Learning it the hard way

Naive and curios

In retrospect acquiring my own equipment and trying to learn kiting on my own after just one body drag session on water was quite naive. I was quite excited and curious to learn everything I could about this sport, so that I didn’t want to wait for the next available kite course to align with the perfect wind conditions at the respective spot.

The theoretical know-how was accessible from various sources like:

  • friends
  • experienced kiters
  • YouTube videos
  • books

However it was the practical experience and the muscle memory I was lacking.

Starting without wind

At one point I was so eager to fly the kite, that I didn’t even care that there was no wind. I packed the kite, bar and harness into my car and drove to a wide open gras field. After pumping the kite and attaching the lines I was waiting for a little breeze to initiate the next kite control learning session. In hindsight thankfully there was not the slightest wind at all because practicing kite steering on land is a really dangerous thing.

I got really impatient so I came up with an creative approach. Putting the kite on its tips and launching the kite through inducing line tension due to running from the kite:

It actually worked to lift the kite from the ground but controlling the kite was impossible, so it fell to the ground. This inglorious attempts were angrily stopped by a farmer who owned the field.

Unhooked kite destruction

It was a windy and gusty day at the Wallersee, a lake only 20 minutes away from my home. Seeing some kiters riding on the east side of the lake I knew, that the conditions would be strong enough to lift the kite without me running around. At this day the wind was onshore, which is really tricky at this lake because the limited width of water at the entrance forces kiters to turn often and ride upwind fast to get to an area with more space to ride.

After setting up my gear another guy helped to launch the kite. Using the peer I already got about 30 meters of safety distance to the shore. I jumped into the water and tried a few water starts. After finally making my first meters i realized: for some strange reason my chicken loop is unhooked from the harness. That’s when a gust came in and pulled me in the air out of the water. Surprisingly I managed to land safely on my feet.

Next thing I saw was my 12m² Kite has landed in a tree at about 20kts of wind. The community helped together and organized a saw to cut of some branches to get the kite back out. I climbed the tree and did as instructed by the others. Unfortunately the kite was ripped through the strong wind forces and the pointy branches.

I was devastated because of several reasons at once:

  • destroyed my only kite
  • embarrassed in front of the other kiters
  • in shock of the dangerous situation
  • in doubt if this is the right sport for me

After that we drove to a friend nearby to digest what just happend and realize how lucky I was that it was “only” a ripped kite. Because of this event and other dangerous situations encountered I was close to quit kitesurfing, but the burning desire within me was so strong that I still wanted to get a better and most of all safer kiter.

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