It’s amazing how many people I’ve met who’ve moved to Maui specifically for Kite Boarding. I’ve been here 10 years and have enjoyed diving, kayaking, sailing and other sports, but I decided “when in Rome…” you better learn how to Kite! So now, in my mid-40’s I’m on the road to a new obsession.
My friend has been kind enough to teach me and armed with a small trainer kite, I hit Kanaha beach probably more literally than intended. Kanaha Beach, Maui is one of the Shangri-La’s of the kite surfing world. Located in Kahului behind the Maui Airport and just 20 minutes from South Maui, Kula and the North Shore, it’s convenient for kiting enthusiasts from most parts of the island. It’s sandy, warm and the winds are very constant, and for the more adventurous – waves! Many famous kiters and kite-making companies began life here – so what better place to start than at the heart of it all?
Kiting involves a kite measured in meters, which is blown up on the leading edge, an air pump, a bar with lines to fly the kite and a harness to hook the bar too. I also wear a “shorty” wet suit and a life preserver for good measure. Pumping, attaching and launching each have their specifics, but the real skill is in controlling the kite once it’s in the air. Note to self: Start well away from targets because the kite, with heat-seeking sonar, will bee-line for trees, people and dogs!
The launching process is a big version of launching a recreational kite. My teacher holds it by one end, catching the wind then lets go. Sheet out, pull back on the port handle of the bar and up it goes! In my uninitiated hands, the immediate reaction of the kite was to fly wildly from left to right, up over head, then diving straight down, hitting the sand (and nearly taking the shorts off some unsuspecting bystander!) with a loud bang! OMG! I’m sure that wasn’t good.
Meanwhile my instructor is holding on to my harness handle, strategically located on the back of the harness, as my feet launch off the sand. He tactfully tells me that’s because I’m so light and petit (thank you!) but suggests kindly that maybe I try not to land so hard next time – kites pop. Cha-ching!
It takes a few more of these precarious moments, and persistence on everyone’s part before I’m able, with strained neck skyward, to keep it high and somewhat stable. It feels wonderful! One victory down. I’ve found my new sport!
Stay tuned for more installments….The big kite is next!
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