There is something very special about girls that kite.
About 6 years ago, my then boyfriend was a kiteboard instructor. I think he had visions of me being a beautiful but gnarly kiting beach babe to add to the perfection of our camping beach van life that we already had. Of course, I absolutely agreed and knew that it would be an easy transition and I’d be competing in Queen of the Air type comps in no time. Little did he know the ordeal he was about to put himself through….
Coming from the UK, learning to kite is a sweet combination of; 5mm wetsuits, tears, storms, tears, white icicles for fingers, tears, highly unattractive fails, whiplash, snot, tears and one or two very minor tantrums(!)
When we sadly parted he said – “I’m not sure you are going to carry on kiting”. He knew I had no fire for it yet. I had been doing it for him, not me. If I was frustrated and couldn’t do it, he would hug me and tell me I could. If I hurt myself, he would flower me with sympathy. Sympathy? What an alien concept for me – I hadn’t ever accepted it, in any situation, so learning to Kitesurf and getting it for free, I kind of succumb to the nice feeling for a while. Well, I’ll tell you now, that doesn’t help.
I was out on my own – I had this incredible group of friends, girl kiters and my god they were good. They had the passion. They pushed themselves. They kited at every opportunity. Their fire was lit that was for sure – determination and ambition is, and has been, everything about me, so why was it not there for kiting?
One day, a dear friend said a very simple sentence to me that changed everything: “when you start to control that kite and you don’t let it control you, you’ll know”. I stopped kiting for sympathy and started kiting for control. She lit my fire that day and my true passion for the sport began.
Of course what she said is so powerful but its really not about what she said, it’s about why she said it. She encouraged me, she pushed me, she congratulated me, she inspired me. She wanted me to push myself, to improve, to get better, to have the passion that she had had for so long.
Good girls can be daunting and there are some ambitious riders out there; Instagram pages of grabs, loops and wetsuits that only the higher echelons of ‘cool girls’ wear. Every single one of them that I have met on my mini journey – without exception – has helped me push myself, improve, encourage.
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But this friend of mine is not the only one – because kite girls are different. We are so often in competition in this world; with image, with jobs, with ability…. with guys. Society makes us do it. But kite girls? They are proud of each other. They support each other, we push each other, we actually get the kick when they get the kick. Competing on the water and encourage off the water. Guys are the same for sure, but these girls get a special mention for me.
The first lesson I taught was a student in Vietnam. She had never done it before and she was scared. By the end of the second lesson, the passion and excitement on her face as she appeared out of the water is the same passion Henri gave me. She was doing it for herself and seeing that in her is why I won’t stop anytime soon.
So here is to the girls who are learning, improving or boosting. Don’t be afraid. Push yourself, be proud of yourself and ride the best you can ride. Grit your teeth, pull the bar and send that kite – because every girl on the beach is watching you, hoping that you land it.