Blown away by kite­board­ing

Central Leader - - NEWS - By SARAH AR­GYLE

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.

Photo: SARAH AR­GYLE

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.

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