Hey, my name is Janine Schulz and I am currently a student at the Europe University in Flensburg, Germany.
I have been falling in love with Watersports for nearly 10 years now, starting with surfing, wakeboarding and snowboarding but in the most recent few years, I have been falling totally in love with kiteboarding.
I wasn’t lucky enough to have a female buddy to practise with, in fact, I kind of taught myself. When you teach yourself, you find a lot of ‘volunteer’ instructors and I experienced situations in which a lot of riders – mostly male – would take pride in knowing a lot more than me, or at least claiming they did.
A few years ago, I did a semester abroad on the Sunshine Coast, Australia. Having just cracked the ‘riding upwind’ stage, I of course took all my kite baggage with me just in case there was a day of wind. Not long after arriving, knowing very few people, the wind forecast was on my side so I packed my van and drove to the spot on my own.
I was pleased to arrive and see some riders on the water, with a local sharing the rules of the spot. I was excited and got out quickly. But it wasn’t long before I realised the waves were a bit bigger than I was used to, still rideable but bigger.
I was doing well and feeling good. But one final tack didn't work out. I lost my board and my kite inverted in itself. The current was strong, stronger than I was expecting and after just a few seconds, I wasn't able to see my board. I panicked and with an inverted kite, I had no choice but to do the safest thing I could, I released my kite to prepare for a deep water pack down. The swim was exhausting and took great effort to swim with my kite back to shore.
I arrived back safe, but I was completely exhausted, shocked, sad about my board loss and completely discouraged. Frustrated and upset with my first and probably last attempt at this beautiful spot, I got on with untangling the mess of my lines. As I did, an old couple came to me and asked me if I needed their help.
After first politely declining, they insisted - the wife told me that she was a pro in untangling kite lines as her husband had been there a few times – and of course with their help, it took just a few minutes for my lines to be completely untangled.
Still feeling low but grateful for their support, I saw a guy walking towards me. I was worried about what he wanted, had I made a mistake going out at my level. But as he got closer I saw a board in his hands, my board.
I had my board, my lines were untangled, grateful but still low, I was ready to go home. As I was collecting my things another guy approached us; “are you going back out?” I replied, that I had enough and that I am afraid of going back out there.
He looked at me. “No”. I was surprised. He continued, "No, no. Get out there and get a beast at the water!". My friends in the couple reminded me that one incident should never discourage you, there are always people to support and they will keep an eye on me.
I felt so supported. I couldn’t turn my back now, so I got back out, rode for a while and was so happy afterwards.
I was so overwhelmed by how nice the other kitesurfers were to me that day and since then, I tried to get out as much as possible with that guys phrase in my head, “go get a beast”.
For me, this is also the beautiful thing about She Flies - encouraging women to start and continue this sport teaching them not be discouraged by one incident. I hate to admit it but we girls often tend to give up when something goes wrong. It’s scary. But it shouldn’t be. What’s more, for me it’s important to learn through She Flies that I shouldn’t be "afraid" of male riders, be confident to show off and learn to bounce back.
See you ladies on the water! I’ll be the one getting a beast!