Erin Swain has been writing about her experiences learning to snowkite. We will continue to bring you updates from Erin about her experiences throughout the season. You can follow Erin’s blog at http://kiteboarder3.wpengine.com/tag/erin-swain/
I promised myself when I learned to kiteboard in the water that I was not going to go out in light winds. Unfortunately, in the mountains, there are no exact wind meters and websites to check that will allow you to know what the wind is doing. Maybe there is somekind of wind dance to perform that would bring perfect winds???
So, there I was. Light, flukey NW winds with my 7M. There were nine other kites out on the lake that day, so my expectations were up. Perhaps mistake number one. I got my kite rigged up pretty quickly (which is impressive since the last time I was struggling as I tried to pump up the struts). And there in the gorgeous blue skies, I waited for the wind to pick up. And waited. And waited…
As gusts came in, I would watch all the other kite guys with their 12-17M kites zooming around the lake. I sat frustrated trying my ‘trial and error’ methods of pulling on lines and trying to rock the kite. A few times a kite dude would come by and try and help flip my kite over so I could hot launch. ‘Hot Launching’ is extremely dangerous and not something you want to practice ever in the water. Its where the kite is on its back with the leading edge facing upward and you pull the center lines toward yourself, bringing wind into the kind, sending it soaring pretty quickly into the air. On the Lake, hot launching has become my only trick to getting the kite in the air. I actually unstrapped from my snowboard, ran down to the kite, flipped it over, and ran back so I could ‘hot launch’ by myself.
It was pretty obvious that I was struggling that day. Probably cause I was pulling on my lines like a crazy person, hoping some miracle would bring my kite into the air. This is where being the only woman on a kite came into handy. I had at least three dudes come up and try and help me out. One guy named Gary actually landed his kite, unstrapped his snowboard and offered me a ton of great tips. The first one being how to hold the lines with my mittens for an easy and safe release so a line wouldn’t take any of my fingers off in heavy winds. Great tip.
As I sat there that day feeling defeated and contemplating just calling it a day several times, Gary boosted my ego and explained that it wasn’t me, it was difficult wind. Plus, my kite was too small. He actually gave me hand warmers when the sun dipped behind the clouds! He showed me that when I had the kite in the air, I had the bar to close to my body, and re-launched me about 5 times showing me how to keep the kite moving in the air.
I didn’t do much riding that day, but by the end of the session, I had the kite in the air, and actually flew it with my eyes closed (a great exercise for beginners to know where the kite is). My session wasn’t a complete waste of time. I learned not to give up. Even Anton called me as I drove back over the Vail Pass to make sure I wasn’t too discouraged after that tough flukey wind. Again, Its good to be a girl.
Erin currently lives in Colorado’s Vail Valley with her rescue dog, Willy. She’s passionate about surfing, snowboarding, snowkiting, yoga, and food&wine. She is always ready to try new experiences, travel, and spends her time loving her active lifestyle.