Never did I ever… think that I’d be that person who would chat in such depth about the wind; its direction, its strength and then of course there’s the tide. Not good dinner party chat at all. Sorry everyone!
So last year we decided that kitesurfing was on the cards as the new skill-to-master.
I’d tried it once before over a weekend course in Camber sands, Kent in the UK and while it gave me the feeling of something I knew I’d love, even on that first weekend there were a few things I realised…note to self:
- It was going to take a bit of perseverance. Unlike surfing where you can get to an ok level without too much trouble, kitesurfing has many stages to conquer. You can’t just go out there and get stuck in (unless you’re a true kitesurfing superman), which can be more than a little frustrating.
- So much land time flying the kite! I mean how hard is it to fly a kite? Apparently a lot harder than expected. Then add in another action and the coordination goes into overdrive. Patience needed.
- Proximity to the sea is key. When learning continuity is important to keep all the information fresh in the mind and get it to stick. At this time my 2 1/2 hour drive made it tricky and definitely didn’t allow for much spontaneity
- Following on from above, the wind is fickle and changeable. This is especially problematic when you’re driving a fair distance hoping for the perfect conditions. In fact, our friend the wind can often not turn up for the party at all.
- Go solo. Learning in a group doesn’t give you enough time, to master the small but important things. Paying extra for individual lessons is worth it.
Fast forward a few years and am now in Auckland. Now at least we had one thing in our favour. A beginner friendly-ish beach 10 minutes down the road as well as lots of other spots within an hour. Ideal for spontaneous kitesurfing and a much better chance of catching the wind. And with that we dedicated ourselves to become kitesurfers and fulfil that vision of becoming semi-kitesurf-pros, jumping and everything…yeah right, trying but not yet :-).
Safe to say we’ve caught the ‘bug’ and the investment in lessons and all the kit was completely worth it. Ok we’re not quite those big air jumpers yet but as the Auckland wind returns and with a kitesurfing trip to Tonga in the pipeline, the determination to try continues!
Good-to-knows and little reminders
- Can I teach myself? Or get my friend to teach me? For many activities, YouTube is a great guide or you can rely on your already better- skilled friend to show you the ropes. Not for kitesurfing. It is complex and there are a number of safety elements that you need to be aware of and learn for your own safety and the safety of others…on this occasion loosen those purse strings and pay for those lessons. In the long run it will most definitely work in your favour.
- Slow to start – the glory moment of kitesurfing is the moment that your up and running, slicing through the water. But lessons 1 and 2 and 3 and counting, still leave you feeling so far off from that moment! Keep going, it’s worth it.
- Flexible – as mentioned before, unfortunately we can not control the weather. The perfect wind forecast may change the night before which is a real bummer when you’re excited about making progress and you just want to keep the momentum going. You will probably receive a few cancellation calls – don’t get frustrated with your instructor – if they could order the wind in, they’d be very wealthy people!
- Achy neck – learning to fly that kite you won’t want to take your eyes off the sky, and after a couple of hours the neck soon begins to feel the pain.
- Embrace the Kitemare – getting dragged down wind with a long ‘walk of shame’, losing the board -(sometimes never to return) oh and ending up in a ridiculous tangle of kite lines, then again ending up in a ridiculous tangle of kite lines and finally ending up in a ridiculous tangle of kite lines. Don’t let the frustration get the better of you. Eventually it will happen less often – even the experienced folk have their kitemares.
- Most important of all – keep learning and stay determined! I still remember the afternoon where I got dragged so far down wind into a cluster of trees, all ending in a huge tangle. I somehow managed to free myself but had a long walk back through the water to where I’d started. The number of people who shared their own tales of disaster regardless of whether they were beginner or experienced was amazing and the encouragement given definitely helped to boost the determination.
Conveniently I don’t seem to have photos showing the many tangled lines I have tirelessly sat with on a Sunday afternoon, beer in hand, trying to unravel or the times I’ve been stranded in the water (or actually any of me in the water!). We actually learned to kitesurf in Winter…great because we had the water practically to ourselves; a little chilly but it’s all about embracing the elements – plus when the sun decided to appear we were ready to get out there and practise, practise, practise.