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Close Up: Adriana Harlan

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Name: Adriana Harlan
Age: 31
Years kiting: Since July 2008
Favorite Spots: For now, my favorite spot is the North Shore of Oahu. I hope to soon be able to travel the world in search of new wind and waves.
Favorite Conditions: 4-6’ NW swell and 20 knots
Favorite Moves: Hitting the lip strapless as hard as I do strapped
Sponsors: F-One Kites

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GEAR SET-UP

Boards: F-One Custom 5’3” Surfboard
Kites: 2010 5 and 7 F-One Revolt
Harness: ProLimit Pure Girl Waist Harness

TIPS

  • 1. For any new girls looking to get into kitesurfing in the waves, don’t be intimidated by all the men in the water. They will be stoked to have a new female face in the lineup.
  • 2. If you are new to kiting in the surf, it is a good idea to learn proper wave etiquette such as who has priority on each wave and to give other kiters space when they are riding down the line on a wave.
  • 3. To help improve your wave riding skills, try riding strapless. At first it will feel awkward but you will quickly learn to keep the board under your feet and will begin using your legs rather than the straps to surf the wave.

Adriana Harlan moved to the North Shore of Oahu from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, over ten years ago. A former professional bodyboarder, she was only 15 years old when she competed at Pipeline for the first time. Adriana began kiteboarding just two years ago, and she has spent that time on kiting in powerful waves both strapless and strapped.

When, where, and why did you start kiteboarding?
I took my first lesson in July of 2008 here on Oahu. Living five minutes from one of the island’s best spots for wave kiting made me want to try it out. I spent six months learning to kite on a twin tip and in February of 2009 I picked up a surfboard for the first time. I remember it was solid 4-6’ Hawaiian and blowing 20+ knots with at least 20 people out. I was intimidated, but I had to give it a try. I fell in love with wave riding instantly and was so excited about it that I didn’t care if I could jibe or not. I took my time and it was very humbling at first, but over the last year and half I have had more fun than I ever thought possible.

Adriana has been kiting for less than three years, but us getting a lot of attention for her skils in the waves. Photo Chuck Harlan

Have any other sports or disciplines helped influence your kiteboarding?
I have been a bodyboarder all my life, but I have never actually surfed on a surfboard. While living in Brazil, I traveled around the country on the professional bodyboarding tour beginning when I was 13. I think my years of bodyboarding have helped me with wave knowledge and allowed me to progress much faster than I would have had I not spent so much time in the ocean.

What do you do off the water to help you on the water?
I think it is important to eat healthy foods and stay away from drugs, alcohol, and cigarettes. I still bodyboard at spots like Pipeline and Rocky Point to help keep my legs and body in shape for kiting. I also try and spend time at night stretching before I go to sleep.

You seem to be very focused on riding waves. What is the attraction to kitesurfing in the waves? Do you do any freestyle-type riding?
Since I was young, I have lived near the ocean and had an obsession with riding waves. Kitesurfing in the waves allows me to see the wave from a different perspective than I have known from bodyboarding. I am able to ride waves that are not perfect and still have as much or more fun than I have ever had. I do not ride freestyle and I spend all of my time on the water focusing on improving my skills in the waves.

What do you think can be done to draw more women into kiteboarding?
I think in order to get more women into kiteboarding, the magazines and videos must have more exposure for the girls who are killing it. Kite camps and schools that are devoted to teaching women would also help. I also feel that if companies gave more support to the female kiteboarding market then more women would be drawn to the sport.

What advice do you have for women who may be interested in getting kiteboarding, but are afraid to give it a try?
I would tell women to first get a proper lesson and spend hours on the beach working on kite control. If they plan to get into wave kiting they should first learn on a twin tip to get basic board and kite skills down and then progress to a surfboard. As I said earlier, before getting in the waves with a kite be sure and understand wave etiquette.

What standout features do you most appreciate about your current gear?
I am currently flying the 2010 F-One 5 and 7m Revolt Kites and what I like about these kites is the power I am able to get and how stable they are in the air. I am able to fly my 5m in a wide range of wind conditions and it is always great to fly a small kite while riding waves. These kites are able to relaunch very quickly, which is important when the waves are big.

What is something about you that you do outside of kiteboarding that most people wouldn’t know?
Not only do I spend most of my time in the ocean for fun but I also work for the University of Hawaii as a research oceanographer and I spend one week a month out at sea doing research for the Hawaii Ocean Time Series program.

What are your must-haves that you can’t live without?
What’s important in my life is the support of my family, husband, and friends and of course having plenty of wind and waves to ride.

Any words of wisdom you want to share with our readers?
I would like to say be friendly, show respect to other kiters, and always offer advice or a helping hand to those in need. To all the young and up and coming females looking to start wave kiting, I encourage you to face your fears in the ocean and take your time learning each step. The more you practice the more comfortable you will become in the surf and the more fun you will have.

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