I got my time zones a bit mixed up this morning. I was sure I had set my alarm right, but no I was 1 hour early. So when I turned up for breakfast they were not open! I went back to my room and chilled. I wasn't really hungry anyway.
When it really WAS time to go, I was all ready and loaded up. Out over the road being constructed and down pas the the hotels, I made my way to the kite school. I met up with Younnas who took me through everything about the centre and assigned me my kite bar number and gave me a locker key. I also took out the equipment insurance. I can look back already and say that I'm glad that I did. More on that later.
I got ready. I put on a "shorty" wet suit and my harness. I then grabbed a 12m North Rebel kite and a 139x37 board and headed down toward the launch area. The launch area is down the beach a little and away from the swimmers area. Once there I started to get the kite pumped up (first attempt was poor as I forgot to close the dump valve!). Once pumped up I could see that the kite has obviously been used and abused a lot, as there was at least 5-6 patches on the thing in different areas. The bar was worse. It looked like it was about 10 years old. Definitely not this years bar for the North, and extremely tatty. The lines looked well old too. I guess it's near the net of their season, and they must not have much chance to move old stock onward, so the stock really has to work all season (or in case of the bar many, many seasons).
I got chatting to one of the girls who was there on lessons and sharing a kite with her friend/sister? The two girls were from northern Switzerland and had only been kitesurfing here in Sal for a week. They were sharing the kite and lesson as its a cheaper rental.
I hooked up the lines and waited for the instructor to return up the beach with the other girl. I made sure that he was happy with what I was doing, as you never know!
All too soon I was in the water and away. Immediate impressions was that I was off. However, having not ridden for a good few months and with the wind being actually quite gusty and changing directions a lot, I didn't get too far. I'll admit that I was struggling. The water was not choppy, but the gusty winds was giving me trouble. The worn out bar was also terrible. It blistered my left hand within 2 minutes! Not happy with that, but the salt water will keep it clean.
After a few rides left and right, it wasn't too long before I was way down wind and heading back into the beach. A really poor start to the day and it didn't really get much better. I know I can ride up wind, and in chop and large swell. I can also perform sliding turns and the occasional jump turn. But none of that was even through about today!
After walking back up the beach, which is quite tough in this wind. I took a little rest and talked to the other girl for a bit. Once their instructor was back I got him to give me a launch and I was back in the water.
This time in the water was just as bad as the first. I just could not get going? All too soon I was down wind and again walking back up the beach.
On the next turn in the water I was doing just a little better when I had a crash and got the kite twisted in the lines. I tried to free them but that was not going to happen. So, I steered the kit in the water towards the beach and floated back.
I decided to take a rest and leave it for a bit. I helped a couple people land and launch their kites, and got talking to this Italian guy, along with one of the Swiss girls. The Italian guy was much more experienced at kite surfing that me and the girl. Even he said that it was very gusty and not easy to ride. You had to pay attention to the wind and react instantly. I'm still at the having to think about it and then react stage.
After a 20 minute break, I decided to head out agin. This time was markedly better. It was still gusty, but the gusts were less frequent. As such I was able to get a few good long rides in and up wind. I was still struggling to make a sliding turn, and simply didn't even get close on any. When the gusts did catch me out, all too often I was back in the water and drifting down wind. After about40 minutes, I had had enough and headed into the beach actually quite frustrated. Feels like I've gone backwards weeks in my kiting experience. Still, better tomorrow?
I got back to the starting point and the girl and the Italian guy were packing up so I did the same. I walked back with the Italian guy to the centre. I got changed, washed my harness and clothes in fresh water, quick de-salt shower and headed over to the Atlantis bar and had a drink and food with the Italian guy, the two girls, one or both of their mothers and I think one of their boyfriends (didn't ask). Two beers and I was getting light headed. Thank goodness I stopped at two, and when we were all finished eating, said to meet each other tomorrow and I headed back to the hotel.
Looks like they are making progress on the road. Might be done in a month or two :-)