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/
This morning I woke up early because the forecast was NE 17 knots and building all day. I went down to Buxton because it’s a great place here where I can ride sound-side on NE wind. Also, I had to go get two of my kites that busted on my last session that were being repaired.
I was really excited because I had the day off and the forecast was good. This made the beautiful drive a long the NC coast even more enjoyable because I wasn’t in a rush. When I got to Kite Point, I was stoked. This spot is PERFECT!
It’s close to the road (not like the planet of the apes spot where you are so far from help of anything goes wrong) and you drive up the beach on the sound to get to the point. There is plenty of sandy beach for launching and landing, plus the water is shallow. There are deep spots for advanced riders to work on cool tricks, which is pretty sick to watch!
It was blowing and I couldn’t tell which kite to inflate. It was a different direction than the SW I had only been trying, so it seemed windier to me. There was a older couple that I asked advice from. They said I would be good in a 7, so that’s what I pumped up.
Then a guy names Jeff drove up and came over to introduce himself. Jeff was a nice guy that just wanted to ask for a little advice since it was his first time without an instructor. He had just returned from 10 days kiting in Dominican Republic and said that was the most kiting he had done. He was very nice, but I had to explain I was a beginner myself, but gave him encouragement and told him I would probably end up downwind and have to walk back.
First I made the mistake of running my lines out upside down and upwind of my kite, just running the lines out of habit, not thinking about how the kite was going to launch. I fixed the lines and was ready to launch. My friend launched me with no problems. I walked close to shore and he handed me my board. I took a few steps away from the beach, sat down, put my board in and dove the kite off to the right. Instantly I was tacking outwards. I had to move the kite a lot to generate speed and I felt my form was off.
As I tacked out further, one of the first things that happened was I leaned so far back I actually caught a heel edge and wiped out. I was in one of those deep spots, but I managed to successfully body drag back to my board and get back up riding.
I was trying really hard to stay upwind. I felt that my tack out was working, but then my tack back to shore I knew I was loosing ground from where I wanted to be.
As I realized I wasn’t staying upwind, I figured I might as well get as many tacks as possible and make the most of my walk back. I did about six tacks all the way out into the middle, and all the way into shore. Each time I would work on keeping my hips out, weight on the back leg, and arms in. It wasn’t that easy because I also had to keep the kite moving.
When I got down to a point that I had scoped out earlier as being the place I could bail if I couldn’t stay upwind, I realized I had to land. Luckily, there are tons of other kiters on the beach and a few guys giving lessons. They are happy to land someone, so I took advantage of this.
My first landing was not as graceful as I wanted. He told me I was way to close and needed to be out in the water more. I also was not familiar with this wind direction, so I wanted to land out of habit instead of thinking about the wind window. I went out further and landed my kite to the guy on the beach. Then I had to run back out and get my board because I didn’t get close enough to leave the board on the beach.
I gathered my stuff and walked back up the shoreline. I kept my kite inflated because it was easy enough to just hold it and frankly, I didn’t feel like re-pumping the kite every time I did this mini downwinder.
All in all, it kept getting windier throughout the day. It was perfection! I used my 7m all day until later that evening when I thought I was kited out. Tami had her 9M pumped up and came in for the evening. She told me to try it out and I figured I might as well. Her beau, Michael, helped me launch (on land which seemed crazy to me at the time, but because of the wind direction it worked). Michael came over and de-powered me all the way. I was really powered up, even on total de-power mode.
I dove the kite and was instantly lit. I raced across the water out into the sound trying my best to keep my form, but I don’t think I had ever been this powered up. It was scary and fun at the same time. I had some tacks upwind, but since I was traveling so fast, when I sat down to turn I would instantly lose ground (note to self: Must work on transition turns as soon as I can stay upwind).
The sky was so colorful as the sun set and I was so excited to have had a full day of kiting. When I came in to shore, I was actually pretty stoked. I learned the difference between working my 7M all day to being overpowered on a 9M. It’s crazy how fast you learn just by getting out there and trying new kites! My first time session at kite point was super fun. A spot I would highly recommend to anyone!