Hi there, you’re back!
Did you catch the kitesurfing bug on Day 1 just like I did?! It’s so much fun. I couldn’t wait to get back out into the water to perfect my body dragging techniques and maybe even try the all important board start! If you can, try to do your Day 2 course as soon as you can after Day 1 so it’s all still fresh in your memory, but don’t worry if you can’t – your instructor will give you some “homework” at the end of Day 1 with some useful pointers and reminders of what you covered. You can’t even go away and check out some tutorial videos on YouTube, there are some great walkthroughs and exercises geared for kitesurfers so you can progress even when you can’t make it to the beach.
A couple of weeks after my Day 1 Lesson, I headed back out for Day 2; this time with Jen, our resident northern instructor (everyone needs a friendly Northerner – they can teach all year round without being put off by the cold!). At the start of the lesson, Jen went through a quick recap of setting up the kite and flying it to check how much we had nremembered. I was worried I’d have forgotten everything but was pleasantly surprised by how much came back to me once I was flying the kite again. As the wind was quite strong, Jen put us on a smaller kite and gave us each a turn to show that we could still use it without getting dragged away, we just needed to remember that the smaller kite would be a bit quicker so our reactions would need to be too. After a couple of turns each we headed out into the water to progress with our body dragging.
On Day 2, you learn a new type of body dragging – the upwind body drag. This involves learning to fly the kite with one hand, straightening your body out parallel to the kite and tensing (almost like a seal in the mud with it’s head and tail raised!) in order to be pulled along. Upwind body drags are helpful for body dragging out to sea when you’re kiting somewhere with a shore break, getting back to the beach with cross shore and most importantly – getting back to your board when you’re out to sea!
After a couple of attempts where I didn’t make it all that far upwind, I managed to get the hang of it. Practising flying the powerkites with one hand was really useful here, it’s a scary thought at first but it’s actually not that bad! Despite having one wrist significantly weaker than the other following a bad snowboarding injury, I was able to fly the kite with each hand separately and make it upwind. If you’re worried you may not be fit enough to try kitesurfing, don’t be! Chances are you’ll be absolutely fine.
Once we’d all had a few turns at bodydragging the moment was here, we were going to try and get up on the board! We headed back to dry land to go through some theory and to practice the technique we’d use to stand up on the board. Since I have absolutely no core strength, I was pretty sure I wouldn’t be able to do it, and I certainly struggled for a while, but eventually I was able to roll up to stand with just a small tug from the instructor on my harness, which simulated the way in which the pull of the kite would help us get up. The trick here, Jen told us, was to not try and use the kite to pull us up too much.
Theory and beach practice done, it was time to go back into the water, only this time with the board. I watched the others have a couple of goes, getting to stand up once or twice, sometimes sinking back down pretty quickly, sometimes falling over the front of the board. It was great learning in a group here as we could laugh at each others experiences and reassure each other that even the crashes that looked bad weren’t actually that painful!
When it got to my turn, I pushed my feet into the board, sat back in the water, dived the kite… and STOOD UP! I got up the first time, and I couldn’t quite believe it. It became real pretty quickly when I sank back down into the water almost instantly, but I’d done it! Sure, I hadn’t quite got it right and on my next few attempts I had pointers each time of things to work on, but I was getting there. By the end of the lesson I may have only managed to ride a couple of metres, but it felt like a mile to me and I couldn’t stop smiling.
As we walked back up the centre to change, I was already excited for Day 3 and dreaming of eventually being able to call myself a kitesurfer.