It all began during the summer of 2016, when I was living with friends Yannai and Kathy in San Francisco while working at a boatyard and racing during my free time. Every time I sailed in the bay, there would always be kiteboarders out there, making even USA 76, an eighty-four foot long International America’s Cup Class all carbon yacht, I crewed on, look slow. I would go home and think about the massive yacht and then the speeds at which we were passed by people with only a board, a few lines and an inflatable kite. When I first realized that the gear could pack small enough to fit on Anthea, I voiced the idea to Mark and Kim. It was received with little enthusiasm, and the matter was dropped. From then on, vision for the cruise consisted of many hours of snorkeling and relaxing on the beach, interspersed with long passages; definitely amazing, but lacking speed! Everything changed on my eighteenth birthday when I was presented with a certificate for kiteboarding lessons in La Ventana, Mexico. Suddenly my daydreaming became reality, and the incessant planning and re-planning of where to store the kiting gear began.
March 3rd 2017
We had just arrived in Cabo San Lucas and finally knew when we would be near La Ventana. I called up Baja Kite and Surf, the best kiteboarding school in La Ventana, and scheduled three days of lessons for all four of us. It was happening!
March 10th 2017
Lessons began and I quickly learned how to kiteboard due to the stellar instruction from Norm, Dave, and Jessie. After three arduous days on the water, I was cleared to kite without further instruction and the search for the perfect launching beach began. This caused quite the conundrum: for kiteboarding I wanted anchorages where the wind reached the beach without any impediment, while the ideal anchorage for those boat bound has no wind or waves. It was not until we reached the Vava’u group of Tonga that we found comfortable anchorages as well as picture-perfect kiting areas in the same location. This was where I learned to go upwind, a game-changing accomplishment for a kiter, for it releases you from the restrictions of a rescue dinghy and crew. It was a truly magical moment when I gybed back to the launching area and discovered myself upwind of it! The small anchorage to the leeward of Kenutu Island in the Vava’u group was a kiting epicenter; we met kiteboarders from all over the world, on boats that ranged from fifty-foot catamaran palaces to the most minimalist of thirty-five foot monohulls. Every day at low tide, one mile by dinghy from the anchorage, a miniscule sandbar would emerge, and we would all converge. With barely enough room for two, we all had to make do. During this time, I became well aquatinted with two very generous people, Steve and Michelle. Steve, the consummate kiteboarder, devoted many hours of his time to instructing me on everything from increasing my speed to sliding transitions and toeside. The day to leave came all too soon.
We arrived in the Ha’apai group of Tonga in the early morning with perfect kiting winds. After carefully making our way next to a series of coral reef islands, we anchored in between coral heads beside a renowned kiteboarding location. Despite having stayed up late the prior night on night watch, I insisted on launching the dinghy and taking my gear ashore. The day was perfect: a light cloud cover providing some UV protection, and plenty of wind with clear water.
I have just uploaded a video of me kiteboarding as per Mark and Kim’s request. All of the video, except that taken of me from sea level, is from the first kiting location in the Ha’apai group described above. The shots in the second part of the video were taken with the gopro attached to my kite lines, giving an aerial view. The one issue with this mounting system is that it is right-side-up for only one direction of travel; this is why there are the abrupt transitions from upside-down after every turn. The type of turn first displayed is a sliding transition, hence the slide before changing direction. When I suddenly rotate my hips, switching my lead food, I am kiting toeside, a fun trick I learned from Steve.
Link to video: https://vimeo.com/258914884