If you haven't seen this before, image a person riding a snow board across the surface of the water while connected to a kite that looks more like a parachute than a kite. The kite allows the rider to go very fast and is strong enough to lift the rider 20 or 30 feet above the water!
We booked two 3-hour lessons at the Reef Kite Surfing in Vieux Fort which was only a 10 minute walk from our cottage. We met our teacher, Stan, who, after having us signing the "you can die doing this" waiver, set us up with a "trainer" kite. We had a little experience flying a "trainer" kite a few years ago in Australia, so we had some idea of what we were up against. The trainer is designed to let you learn how to manage the controls. It is a small version of the real thing which is not strong enough to pull you off the ground but is equally hard to control.
After we took turns for about an hour learning to fly the trainer, Stan hooked us up to a 7m2 kite. It is a little smaller than the 10 -12 m2 kites used by experienced riders, was "plently big" for our next level. The larger kite was much more responsive and pulled hard when we found the "power stroke".
After practicing on land for another hour, we each had a turn dragging in the water behind the kite. If you were watching that, it probably looked a lot more like teaching a dog to waterski than kite surfing. The hardest part was walking back up the beach while trying to control the kite with one hand!
|Stan showing me how to body drag with the board.|
Gayle decided to sit out for day two of the lessons. So that meant that patient Stan had to put up with my inconsistent abilities.
|Control the kite, carry the board AND walk? Just add water!|
After about another 2 hours of practice, I was able to get onto the board and actually made it work! We even have video to prove it. Although I am far far away from "competent" status, I feel very happy with my 6 hours of practice and am looking forward to the opportunity to try kite surfing again. (Tobago is only a 20 minute flight away!).