec 2 edited

Yannick Galbinec - the successor

Managing director and co-owner

"Even as a boy, kiting and life in the Engadin fascinated me. At an early age, I supported Stefan in my school holidays wherever possible, and thus, even before my active kiting time at the age of 12, I handed out the equipment to the students and cleaned up the equipment room. Not always the dream job, but still: I was in the beautiful Engadin, in the community where I felt comfortable, together with great people and a great atmosphere - even when there was no wind.

"So every summer, until I was 17 years old, I spent a few weeks in the Engadin. After that I did my apprenticeship as a computer technician, which I completed in 2011. But I never really worked in the profession. To be honest, I had to leave my graduation ceremony earlier to catch the plane to Egypt, where I worked as a kite surf instructor for half a year. From then on I was everywhere but nowhere: traveling or teaching kite surfing abroad. For two years I discovered the world - of course always following the wind and from one kite destination to the next.

"In spring 2013 I moved to Silvaplana and took over the management of the company, so that Stefan could devote himself to new challenges in the Unterland. Today I could not imagine a better place to live. This location is unique in the world. And on top of that it offers a great kite spot: What more could you want?" Yannick Galbinec, managing director and co-owner of Swiss Kitesurf GmbH