Blown away by kiteboarding
I arrived at West Tamaki Estuary and thought: ‘‘ What have I got myself into?’’
The sky was grey, the water a murky uninviting brown and the wind was chilling and powerful.
Such a shame it was vital to my new chosen sport – kiteboarding.
I like to think I’m at ease with getting out of my comfort zone.
But when push comes to shove, I’m a nervous wreck.
Kiteboarding combines aspects of wakeboarding, windsurfing, surfing, paragliding and gymnastics– all sports I have never attempted.
My instructor Steve Hooper of RIPD is an expert on kiteboarding.
I’m sure he thought ‘‘ Who is this princess?’’ when I arrived in a beach dress but he never made me feel like nailing kiteboarding was out of my reach.
I was armed with confidence following his reassurance that one of the biggest myths about kiteboarding is that girls can’t do it.
First we went through basic safety procedures before getting into the mechanics of how it all works – most of which went way over my head because I was itching to get into the water and fly the kite.
After assembling all the gear it was time to step into a wetsuit, a harness and some of those shoes that separate the toes. We hit the water with Steve explaining what we were doing and why every step of the way.
After wading through some sludge in the estuary, we launched the kite. Steve was attached to it to begin with and then he unclipped himself.
Immediately I was blown away, in all senses of the word, by the sheer power of that piece of fabric in the sky.
I had no choice but to quickly become accustomed to face-planting – something I tried to do as gracefully as possible.
I was amazed at how much co-ordination it takes to keep the kite in the sky and how quickly things can change.
One moment you’re happily flying it and almost getting confident but then suddenly a gust of wind hits and you are hurtling through the water on all fours.
Admittedly a few times I just sat down in the water.
But my ever-encouraging instructor assured me I was not the most unco-ordinated person he had taught. We ended up being out on the water for well over three hours.
Steve says we will take it to the next level in my next lesson, but I’ve no idea how it will pan out.
Kiteboarding looks much easier than it is.
But I’m glad I gave it a go, even if I was overjoyed when it came time to swap the toe shoes for my wedges again.
Flying high: Great fun, despite the grey sky and chilling wind.
Summer ready: Reporter Sarah Argyle tries her hand at kiteboarding under the watchful eye of Steve Hooper from RIPD.
Air time: Instructor Steve Hooper shows off his skills.