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I Was Starting to Feel Bored With Everything

I Was Starting to Feel Bored With Everything

Everything was becoming more and more boring. Totally dull. I got the occasional bit of a buzz from cycling and enjoyed swimming. But something was seriously lacking.

Over the past week I started easing back into my addictions. Surfing and kitesurfing again. But carefully. This felt good. My injury was holding up ok. Not much discomfort. But keeping to very small waves surfing carefully and kitesurfing lightly in underpowered conditions felt depressing. It was good to be on the water again, building up the next expressive session, but it was just dull. There was no rush, no buzz, no fear.

A good summer SE was forecast yesterday and the morning saw it coming through nicely. Eager to hit it, I rushed out early with my biggest kite. Too early. Gusty and underpowered. It was a good warm up and I took a break for lunch while I waited for it to gather momentum. In the late afternoon it looked solid. There were a few other kiters out. I went out with my regular kite. The swell had jacked up pretty solid. Still gusty but perfectly rideable. I did a few easy runs to warm up. It was tricky to make it out the back through quite consistent swells running close together. Realising that I would not make it over a wave I turned. As I did this I hit a dead patch. The water was glassy. No wind. I looked back to see it baring down on me. It’s one of those moments where you wish you could blow into your kite like a cartoon character to make it power you out of there. I took a breath as it hit me and tried to hang on and somehow get enough power into the kite but got swallowed by the white water. The turbulence felt a bit much to hold onto my board with a dodgy ankle so I booted it free.

What followed was very frustrating. When I surfaced I came within a metre of my board a couple of times. Body dragging upwind in waves for a board in currents can be a fruitless task. Fortunately boards always end up on the beach at my local spot. Usually they go one way but the direction can sometimes be a mystery. I started walking the beach the usual way until another kiter told me his board had gone the other way. As I headed back up the beach some Sunday strollers found it for me. They asked why I did not wear a leash. I explained that it’s too dangerous and I seldom lose my board anyway.

Leashes in my opinion are very stupid and should be banned from our sport. They make sense for surfing. But it’s simply overcomplicated to be attached to a kite and a board simultaneously. It’s impossible to do serious freestyle or even jump safely with a leash. The risk of it shooting back at you are high enough on flat water. In waves this increases dramatically. If you’re using the kite to pull you through a wave and the board is being pulled in the other direction the recoil from a leash can be immense. A leash without stretch could tear your leg off. Unlike surfing it’s also not so easy to swim under water and wait for the board to recoil over your head. Generally the kite keeps you on the surface like a sitting duck. Wearing a helmet is simply not sufficient protection. There have been a number of leash-related fatalities even with helmets.

Eternally grateful that my session could resume I charged out again. This time with some anger and frustration at having an unwanted search mission thrown in. Since I was landing on my healthy back foot I felt free to boost a couple of airs off the waves on the way out. Some nice little bits of hang time fueled my addiction and restored my endorphin balance. This morning my boredom is dead and buried and I’m feeling inspired.


Alexander Popov

I was watching a DVD a while ago where instructors were talking about the ideal sports background for kitesurfing. Naturally surfing, windsurfing, sailing, board sports and water sports in general came up as good. The more the better.

But one instructor felt really strongly about swimming. Without strong swimming ability it’s difficult to have confidence and feel comfortable learning or progressing in any water sport. It’s fundamental. I’ve seen people in the UK kitesurfing with life jackets. To me this feels as ridiculous as surfing with a buoyancy aid. I suppose that they view it like water skiing where fear of a head impact inspires the wearing of such things. I mostly ride in waves so it’s important to be able to swim down to get under waves after a wipeout or crash. Riding in crowds, I would be terrified to wear anything that made me float. I like to feel the freedom to swim under the water to avoid collisions if anything goes pear shaped.

Whilst injured over the last month I’ve been swimming just about every day. I’ve still got at least 2 weeks to go before I can get back to my board sports. The injury has been a good opportunity to focus on my swimming more regularly. For at least the first week I felt quite uncomfortable with my stroke. Slowly it started to feel better and more relaxed. I spent the past week in Cape Town with my friend Nikola Tosic, an ironman triathlete. He’s spent quite a bit of time working on his technique with his coach recently and offered some tips.

He pointed out some areas where I can improve my rather dodgy freestyle technique. It’s going to take a bit of time and concentration to adjust and break some of the bad old habits but I can already start to feel improvements in easier speed and gliding when I manage to string some of the tips together. Alexander Popov has a beautiful technique and is a great inspiration to watch.

The pure simplicity of swimming is refreshing. The perspective is completely different to my regular sports. It’s closer to diving than surface board sports. The total immersion in water and the regular repetition of breathing make it like a meditation.

As my swimming improves, when I do get back to my beloved sports, I’m sure I’ll feel more confident in the water. Until then it just feels great.