WoW. It’s the first word that comes to mind when I think back to the past 9 days I spent in Watamu, Kenya.
Everything started in December 2022, I was sitting at the table with Carlo and Ricca, the PKS bosses, and we were debating whether or not to organize a Kite master in January 2023. It would have been last minute, we were unsure if we could find enough people to go and if we could get the quality we wanted.
In less than a month we managed to find a group of 11 crazy people willing to follow us to Kenya and so we went!
Let me tell you this: it was spectacular! 9 days in a kitesurfing dreamland!
It was so great I took the twin-tip again and had a blast….for the ones who don’t know me, I’m a strapless big fan but here I’ll leave a very rare pic of me with the twin-tip eheheh (apologies for the terrible resolution)
What’s a kite master?
A holiday where you travel to an amazing kitesurfing spot and you do a full immersion in kitesurfing.
Every day you have a lesson with a dedicated instructor, depending on your level you can start from zero or you can improve your kiting skills like riding, upwind, jibes, and basic jumps to loops. The Kite master is really for every type of kiter or kiter wannabe 🙂
Since 2016 the guys have been traveling around the world to the most amazing spots like Los Roques Venezuela, Brazil, South Africa, Portugal, and Madagascar … Bottom line, a genius concept if you would like to combine kitesurfing progression with traveling to amazing places.
So the journey begins!!!
We flew with Ethiopian Airlines from Milan and Rome to Addis Abeba, then with a connecting flight to Mombasa. Once we arrived to Mombasa our bus was ready for the last part of the trip direction Watamu!
By stepping outside the airplane we immediately felt the temperature difference, we went from -4 to +31 and it is quite a nice feeling hehe
We packed all the bags on the bus rooftop and we were ready to go to Watamu….we were convinced that we would have lost half of the bags but it was not like this 😛
The drive was long but the view was quite nice. We got to see the city and then the countryside: gigantic trees, palm trees everywhere, and schools where the kids were in uniform playing. The warm colors of Africa were welcoming us!
After a 4-hour drive, very long… but worth it! We arrive at the house, this huge villa with a swimming pool, and our personal chef Steven who greets us with an aperitivo and a nice homemade pasta. We could not resist and the first thing we did was dive into the warm water of the swimming pool and drank a beer 🙂 what a life!
The house is fully Kenyan style and it’s quite beautiful.
Time to discover the kitesurfing spot!
The next day we were all ready for the first kite session, so we took the tuk-tuk and went to the school that hosted us @jcschool.
When we arrive there we see a mind-blowing scenario: a nice and warm 20 knots blowing over a flat crystal clear water and the lesson spot was on a white sand band in the middle of the sea. WHAT THE FRRRRIIIIIIIIK
I was used to Careabbian spots but this was another level of coolness.
Just think about the fact that the sand is soooo white that even under the 31-degree African sun it never burns.
I mean I could try to explain the beauty but it’s going to be impossible so here a pic:
JC Kite School
Jacopo, Fede, and the other guys were amazing and welcoming!
We had a corner reserved for us where to leave all our staff. And a next-level service: the beach boys at the school set up your equipment while you get ready so you just need to worry about the sunscreen 🙂
Every day we had this amazing 18-20 knots stable warm wind. We were teaching and kiting with swimming suits and rashguards. A very good water-resistant sunscreen is necessary.
We would arrive at 10-11h in the morning, take a break and eat fresh local fruits prepared by the guys on the beach, drink coconut water, and start again.
On the first two days, I think the group kited for at least 5 hours each day eheheh then they were destroyed!
We had 3 types of students:
Beginners from zero which in 4 hours they were already trying the water start
Intermediate who wanted to finally ride upwind, do transitions, jibes, and toeside riding
Advanced riders who wanted to improve jump height, backroll front rolls, and other tricks
The conditions were so amazing that the progression of the group was exponential: the beginner in 4 hours was at the water start, the intermediate was already upwind riding and doing transitions on the second day and the advanced riders were having a blast! All surrounded by an incredible scenario, which I might have not described properly: shiny white flour sand, flat crystal clear water, warm constant wind like a hairdryer.
At the house Steven the chef was delighting us in the morning with a continental breakfast and at dinner time with incredible dishes, local seafood, and a lobster night! Like to be in a 5-star hotel!
One day we did a downwind from Jacaranda to Watamu. It’s quite short, 15km, but fun. Aaaaand if I thought Watamu was breathtaking Jacaranda was next level. In low tide, the white sand bands extended for kilometers and the sea was like a swimming pool. Nothing to complain really.
During our stay, a part of the group went to do a Safari just look at the pics…
I went diving and saw an incredibly alive reef with a thousand different colorful fishes, gigantic octopuses, and lobsters. So if you like the underwater world it’s nice for this as well!
Watamu in general is a very chilled place with very nice bars and lounges where to watch the breathtaking African sunsets. Attaching a couple of pics here so that you believe me 😛
It was just a dream kite trip. If you have the chance, go for a month and you won’t regret it 🙂
Here I’ll leave the nice video di Patrick Giuliana summarizing the amazing 9 days we spent in Watamu!
So I’m excited because we have a quite cool agenda for Kite Masters:
If you get used to keep the kite at 12, chances are that, one day, your kite is going to stall and will you be prepared to react in the proper way?! Do you know how to avoid a gigantic faceplant on the sand?
Now you might think: “what are you talking about, Gio? I can put the kite at 12 and remove my hands from the bar and drink a beer, do a pirouette, high five my best friend, read a newspaper and my kite will be still sat comfortably there at 12 waiting for me to tell it what to do.”
And I’ll tell you: “come to El Médano, or any other gusty spot, with 10 knots of gusts, try that here and you let me know how it goes.”
Getting used to keep the kite at 12 is dangerous. Not always of course, but you shouldn’t get used to it.
Granted: if you are coming from a spot that has nice stable wind you’ll have almost no issues there. But, if you want to become a more conscious kiter who knows what’s the safest approach, keep on reading.
Too often we forget that kitesurfing is an extreme sport and we start to take stuff for granted. We think “oh no, that will not happen to me” and then sbadabaaam – karma comes and slaps you in the face! So, let’s talk about safety and which things we can improve to become an even more badass kiter!
If the wind is gusty and we keep the kite at 12 the chances are higher for the kite to frontstall and drop in the power zone. If the kiter is lucky, he/she is going to fall on the ground and dragged only for a few meters.
If the kiter is not lucky, the wind will pick up again while the kite is dropping in the power zone and you will be catapulted downwind. This is dangerous for the kiter but also for all the other people that are at the beach. And they are innocent and don’t deserve this 😛
I see on average 2 people per windy day experiencing this in El Médano. No joke.
Even the IKO has taken a strong position on the kite at 12 o’clock issue:
Let’s start from the basics: What is a kite frontstall?
A frontstall happens when the Angle of Attack of the kite becomes negative (for example the front lines lose tension or when the front lines are shorter than the back lines) and the kite drops forward towards the kiter. Granted, this mostly happens in light or gusty winds, but if you get used to keeping the kite at 12, when the time comes to test yourself in challenging conditions, you might forget about this and your could end up frontstalling. So, why not just avoid it altogether?
For me, the only reason to use the kite at 12 is when you move your kite from one side to another of the wind window. In general, in our kite life, we barely have to use the kite at 12 while at the beach…
Let’s review a few kitemare scenarios!
For the sake of this article, we will imagine our friend Joe, he’s a kite enthusiast and very eager to kite. He kites all the time he can. Joe is that one kiter friend that always has accidents and we never understand why.
This is Joe:
1. Trim the kite at 12
Joe remembers to trim his kite every now and then, and, when he does, he always trims it at 12 o’clock. While trimming the kite two bad things might happen to Joe:
1) his can kite frontstalls because he pulls on the trim with strength because it might be stuck and whoopsie he creates a negative Angle of Attack, the front lines become shorter and so Joe scores an own goal – the kite frontstalls.
2) Joe’s kite has a too positive angle of attack and it backstalls. The kite backstalls when there is too much Angle of Attack (AoA). The back lines are too short compared to the front lines and vice versa. The kite will start to move backward trailing edge first, lose all its power, and crash.
What Joe has maybe forgotten is that, while keeping the kite at 12 he’s making his life more complicated. When the kite is high up at 12 and it either front or backstalls it’s a long way down. While frontstalling, a gust could come in and pull him away as the kite is in the middle of the power zone. When it backstalls the kite could catch the wind and run towards the edge of the wind window, pulling Joe under the kite and frontstall as well! What a mess, Joe!!! And then everybody at the beach will say “oh, of course that was Joe…”
What can Joe improve? He could try to trim the kite with a 45 degrees angle, so if it frontstalls he could quickly move to find the tension in the frontlines. And, if it backstalls, the kite will be already on one side of the wind window and will be close to the ground. The damages in both cases will be less.
Bonus track: when a kite backstalls or frontstalls never pull the bar. If it catches power again, by having the bar pulled, we would be creating immediately full power to the kite! And how many time did we watch Joe flying away on the beach?!?
2. Walk upwind with the kite at 12
Our dear friend Joe, has just starting to ride and he still needs to do a lot of “walk of shame” to go back upwind. Joe walks upwing giving his back to the wind, walking backwards, with the kite at 12, one hand on the bar, one hand on the board. Joe, my dearest, walking backward limits your chances to see where you are going, there could be obstacles behind you like boards on the sand and you could fall.
What can Joe improve? Try to keep the kite at 45 degrees. Joe would then be able to turn his body towards the direction he want to go. It’s even easier to control the kite like this! And bonus, he can see where he is going 😛
3. Being lifted with the kite at 12
It’s Joe’s first gusty and strong wind experience. He has never ridden with a 7-meter and today is the day! Joe launches the kite, brings it to 12, and all of a sudden, due to 10 knots gusts, he is being lifted vertically up in the air. He feels completely overpowered and out of control. The kite is pulling him up, and he does involuntary jumps. You run to grab his handle otherwise he would fly away…
First of all, he should ask himself, if he’s at a level that he can ride overpowered and maybe go for a smaller kite (or a beer).
What can he improve?
What Joe doesn’t know is that by keeping the kite at 12 in strong gusty winds he has less ability to counterbalance the pull of the kite with his weight.
Joe could have tried to keep the kite on the sides, at 45 degrees, in this way, he can use his weight more efficiently. And most importantly, if he lets go of the bar, the kite will drop on the sand and the fall will be smaller and less powerful than if it has to drop from 12.
4. Adjusting anything with the kite at 12
Or with the kite flying in general…
As Joe lowers down to adjust his footstraps flying the kite at 12, he’s doing something dangerous. You think: “come on Joe it’s quite difficult to keep one eye on the kite while you have to look at your feet no?!” Also Joe could be pushing the bar down, shortening the frontlines and the kite could frontstall!
As Joe lowers down to connect the leash of his surfboard with the kite at 12, he could recreate a similar scenario as above.
What can Joe improve? Adjusting harnesses, footstraps, helmets, drinking water (or anything else) it’s safer to do while the kite is parked. Sometimes just for laziness we think “it’s going to take only a minute” and sbadabammmm karma…. Imagine an F1 driver tying his laces while driving… it makes no sense.
5. Talking with the kite at 12
Joe just had the session of his life, but he is still not done yet. He comes out of the water, wants to share the stoke with his friends, and drink a sip of water. He doesn’t want to park the kite because “it’s only going to take a minute”…. So, Joe is standing with the kite at 12 for 10 min in the middle of a small crowded beach.
Next time you see Joe doing this, please remind him to park the kite. It’s the safer option as the kite could stall but also when he stands up with the kite at 12 in the middle of the beach Joe is a bit in the way of other kiters coming in and out of the water. Let’s be aware and respectful of the shared space on the spot.
Bonus track this amazing video from Jeremie Tronet about 10 Common Mistakes All Kiteboarders Should Avoid
Right of way “Che se magná?!” “Do you eat it?” As we would say in Italian, as a joke of course, when you don’t know what something is.
Reading time: 7min
To my disbelief and sad eyes, the right of way is a mysterious world that is still unknown to most kiters. Or at least to most kitesurfers that come to El Médano… please imagine 60-100 kiters in a small bay- if you don’t know the navigation rules the sport becomes dangerous.
I’m usually very easygoing in the water, I try to stay away from crowded places while kiting, I stay out of the students’ zone, I look for no trouble and I respect the famous Right of Way…unfortunately I cannot say that everybody does the same and it pisses me off terribly. So, WARNING this is going to be a very direct and sarcastic blog about the right of way, I’ll spare no one.
It should be the job of your instructor to explain the existence of these rules but it should also be your job to remember them or check them out if you don’t remember them. It’s like you going to drive and you don’t know how to behave in the streets… it would be very dangerous no? Well … HEELLOOO?!?! IT’S THE SAME THING IN THE WATER!
So I’m am so tired to see Kiters not respecting the starboard priority; I’m tired of Kiteboarders that just kite 15 meters behind you and won’t leave till you cross the entire ocean without being able to change direction because there is this kiter behind you that won’t get out of the way and doesn’t recognize even the international sign of “mooooove away”; I’m tired of kiters jumping at 10 meters from the shore break when you are entering the water and they land the jump 1 mt from you and tell you “WATCH OUT YOU’RE IN MY WAY”; kiters who go kiting in a wave spot and they don’t know about the surfing rules and put in danger other kitesurfers; kiters jumping between students. Shall I continue?!
Every day, while teaching kitesurfing I witness so many accidents in the water, most of them (let’s say 99% of them) could all be avoided if people knew or respected the right of way.
AND HERE WE GO: LADIES AND GENTS GET YOUR S**T TOGETHER. KITING IS AN EXTREME SPORT. IT CAN BE DANGEROUS. IF YOU WON’T FOLLOW THE BASIC NAVIGATION RULES YOU WILL HURT SOMEBODY ONE DAY.
This is very easy: when you are riding and you are about to cross path with another kiter who’s coming from the opposite direction – but you are NOT on collision course – the kiter upwind need to bring the kite up (towards the sky) and the kiter downwind needs to bring the kite down (towards the sea). In this way, you kiters can continue your navigation without getting tangled.
Do you know what upwind and downwind mean?
Upwind is when an object, a person, or a point of reference is more towards the wind than you.
2. Downwind is when an object, a person, or a point of reference is farther away from the wind direction than you.
Rule #2: The starboard kiter has priority
Let’s go on with the second rule that will save your life so many times 🙂
If you are on collision course with another kiter (meaning that you kiters are riding one against each other in the same line), the kiter that is riding starboard has priority and the portboard kiter must let the starboard kiter pass by going downwind or change direction
Do you know what starboard and port board means?
Starboard when the kite is on the right side of the wind window when riding
2. Portboard when the kite is on the left side of the wind window when riding
Very good, now that you know the most 2 basic rules you already know more than the 50% of the kiters out there!
Rule #3: Kiter entering the water has priority
A kiter who is entering the water has priority on the kiter who exits the water.
Why? The kiter on land or closest to the shoreline is more exposed to hard obstacles and wind turbulences. The kiter in deep water can always change direction and attempt a second approach to land as he is already riding in a safer area.
Rule #4: No priority on land
Yes, that’s right..on land there is no clear priority “EH BUT GIO WHAT IF?” – “Just use common sense”
TEST: If you and another kiter are both walking towards the water and you are the one behind and upwind… who must be more careful? YOU. Because the kiter downwind don’t even know about your existence!
Now, you know more than 65% of the kiters. Why stop here?!?! Let’s go on!
Rule #5: The slowest rider has priority.
Yes, I know you have a Formula 1 Mercedes and you are riding like Lewis Hamilton and you ALWAYS stumble upon the dude or the lady with a Fiat 500 from the 80s going at 3km/h… sooooo frustrating isn’t it?
Guess what… THEY HAVE THE RIGHT OF WAY!
If you are coming from behind the slower kiter they cannot see you (we still don’t have eyes on the back of our heads)
They definitely cannot go faster …. They are with a Fiat 500 from the 80s…
You can’t pretend they move out of your way because most probably > read point 1
What do you do? You avoid them by changing your direction or overtaking them downwind where they can see you.
COMMON SENSE RULE
Check behind you before doing a transition
This is going to be breaking news I know, but this rule about checking the surroundings applies ALSO when you change the riding direction. Look before you do a transition!
Very good, now you know more than 80% of the kiters out there! Do you want to continue to level up to Right of Way Super Sayan?
Rule #6: JUMPS
Wait, what?!?! There are rules for the jumps as well? Of course, my dear!
First of all, please avoid jumping right on the shore break. That’s dangerous. Mainly for you as you can hurt yourself if you don’t land the trick (yes, the sand is very hard) but it is also extremely annoying and impolite for the kiters who need to enter the water (and as you can remember from one of the rules above… they have priority!)
Avoid jumping in the students’ area… they are already not 100% comfy and don’t have full control so don’t scare them out!!!
Find your space! Before jumping check the surrounding area around you, make sure you have enough space to land the jump without landing it on top of another kiter. “BUT GIO THEY ARE ALWAYS IN MY WAY” Nope, it’s not the duty of the other kiter to avoid you, it’s your duty to calculate properly the space that you need for the jump and to make sure there are no obstacles in that space (including others kiters). They say: keeping a 50m safety area downwind and a 30m safety area upwind will reduce many unexpected risks. I know this is almost impossible but at least check that you won’t land in the head of somebody else.
Never jump upwind from another kiter if there is not enough safety area between both riders. I wrote it twice, to make sure it’s clear.
Never jump among other beach users such as swimmers.
Rule #7: SURF SPOT
If you go to a spot where the kiters are catching waves and surfing them there are defined rules there as well “NOOOO GIO WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT?!?” “I know… I know…you’ll buy me a beer later”
The kiter who’s in the wave has priority. YES, that kiter has priority even if you are starboard. Why? Because the rider in the wave has less maneuverability than you.
If there are two kiters in the wave – the kiter closer to the peak has priority – this rule comes from surfing … no questions here, please.
If there is no peak the kiter who’s more upwind has priority as the upwind/peak kiter is exposed to the critical area of the wave while the other rider becomes a dangerous obstacle within the wave.
Surf your wave till the end and then go back upwind respecting the circuit and waiting for your next wave. There are waves for everyone, catch your wave and let the others do the same. Snaking or jumping waves is definitely not polite, and can be very dangerous.
LAST BUT NOT LEAST: avoid jumping in the middle of the surfing spot while kiters are surfing the waves. IT’S REALLY DANGEROUS!
OMG! Congratulations you made it so far! You gain so many points! And guess I have something for you… another gift!
A BONUS TRACK > MIND THE STUDENTS
Please just stay away from students, you can easily recognize them because they are usually wearing a helmet and they don’t know what’s going on. So, please stay away from them… and don’t get pissed if a student crashed the kite on top of you 1) they didn’t do it on purpose – don’t get mad at them 2) you were inside of their drop zone 3) as a more experienced kite you could have stayed out of their drop zone.
Well, if you arrived to read till here I am pretty proud of you! I hope you’ll treasure all this knowledge and use it in the water the next time. Please remember that NOPE… the sea is no place for anarchy. So spread the word and send this article to all your kiter friends!
If you are not doing it already follow me on Instagram too 😛 and if you come to Tenerife come to ElMédano to say “hello” in the windy days I´ll be at the beach working as kite instructor with the PKS Tenerife School!
Ask many female kitesurf instructors what they think this job looks like and you’ll get many different answers with the same meaning: SIMPLY AMAZING
Most of them switched their life and decided to have the best office views in the world, good vibes surrounding, share their passion and face exciting challenges every day.
So, if you are considering the idea to turn kitesurfing into your job, this is our suggestions: Go for it! Get in the game! It’s an experience not to be missed and, if for any reason it doesn’t work, you can always come back and you’ll still have a cool story to tell.
We’ve all been in your shoes.
More and more women are getting closer to the extreme sports, we want to encouraged you and let you know that there are many other girls ready to welcome you and to share fun.
What I love most about this job is the opportunity it offers to travel and discover new places, coming into close contact with the local lifestyle and people. By teaching kitesurfing, you spend your days on the beach, enjoying the energy of the natural elements, practicing sports, having a healthy lifestyle and always meeting different and interesting people. What more could you want?
Together with @lagiokite, we interviewed some super girls teaching all around the best spots in the world and we got something you ought to know.
Kiteboarding is funny but it’s still an extreme sport.
Ladies (and men too), keep this in mind: no one is born knowing everything so, we all need to be (well) trained as knowledge empowers people.
All of us need to learn how to teach kiteboarding in the safest way in order to avoid that anybody could be exposed to danger.
No strength needed.
90% of people think that we need strong arms to “hold” a flying kite. I am sure that before approaching to kitesurf, you thought that this sport required a lot of upper body strength.
Girls, teaching kiteboarding is about passion, good knowledge and communication, empathy, and a lot of patience. These few qualities are essential to get the trust and the attention from your students.
Often men are stronger. But, as women, we can assure you that we learned how to compensate for any lack of physical strength using better technique.
Girls should have no doubts about being able to do this job for the simple reason that female instructors are exceptional because of our natural ability to multitask, something that men tend to lack. We are generally very sensitive and have an innate ability to listen and almost infinite patience (an essential characteristic in teaching).
We are precise, dynamic, tenacious and technical, everything you need to be a professional kitesurfing instructor!
For sure, as Sara said, we need to be active girls, athletic and ready to spend long hours walking on the beach (or in the water, if your spot is a lagoon). Giulia reminded us that it’s physically demanding, but Giorgia has not doubts on the fact that ladies are clever enough to find smart solutions to make it easier.
Wouldn’t it be amazing to have a big community to share tricks and suggestion?
Kite instructor or psychologist?
As Sara remind us, every person is different so we have to focus on the students’ needs. A good instructor must adapt the lesson according to circumstances: we are trained to help people to give their best.
Giulia loves seeing people going from zero to hero and she truly understand the ones that fight with determination as she neither was immediately successful when she approached the first times to kitesurfing.
We completely agree with Chloe that thinks that techniques and practice is just a less part of the work, as psychology plays a big role and our aim is to keep the student highly motivated, focused, with the right determination to go on.
All of this comes with the experience, but it is also the main part of the IKO training course.
And if something happens?
There are a lot of potential dangers involved in kitesurfing, and you will experiment/touch with hands some of them.
Look on the bright side and take it as an opportunity to become a more experienced instructor. Whatever seemed impossible before, will become your daily bread.
Remember when I said that you, as everybody, need to be well trained? This is what IKO trainers do: they teach you how to deal the unexpected.
I love this job for so many reasons, but mostly that I get to have the most beautiful office I could ever ask for and kiting almost every day, Also possibility of travelling to other stunning spots around the world. I found teaching to be very satisfying job as well. I get to meet many cool people and it’s always great to see my students progressing.
After the trainee course you might be required to have some shadowing hours in a IKO center, it means that you give lessons to real students supported by a more expert instructor. It is a unique chance to keep training and to get more field experience led by somebody that’s going to help and give you precious advises and suggestions.
Remember that we are part of an amazing community: kite surfers watch out for each other in and out the water, just think of the help in launching and landing the kite.
You will be an independent instructor; this doesn’t mean that you can’t ask for your colleagues’ opinions. Be humble and eager to learn from everybody.
It’s an amazing job! You will meet many other kiters and lovely persons from all over the world. But be aware, you must love teaching and stay & walk on the beach all day long. Plus, you’ve to be a pretty patient human being!
So, 100% Pro and NO cons?
We are used to be positive people, but we can’t lie and say that everything is perfect.
Surely there are not always Caribbean days at the beach: winter strong wind and cold water make everything much harder for both instructor and student. Also, hot sunny days with so warm wind are difficult to afford too.
This is why it’s very important to wear the right gears, protect our skin, drink a lot of water, use sunglasses and why not, ask for more suggestions to our instructors friends that can’t wait to share with you the old wives’ tale.
You should also know that during the windy hours you’ll probably have to teach, so you’ll miss the best wind and waves to enjoy. We always suggest to find the way to keep riding for yourself not to lose the passion as well as to recharge your batteries.
we love to teach girls.
Women are clearly under-represented in this sport.
We are so excited when our students are girls and women. It means we are contributing to make the kitesista community bigger. So, what are you waiting for? Don’t hesitate to become a kitegirl instructor and to inspire many other girls.
Don’t underestimate yourself.
Push your limits and give your best, be confident and trust in yourself. We got it, so you can get it too. Basia would say to anyone to just follow heart and dreams and not to forget that girls can do anything!!!!
Jump! Do it! And if you don’t like it after, you’ll always have a cool story to tell. Sharing your passion with others is a gift for ourselves too!
Do you wanna read some funny stories? Keep on reading the experiences shared by the women kite instructors we interviewed:
What’s your name? How old are you? Where are you from? Your IKO level? Hi, my name is Basia and I’m 25 yo. I was born and raised in Gdansk, Poland. I’m IKO instructor level 2.
Funny story: This job never gets boring, and it’s another thing I love about it. I’m currently living and working in Kilifi, Kenia, which is not a very touristic place. So from time to time you get to see local people herding their livestock on the beach. One time during my lesson I had to escape into the ocean because the cow started running on to me, probably feeling threatened by the kite I was holding in my hands.
What’s your name? How old are you? Your IKO level? My name is Giulia, I’m going to turn 30 in October 2021, IKO level 2, really close to level 3.
Funny story: One time I didn’t share with my students that we were connected via radio communication. She was setting up the lines downwind and she misplaced the bar. She was 20 meters from me and she couldn’t hear my feedback with the wind, so I activated the radio. She didn’t understand where the voice was coming from, got scared, jump up, and did a 360-degree pirouette, ending up with her bottom in the sand. We couldn’t stop laughing.
What’s your name? How old are you? Where are you from? Your IKO level? My name is Chloé Rodriguez, I am 30 years old and I come from Grenoble in France. I come from a city surrounded by high mountains and after spending more than 20 years on the ski slopes I decided to change my environment.
Funny story: I taught a student for 10 hours how to pilot the Kite, safety system, body drag, and come the day I show him the water start! super-enthusiastic, he goes away from the shore and tries his first water start. unfortunately, he loses his board and his reaction stunned me: he poses his kite on the water and disconnects completely from his Kite and he starts swimming to go get his board … I see the kite fly away far away and I have to quickly jump in a boat to get it. when I come back to him I ask him why he did that because before we had learned body drag and he replies “I thought it was going to be faster” that’s sure to finish this lesson it was quick.
What’s your name? How old are you? Where are you from? Your IKO level? I am Sara, a 33-years-old IKO Instructor from Italy. I am IKO level 1, teaching and kiting around since 2014. I’ve been teaching > 1500 hrs and > 200 students from all around the world.
Funny story: I have many many stories, I could have written a book/blog! A very funny story is back to Brazil 3 years ago. I was doing assistance for a medium-distance downwind trip. You might think, WOW. But many things happened on the way and I had somehow to fix everything… a kite bladder exploded, a board-strap too. A boogie almost stuck in a river mouth. Huge cuts on a customer’s feet…It’s a nice job but sometimes things are very challenging and funny!!
What’s your name? How old are you? Where are you from? Your IKO level? Hello, I’m Lucia Sciuto and I’m 29 years old, I’m Italian and I was born in Catania, in the beautiful Sicily. I’m an Instructor iko level 1.
Funny story: One of the funniest things that happened to me especially at the beginning was when I used the bb talking radios, often when I took back the kite and the board of my students upwind to the “waterstart” point I forgot that they could hear me and while I was kiting they heard me singing and having fun in the waves LOL.
What’s your name? How old are you? Your IKO level? Beatrice, 36, Italy, Instructor 1
Funny story: Funny things happen every day, that is what makes this job interesting, every student can surprise with absolute non-sense questions either acting super weird(like my last student trying to deflate the kite while lying on his belly with the kite under himself 😂)
What’s your name? How old are you? Where are you from? Your IKO level? My name is Martina. I am 30 years old. I am from Milan, Italy. I am an IKO Instructor and Assistant Trainer.
Funny story: My teaching experience is full of funny stories, little anecdotes that are the basis of sincere and lasting friendships. I remember a couple of beginners who asked my colleague and me to do a little challenge off the course. We were two teams (instructor + student) and at the end of 10 hours whoever had made the most progress had to take the other team out for a dinner. The atmosphere was not tense at all, we had fun and spent our lessons laughing and joking, involving others as well. How did it end? Offering dinner to two hungry men cost me and Lisa a little, but it was worth it!
What’s your name? How old are you? Where are you from? Your IKO level? Megan Frey, Age 36, Originally I am from Orcas Island, Level 3 (just passed exam yesterday) 🌊🥂🐋
Funny story: + A funny story with kiting… Every day, humor is the best for learning… Sometimes I can be a complete goofball with my metaphors when teaching that my student can let down to make the necessary errors in order to learn while bypassing their inner critic. Sometimes if a student is too worried, asking many questions or judging themselves for not understanding at lightning speeds… before I answer them I’ll dance to put a new vibe in the air and then they laugh and then I answer and then they explore even more. And at the end of the day, they are way beyond where they were at the begging of the day.
What’s your name? How old are you? Where are you from? Your IKO level? I’m Marica, I’m 40 years old, and I’m an IKO Instructor Level 3.
Funny story: An adult office man on vacation with his children came to take a lesson with me starting from zero. He was a very sporty man, very tenacious, determined to learn how to kitesurf, and after struggling to make his first board, he looked at me with a face as enthusiastic as a child’s and said: “That was so cool, no chemical drug can do the same!”…we laughed till tears!
What’s your name? How old are you? Where are you from? Your IKO level? Giorgia, 34 (still 27 in my head), Italian, IKO Level 3 hopefully soon to be an Assistant Trainer ;P
Funny story: Once I had a student who weighed 120kg…just about double my weight WTF At a certain point of the lesson I had to take his kite and walk on the beach and I was flying away so he was holding me by the harness while walking sooo people didn’t know who was the instructor and who was the student anymore eheheheh
The skate world was completely unknown to me till a year ago, when in Tenerife I started to go more often to the skate park with friends and discovered this magical world.
At that time, I had a small cruiser handmade by some friends from my hometown A.C. longboarding. I bought this little gem to move around the city instead of walking. So small that I could fit it in my hand baggage, very stable and cool to bring around. We had so much fun together on the streets of Puerto Rico, Bogota, Milan, and other cities. I still have it and it makes me smile every time I see it because of all the travel we did together.
In Tenerife, I would go to the skatepark with my little cruiser and I could see all the other skaters having fun with so many different types of skates and styles.
So I started to try some: I tried the freestyle skate and was terrified every time I tried something as I could easily picture myself with a broken leg or arm. Then, I tried longboarding for downhill and when I started to go fast… well let’s just say that I would get a bit paralyzed by the speed, which is absolutely the opposite of what you want, because that’s when you fall eheheheh. Then, I tried longboarding walking on the board, some people use it for dancing and it feels pretty amazing but I knew something was missing. And one day, like a lighting falling from the sky, I discovered the existence of surfskate and everything clicked. Even though, all the other styles are super cool, I knew immediately that surfskate was what I was searching for.
I remember it like it was yesterday when I saw this video and I said: I WANT THIS.
I’m a dreamer, but also a very practical person, so, when I saw that I could put together fun and also work on my carves and slides, I immediately knew that it was a win-win situation. I imagined it would improve my kitesurfing performances on the waves and who knows… maybe one day it’ll improve my surfing too.
What’s a surfskate?
Let’s take a step back… what exactly is a surfskate? The surfskate is a board that allows you to repeat the surfing movements and gives you a similar sensation to surfing. With the surfskate, you can simulate being on a wave but on the concrete. WARNING: after you buy a surfskate you won’t see the streets in the same way anymore and you’ll start to search for your next concrete wave everywhere!
Where was it born?
The first hint of surfskate came when David Colley and Brad Gerlach, two Californian surfers and snowboarders, were missing practicing their movements on a board during no-wave days. But only in 1996 the surfskate got real thanks to Neil Carver and Greg Falk in Venice (California) as they invented a revolutionary axis, patented it, and founded the first surfskate brand called: Carverskateboards.
So why a kitesurfer should buy a surfskate?
The first reason (this actually applies to all board lovers, not only to kitesurfers) is the fact that all the time you spend on top of a moving board is a precious time during which your body gets more and more used to be balanced, responsive and learns to adapt to movement. Therefore, it will help you, no matter, whether you are a snowboarder, wakeboarder, surfer or kitesurfer.
Let’s be honest, how many waves can you catch in an hour of kitesurfing? Maybe it’s a day where there are plenty of kiters out there or it’s a day where the wind is MEH or it’s a day where the waves are not nice, in general, your time on a wave is limited. That’s why once you are in the water and when you get on that wave you want to be ready! With the surfskate, you can work on your bottom turns and your carves every time you want and as often as you like because, on a surfskate, you aren’t dependent on the wind, the tides, the swells, or even other people.
Being able to replicate the movements every time you want brings me to the next big benefit of surfskating which is REPETITION! They say that it takes 10,000 hours to become a master at something. Surfskating gives you the chance to replicate and repeat the same movements over and over again. In this way, you can work on your muscle memory and make the movements yours. The next time you’re kitesurfing you’ll feel your body moving automatically on the wave without having to think about all the details (where to look, the back leg, the front leg, the weight, the torso etc.).
Once you can practice every time you want, over and over again, you can also experiment with different types and styles of surfing tricks, discover new moves which you’ll be able to try during your next kitesurfing session.
Once you repeat a lot the same movement and you make it yours, do you know what happens? Well, you start to work on your style! Oh, yeah! Because once you got the movement registered in your head and body that’s when you can add some style and be flawless.
Finally, it’s a lot of fun… do you need more details on this point?!
Are you convinced?
What are your next steps?
1. Buy a surfskate!
2. There are several good surfskate brands. My choice is @flying_wheels_skateboards I’ve got a Mummy 32 and a Kauai 31 and both feel incredible!
2. Get a class when you start with surfskating!
I decided to take classes because I only used a cruiser to move from A to B and had absolutely no clue on how the surfskate worked. And trust me… that thing is evil and unforgiving unless you know how to tame it.
To be completely honest, I’m 34 and I break easily, I’m not a kid that is extremely agile and made of rubber so I thought it might be better to avoid the most basic errors and learn the technique from the beginning. Also, being a kite instructor I know that once you learn something the wrong way and you pick up bad habits, it’s very difficult to fix the mistakes and to correct whatever you’re doing wrong in the future.
3. Bonus point: protections
I bought a helmet and wrists, elbows, and knees protection. The Micheline man is nothing compared to me eheheheh
I have to say that it took me a lot to get the flow, and I’m not sure I got it completely. On top of that, going on a surfskate without knowing how to surf it’s quite “interesting” as you need to move your body in a way that you’ve never done it before. But once you get the flow it feels super nice! I also saw lots of improvements while going back to the water kitesurfing, so I’m completely hooked!
There a few Instagram accounts that I follow and I love their flow:
She’s made me fall in love and Marta is simply too stylish and flawless
Love him as he shows you nicely all the moves and have developed a training method on how to learn the moves properly.
He’s just … madness and flawless defeating any law of gravity whatsoever!
Love her style and vibe!
Do you wanna feel the real vibe vibing?
I want to end this post with the movie that got me to click on the flow and style part I’m sure it’s going to give you the extra push to start surfskatinG!
And if you have any questions don’t hesitate to drop me a message on Instagram @lagiokite or leave a comment here!
The first challenge of the Inspire challenge came to an end: 21 days ofeating local and vegetarian food. Once a month the Inspire team will come up with a challenge that I need to do. These challenges are thought to help people to be more conscious and inspire a shift towards a Zero Waste life or at least a more sustainable one! You can participate in this fun game too!
How did it go?! Well… to be completely honest with you, I feel I could have done better, but I am also happy about the results.
Vegetarian or Local – what’s more difficult?
Between local and vegetarian what scared me the most was the local food. I’ve been vegetarian for years and loved it, I love to cook and prepare different dishes, always research new recipes, and experiment. I still eat vegetarian most days and usually eat now and then some meat or fish at the restaurant. Going back to full vegetarian life wasn’t that difficult. And for the ones that are wondering, yes, I am also very careful with my protein intake (even if they are vegetarian proteins)… of course being on a Spanish island, I got used to very tasty Jamon Iberico, but I know I can live without it.
When it comes to local products, that was a bit more of a challenge. I’ll give you a bit of background – I’m currently living on an island – Tenerife, half of which is kind of like a desert. On top of this, I live in a very small town on the seaside, so you can imagine that it can be a bit of a challenge. Island life is limiting as we import a lot of products and when you are on a small island the amount of locally produced ingredients diminishes a lot. So I had a few difficulties in finding all ingredients.
A few funny things happened:
I discovered that my morning tea was produced in Poland… WTF.
As it’s summer I was really craving an ice-cream… most are imported and even at the ice-cream shop the ingredients are not from Tenerife – imagine chocolate, strawberries… nope, but I found the Gofio (a cereal from here) ice-cream which was good…I still prefer chocolate eheheheh.
But let’s start with the very positive sides of this challenge.
Break the supermarket cycle
First of all, it helped me break the cycle of just going to the supermarket to buy my food. Don’t get me wrong, it’s the most convenient option you have, because it’s always open and you can go there any time you need, satisfying all sorts of desires you have in the culinary arena. But then, the downside of this is that inevitably you are going to (or at least me) spend more than needed. If you are a foodie like me, then every time you go to the supermarket, you will end up buying more than it’s necessary just to treat yourself. Also, I noticed that I would throw away more food, as I would go to buy new products more often. I went from going to the supermarket 3 or 4 times a week to going to the markets on Wednesday and Saturday morning. This led to a more organized grocery which made me spend less, waste less food, and increased the quality of my food.
There is a decent variety of vegetables in Tenerife, let’s be honest it barely changes, as we don’t have seasons, but they are very tasty. In terms of fruit, it is quite poor there are mainly bananas and papayas (which I cannot eat) and watermelon which costs double than the supermarket one. Now and then I would find something new and different. You should have seen my face of pure joy when I found figs! So unexpected, so tasty! Recently, I discovered that you can find local apples, apricots, and peaches…. Peaches are at 4 euros per kg… I had to donate my liver to buy some peaches!
At the market, I was able to buy local goat cheese which is amazing which made me very very happy! I discovered that at one of the markets I would be able to buy, if I want, local fish and meat (some kinds, not all of them).
The downside was that it’s almost impossible to find local legumes, couldn’t find any lentils, chickpeas, etc., and I couldn’t find a local option for milk or butter, olive oil, and other basic products that we use to cook.
Big PRO – the amount of plastic packaging was reduced by 80% and as a consequence also the trash I generated was way lower.
Another aspect was that I was spending quite some money on buying lunch, since I started the challenge, I started also to bring to work every day my lunch. And thanks to this I was able to reduce cost and also eat healthier as I was used to eating a sandwich almost every day.
Let’s talk about the water we drink. The tap water in the village where I live is terrible and I’m pretty sure you’ll die of cancer if you drink it but also taste terrible. So we are used to buying 8-litre bottles of water. Every week we use 3 or 4 large bottles of water. To my surprise, at the market, I could refill the empty bottles with potable water from a local source! Cheers to that!
Talking about drinking, another beautiful surprise is that the island has a local brewery (well…this wasn’t a surprise), it’s actually cheaper to drink beer than water on this island hahahah, but I discovered several local incredibly tasty wines like Bodega Frontos! And love them all!
Other local products I introduced to my purchase list
During the 21 days, I finished the shampoo, the conditioner, and the toothpaste and I was able to find local sustainable options! This made me happy, because I always wanted to buy these kinds of products, but it was never a priority until now. And trust me, now that I’ve tried them, I would never go back. Alma guanche is a local producer of soaps, shampoos, conditioners, creams and toothpastes. All her products are simply awesome!
The downside of the first toothpaste I found in a shop, was the price … like 13 euros – WTF, I mean I understand it is sustainable, but it’s not sustainable for my pocket!!! So I looked for a cheaper solution with Alma Guanche 🙂 The thing is that you need to invest time to find the right products…
I recently finished the laundry detergent and I discovered that in another town, 25 min drive from where I live, there is a shop where you can bring your jars and bottles for refill. So I will make sure that in my routine, once a month, I’ll go there to buy all the products I need that I cannot find at the market.
Overall, I think I enjoyed this challenge because it made me discover new interesting stuff, appreciate local ingredients, and helped me better plan my weekly grocery, and reduced waste. Did I mention that the quality of the food I ate increased incredibly?!
Restaurants were less locally focused
As you might have understood by now, I like to eat a lot of tasty food. So one of the biggest challenges was not to go to the restaurant. I know I sound spoiled, but for me eating at the restaurant now and then is a treat, and when the food is good I think it’s worth it! But thinking again about the fact that I live on an island very far away from everything, you can understand that most restaurants don’t use local ingredients and there are very few good vegetarian options in town. If you think about it, even pizza cannot be local on Tenerife as the mozzarella is imported… and no, I’m not eating a pizza without it eheheheheh I’m so Italian! So I avoided as much as I could going to the restaurant, declined several dinner invitations, but at the very end of the challenge there were some social work events I had to attend and the only option was to try to order the most local dish I could find.
Dinners with friends – OUCH!
The other downside of this challenge is that I had a few dinners at home and friends would bring some food too and it was not local, not vegetarian and I have to say that I am guilty of having succumbed to temptation…
Overall a wonderful experience
In general, I think this challenge helped me to open my eyes a bit when it comes to buying products. To not just select immediately the first one and the cheaper one I find, but I started to check where it’s coming from and if it is from far away, I started to ask myself if I really needed it and if it’s really worth buying it. Then I tend to ask myself, “can you find a more sustainable solution?” It’s a challenge because you need to invest a bit more time while buying what you need and be more conscious.
Also, I think that I like the fact of being able to contribute to the local economy and buy as many local products as I can, however, I am also aware that it takes extra effort, because you have to break a convenient routine built around a frenetic life where we don’t have much time to waste to go to the market, find the right shops, find better local products. But if you manage, it’s really rewarding!
I’m very curious to hear your opinion, so please leave a comment!
The first challenge is behind me and on Monday at 7pm (Italian time) the Inspire ladies will give me the next one! Can’t wait to hear which one is it!!! Keep you posted!
Yesterday morning I woke up super tired, after a week of lessons, and on Saturday I spent all day at the beach teaching, thinking that it would have been the longest day ever as I had another full day at the beach… AND INSTEAD: what an incredible Sunday! I’ve had a combo of 3, not 1, but 3 very successful lessons where my students came out super happy and achieved all the goals of the lessons. These are the days I am really proud of!
So you might think that the life of a kitesurfing instructor is a piece of cake, wakes up, goes to the beach, enjoys the sun, she/he’s all tanned, chilled out at the beach for a few hours teaching the students, hangs loose, goes for a kite session and then goes for beers…living the good and easy life!
HAHAHAHA you wish!
No I mean, it’s generally like that but I choose to work in a very cool spot called El Médano where the conditions sometimes are not really your friend teaching-wise.. riding-wise instead it’s a lot of fun!!!
So if you are an instructor or you would like to become one here’s a few things to consider when selecting your first or next job 🙂
THE DRESS CODE
Since we were talking about this let’s start from here 😉 Depending on the spot, how you get ready for the class can be quite different.
Unless you teach on a tropical island in the Caribbean where the temperature is warm and the wind is warm, you have to wear the wetsuit all day long and in some cases a wind jacket so you get a super weird tan… On my legs, I have 3 marks of tan based on which wetsuit I use therefore I look ridiculous with shorts ahahah
When you work in a spot with strong and gusty wind, in a small space, with waves (seriously what a combo) the chances of falling kites arise so I use a helmet while working because I got a few kites dropping on my head and it wasn’t fun.
And generally speaking, when you work all day under the sun with flying sand your face and skin get a lot of damage, most of us in El Medano use a sort of scarf/neckwarmer to protect the face, sunglasses otherwise your eyes will get red and hat.
I ended up going to the beach like this:
And my colleagues as well!
The most important thing I would like to clarify is that being a Kitesurfing instructor is a job, a very fun one but still a job, and like any other job there are responsibilities and you need to be professional also because you are teaching an extreme sport.
How can you do so? By learning a teaching method that will allow you to teach in the safest way possible all the steps to bring your student to zero to an independent rider.
Mind my words > independent rider and not simply to teach the student to ride. Because the world is already full of people that don’t understand the wind window and don’t know how to launch a kite or kiters who never walked on the beach before, never body dragged and don’t know how to get back to the board when they lose them, etc., etc., etc. At the end of the day kitesurfing it’s an extreme sport and we, the instructors, have the duty to prepare future kiters to be independent to avoid most of the injuries and accidents.
There are several international and national certifications. You can choose your certification depending if you stay in one country or if you travel around the world. For example, if you live in Tarifa you will need the FAV certification otherwise you won’t be able to work there. Instead, if you would like to travel around the world, working in a different spot I would recommend an international certification like IKO. Which has an incredible network of schools all over the world following the IKO standards always looking for new instructors and gives you a good carrier perspective if you want to grow into the teaching world of kitesurfing and becoming an instructors´ trainer or a coach. Click here to see when is the next IKO course!
There are several types of spots where you can work as a kite instructor.
Imagine a big lagoon or a long beach with shallow flat water, warm light stable wind, not a lot of kiters= heaven!
Imagine a narrow beach, choppy sea with a fun shore break, gusty strong wind, lots of kiters= nightmares
In between these two, there is a huge amount of different combinations that can make your job easier or harder.
Then you can work from the boat or from the beach and these are two completely different worlds… So in general when you’re about to choose a spot to work there, try to understand well how the spot works to avoid any incredible surprises.
For example, in the past days we had heavy conditions: strong gusty winds (the anemometer at the certain point was going crazy 24 avg 32 gust WHAT?!?!), high tie in the middle of the day which reduces the space of the beach by half, then a meter of shore break to make the entrance and exit of the students more difficult and rocks all over the place… Luckily we don’t have a lot of days like this, but these days my heartbeat is basically dancing the cha cha cha all the time.
THE DIFFERENT KITE LIVES
There is a lot of type of lives that you can do while being a kite instructor.
I’ve heard of instructors doing each season in a different place so that they can travel and discover new amazing spots every 4-6 months.
Some instructors have agreements with schools so that they go in the winter season in one place and in the summer season in another place (every year the same ones) and in between seasons they have amazing holidays somewhere windy and exotic.
Other instructors do a very intensive season in one place where is granted that you work a lot of hours (like the Garda lake) and then they take the rest of the year off to travel and have a long holiday.
Some instructors do this job part-time in the summer season for fun in their local spot.
Others live in a place where it’s windy all year long so they can work on the same spot without moving too much.
When I started my instructor life I wanted to do like the first ones on the list, discover all the kite spots of the world. Then covid came and I was lucky enough to be in El Médano where I was able to live out of kiting lessons all year long. Now that traveling is a bit of a challenge, it’s nice to be able to stay in a place like this and work 🙂
HOURS OF KITING
When you think about the kitesurf instructor job you might think that you´ll also become a pro in kiting, sounds cool no?! well…. It depends.
If you go to work in a spot where there are only 4-5 hours per day of wind in the season, let’s be clear, those 4-5 hours will be dedicated to teaching and not riding.
I’ve done a summer season once in a spot where I completely forgot how to kite as we were teaching all the windy hours and once the wind stopped we were done teaching.
Now living in Tenerife where we have about 250-300 days of wind a year and 8-10 hours of wind a day I can go kiting every day, some times I am too tired to kite but some of my colleagues never miss a day.
This is quite an important point that sometimes we miss when selecting the first kite jobs and then you learn 😛
AMOUNT OF SCHOOLS ON THE SPOT
There are places where the spot is full of schools sharing the same beach like here in El Médano, Tarifa, or Cabarete and then there are places where there is only one school at the spot.
When you work for the only school in the spot it’s a very chilled atmosphere when you have more than one school then problems could arise.
Surprisingly in El Médano, we are about 7 schools (average 4-5 instructors per school) plus some freelancers, the beach is 250meters so not a lot of space and we all live in peace respecting the rules. Actually, there is such a good vibe that’s quite nice to spend the day at the beach! Sometimes when we go back to work after a few days of no wind it almost feels like going back to the office after the Christmas holidays everybody is so happy to see each other again!
However, I’ve heard of places where the schools are not as friendly to each other and there is not such a cool atmosphere…
LAST BUT NOT LEAST: MONEY
Usually, the hourly pay is more or less similar around the world, it goes between 15 and 25 euros depending on the spot.
The salary is based on the spot cost of living but also on the number of hours that you could work. Meaning that if you are on a spot where you could potentially work 40 hours per week, most probably the hourly salary will be slightly less. If you work only 10 hours per week it could be higher.
Some schools will pay you hourly, others could have a fix + variable formula, and with some, you could get a % if you sell more courses, equipment, etc.
Other things that can make the difference in the salary:
Equipment > whether you can use the school material to go out and have fun. For example, in my school, we can use everything, from kite equipment to foil, wing foil, surf, sup.. It’s awesome! We also have a great discount when we buy material from the school.
Tips > Another thing that can make the difference is the tips there are places in the world (like schools in 5 starts hotels) where you have more chances to get tips and you’ll make more money with them than with your salary. Once for a 2 hours class where I got paid 50 dollars, I received a tip of 70 dollars isn’t it nice?!
Sleeping arrangement> some schools provide a room, others give you an allowance to cover a bit of the cost and others nothing.
WORKING VISAS AND INSURANCE
Unfortunately some times in this industry the instructors are contracted not in the most legal way. Always check with the school if they´ll give you a contract, if you are legally allowed to work in the country and mostly if the school has an insurance and if it would cover you in case of accident with a student.
If you are not doing it already follow me on Instagram AKA lagiokite and if you come to Tenerife come to ElMédano to say “hello” in the windy days I´ll be at the beach working as a kite instructor with the PKS Tenerife School!
When I moved in with my last flatmate I was so surprised because right in the middle of the living room just in between the sofa and the television there was a balance board.
I look at it, it looks at me and it was immediate love! (the balance board not my flat mate)
I would wake up in the morning putting some music video on the TV and drink my coffee, juice, glass of water on top of the balance board for at least 10 min. I´ve just felt in love with this product.
Then I started to progress a bit and do my first tricks and I was even more “WOW this is absolutely awesome”.
So using the balance board is one of those things that are fun but at the same time, they are really useful for your mind and your body and the connection between the two of them.
So let me see if I can convince you to buy yourself the best gift for this year 😛
BALANCE BOARD HAS NO AGE LIMIT
I know that some of you might start with “ehhh but I’m too old for this” NOPE! You can find a lot of different types of balance boards for different levels and styles. To put it easy: the bigger the roll the more difficult it is. So in a lot of different rehab places they are starting to use the balance board training to help elderly people to work on their balance. No excuse here!
Yes Gio, but do I really need a balance board? Of course! You will improve so many things like:
Of course… it says it in the name. But I can see now while skating and surfing or even in strapless kitesurf that I am way more fluid on the board. I can move my feet around way better than earlier and I reduced the number of falls. So Yes, sporty people this is DEFINITELY for you!
Staying on the balance board is like connecting your brain to your body and I can totally see how agile I became since I started. My body basically is ready to react in zero time to any type of fall. Meaning that if you trip over you have a 95% chances to fall on your feet if you have been training with a balance board.
OH MY GOOD YOUR CORE, I mean I don’t want to sell you the fact that you’ll get a 6pack just by using a balance board, but the part of your body that is mostly working on the board (besides the legs) is really your core. And we know that a good core helps to keep all your body aligned and centered.
Once you have improved your balance and body coordination you’ll see that you’ll become like a cat always falling on your paws. Because a regular balance board training will make you more spatially aware, enabling you to auto-correct your body position instantly when the danger arises. It will help you strengthen all your legs core and back. I have a very weak back and an injured knee, since I’m using the balance board I feel I’m definitely more strong and had way fewer problems.
The cool staff of the balance board is that you can just work on your balance or you can incorporate it in your functional training (e.g. doing squats, plank, pushups, bridges on the balance board) or you can even go freestyle and start to do a lot of different tricks like my superhero Marie
Ok Gio, but really I train, do sports I’m in a good shape. I don’t really need this balance board. Even if you are in shape already, this doesn’t mean you can be in better shape!
FOR ALL TYPE OF SPORTS
Balance boarding is a great plus training for all sorts of sports. I can testify for skate, surf, and kitesurf. But I’ve seen really cool training done for soccer, hockey, tennis, volleyball, CrossFit, climbing, running, etc. I mean there is no excuse, really.
FOR THE KIDS AS WELL!
It goes without saying that the balance board is incredibly fun and useful also for kids of all age! Look at this toddler, how cool is this?
So what are you waiting for? Get your first balance board and start to train!
Now out there is plenty of balance boards but I ask you to choose wisely. Go for quality and not price!
I use Lawa Balance this incredible handmade balance board from Spain. Done with local and environmentally friendly products by the hands of Sofia, a very talented lady 😍
The boards are made from Abedul, fine layers of wood glued together for great resistance but still flexible for those who want to do some tricks, like jumping, on them. The wood is carefully chosen from local suppliers. Every piece has a sustainability certificate that shows the trees had been planted and harvest fulfilling principles of environmental and social responsibility.
The roll is made of cork for its efficiency. It saves up to 30% more CO2 than other trees, it is harvest every 9 years and processed with little waste, it is the only tree whose bark can be removed without harming the tree and those trees that are harvest often. And of course, it makes the perfect grip for your board. We love cork!
Talking to Sofia, she told me that “The name Lawa means firewood in Quechwa which is the language of the indigenous people from the Andes and the Amazon”. Sofia decided on this name because of the connection between the indigenous people and Mother Earth, she reminds me how they have always lived in harmony and balance with the environment but unfortunately due to deforestation their homes, our planet’s lungs, are getting smaller, and smaller every time.
Which is why the beauty of getting one of the @Lawa.balance board is that she partnered up with @treenation_org so that every time a board is sent to a client a new tree is planted, isn’t it wonderful?
Have you ever thought about being planet conscious?
What it has to do with being a kite girl?
Spending a lot of time on the beach and in the water, whether is kiting surfing, or snorkeling and the truth is the amount of trash I´ve seen and keep on seeing both on the beach and in the water makes me feel incredibly useless.
I´m not going to stay here to tell you the 1000 times I felt deeply angry and sad in finding remote and desert beautiful places covered by human trash. Because you’ll think I’m very boring, it’s an uncomfortable truth that most want to avoid or think it’s a reality too far away and you don’t feel connected. I get it, I mean… after all, why should you care about a remote beach in Guatemala?
So when you travel a lot you see a lot of crazy situations bad and good, as they say, traveling opens your mind and soul.
And when you travel, you get to know new people and the beautiful thing is that some of them will inspire you and elevate you.
My ex-partner was a “planet-conscious freak”, I loved him so much for this because he challenged my consumeristic approach to life. Just to give you the idea he became vegetarian, quitted drinking, and started meditating just after we got married… THAT WAS A TRAP!!!! Eheheh jokes aside he started a journey around self-discovery, consciousness, and meditation that elevated both of us, me as a follower. If it wasn’t for him, the current version of Gio would not exist so I owe him a lot!
I used to buy a lot of useless things, clothes and shoes – omg I had sooo many pair of shoes – and buy all sorts of food in any shape and form depending on what I wanted to eat no matter if it came from New Zealand, or was processed food plenty of chemicals or wrapped in 200 layers of plastic… as long as it was tasty I would buy it!
Of course, living with somebody who embraces the cause of a conscious living, that makes his goal to reduce his footprint impact is no piece of cake believe me. We were buying mostly locally produced products (imagine that on an island where everything is imported from the USA…) we were both vegetarians back then, clothes shopping was reduced to the bare minimum, we started to live a minimalistic life. We were full of experiences and low in material things.
I remember he ”brainwashed” me with love for the planet, that each time I would go grocery shopping when I wanted to buy a product I would think “Would Dani buy this?” And in my mind, his first reaction was a no go eheheh
People like Dani are essential because they help the change by supporting their cause even for the others. If I have to be completely honest, once we decided to split ways I went banana and forgot for a while to be planet conscious. It was an easy life again! Because let’s be honest, living a planet-conscious life is no joke. It’s way easier not to think about how much waste we are generating every single day. We live a life where if something breaks it’s easier to throw it away and replace it with a new one than repair it. We got used to buying processed food rather than raw local ingredients and cook by ourselves. Our fruit and vegetables now are coming from the other side of the world. And we are preferring quantity over quality. This brings us to generate a bizillion tons of waste.
So I went banana on waste life, and then, the little planet conscious Gio came to knock at the door because she was feeling more and more guilty. She remembered all those beautiful places she saw full of trash. All those white sand beaches and river canyons full of waste, the reefs dying, the kids playing in streets covered with trash. All things she saw with her own eyes. To not talk about the gigantic island made of trash in the middle of the ocean, I only saw videos of that but it was enough.
And right at this moment when I felt I needed a guide, life wanted me to cross paths with Alice, one of the founders of an Italian organization called INSPIRE. Alice explained to me that the real issue here is not using less plastic, the real issue is the amount of waste we generate which it’s increasing each year more. This is becoming unsustainable and lots of countries are struggling in dealing with this issue.
So what can we do? We can be more conscious about our purchases!
Alice told me, every time you buy something you should ask yourself 3 questions:
Do I really need it?
If yes, is there an alternative with less packaging/waste products?
Can I improve the quality of this purchase by substituting it with a product that would be more sustainable and durable, which would not become useless within a short amount of time, forcing me to buy a new one?
If we could apply this to most of our purchases I bet it would reduce quite a lot the amount of the things we would buy and mostly we might not going for the first option, training our brains to do a more conscious purchase.
Talking with Alice we immediately clicked and we similarly see things and I guess meeting Inspire was the awakening call I was looking for to go back to a more conscious life.
We are teaming up with Inspire to create awareness about Zero Waste, because sometimes we think the change needs to be big but in reality, we can start to change small habits and be more impactful!
That’s why each month Inspire will propose a Zero Waste Challenge, we will launch it with a LiveVideo on Instragram, and the challenge will last for 21 days. Which apparently is the time we need to change a habit!
During these 21 days, I´ll keep you posted on how it is going through my daily stories. The fun fact is that all the challenges are secret and I´ll get to know them live together with you!
Would love for you to participate in the challenges and share how it’s going! You can use #InspireChallenge so that we can interact with your content! And don´t forget to tag us in your stories @lagiokite @inspire.ecoparticipation
On the Mondayy 31st of May at 19:30 Rome time via Instagram Live we´ll launch the first challenge so stay tuned to get to know what’s cooking!
CHECK THE ZERO WASTE GUIDE AND RATE YOURSELF!
In the meantime Inspire asked me to do an assessment of my Zero Waste level so that they can be as creative as they can to make my life impossible eheheh
Here’s a nice exercise for you as well, rate yourself from 0 to 10 how much of the following points are already in your routine. 0 being something you don’t do and 10 something you definitely do.
I´m rating myself 5/10 – I used to go more often to the market … I definitely can do better!
Reusable bags and nets for groceries and all kinds of purchases
I´m rating myself 5/10 – I forget a lot the reusable bags… I´m terrible!
Package-free and on-tap products
I´m rating myself 1/10 – Omg this can be brought to another level!
Eliminate single-use plastic bottles
I´m rating myself 5/10 – I now buy 2 bottles a month… but in Tenerife, we need to buy gallons of water for the house
Plan your meals and food shopping
I´m rating myself 6/10 – I usually prepare my meals but sometimes I still go grocery shopping last minute
Adopt a Zero Waste kind of diet (local products, seasonal ingredients, vegetarian diet)
I´m rating myself 4/10 – omg I used to do all of this.. now it’s food madness
I´m rating myself 10/10 – Yess I put waste oils in glass jars and periodically dispose of it at a nearby drop-off point!
Moka machine and reusable pods
I´m rating myself 10/10 – Yesss I use a Moka!
IN THE KITCHEN
On-tap and DIY detergents
I´m rating myself 0/10 – nope I usually buy them at the supermarket
Cloth napkins and reusable tableware
I´m rating myself 6/10 – I only have the reusable tableware
I´m rating myself 0/10 – omg I use normal sponges!
Eliminate plastic and aluminum foil
I´m rating myself 6/10 – Yesss I usually use jars
BODYCARE AND PERSONAL HYGIENE
Soap bars soaps on tap
I´m rating myself 5/10 – mmmmmmm I buy quite some normal soaps in plastic bottles BAD GIO
Diy toothpaste and deodorant Cotton swabs
I´m rating myself 7/10 – I have a crystal deodorant and reusable cotton swab but the toothpaste?!? Can you DIY?!?
I´m rating myself 0/10 – I used to have bamboo ones now I went back to the normal plastic ones!
For women, the Menstrual Cup
I´m rating myself 10/10 – BEST PRODUCT EVER!
Turn the tap off instead of having it uselessly run when we wash something
I´m rating myself 6/10 -Maybe guilty a little bit
Turn off the lights when nobody is in the room
I´m rating myself 3/10 -yup I’m one of those people
Choose a fan instead of an AC
I´m rating myself 10/10 -I hate the AC!!!
Sweep the floor with a broom instead of using the vacuum cleaner 2 out of 3 times
I´m rating myself 2/10 – Come on the vacuum cleaner is so easy to use!!!
Hang clothes to dry instead of using electric dryers
I´m rating myself 10/10 – YESSSSS! Also, I don’t iron them so I need to properly hang them!
Don’t charge electronic devices more than necessary
I´m rating myself 10/10 – Yess I’m very careful because otherwise, you risk ruining the battery as well!
On-tap and homemade detergents
I´m rating myself 0/10 – ok ok definitely can improve this!
Transform Old sheets, towels, and cloths to clean
I´m rating myself 6/10 – I’m on a good way there
Reusable garbage bags
I´m rating myself 0/10 – Wait what the hell?!?!?!
No fast fashion
I´m rating myself 0/10 – Guilty
Swap and borrow
I´m rating myself 0/10 – Guilty
I´m rating myself 3/10 – My grandma taught me a lot!
No online shopping
I´m rating myself 0/10 – Guilty
OUTSIDE, TRAVELLING, AND OUTDOORS
Let’s be mindful of how we move around
I´m rating myself 7/10 – yesss I´m kinda
Reusable water bottle
I´m rating myself 8/10 – almost 85% of the days!
Carry your own Zero Waste meal
I´m rating myself 7/10 – could do it more often!
Reusable cutlery kit, sporks, and cotton napkin
I´m rating myself 8/10 – Missing this napkin thingy!
I´m rating myself 10/10 – No straws please indeed! I even bought the metal ones just in case!
Leave no trace
I´m rating myself 10/10 – I usually bring back all my trash and if I found more I´ll throw it away too
I´m rating myself 0/10 – it doesn’t rain in Tenerife
Grow your own food
I´m rating myself 1/10 – I grew tomatoes!
Natural and homemade pesticides and remedies
I´m rating myself 7/10 – yess I try to!
I´m rating myself 0/10 – not doing this currently!
PRESENTS PARTIES AND FESTIVITIES
Party rentals and cutlery
I´m rating myself 8/10 – whenever I’m organizing a dinner at home I use normal dishes
No balloons and lanterns
I´m rating myself 9/10 – No no no
I´m rating myself 10/10 – I don’t decorate so it’s easier eheheheh
I´m rating myself 8/10 – yes I try to
I´m rating myself 2/10 – mmmmm I tried once and I sucked so I went back to normal presents
Zero Waste procedures and policies (Before printing a document, let’s ask ourselves if we truly need to – make our own personal notebooks, agendas, and calendars – reduce the use of technology to only what’s needed)
I´m rating myself 0/10 – I’m kind of a tech freak….
Carry your own meal and snacks
I´m rating myself 6/10 – still missing some days but getting there!
No vending machines
I´m rating myself 10/10 – we don´t have Vending machines at the beach!
Uuuuuuufff I don’t have kids! But for the ones who have them 🙂
Second-hand objects, clothes, and accessories
Percarbonate and baking soda instead of detergents Biodegradable wipes only when necessary
Yesterday I was invited to participate in a SheFlies event “BADASS BEGINNERS” as part of a panel to chat with beginners in Kitesurfing and Wakeboarding. The main topic was to talk about the hard part of starting these wonderful sports and sports in general I would say. I’ve found in front of me an incredible group of about 40 women eager to ask questions and know more about others´ experiences.
It was an incredibly interesting call as some of us always think that we are the only ones going through some difficulties which instead are pretty much shared between the beginners.
I’m a constant beginner in a lot of things: kite foil, wing foil, surf, surf skate, balance boarding so I completely understand the frustration part of when your learning curve seems to slow down. Also being an instructor I live frustration through the eyes of some of my students as they might arrive with very high expectations and then the lesson plan doesn’t go as planned.
Let’s be honest, if you’ve learned how to kitesurf you know that there are several points where the learning process gets steep like the water start. Some of us have the impression to be stuck in the water start forever and ever and ever. No worries people… you are not alone!
Another incredible barrier that people don’t talk about but it’s shared is the fear of deep water and the unknown below. I know something about it … I fought against it for years just imagine that 6 years ago I would not enter the water alone, I would count the chances of getting eaten by a shark even in a swimming pool – irrational I know! And to be honest, in new spots, I still feel uneasy.
Some of us have beach anxiety, some have crowd anxiety, some have “what if I don’t make it back to the beach” fear, each one of us has is own little devil to fight. As Josie from SheFlies said when we are talking about an extreme sport this includes that there is a physical but also a mental barrier that needs to be overcome, and that’s right. As practicing an extreme sport means going out of your comfort zone, by a lot and this is never easy.
Another interesting point was about feeling that you don’t progress as much while learning in many different spots. And I can understand that. If you are a very beginner and you keep on changing the spot and instructors it takes a longer time to adapt as if you were an experienced kitesurfer. So you “waste” time in getting to know the spot and the instructor needs to get to know you instead of getting in and go for the exercise you’ve done the last time. So, piece of advice, if you want to learn to kitesurf the best solution is to take a few days and go to an easy spot so that you can learn all the basics at once and then you have those locked in.
People sometimes ask me “how long does it take to ride on a board?” This is one of the most difficult questions to answer as it depends on the person. It depends on the spot you are: if it is a flat lagoon with stable wind or a wavy spot with gusty wind. Trust me the first option is way easier. It depends if you have a little devil to fight against (see above). It depends if you are a coordinated person or not. I would say that it could take you 8-10 hours to do your first meters on the board. Some might need less and some might need way more.
As the call moved forward more technical questions arise and I noticed that sometimes when it’s time to buy your material there is a bit of uncertainty about what to buy.
So here´s a guide on HOW TO SELECT YOUR EQUIPMENT!
The first items that I would buy would be a wetsuit (in case you are in a spot you need it) and the harness.
OMG THE HARNESS!!! I spent 1 year with the wrong harness and after 30 min of riding my back would hurt!!! You need to find a harness that will suit your body like a glove. My suggestion is to buy a new harness as it usually lasts lots of years, almost forever I would say. I used mine for 5 years and then the fabric parts start to wear out so it does not look cool anymore but it’s still functional and can be used. Even if you don’t plan on buying all the equipment because you’ll rent it. If you have back problems having your harness will help a lot. Last but not least, during most of the classes you wear a seat harness but when you buy your first one you can upgrade to a waist harness unless you have heavy back problems.
By the way, nowadays most brands have specific lines of harnesses for women some of the best ones are RRD Sense, Mystic Diva, ION NOVA CURV, Ride Engine Elite.
For all the rest, as a beginner, you don’t need brand new shiny equipment. You need good second-hand equipment that you can destroy and won’t feel so bad about it. Your first kite is going to be your guinea pig and you’ll have to experiment a lot with it. Make lots of errors and lots of crashes. I’ve bought a brand new kite after 5 years of kiting.
As a beginner the safer choice is a 4 lines re-ride safety system (which is the most common one) in terms of shape it can either be bow or hybrid. As long as you stay clear of pure C-kites for your beginner kite and a 5 lines bar you’ll be good. The C-kites are hard to water re-launch and the 5th line could be a nightmare in some cases.
The canopy and fabric: It is not recommended to buy a kite older than 4-5 years, although it also depends on how they were used. You will need to check how worn-out is the kite. Usually, the fabric of new kites is very crunchy when you touch it. So if you feel there is no crunching sound left when touching the kite it might be too worn-out. You would need to also check reparations, holes in the fabric. If it has a big reparation that could have an impact on how the kite flies.
The valves: You need to check that the kite stays inflated to do so usually it’s best to inflate the kite and wait for 30min. When checking the valves you need to see that they are well attached and that the tubes are not dry or cracked if so, this means that they have lost elasticity and they will break.
Try to buy a one-pump kite it means that you’ll have to inflate it only from one valve instead of inflating all the struts separately and then inflate the leading edge.
The kite size.
Which size is good for you? This is a very tricky question. If you have your home spot, I would start to buy one kite that will allow you to ride most of the wind days. If you will travel a lot then having two kites a small and a big would be recommended so that you can cover more wind range. Choosing the right size of the kite is not a specific science and there are plenty of different points of view.
Somebody has created a formula to calculate the kite size to choose:Weight (kg) / wind (knots) x 2.2 = size of kite you should be using
E.g. 58 kg / 16 knots x 2.2 = 7.9 so use an 8m kite.
The best suggestion is: when you go to your lesson always check how many knots and which size you are using and if you felt good or not with it. So that you start to be aware of what’s the best size for you.
*Please remember that this is just an indication for beginners, then when you start to be more experienced you will be able to choose the kite size depending on your style!
The most important thing, the safety system needs to work perfectly and smoothly. You might want to check how the bar and lines alignment, watch this video for the instructions on how to do it (from min 1:15)
Choosing the right board size is also a fun game. The best option is to start with a twin-tip and the size depends mostly on your weight and your home spot conditions.
More or less these are the most recommended measurements based on weight for a beginner:
• 55kg / 65kg = 39/41 x 132/136 cm
• 65kg / 75kg = 40/43 x 136/142 cm
• 75kg / 85kg = 41/44 x 138/145 cm
• 85kg / 100kg= 43/45 x 140/148 cm
Then you need to know that if you are on a flat spot you can use a slightly bigger board but on a wavy/choppy spot a big board can challenging and too heavy.
In flat water you can use a more stiff board (like a carbon one) however for choppy spots is suggested to use a more flexible one so your knees won´t hurt so much!
Hope this article was helpful, if you want to know more or have questions comment below or reach out to me!
And to all the beginners out there, I know sometimes learning to kitesurf can be frustrating and a struggle but don’t give up because once you’ll be able to ride it will change your life forever!
If you want to know more about the next online events of SheFlies click here or follow SheFlies on Instagram
Ciao ciao, LaGioKite
If you are not doing it already follow me on Instagram too 😛 and if you come to Tenerife come to ElMédano to say “hello” in the windy days I´ll be at the beach working as kite instructor with the PKS Tenerife School!