Written by She Flies Founder, Josie West:
It must have been 10 years ago that I officially owned my first Kiteboard. The brand? No idea. All I know was it was a hand me down, pinky/bluey/off-white board. The off-white being a lumpy repair after an 'incident' with it's previous owner, quite literally ripping the straps out.
Heavy, too small, foot straps double my size and the stance positioned in the only space left following said crafty repair. It probably doubled my time as a beginner.
Yet, ask me if I wanted another? I'd have told you to jog on.
There's a connection - dare I say, obsession - between a Kiteboarder and their kit. Be it the forever changing conditions, the ever increasing prices or simply, our nerves in establishing if it's skill or kit that's changed.
The flurry of responses to "Which Kite should I buy as a beginner?". These poor women left overwhelmed as passionate lovers battle with intricate details of their kite, board, harness to win the race.
'Shrink it and Pink it'
Whilst the quality of equipment increased exponentially, the battle remains for women. Many brands continue to Shrink It & Pink It in a bid to appease the female market.
We are not small men.
Our body shapes have evolved to make humans. A straight harness will never sit tight unless crushing our juicy hips or our bendy 'make-space-for-baby' ribs.
Our arms, on average 10cm's shorter, meaning our kite choice must consider the extra 6% stretch for the bar and the postural impact. Ouch.
Don't get me started on our centre mass of gravity.
In an ideal world, I'd spend time working closely with brands - like many riders do - perfecting the angles, the shapes, critiquing the beautiful engineering that goes into this kit.
But sadly, I get bored.
'Girls see faces. Boys see objects'
Simon Baron-Cohen's psychology experiment (2010) measured the attention given by new born babies. He finds that baby girls are more interested in faces, expressions, emotion - whereas boys are more objects, shapes, colours.
The theory is that these tendencies flourish into wants, needs and decision making as we grow older.
Well, Mr BC - you've got me hook, line and sinker!
I know what works, I know what doesn't, I know everything there is to know about how the kite is set up, the harness positioned, the body position to ride for performance with my tricks.
I've learnt these things because I need to know them to ride well. And I use that knowledge in my decisions to make changes to my kit, to buy new kit and to adapt where required.
But that's the extent of it.
"What matters to me is how it feels."
Long conversations about kite shape, board structure, size, design, angle and all in between - YAWN.
What matters to me is how it feels. And I want it to feel right.
If you are connected to your kit because it feels right, thats ok. As Women, we learn and adapt based on how things feel when we know what feels right. Not understanding why it feels right? That's ok too.
I'm really excited to announce a new partnership we have with She Flies. A big part of this partnership was the ability for Romain, Sanne and Roel at Lieuwe Boards to explain to me the relationship between board design - and feel.
Thursday 29 September, I'll explain.
Love from Josie x
Be the first to hear our exciting news!
A few months ago, She Flies was approached by Dutch Kiteboard brand, Lieuwe. After long discussions, testing and an incredible description of how shape = feel, we are incredibly excited to announce the SHE FLIES x LIEUWE partnership this Thursday 29 September.
Sign up to our community to be the first to know & read our article on how shape = feel.