I kept asking the instructor ‘What about this weekend?’ but the answer was for too many weeks in a row ‘Offshore wind, sorry, can’t do it’. Impatiently I was hoping for a change in the wind direction to get the kite boarding beginners lesson. But the wind stubbornly blew from North without mercy. As the 4th of July Weekend came closer I was searching for Alternatives. Google maps was tortured, Websites of Campgrounds and Kitesurfing Schools browsed and a couple of emails sent back and forth till the plan was finalized. Outer Banks was the goal, just a quick 9 hour drive away from NYC.
Those two excited people here, Bastian and Inge, hopped into the big, blue van called Twinky after work on Friday and drove south.
Somewhere along the way we merged into the holiday traffic and reached our final stage after 5 hours: the Holly Lake Campsites in Delaware. The map shows 1200 campsites in a forest among a couple of lakes, but the expected giant camping crowd turned out to be a very cozy place with a petting zoo.
An early start next morning brought us back in line of the holiday seekers, for hours and hours everybody seemed to have the same goal: Outer Banks. Luckily the caravan left us as soon as we reached Barrier Island Hatteras. To the left the Ocean, to the right Pamlico Sound, the largest Lagoon on the East Coast, only a stone’s throw away from each other.
We found Hristo from Kite Club Hatteras, our kite surf instructor and a hand full of kite surfers in one of those sweet cottages which can be rented for a Hatteras vacation. The crew invited us to the beach on the ocean side where warm waves and white, silky sand were just waiting for us to kick off our vacation.
That night, Twinky, the big blue van, accommodated 2 excited New Yorkers, happy anticipation and countless mosquitoes.
Of course we didn’t need an alarm clock on the first day of kiteboarding. Once the first mosquito took a bite we were awake and already busy with collecting our necessities: bikini, swim trunks, Lycra shirts, Surf/Kiteboarding Booties, towels, Sunscreen, and plenty of water. We also brought Twinky with us to the beach, because he gets lonely when we leave him by him self. And a stove in case we got hungry for some noodle soup.
The mixture of kite skills in the group was broad; the experts were out on the water very quickly, surfing and jumping; beginners like us learning on the beach about the harness, kite setup and power zone; and all folks in between, learning from each other, helping each other, enjoying their favorite hobby.
Our 6m Trainer kite in yellow and red, seemed harmless compared with the serious looking, black 12m Kite, but had better not be underestimated.
We learned important things during the first lesson, such as that on-shore wind is required, the left and right leash should not be mixed under any circumstances and how also the safety systems work. If a wave, shark or the car on the road next to the beach takes the kite with it, you really want to know how to quickly detach from the kite.
With this in mind we launched the kite, learned to hold it at 12 o’clock where it has the least power, turned it to the left and right, to 10 o’clock and back to 2 turning the bar accordingly, going deeper using de-power (moving the bar up), taking up higher using power (pulling the bar down). After a while the kite started to follow my instructions and stopped pulling me over like a wild horse bucking the saddle and we became friends. There was always a safety leash connected between Hristo’s and my harness, to prevent the kite’s attempt to take me back to NYC.
The next step was body dragging: turning the kite to 10 o’clock, holding the bar with the right hand only, straightening out the left arm into the direction of the kite and let the kite drag you through the water. And at some point turn the kite back to 2 o’clock and let it take you back using the other hand.
That’s where we decided to take the 2nd beginners class the same day. A noodle lunch break gave us back some energy, half an hour relaxing and taking some pictures of the already good kiteboarders, but then the board called, it could not wait any longer for us.. or vice versa.
The kite at 12 o’clock, the feet squeezed into the board straps, butt-deep in the water, loud heart beat, that’s the start position. I turned the kite softly to the left and it started pulling me, the board and my butt through the water. At some point the latter suddenly left the water to my surprise and it took a while till I realized that I was actually standing on the board. Woah! But the kite must have thought, its not enough action and we took off, I lost contact with the board and tried to get back on it, pedaling in thin air. After this unexpected jump I kindly was let back into the water, very smooth, my special thanks to the kite.
The achievements of the day were celebrated this evening with fresh made bulgarian-german meatballs from the grill, seasoned with kite stories and gear suggestions and washed down with one or two beers.