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Erin Swain: Back in the Water!

Erin Swain has been writing about her experiences learning to snowkite and is now transitioning to the water. We will continue to bring you updates from Erin about her experiences throughout the season. You can follow Erin’s blog at http://www.thekiteboarder.com/tag/erin-swain/

Ok!  I had my first session since snowkiting in Colorado!  It was amazing!  I launched down in Rodanthe, North Carolina,  early in the morning when it was blowing 12 to 18 knots.  I had my 9M and was really nervous to try kiting on the water again.  My friend Lorenzo helped me out by launching my kite and I walked out to the middle of the sound.

When I first took the kite from Lorenzo, I was so anxious and excited.  It was a big change from the mellow winds on Lake Dillon.  I was getting drug downwind just standing there and Lorenzo was holding the back of my harness to keep me from drifting.  I was even struggling to keep my kite at 12 o’clock.

I started off like I did every other water session.  I needed to do a few body drags to see how aggressive I needed to turn my kite into the power zone.  Not too aggressive, at all, I realized quickly as I body drug left and right.

Lorenzo asked if I wanted to keep doing more drags or go straight to the board.  The Board!  I squealed with excitement.  He said he liked where my head was at and grabbed the board for me.  I had a little trouble flying the kite and putting the board on.  I did get it and I sat in the water bobbing, mentally prepping myself for my first pop up.

On my first try to get up going to my right (I am goofy footed so this is my dominant side) I popped right up and to my surprise, leaned on my back edge and went upwind!  It was incredible.  Finally!  UPWIND!  I was stoked.  When I got pretty far away from my crutch (Lorenzo), I headed back downwind towards him.  This side wasn’t as smooth since the wind had a lot of west in it and my board skills were a bit off as well.

I was pushed a little farther in toward shore than I had hoped and had to walk back upwind a bit to get back to Lorenzo.  After I was back, I made a few more successful attempts.  My second, third, and forth attempts were all a huge success.  I hardly even thought about the board.  I was simply cruising above the water, having a blast.

I was still being cautious about my takeoffs and making sure I was in a good head space before I dipped my kite into the power zone.  Sometimes it would take me a couple tries to dip the kite down aggressively enough to get out of the water.  Those times I just bob in the water thinking about being in the perfect position for my kite dive.

To be up and riding my first day back in the water after a year felt amazing.  I am sooooo glad I spent sessions on the snow this past winter.  BIG THANKS to Anton!!!!  It really helped me practice some kite skills without being too scared.

While I was up and riding this session I actually remembered the mantra I used to repeat to myself: keep the kite flying’, keep it moving, etc. as I cruised around the sound.  I even got so far as to contemplate trying a transition going from lefty to right without sitting down in the water and bringing my kite to twelve o’clock.  Then I thought, better not get ahead of myself…

The Wind died after about 30-45min, but I did manage a few re-launches.  I forgot all the little tricks to re-launching on water, so that was a challenge.  As I felt the wind dropping I remembered how frustrating it was to attempt to fly in light winds.  I gave Lorenzo back the kite and let him take it in.  (All these guys helping me is so great- I am always feeling safe and stoked as I take my beginner sessions in the water).  There’s nothing like ending the session with a smile on my face, and progress under my belt (or harness!).  More next time when I attempt transition turns and go on a downwinder…

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