I’m back again and I’ve been back in the water! (I can’t wait to say I’ve been “on” the water rather than “in,” but I’m still spending a fair amount of time in it at the moment!) For my Day 3 lesson I had my lesson with Rupert, one of the three brothers who own and run The Kitesurf Centre. Rupert has been kitesurfing for many years now and is an experienced instructor – you’ll often see him out in strong winds attempting to jump really high! Whilst I’m not planning on jumping any time soon I was hoping he would be able to offer some good advice and tips.
When it came to the day we’d planned to go out the wind was much lighter than expected, but Rupert explained that if I took a big enough kite I’d still be able to get up and riding. In fact, he said that it would be great for me to go out in light wind – having only ridden before in strong wind the light wind meant I would have the chance to perfect my kite-flying technique, not to mention the waves would be smaller! As a 5’2″ woman I can tell you that made me very happy!
Now, when he said big kite, I hadn’t quite expected 17 metres big! The fears I had had on my first lesson of being dragged along the beach by the kite came rushing back to me. How could I, a 60kg woman not get dragged along by a kite that big?! I asked Rupert if, before we headed into the water, I could have a go at flying the kite on the beach to see how it felt. Once again I was pleasantly surprised, I was still able to fly the kite without feeling like it was pulling me too much. It took me a while to get used to how much slower the kite flew through the air and how much more I had to move the bar with this compared to the 5m. Instead of just moving the bar slightly I had to get the bar almost parallel to the lines with my knuckles touching them! Rupert explained that the kite being slower meant that I would have more time to think and react when attempting my board starts.
Once we were out on the water I was amazed by how much smaller the waves were and felt pretty confident. It was brilliantly sunny and I was determined that this would be the day I would finally get up on the board. Since the wind was lighter, Rupert told me I would need to keep the kite moving as much as possible and do my very best not to crash it since relaunching would be difficult. He advised me to fly the kite in a figure of eight pattern before diving it for my board start manoeuvre. Before I knew it was I was going for my first attempt – I dived the kite, rolled up… and braced my legs, meaning I went ploughing through the water directly towards the kite. Oh dear, that wasn’t what I had in mind! I headed back towards Rupert and we chatted about how me being nervous had made me brace against the board, rather than straightening my right leg and bending my back one to kite off to the right. This time, he said, I was to “kick” my right leg out in front of me to get the motion and direction right. I tried again, dived the kite, extended my right leg… and forgot to roll up! I sank back down into the sitting position and sort of floated there for a bit, wondering how I was ever going to remember to combine all of the different parts of a board start. It all seemed so very complicated, but I was determined to keep at it. Luckily, Rupert has years of experience teaching complete beginners, so was super patient with me.
After a few more attempts, we realised my biggest problem was fear – I was scared to go over the front of the board, so I wasn’t rolling my body far enough forwards. I was scared to go too quickly, so I wasn’t diving the kite far enough. Often, I would go to dive the kite and then decide something wasn’t quite right – maybe the wind had lulled, maybe a wave had just hit me – so I’d panic and take the kite back to 12. Rupert decided it was because I was overthinking it and worrying too much, so we tried something different on the next attempt. He was going to tell me to go, and I had to do it. No worrying about the wind or whether or not everything was perfect, I had to go. “Go!” he said, and I dived the kite, extended my front leg… and WENT! I was up, on the board, heading off to my right. The feeling was incredible and a huge smile spread across my face. I was up! I could do this! Then it occurred to me I didn’t really know what to do when I was up, and as I slowed down I sank back into the water. Kite up in the air I practically ran (as well as you can through water) back to Rupert for a high five, grinning from ear to ear. I may not have got very far, but I’d got up, and I was unbelievably proud of myself.
“What do I do when I’m actually up?” I asked, eager to see how far I could ride. Rupert laughed and explained I needed to then go for the second power stroke, whereby I’d dive the kite again, to make sure I had enough speed to start planing across the water. After that I’d be able to keep the kite steady in the air and keep going. Still riding the high from my last effort I was keen to go again, so with my board back on my feet and Rupert shouting “Go!” I did it all again, this time managing to ride a little further but not quite getting the second dive strong enough. After a few more attempts I was able to go around 5 metres (this may not sound much, but I was more than happy with that!) before we decided to call it a day. I’d just had a great run and I’ve heard of too many kitesurfers injuring themselves after saying “just one more run” so it seemed like a good point to stop. By this point the wind had died off slightly and I was starting to get hungry – learning to kitesurf is a great excuse to eat more food!
As we headed back to the centre I couldn’t wait to tell the others how happy I was with my progress. Having worked in the school all summer, one of my favourite parts of the job has been seeing the smiles of students coming in from the lesson they’d first managed to get up and riding on. This time I got to swap roles and be that happy person already stoked for their next attempt. I couldn’t stop smiling for the rest of the day, happy that I was finally able to share the sense of pride and new found adventure I’d seen so many of our students have.
Next time guys, I’m going to get a decent run in. I’m aiming for 20 metres, and I’m going to get that second dive of the kite. I can do this! And you can do this too! If you’ve done your Day 1 and 2 with us, or had lessons elsewhere but aren’t quite managing to get up on the board then our Day 3 (Board Control) course is perfect for you! Drop us a call and book in – if you get a really happy sounding girl on the phone, it’s me! 🙂