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Erin Swain: In Too Deep

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/

Today started off like all my other sessions. Scott and I dropped a car off at Jockeys Ridge and went down behind the golf course in Nags Head to pump up our kites. It wasn’t blowing too strong, so I pumped up my 9M and attached my bar from my 7M. I thought this would be sketchy, but it was fine.

We took my 9M out and decided to practice accidentally becoming unhooked. Scott had explained how to grab the bar with one hand in the middle and pull the chicken loop down with the other. Simple enough.

In actuality, this is not so simple. In the heat of the moment when you become unhooked, its is scary as hell. My instincts had me grabbing the bar, not holding in the middle, doing an accidental kite loop, and crashing the kite. I guess I will need to work on this. Staying calm and grabbing the chicken loop is much easier then trying to mess with the bar at all. We worked on the unhooked thing a few more times, and I got a better handle on it.

After practicing this a bunch, my kite crashed and I couldn’t relaunch it because I didn’t pump enough air into my leading edge and there was not a lot of wind. So, I practiced a self rescue again. This would become extremely helpful to me a mere 25 minutes later as I would soon find out.

I had to pack up my 9M, run to the car, grab my 12M, and pump that one up. I was pretty tired and should have probably recognized this and skipped the session, but as a beginner kiter, you think adrenaline can keep you going.

I learned a valuable lesson today because half way through the downwinder, I was way out in the middle of the sound and I crashed. I was kicking my legs trying to feel for the bottom of the sound but it was just too deep. Then I started to panic. I had never been this deep before and all I could think about was how I wanted to be out of this situation. I was getting drug towards shore and I was scared. Then I started crying and totally freaking out as I tried desperately to relaunch the kite, but my efforts were wasted.

I had lost my board a ways back and just wanted to get out of the water and off this kite. Scott came by and gave me my board, but since my back was to him, he had no clue how upset I was. He kept on going. Now I started waving my arms in the air and had to get his attention to come back.

When he came over to me I had calmed down a little because my feet were now touching the bottom and I could stand up again. I told him I felt I needed to do a self rescue. He didn’t hesitate at all, he just said, “if you feel like you need to, then do it.” Then he stayed with me and walked me through the self rescue process again. By the time I got to my kite, I hardly had the energy to flip the kite on its back. I finally did and Scott told me to walk to the gazebo and put all my gear there. He told me he would send my board towards me and I could grab it. Then he said to wait there and he would come pick me up.

I did as he said, and by the time I climbed up onto someone’s gazebo I was still crying and upset. I deflated the kite and felt completely defeated. I felt like I never wanted to kite again. I didn’t care about my gear, I just was so happy to be on land again.

Then I waited for Scott. At one point I decided to jog towards the road so it would be easier for him to find me. I was jogging in my board shorts by all the golfers and was soooo embarrassed.

When Scott picked me up, he assured me this happens to everyone, and I shouldn’t be upset about it. He was totally right about trying not to panic, I would have had the same results as a self rescue if I wasn’t all upset. I know this now, and will try not to freak out in a scary situation. I am going to take a day off and re-group.

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