Perth has a long sandy coastline, and in summer has a regular afternoon onshore wind, making it an ideal kite boarding location. A drive up the coast on any summer afternoon will show how popular the sport has become, as kites regularly fill the sky over many of the beaches.
I have watched these people on several occasions, and been impressed with both the speed that they can travel, and the height they can jump from the waves, and have often thought, “I would like to be able to do that… it doesn’t look too hard!”
I remember one one trip up the coast to Lancellin, about an hour and a half north from the city, when my brother was visiting from the UK. We sat on the beach analysing what the kite boarders were doing, and both being reasonably competent on a snowboard or a wakeboard, reckoned we had it figured out!
When I made my list of 100 goals, I decided it was time to learn the sport, and on my return to Perth I booked some introductory lessons with Kite Boarding Perth, who are based at Mullaloo Beach in the northern suburbs of Perth.
My instructor Tony took me through the basics of kite care and safety, and showed me how to set up the kite on the beach, and how to pack it away again. We then moved on to launching the kite and controlling it in the air. I had done quite a bit of practice with my trainer kite, so managed fairly well with the bigger kite.
Midway through the second lesson I was just about to get into the water to practice using the power of the kite to drag along through the water (it is much safer to do than on the land), when the wind dropped off, and we had to call the lesson off.
The next few days were not very windy, and then I set off on my Uluru trip, so it was a while before I got back to the beach, but on Wednesday the winds picked up again, and my final two lessons were scheduled for the next two afternoons.
I practiced dragging through the water, and re-launching the kite when it landed on the water, and the powerstroke which pulls you up out of the water onto the board. In the final lesson was ready to add the board into the equation.
On my first couple of attempts I floundered around in the water trying to control the kite with one hand, the board with the other, all the while being dragged slowly through the waves. It was very frustrating! But on my third try I got everything into the right position, my feet on the board, manoevred the kite into the powerstroke, and before I knew it, I was up on the board, and riding across the waves. “Yeay! Now we’re kiteboarding!” I heard Tony exclaim in the helmet radio I was wearing.
It only lasted a few seconds, as in my excitement I forgot to keep the kite in the right place, and lost power, and as my board lifted off a wave, I ended up back in the water.
I had a few more tries, with mixed success before the lesson ended, and I made my way to the beach completely exhausted, but very happy.
Tony was happy to issue me with my International Kiteboarding Organisation card, level 2i, which means I am now considered to know the safety requirements and the basics of the sport.
It is certainly a sport I wish to progress with, but at the moment it is possibly not the right time to do so, as the summer is coming to an end here, and I am hopefully heading off on my next travel adventure soon. If I bought some gear now it would just sit in storage for the next 8 months, so for now I will have to put this hobby on the back-burner. I hope I might get some chances to practice my new-found “skills” while travelling.
I appreciate that my skills are at a very low level at the moment, and there is no way I could call myself a competent kiteboarder, but Tony said that I now have all the knowledge I need to progress. “It’s all just practice now,” he told me.
Thanks very much to Tony, an excellent and very patient instructor. Great fun.