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/
My hands have calluses…I hate to be a girlie girl, but is this a good thing? I am back at it. I just completed a great downwinder to Jockeys Ridge, but this session started out as a bummer. My bud Scott (from the last blog) came to get me and I started grabbing all my gear.
I realized quickly that my Liquid Force kite bar was not with my gear. DOH! I left it the day before after my last downwinder somewhere near Salvo (about 30 miles south of where I live). Well, I grabbed what I could and decided there’s nothing I can do about it now except leave my info with the kite centers and hope there is a good samaritan out there that wants to return the bar that I use for 2/3 of my kites!
Anyways, back to my session…I tried my hardest to put the lost gear behind me; and Scott was nice enough to say I could use whatever kite I needed when we got there. Luckily, I guess the kite gods were with me that day because it happened to be blowin! It was probably from 22-29 mph, so I could use my 7M. I was stoked because this was the kite I had flown the most.
When we got to the spot where we had to set up gear, I forgot that when setting up downwind of the kite I had to flip the bar so I had to run my lines out twice. Scott pumped my kite to save time and I got that anxious feeling again (just like every time). He told me he was going to launch me this time and that I could walk as far out in the sound as I wanted and he would bring the board to me. I had to walk upwind in the sound a bit and Scott made sure I was in the right position, so I gave him the thumbs up to launch. Success! This was the first time I didn’t have someone else launch the kite for me and pass it off in the middle of the sound! I did it! (Although he did walk my board out to me, but I am just going to concentrate on progress).
Once I got the board on I was a bit apprehensive of this dock with a gazebo on it that I could see in my periphery, thinking I could easily get drug downwind into that obstacle. Scott said I would be fine, so I just headed right out there pulling my kite through the power zone on the left and I was off and riding.
I went pretty far out before tacking back to the right and trying to wait for Scott who was ashore doing a self launch.
It was really windy and the sound was super choppy. Today was not a day I wanted to try my transitions and toeside turns because I would surely loose my board and be frustrated. Instead, I decided to just try and keep control, edge hard, and attempt upwind direction. I actually tacked slightly upwind by keeping the kite low and leaning back hard on my heel edge. I did crash my kite a couple times, but re-launched it with ease in the windy conditions.
I needed this session to give me confidence since I was so mad at myself for forgetting my bar system on the beach the day before. Let this be a lesson to any beginner: Make a mental checklist before you leave for a session/end a session (kite, bar, harness, leash, pump, kite bag, flip flops, etc.). Wish I had thought of that after my ‘kite high’ (absent mindedness) from a great downwinder.
Towards the end of the downwinder I always get a little nervous on how the landing will go. I wanted to focus on getting closer to the beach this time. I managed to kite all the way in to the beach and jump off my board effortlessly. I gave the signal to a kite boarder on the beach that I was ready to land by tapping the top of my head and gently lowered the kite in a controlled manner and the guy caught my kite and landed it safely ashore.
I was so happy with a great downwinder. It was only six o’clock and Scott asked if we should do another downwinder. As much as I wanted to, I decided to leave on a good note without having to be in a rush for daylight, should something go wrong. I am so glad I did, cause if there’s one great thing this sport is teaching me about is the virtue of patience.
I had a great night and now its time to reflect on my sessions, pop open a bottle of wine, and watch some YouTube videos on transition turns for my next session….