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Obama makes rest of us look bad with his effortless kitesurfing

Former President Barack Obama went kitesurfing with Virgin Group founder Richard Branson while on vacation. (Video: Jack Brockway/

Barack Obama seems to be living it up these days. Photos and videos emerged last week of the former president taking a stroll alongside Michelle Obama in the British Virgin Islands wearing what can only be described as a full-vacation mode outfit: shorts, polo shirt, flip flops and a backward hat.

Turns out that was just the beginning of Obama’s post-presidency adventures. On Tuesday, Virgin Group founder and Obama’s billionaire vacation buddy Richard Branson posted a video of a friendly wager between the two: Branson, who is an avid kitesurfer, wanted to see if Obama could stay on a kiteboard longer than he could on a foilboard.

It’s well documented that Obama is pretty good at basketball, but the video proved that the 55-year-old former leader of the free world is pretty much a natural on a kiteboard, as well.

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“Barack and I both fell many times, but we kept trying again and again and made progress over the days,” Branson wrote on his website. “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 [meters], three feet above the water. I was feeling very pleased with myself, only to look over and see Barack go 100 [meters] on his kiteboard! I had to doff my cap to him and celebrate his victory.”

According to Branson, Obama learned to kitesurf on the beach of Necker Island for two days before their challenge.

Video exists of Obama bodysurfing in his native Hawaii from 2008, and Branson said Obama told him he used to surf before he became president.

“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,” Branson said. “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 water sports or do many of the things he loved.”

Without the physical restrictions that come with being president, Obama looked like he went — in Branson’s words — “back to being a child again.” And in the process, Obama showed he’s not just a one-sport athlete.