When Mum & Dad asked if I wanted to learn how to kiteboard this winter, I was a little surprised. I thought I was too young, I hadn’t really even thought about it. So I said sure! My Mum & Dad go out kiting every day down here, and love it. My friend Benji, he’s my age, 9. He’s a really good kiteboarder, and he learned when he was 8, and he loves it. But he’s pretty much the only kid doing it. I think that’s when my parents got the idea that I could learn too. We are camped on the beach in La Ventana, which is near the bottom of the Baja, on the Sea of Cortez in Mexico. We’ve been here for a few months. There are lots and lots, maybe hundreds of kites in the sky every day. People come here just to go kiting because it’s so darn windy!
The Trainer Kite
First I had to learn how to fIy the trainer kite. I spent quite a lot of time out front of our camp practicing. The trainer kite is a mini kite to learn on. It has just 2 lines and the bar. Often I would fly it with Benji, sometimes when the wind was really strong it would take both of us holding the bar! One time when I was flying the kite, a huge gust of wind came, and it blew us both over, because he was holding onto my harness, it pulled me on to my side and he landed on top of me, while I was still flying the kite!! But then I crashed it!!
I learned how to move the kite into the power zones and that 12 o’clock was neutral, no power. The trainer kite kinda scared me at first because it’s really powerful, you have to be strong and hold on tight or you’re gonners! It pulls hard, that’s why I had to have someone with me, so I don’t blow away. I learned how to hold it steady and then, because I’m only 60 lbs, I wore the harness and my dad tied a string to the bar and down to the hook. Now I had to learn to just steer the kite and let the harness feel the pull. My instructor, Jim, said that I’d be ready to start my lessons when I could fly the kite with one had, and run up the beach without looking at the kite! That became my first goal, learn to fly the kite by feel. When the wind wasn’t too strong, I could fly it all by myself, which was really fun. One time, with my Dad holding on to me, I actually did fly, I was off the ground and flying!! That was the best feeling, and it was when I knew I would like kiting. Now it’s my favourite thing to do, is see how far I can jump. I was ready to start my lessons.
Mum & Dad’s friend Jim is an instructor, he’s been teaching for a very long time and he’s really good, he taught my mum and now he’s going to teach me. He brought down some kid size kites, a harness and board for me. So far I have had 5 lessons, and on my last lesson I actually stood up on the board! It felt amazing!! But it wasn’t all fun, well it was mostly, just not lessons number 3 and 4.
My first two lessons were on the beach, I learned how to pump my kite, unwrap the bar and lines, always making sure the red is on the downwind, left side. I learned the names of the kite parts and how the kite flies without the lines. By holding onto the bridals, then letting one side go and watching what happens, the kite just flopped downwind. Then I learned how to launch and land the kite, and how to self rescue, which is very important. I had to learn how to wrap up my lines, as if I was on the water, rescuing myself. Then how to lie on the kite, hold it and make a sail to, catch the wind and sail to shore. That part was fun, I liked doing that.
Then I learned how to body drag on the water, with Jim, he was attached to me so that we would stay together. He taught me how to hold onto the bar and keep the kite steady. That was fun, I learned that if you keep the power window on the right side, you can body drag back to shore really fast. I felt it pull it a lot, and that if you wave the kite around while you sheet in, it will pull you right up out of the water!! I loved learning about the wind, lift and pull, it was like my own roller coaster ride. My lessons were about 1 and a half hours. They were fun and serious at the same time, Jim always talked about safety first and kite control.
So far i’ve learned a lot, but today it’s time for the board and i’m a little bit scared. Jim said we are going to do everything on the water that we have been doing on the beach, but i’m still uneasy, because I have heard about all the crashes the beginners have had, and I didn’t want that to happen to me. I had a radio in my helmet so I could hear and talk to Jim. But out on the water everything was happening too fast, the board wouldn’t stay on my feet, the kite wouldn’t stay still, the waves were hitting me in the face and I kept spinning around backwards! I pretty much forgot everything he taught me. When he was telling me what to do, he was talking too fast and my head got all full of information that I got confused, then I slammed the kite on the water and it lost some air. I wanted to cry, I wanted to go home, I was not happy!
Jim pulled me in to shore with his kite. I was cold, sore from the wetsuit rubbing on my neck and I just didn’t like it, I told mum that I quit. Water was going in my mouth, the wind was too strong and the waves were crashing over my head and the salt water was stinging my eyes. I couldn’t control the kite and it was all just awful, I hated it, I just wanted to go and play with my friends. Jim put air in the kite and we went back out again, but I didn’t want to go. It wasn’t much better the next run and I was getting really tired and cold. When I got back to camp I had a very long and very hot shower with my wetsuit on. I told Mum that I quit!
But I didn’t quit, Mum & Dad didn’t want me to, they said that it would get better. I was pretty overwhelmed for a while, I hit my hands on the bar and my feet slammed against my instructors board. More salt water in my face, up my nose and in my eyes. I did have better kite control, but my neck really hurt from the helmet rubbing, I was cold and I hated it, the rocks on the beach hurt my feet and this time I told mum that I quit forever! I cried my heart out in mums lap for 30 mins. Mum said that all my emotions, frustrations, fears and feelings came pouring out. Then I heard the music from the ice cream truck, which instantly snapped me out of my bad mood. Running out to the van I ordered a double strawberry ice cream with chocolate sauce on top that went hard when it got cold. Now I felt much better, ice cream makes everything better.
Jim gave me homework, said I had to look up the word ‘Persistence’ and understand what it meant. It means ‘not giving up’. He must have known I had a bad time. So I didn’t give up.
There is a girl name Rosalie here at camp, she is 11 yrs old and she is also learning to kite. She had a lesson with the board on the same day as me, she had a tough time too, but was happy about it!! I couldn’t believe she liked it, she said she stood up for a moment, and that was when I remembered I also stood up for a moment, and that it felt good. So after thinking about it, I decided not to quit, that I would give it just one more try.
When Jim came over the next day we had a chat about what happened yesterday and what we were going to be doing today. We did some more work on the sand with the board and how to stand up, body position and how to move my hips. Then I dragged out on to the water and Jim brought my board out to me. I got new bindings!! Size small, my size, because my feet wouldn’t stay in the other ones that were too big, mum found some now ones for sale over at Playa Central.
This time I had much better kite control, but still found the board difficult to put on by myself, so Jim helped me. Then I would dive the kite and pop up onto my feet! It was so easy! The kite pulled me up and out of the water onto my feet! I rode for about 10 seconds and that was the best feeling ever, the first time I stood up I squealed, I couldn’t believe I did it, I was really happy….persistence……
Gosh, this was the best, my best time ever on the water so far! I was standing up lots, on the board and not loosing it as much. I’m not crashing the kite anymore, but sometimes it does go down when I have a big fall. Riding the waves being pulled along by the wind, it was the greatest feeling, I didn’t want it to end, I was so happy, I can’t wait to go out again. This time I stopped spinning around, and kept my feet on the board, the new bindings are much much better. I guess something clicked in my head and I could suddenly just do it. Jim says it’s …..persistence…..
Today I was excited and not scared at all, I launched and dragged out onto the water with my board. The wind wasn’t as strong so I took a 5 meter kite, but half way down I felt the kite go a little crazy. Dad told me later that the wind grown stronger, so I just kept my kite nice and high and kept going. I was riding lots, in and out across the bay, sometimes I even came up wind, well I must have come up wind quite a lot because it took me an hour and a half to reach South beach. The first time I went down to South beach it only took me 40 minutes.
I was having so much fun out there, I even did a little jump off a wave, that felt really good. I rode the board all the way into the beach and landed the kite smoothly. On my way in Jim jumped over me, again! This lesson was my best one yet, I really like kiteboarding.
Today was my last lesson because we are leaving in two days. Jim came over at 12 and I was all ready to go. The wind was blowing as usual, and I was hot in my wetsuit, life jacket and harness. All I wanted to do was sit down.
Today Jim brought an extra radio for my Dad to wear. I was excited to be kiting with Dad today, and show him my moves. But his radio wasn’t working very well, he could hear us, but we couldn’t hear him. Which wasn’t too bad because I just used hand signals, so if I lost my board I’d put my hand up like this, and he’d know to go and get it for me, which is really helpful.
I was having so much fun out there today, I was able to go up wind one way, but it was too hard to go up wind the other way, which is the way the waves were going and I was playing in them. Then the wind got really strong, but I liked it, I was having so much fun I didn’t want go in (to the beach). Jim had to tell me 3 times to head to the beach. It feels so good, now I want to go out again and again.
It was a 30mph wind. I came home into a nice hot shower very happy, no rubbing spots on my neck, I was warm and everyone was congratulating me. Then I got dressed and went to play with all my friends. I’m a little sad to be saying bye to them soon, this has been the best winter I’ve ever had!!
Thanks for teaching me Jim! Thanks Mum and Dad, I love you!!