kitesurfing lessons

Before moving to Grand Cayman, NS had it in his head to learn to kitesurf. What looked like the warm-weather version of snowboarding appealed to him from the start, especially after meeting RL and the rest of the local kitesurfers who make the sport look so enjoyable. What we quickly learned, however, was that lessons came highly recommended before getting into the sport. Like all extreme sports, kitesurfing has its inherent risks, and you're best off knowing how to manage them.

During Christmas break, NS hooked up with KiteSupSurf for a series of four 2-hour lessons on Barkers Beach. I was kind of hoping NS would guest blog this post, but in lieu of that, I'll share the photos (taken by KiteSupSurf) and give my second-hand account. I'm sure he'll pipe up on future posts.

...and that's enough.
First up: Learning to read the wind. Obviously, this is key to learning how to harness the wind within the kite without allowing the wind to harness you.

I can't believe I snoozed through these lessons. The magical sunrises make the early mornings so worth it.

While NS' parents were on-island, Dad S showed up at Barkers a few times to supervise the lessons.

Notice the wet suit on NS; December was a "chilly" month!

I'll admit: Christmas break was all about extra sleep for me, so the photos I've taken of kitesurfing activities will show up in later posts.

Next: Inflating the kite.

Then, of course, comes the launch. This typically requires a friend, although I've heard of experienced kiters who self-launch. For now, we'll stick with the buddy system.

...And we're in the water, harness in place, helmet on, but without a board. This is still part of learning how to handle the kite.

In this photo, the kite is not fully powered (the lines are shortened), allowing NS to practice the handling without getting carried out of the water into the mangrove trees (which has come close to happening).

NS also learned how to land the kite...

Again, look at that sky.
...and how to manage the lines.

But the best stuff takes place on the water.

...And often, the worst.

NS will be the first to admit that kitesurfing lessons were not the most enjoyable activity he's ever undertaken. The sport involves skills and positions and movements that don't compare to many other activities, and there is a significant learning curve. During that learning curve, NS swallowed a lot of sea water, smacked the surf on multiple occasions, and experienced the feeling of being out of control in favor of the powerful trade winds coming across the North Sound. But he stuck with it.

Before I knew it, he had purchased a 2011 12-meter F1 Bandit 4. He committed. More than $2K later, he was an invested kitesurfer, for better or worse. At the time these photos were taken, it kind of felt like "worse". Part of the frustration was the difficulty in going up-wind - essentially using board positioning to fight the force of nature. Future posts will reveal the outcome of that struggle. For now, let's just say that NS isn't a quitter.


  1. Why aren't you out there with him!?

  2. 1. cost and 2. fear of failure :)
    hopefully, I'll get into it next windy season (November 2011)

  3. impressive. looks like a lot of hard work!