Why I don’t care about sharks and love kitesurfing

Often in my life, I started something new with a specific objective in my mind. But then so many times while attending a workshop or doing a new work, the initial objective seemed to disappear and the new experience ended up to changing me much beyond my initial expectation.

This also happened as I started kitesurfing. The reason why I went to this kite camp a few years ago was not very exciting: I really needed some holidays, as I was working very hard for several months and I was desperate not to spend a week by myself, as I just broke up with my ex-boyfriend. I could not have imagined that three years later I would have quite my own company to kite and travel.

What happen? Starting to kitesurf is hard. First, you need to learn to control the kite. In the beginning, you keep watching up while learning to fly it. After a few hours, your neck gets totally cramped. The pain, that tortures you over several hours after this first lesson, is counterbalanced by a feeling of achievement. That comes when you realize how much easier it became to control the kite just after a few hours of practice.

Once you master the kite you go to the water and learn to “body drag” (move in the water pulled by the kite, but without a board). Suddenly you experience the power of the kite. You pull the steering bar of the kite with some force, flash out of the water and crash a few meters downwind. The kite crashes and you drink some water, it’s pure panic! Your heartbeats rise like hell. The kite keeps pulling you. How to react? What to do?

Thanks Kite-Academy.ch

But then somehow things work out. You slightly pull the steering bar on the right, notice the tension in the lines and in a magic moment the kite rises again in the air. In that second you hear different voices in your head: “What the hell was this? I was going to die!!!” “I survived the crash! I manage to rise the kite!”

During these first days, it’s a fight against the elements. The wind does what he wants and pushes you away from your starting point on the shore, you fall, drink water and the waves disorient you. Additionally, there are all these extreme feelings making you switch from being terrified of doing the next move to feel like a hero after managing to do something correctly.

But then as you keep focusing on the instructions of your teacher you learn one skill at the time. You keep trying again and again while becoming more patient with yourself. You start accepting that crashing is normal or even necessary in order to learn. You start accepting that feeling scared and doubtful is fine, but after leaving the water you don’t keep reminding yourself of the scary moments you had while crashing, but rather leave more space to remind again and again the successes of the day.

Little by little you start improving. You go to the water with the board. The first time you know the theory on how to start, but as you give it a try you totally crash. At least, the kite is still in the air, and now you know how to steer it in order to move in the water back to your board. You don’t feel anymore as if you would have been close to dying, as you are becoming a master in crashing!

You manage to ride your first 15 meters and come out of the water with a huge smile. The next time you ride 50 meters and get totally scared by how the speed quickly picked up before you crashed. Happy and scary. Scary and happy. You keep moving along this trial and error learning process imprinted by strong feelings.

Then, one day the magic happen. You are riding on the water pulled by the wind blowing in your kite. You don’t have to watch up to see where the kite is, as you feel it through the tension on the steering bar. You don’t get mashed-up by a wind gust as you edge with your board and play with your speed. You are coordinated, you are just in the moment, in the flow, planning on the water.

You are one with the wind and the water. You don’t fight them anymore, but dance with them. Suddenly you are one with the elements. And at the same time you are a spectator witnessing the beauty of the sea and the sky meeting at the horizon. You feel in harmony with the planet. You don’t think, you just are in that unique moment. You feel completely free.

You come out of the water and a big smile is just stamped on your face. You don’t smile at someone, it’s just a big smile rising from inside, rising from your interior happiness, from your feeling of being alive, in harmony with the elements. But as you turn your head around, you see that you are not the only one blessed by that magic feeling. You see the other kiters on the beach, just coming out of the water, like you with a big smile stamped on their face, like you still enchanted by their own magic moment.

While learning to kitesurf you have to face many fears. You learn to overcome them and transform them in confidence, in acceptance. You realize they are just part of you. Even if you keep improving, there are always new fears appearing as soon as you try out something new. It never ends. So meeting a shark while kitesurfing in Cape Town is possible, but compared to the gains you get out of practicing kiteboarding and the frequency kiters meet (and get bitten by) sharks it is a risk totally worth taking. You face your fears and get lost in the sense of freedom gained while kiting.

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