Full of confidence, I walk towards my kite instructor, my new kitesurf outfit shining in the sun and my hair waving in the wind. I think to myself «I am going to be one of them now, a kiter, riding over water and flying through the air. (Imagine the song Oh girl, the chi-lite playing in the background.)
My kite instructor hands over a harness that looks like a massive diaper. I try to get in while laughing at myself. As if this wasn’t enough, the safety vest, the fluorescent orange bowling ball helmet and my face fully covered in white sunblock like a ghost, make me look nothing like the hot kite chix you see flying high on photos in kite magazines. Flopping in my neoprene booties, I follow my instructor on the beach He starts by drawing the wind window in the sand, explains the hand gestures to communication on distance, the power zone, wind directions, and kite setup. Before I even know it, we are walking towards the lagoon, and so my flirting with the kite begins.
I try to get confident and bit by bit, pull by pull, I manage to lead the kite in the direction I want. Two hours later I receive an enthusiastic high five from my kite instructor! This feels awesome and I can’t wait to actually get on the board and ride away. I’m progressing fast and I feel confident that the kite and I are on the same line.
My second session is all about body dancing (I mean dragging). Sounds like fun, right? It starts very well, I get my kite under control and drag myself downwind. The bar in one hand, my kite at 10:30 or 1:30 and my other hand leading me in the right direction. I feel as if I was ballroom dancing, (In my head I hear Hungry Eyes – Dirty dancing).
I’m dragging downwind easily, so now it’s time to go upwind. And upwind we go, or at least try to! All of a sudden I completely lose control over my body, I’m still trying to keep my kite under control, but I’m gasping for air. The waves are slapping me in the face and instead of air I’m inhaling loads of water, and I mean loadssss!
I hear my instructor in the far distance «don’t pull the bar, don’t pull the bar, control your body» I try to control it all, but I’m tired and I feel completely defeated. My kite instructor makes an announcement that the lesson is over. My confidence went downwind and my insecurities upwind. My instructor tells me I’m making progress, but I have to keep my body under control and stop pulling the bar so hard. He sounds disappointed while I’m struggling to catch my breath and sip on my water, thankfully not salt water this time!
MOOD SWING CHALLENGE
As I’m getting ready for my next lesson I notice that I’m having mixed feelings about it. I look for my diaper harness, the one with the leg straps, but I’m finally handed the normal (waist) harness. I put on my war paint (sunblock), collect my gear and get ready for battle.
I start setting up my kite. As I’m struggling with the lines, one of the beach boys comes up and says; «good luck, the wind is gusty and the water is choppy today” and walks on. My confidence drowns and I feel my fear rising… Thanks a lot, Machan (friend in Sinhala)!
My instructor glides over the water while explaining the next steps, I’m trying to focus but I feel my charming neoprene booties itch. I encourage myself to clear my mind. My instructor hands over the kite. I take a deep breath in and exhale out. I send my kite from 11 to 2 and, believe it or not, I stand up! WHAT!?
I was up for, like, 5 sec then I fell back down, but that was enough to boost my confidence and make me feel like I accomplish the board start. I’m back on track!
I try again, this time I hear my instructor saying to pull the bar. I look back, he sees that I’m confused and he explains again «Now you want the power so you need to pull the bar in order to create enough power to pull yourself up onto the board and stand.” I try to get myself up for the second, third, and fourth time, I’m pulling the bar, I’m not sure why but this time I fly … high … then land on the water which feels like concrete. For two seconds my legs are tingling and my body hurts. I stand up, take control of the kite, and bravely try again, and again, over and over, but my kite and I are in battle. I notice that I’m getting scared.
I try again, this time very slow I think to myself «I can get up!» then get another smack in the water, lose my board, drift downwind and just try not to panic. I feel frustrated, but I start over again. It becomes clear that I got lucky the first time.
My instructor calls me back to shore, I worry the session is over but he seems happy with my achievements and sends me back to try again. I think he’s just trying to encourage me and feel like I’m failing. While walking the walk of shame back upwind, my thoughts are bouncing between “Maybe this is not my sport?” and “come on girl you can do it!”
Well, at least I improved my body (dancing) dragging while trying to fetch my board that was lost in the water. I laugh at myself and grab the kite with both hands, I whisper an encouraging “okay” to myself and start over. Kite on 12, grab board with one hand, get both feet in the straps, keep my knees bent, keep the kite at 12 (during the struggle), keep my body under control, slightly steer kite and body to 11, faster to 2, pull the bar while standing up, point board, and look in the direction you want to go. I’m swearing, trying to get myself back together and try again. This goes on and on. While I’m struggling, my respect rises for all kiters as I realise that this is more a mental challenge than a physical one.
The lesson is over and I’m slightly frustrated and a little mad at myself, the kite and my apparent lack of progress. My instructor laughs, “It is very important to learn how to crash, and you learned a lot today.” I answer with a sarcastic “haha.”
I think I’m ready … or maybe not. There is no turning back now. The kite looks down at me and before my kite instructor sends me back into battle he says «it’s time to practice as much as possible. You are one with the kite, and remember that every move the kite makes, is because you lead it there.” I feel like little kid that needs to say she’s sorry, I look up and force a little nod towards him.
I struggle for a while and then something unexpected happens. With each pull, I feel more comfortable and more confident. I actually start to like it! Every time I’m in control, or lose control of the kite, I learn something new. I accept that I need time and practice, and I let go of all my frustrations and expectations. I realise that this process of progress can be fun. I manage to get on the board a couple of times and ride a few meters…
I just did it!! When you at least expect it, it is just there, “the connection”. And WOW this is amazing, I hug my kite instructor “what a feeling, machan!”
I THINK I’M HOOKED
I caught myself early morning glimpsing through the curtain, looking at the palm trees to see what the wind is like. I’m sitting at the breakfast table fully excited to go and kite. My instructor approaches me and we need to reschedule today’s lessons for tomorrow or even the day after. I´m disappointed. «This is part of the game” he smiles «you can control the kite but you can´t control the wind”. I notice a song (When will I see you again – The three degrees playing in the background, is this a coincidence?)
I’m constantly talking and dreaming about kiting…. even putting my hands randomly in the air to practise the movement. I want to kite and progress, ride more and get comfortable with the kite and the board. Tomorrow we ride! They see me riding (rolling) Chamillionaire – Ridin’ ft. Krayzie Bone plays in my head.
YES, DEFINITELY HOOKED
I jump out of the safety boat (again), start pumping up my kite (again), walk back to my starting point (again) and start over (again). A couple of hours pass like this and I feel blessed and happy. My confidence rises and I get slightly better each day, I get rid of the safety gear. Riding over the water I smile, look up to the kite, and make the victory sound. Whoeohoeoeo!!!
My smile shining in the sun and my hair waving in the wind. I notice that I am one of them now, “a Kiter”
Written by our lovely Paola, who learned to kitesurf with us in the very beginning of this summer season. Book your lesson with us and learn to kite!