Reporter Sarah Argyle geared up to get down to business and try her hand at kite-boarding under the watchful eye of Steve Hooper.
I rocked up to the West Tamaki estuary and immediately thought: "What have I got myself into?"
The sky was grey, the water a murky uninviting brown and the wind looked chilling and powerful. Such a shame it was vital to my chosen new sport - kite-boarding.
I've always been someone who likes to think I'm spontaneous and at ease with getting out of my comfort zone.
But in reality, when push comes to shove, I'm a nervous wreck.
Kite-boarding or kite-surfing is defined as an extreme surface water sport combining aspects of wakeboarding, windsurfing, surfing, paragliding and gymnastics. All sports I have never attempted so it might come as a surprise I put my hand up to give kite-boarding a go.
My instructor was an expert on all things kite-boarding and stand-up paddling - Steve Hooper director of RIPD, a name that to him encapsulates fitness by way of lifestyle.
I'm sure he thought "who is this princess" when I arrived in a beach dress but he never passed any comment or made me feel like nailing kite-boarding was out of my reach.
I was armed with confidence following his reassurance that one of the biggest myths about kite-boarding is that girls can't do it.
First we went through basic safety procedures before getting into the mechanics of how it all works.
After assembling all the gear it was time to step into a wetsuit (or two - it was cold), a harness and some of those shoes that separate the toes - the ones I vowed to never wear.
We hit the water with Steve explaining what we were doing and why every step of the way.
After wading through some sludge in the estuary, we launched the kite.
Steve was attached to it to begin with and then he unclipped himself.
Immediately I was blown away, in all senses of the word, by the sheer power that piece of fabric in the sky had. I had no choice but to quickly and without complaint become accustomed to face-planting - something I tried to do as gracefully as possible.
I was amazed at how much co-ordination it takes to keep the kite in the sky and how quickly things can change. One moment you're happily flying it, almost getting confident but then suddenly a gasp of wind hits and you are hurtling through the water on all fours.
Admittedly a few times I just sat down in the water. My patient and ever-encouraging instructor and I ended up being out on the water for well over three hours. Steve says we will add a board into my next lesson. I have no idea how this will pan out. Kite-boarding looks deceptively easy.
Contact Steve on 022 2444 456 or email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit ripd.co.nz to get more information.
- Western Leader
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