Downwind is one of the best things for every kiteboarder. You donâ€˜t have to think about anything, worry about your kite, other kiteboarders or passing through Just shoot fast forward together with the wind, while improving your skills, relax and feeling The pleasure.
Itâ€™s only my second season of kiteboarding. And yes, it was my first downwind. Still donâ€™t throw this article into the garbage can yet. After all itâ€™s always fun to read about the experience and misfortune of other person. After all I can bet that every advanced kiteboarder remembers his/her firs downwind with the best emotions. And every beginner can always learn from the mistakes of others. That is why I offer you my first downwind story.
Our downwind route was from Palanga to MonciÅ¡kÄ—s (near Å ventoji). In the beginning, the wind was 9 to 11 m/s and prognoses showed only the intensification. Accordingly to that wind I took my 7 square meters kite. My fellow kiteboarders prepared their kites as well. It was very exciting for us all. Even our non kiteboarder driver confessed that her heart was breaking out. For non kiteboarders it is often hard to understand how people without any vehicle can move from one end of the beach to the other. Our driver was worrying heavily; after all we didnâ€™t plan to take our phones with us.
â€œIf something would happen to you? What should I do? How will I know about you? How will I reach the beach if something happens?â€, - she asked natural questions. We tried to comfort her. Experienced kiteboarder could master this distance in fifteen minutes. If something would happen to one of us, the other would quickly reach people and call help.
On our way to Palanga we have arranged the journey rules: the weakest kitboarders will go first so that the more advanced ones could keep an eye them, to support them and to help them if necessary. From the first day with a kite I am amazed by the attribute of kiteboardersâ€™ community â€“ they are always ready to help each another. This time I was riding with a kiteboarder who is known for his â€œrudeâ€ behavior; however, he was the one who supported us and guaranteed our safety as well as greatly contributed to the pleasant journey.
However, itâ€™s all about the wind, which was blowing only about seven meters when we arrived to Palanga Baywatch station. Seven square meters for seven meters per second? Too little, but we had nothing else to do â€“ we had to begin and end our journey with the kites we had. Did I hear you saying that it isnâ€™t too bad? Jep, I agree if youâ€™re skilled enough and if someone doesnâ€™t turn out the wind in the middle of the distance. In my case â€œshit happenedâ€. Still we waved bye bye to our driver and entered the water. North West wind was blowing constantly for the second or third day, thus the sea was full of quite jolly waves. â€œJolly wavesâ€ meaning quite a challenge for my newbie skills. And again these missing meters of windâ€¦ in the beginning guys were patiently waiting for me while I was trying to get friendly with the chop, latter while I was waving my seven meters kite up and down. And that was a huge help â€“ it was easier just to know that Iâ€™m not alone in this water kingdom. Each time that I looked ahead I realized that to reach the end point â€“ MonciÅ¡kes â€“ I will need all the patience and stubbornness that I can master in myself.
The beach line was slowly changing. We left crowded Palanga beach where overweight guys were clumsily kicking the ball and squinted at our colorful kites while their women lay asleep trying to get some tan. After some time the beach line became more or less empty. Only few passersby now were watching our flight and sometimes scooted at us with their little photo cameras.
I have decided to tie the strops on the different knots. The wind was marginal and the kite was clearly lacking power. Therefore, I thought that changing the knots would ease my journey. The wind was sufficiently light to ground the kite by myself. Grounding the kite by oneâ€™s self is easy â€“ lower the kite to the edge of the wind window with the higher speed than usual. The kite hits the ground and lays on its front edge. All one needs to do is to pull the steering strop drastically and the kite calmly lies on the ground against the wind. I have tied up the strops to the other knots and anticipated to have much more power. However, when raised, my pink RRD did not show any miracles â€“ the wind was still insufficient for a seven. Raising the kite on oneâ€™s own in such conditions is not difficult either. One side of the kite must be piled with enough sand for the other side to rise. All the kite boarder has to do then is to raise the kite as if someone would be holding it. Thought I would never do that if the wind is significantly stronger â€“ it is too dangerous and unpredictable (by the way, grounding the kite in strong wind is extremely difficult and highly not recommended!).
We have approached the next spot called KunigiÅ¡kÄ—s. Sea water became thick because of other kites. Suddenly we were surrounded by well known and unfamiliar kites. Some of them were swimming near the shore others were carved quite far and were playing with the meter high waves. We too were trying to keep the distance from the shore. Much more distance was waiting ahead, so we didnâ€˜t want to waste or strength in that kite soup. Further from the shore the waves were huge. Not waves, rather moving mountains. Still those mountains were much friendlier than the chop. In the chop waves often came on top of my board and I had to gulp the sea water. While keeping the distance from the chop I understood that my jumps from the waves are fun though not always successful. I clearly understood that while landing from the jump on to the water your back leg has to land first. If your legs go together, you knees receive a strong stroke. Then balance problems come, kite pulls you and it becomes very hard to remain on foot.
After about 200 meters from KunigiÅ¡kÄ—s our downwind team was outrun by few friendly pirates. I think that there were four of them. They stormed through on a high speed making strange sounds. If my ears werenâ€˜t full of water I guess, I could call that sounds joy screams. Pirate kites were perfect for that kind of wind thus; their speed was very different from mine. I was quick enough just to recognize familiar silhouettes and wish them a good journey. To say the truth, right now it was much easier for me to deal with my kite. I understood that this downwinding experience was the best way for me to improve my skills. My downwinding friends were still waiting for me â€“ respect and thanks them for that.
In the middle of my journey I felt the inside urge to scream out from joy. I was waiving my kite fairly, stretched myself and pulled backwards into my harness. My board was stable and kite was drawing right angles. At that moment when I looked into the land, I saw that we were passing by the â€žend of the worldâ€œ place. I donâ€˜t know why, but it is called like that by some people. It might have received that kind of name because of the narrow road that leads you straightly to the beach and then disappears. â€žEnd of the worldâ€œ was full of cars. For all that it seemed, end of the world was not at the utmost end. MonciÅ¡kÄ—s was waiting at the end.
â€¦and then someone pushed the red â€œbuttonâ€ and turned the wind off. Of course, not completely but, dear readers, be reminded that I was equipped with a seven in this journey along the uninhibited Lithuanian beach. Most of you take seven only when a very strong wind blows, whereas I was trying to ride the wave in six meters per second conditions.
If I tried to tell you about my last meters to MonciÅ¡kÄ—s, I would be writing about the battle to death. I was working so hard to wave my kite that when I reached the finish my whole body ached. I will surely remember my first downwind. Because of the physical work that I had to do and of course because of the experience that Iâ€˜ve gained. My next day was truly different â€“ it was so easy and smooth...after all it all turned out to good. After all, it became clear that the best kiteboarder is the person who learns form his/her own mistakes and then does new mistakes and then again learns from him/herself.
The article inspired by ABoards (www.aboards.eu)