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Erin Swain: After Irene

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/

After the completely disappointing month of August  (for wind and waves), the Outerbanks was met with hurricane Irene.  Although she brought us a little much needed swell in the ocean, she destroyed many parts of Hatteras, Manteo, and sound-side residents and businesses.  She actually carved out new inlets on Hatteras Island, making it inaccessible.

I hadn’t been kiting in what felt like forever, so when the wind finally became SW again, I started hearing from the ‘ol kite buddies. I was out surfing some of Katia’s first signs of swell early one Monday morning until the wind started to texture up the ocean.

I figured I better kite. So, I showed up at JR, which Irene destroyed. She ruined many docks and left JR a debris-ridden beach…closed to the public. Sad, yes. But in this particular day, I had to find some positivity in the situation of a tourist free, kiters almost- paradise (sans debris).

I couldn’t remember anything about kiting, and the nervous anxiety came over me.  Do I set up my lines downwind or upwind?  Can I stay upwind?   Will my kite stay inflated long enough for the session???  My mind raced.

It was Labor Day, so JR was packed with visitors. The fact that Hatteras Island has been shut off probably increased these numbers. I arrived to see Allison already out kiting and KILLING IT! She has inspired me so much. A true testament to putting in time will pay off. Scott is also out and getting BIG AIR.

I wait for Scott to come in, and he tells me he has already pumped hi 12M for me if I want it. Then Allison comes in and says I can also try her 9M.  WOW, I haven’t even pumped up a kite and just got offered to use two already geared up to go.  Cool!

I take Allison’s 9M and she talks about ‘gears’ on her Cabhrina. I haven’t really felt ready to mess with power and depower cords, but I guess today’s the day to learn something new.  That’s the thing with beginners like me…you find your comfort zone and really don’t want to leave that zone. I like getting babied…not messing with the gear, and just kiting. Well, with my garbage pail kid collection of gear, this is not possible. In order to get better, I need to learn to make the gear I use the post optimal for the conditions.

I use Allison’s 9M and pulled the cords at 12 o’clock to fee the difference in power the kite was making.  It’s hard to describe the feeling of power and depower, it’s just something you can feel with the pull and tension of the lines. I dive the kite down and immediately pop-up. It’s like riding a bike.

There’s lots of wind so I feel fully powered and tack out and back upwind! SUCCESS!  Unfortunately, I felt so tired from three hours of surfing that I could only manage to muster the strength for one more tack and back before throwing the towel in for that session.

Later that evening, I decided to go back to try and redeem myself from slacking at the session earlier.  I brought my 7M. I was determined to stay upwind. I didn’t. I found frustration that I wasn’t getting in proper position. If I pumped up a bigger kite, I would’ve been in much happier.

I decided to end the session and feel proud that I arrived to JR as a self sufficient kiter, only needing a launch and a land, as opposed to all the ‘hand holding’ I have been getting as a beginner. This made me smile as I drove home under the beautiful red orange sunset skies.

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