Watch: Barack Obama kicks back and goes kiteboarding with Richard Branson
US presidents don’t get to have very much fun. Beyond the day-to-day stresses of the job, security concerns keep a whole bunch of activities off-limits, and whatever Barack Obama might be missing about the Oval Office, those restrictions don’t appear to be one of them.
The former president tried out some high adrenaline water recreation in the Virgin Islands over the weekend, in a friendly competition with billionaire Richard Branson off the coast of Branson’s Moskito island.
Pictures in a post on the Virgin Group website show the 44th president in apparent joy, learning to kiteboard – a fairly new sport which outfits a surfer on board with a handheld kite for propulsion.
“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,” Branson wrote in the post.
The pictures emerged just a few day after Obama, several weeks into a post-presidency vacation with former first lady Michelle Obama, was spotted looking relaxed on a beach sporting a backwards hat – to the amusement of many on the internet.
Branson challenged the ex-president to learn how to kiteboard before Branson himself could learn to foilboard, another young watersport that resembles water skiing. According to Branson’s post, it was a challenge Obama easily won.
“After all he has done for the world, I couldn’t begrudge him his well-deserved win. Now he has left, I’m going back into the water to practise for the next challenge,” Branson wrote.
Obama has mostly kept a low profile since leaving the White House, as is tradition, but did break his silence to issue a statement about Donald Trump’s travel ban executive order. He has stated he will speak up if our “core values are at stake”.
The Obamas have also already launched the Obama Foundation and are expected to begin working on the new philanthropic endeavour this month.