Getting back to the roots of kiteboarding
There's something core about kiteboarding in winter time. Rigging your kit in cold murky conditions, and going out in gusty wind while the rain is hitting your face so hard it feels like needles.
It's almost as you get excited everytime there is some rain predicted. In winter time, those few hours before the rain hits are what the few winter warriors live for.
But there's something more to it than just kiteboarding in conditions that most pull their noses up for. Kiteboarding in winter is not just about bigger swell. When you're out there in the rain and you have the whole ocean to yourself, the whole beach to yourself - knowing that you are out there on your own and if something goes wrong it's just you, the ocean and a empty beach, you experience a different kind of enjoyment.
For that session time stands still, and for a moment you feel like you're kiting in a unpopulated and untouched world. You're on your own. You're in your own world. And it's kiteboarding paradise.
A few weeks into winter, and it's almost hard to believe that there ever was something like white sandy beaches, long summer downwinders, kiting in sunset, hooking up for drinks after a kiting session, and all the other summer fun.
When you run into one of your mates in winter time and ask them when was the last time they kited, only to hear them say "I only kite in summer", or "it's too cold in winter", or "I don't like gusty conditions", or even "I only kite when the swell picks up", there's something that makes you cut the conversation short.
In this world where people form their personalities by the cars they drive, the clothes they wear and the kites they fly, where people have specific preferences to certain luxuries and even the kind of food that they eat in a time where people are dying of hunger, you suddenly have a different outlook on overparticular kiteboarders.
Perhaps kiteboarding, like skateboarding and surfing, has become too commercialised. The core element of our sport has been stripped out, people can now walk into a shopping mall and buy a kite in a surf shop, and are up and riding in a few days with personalised instruction. People kite way to close to each other when there is a whole ocean to enjoy. There is a lack of respect to one another and other water users on the water in general.
Fortunately kiteboarding, just like surfing and skateboarding has almost become big enough to sprout into a underground movement where people unite and kite for the core reasons that made kiteboarding available to us in the first place. A small group of riders are kiting out there riding to not just enjoy kiteboarding, but also to enjoy the elements.
Kiteboarding is about enjoying the elements and making use of what mother nature presents you. It's about being creative and making the best out of every situation. People complain about not being able to perform any tricks in less than 10 or 12 knots, yet I have seen riders doing freestyle tricks in 9 or 10 knots - based on a completely different style of riding that is currently known to us through magazines and videos. People complain about the cold, gusty wind, lack of waves, some have even reached a stage where they prefer to not kite if there's no waves, others only go out when it's 20 knots or more, others only when it's summer time. The commercial media of today would make us believe that you need 20 knots plus, that you need to be able to do handle passes, always need to have the latest and greatest kites, that you need to do kiteloops, that you need warm mater, palm trees and waves to be able to enjoy kiteboarding.
But every once in a while you run into a fellow warrior. There's no need to exchange words. A quick acknowledgement is all that's needed. The next time you meet will be on some rainy beach. The sky will be grey, it'll be cold and the wind gusty. It will be paradise.