Posted on November 02 2018
- Is it hard to do?
- It looks cold.
- You must have to be really strong to do that.
- Is it expensive?
- It's already on the decline.
The comments and questions generally centre around these yet there are plenty more naysayers when enquiring of this ever-increasing popular sport/leisure activity that will soon be an Olympic event.
There are many who observe and while they are in awe of what they see, they remain spectators.
This blog post is not one of doom and gloom though. It is one of hope and excitement.
Maybe you have a friend you've been 'encouraging' to try it. To ‘give it a go’.
"Don't knock it until you try it" is maybe all you've had to deliver to someone enquiring critically about kitesurfing. This post will answer the questions and comments above and hopefully dispel some myth and legend about the sport that is kitesurfing. Secondly, will be comment around why this sport is worth a crack.
“...in a few days, a learner can be standing up on a board powered entirely by the wind and ocean.”
Is it hard to do? No.
It reminds me of a time when I picked up the guitar for the first time. Get a few
chords in a day happening and within a week, I'm playing some semblance of music. Many years down the track and I'm still learning the intricacies of what the guitar has to offer. In the same way, in a few days, a learner can be standing up on a board powered entirely by the wind and ocean. As far as mastering the sport goes. Well, we are all still being 'wowed' by new edits of kitesurfing's elite, jumping higher, riding faster, creating new moves and techniques and generally continuing to pioneer this incredibly diverse sport.
Picking up the basics of how to kitesurf is reasonably simple. It's interesting that most learners who join the Kite Academy have had some sense of kite flying practice: “A mate gave me a go.”
“I had a little two line delta kite when I was younger.”
“I have had a lesson but it didn't go so well or it was incomplete (usually due to lack of wind).”
For those that are completely green, we have the option of using a trainer kite on the beach, but for most, they've come to 'jump in the water' and try 'one of those kites' that they've seen their mates happily boosting on down at the local kite-spot.
“You certainly don't send bungy jumpers home after teaching them how to jump, strap them in and then just practice on 'top of the bridge'! Emmersive experience is what you’ve paid for, it’s what you should get!”
As longs as time is taken to practice the use of safety equipment on the land, it seems fair and reasonable to hit the waist deep water and try a four line kite immediately. It's the experience most punters paid for. You certainly don't send a bungy jumper home after teaching them how to jump, strap them in and then just practice ‘on top of the bridge'! Emmersive experience is what you’ve paid for, it’s what you should get! People have chosen to pay for this experience because they want to do just that; partake in an authentic experience.
“Technology has evolved and now offers options where warmth is no longer a major issue.”
It looks cold. In Wellington the water is cold. In Dunedin, it's freezing. Jack O'Neill is claimed to be the person who invented the wetsuit. Technology has evolved and now offers options where warmth is no longer a major issue. Often, the issue is now one of 'over heating'. I usually ask students if they're warm enough after the first 5-10mins of a lesson. In most cases the response, is something along the lines of, "Oh, I'm actually warm! Gee, these wetsuits are great. (We use a range of Mystic and Excel wetsuits and booties)
I have had one instance when a student was cold but refused to stop because she was having so much fun. We did end the lesson after one more flurry in the water and it was sensible to 'play safe' and warm up. That day was near the beginning of winter. September and October is the opening of Spring and the beginning of warmer temperatures that last right through until May.
Other options, are a warm get-a-way to a nice tropical paradise of your choice: Rarotonga (or Aitutaki), Tonga, Sri Lanka are but to name a few affordable locations. While they are great places to learn, in all honesty, they make better locations to hone your newly acquired skills and make the most of being able to explore a warm location by silent wind power.
“...technology has once again prevailed. Kites can be operated with finger tips and good technique.”
You must have to be really strong to do that? Not true.
While kitesurfing certainly does build your core strength over time, it's interesting to note that females can often learn quicker than the men. Why? Brain vs Braun.
Ladies often recognise for whatever reason that they can not wrestle the power of the wind. So they don't bother. Instead, they're often more receptive to techniques for flying the kite with minimal strength. In the early days, four line SLE power kites, did need some serious muscle to operate. Since then, technology has once again prevailed. Kites can be operated with finger tips and good technique.
“You will need to reach into your pockets if you want to live this lifestyle.”
Is it expensive? Yes
It's the one hurdle that hasn't changed. Fun and entertainment cost money, so you will undoubtedly need a budget. While there is now a market for second hand equipment, even that equipment is expensive. If it's not, chances are, it has a flaw in the technology (old tech), or there is something wrong the with the equipment.
Kite's alone begin around the $1500 mark for a quality kite. Then there are harness, bar and lines and board. Other sensible options include, impact/buoyancy vest, helmet and wetsuit. Generally speaking, you also need a vehicle to chase the wind or carpool with someone. That's still going to cost gas money (unless you own an e-vehicle in which case you'll need 'charging money'). The wind water and environment however, are free!
You will need to reach into your pockets if you want to live this lifestyle. Most peoples addictions cost. Why should this one be any different?….. Which leads us to….
It's already on the decline…. LOL.
I heard a guy mention this when I told him I was starting a kitesurfing business. With the onset of kitesurfing existing in this years Youth Olympics and destined for the World Olympics, kitesurfing is fast growing in popularity and riders ages are becoming ever-increasingly younger.
Technology is allowing teenagers and children to ride safely and comfortably.
In Wellington, the windiest city in the world, kitesurfing is attracting more tourists, kitesurfers and events. Wellington recently hosted a brand new event Waterbourne which offers one of the most gnarliest, most challenging downwinders on quite possibly a global scale. Waterbourne is also looking to facilitate the Olympic structure of Kiteboard competition: Twin Tip Racing (TTR).
Thousands of spectators are expected at Waterbourne 2019. Popularity decline? I think not.
I recently read a business article where a writer mentioned how friends or punters would often regale a friend launching a business with ‘Good luck’ or ‘Well, I hope it works out for you’.
Blind luck isn’t an ideal banking strategy. Blind luck doesn’t fuel, the excitement that Kitesurfing has to offer. Kitesurfing has been ‘working out’ since it’s inception in the 80’s. It’s been around a while now. Technology is ever developing this wonderful escape from naysayers. As a sport rises and finds it’s niche, there will always be a critic . They will continue to spectate and reason why they won’t enter the water.
The rest of us will look back at New Zealand with glorious smiles cemented on our faces, knowing the pure joy of being powered by Tawhiri Matea. We will feel the pioneering spirit of our anscestors. In time to come we will look back and remember what it was to be a part of shaping history and the pure joy it felt to define an era. Many already hold nostalgic kitesurfing moments.
Seemingly crazy leisure activities of the past have become high paying competitive sports. Interestingly, they’ve defined a new generation. Many of these sports have culminated into what we now call The X-Games: A thrilling series of competitive and athletic challenges that see athletes constantly challenging, growing and developing human endeavour. The Youth Olympics have embraced Kitesurfing.
You have an opportunity to be part of this. Right here, right now. Come down out of the grandstand, take to the field. You can do this. Let’s go!