March Winds and Learning the Art of Kiteboarding Belize
When looking for things to do in Belize, not many people would be willing to put themselves in a difficult situation where they may end up struggling and looking less than graceful.
That is what I decided to do when I booked at kiteboarding lesson with Kitexplorer at the Belize Sailing School located on the beach at Caribbean Villas Hotel. Thankfully I did not have to look very far to find someone willing to do the same. Kendall agreed to give it a try with me.
After booking our lesson, Andy, (the owner) assured me they provide beginners with a safe and relaxed atmosphere to learn. Wind dependent, the plan was to take us around back of the island to a nice shallow spot where there was nothing for us to crash into.
On the big day, the universe wanted to heighten the experience with a touch more apprehension and a little excitement. When we arrived there was talk of keeping us on the front side of the island and possible cancellation due to very strong March winds. Just what we needed while waiting – visions of flying towards docks faster than the speed of light 🙂
In the end, the original plan came to be, and my wish came true – we got to go to the backside of the island (one of my favorite places.)
As we were boarding the sailing school boat, we saw a couple of experienced kiters take flight. They were zipping back and forth with ease and clearly having a great time. That renewed a sense of excitement in me and I knew that no matter what happened on the other side, I would come out exhilarated and smiling.
Our teacher definitely had his work cut out for him trying to teach a dyslexic ADD tacogirl to remember the process. Which is a large part of why I was apprehensive – short-term memory is a dyslexia issue. I have little control over what gets retained properly and often it takes serious repetition. Knowing my skinny ass would be airborne and that I would likely face plant a few times were also reasons for my trepidation
Audrius is such an excellent instructor. He is informative, safety conscious and very patient. He made kiting easy to understand and gave us a super fun adventure. He kept an eye on us while we practiced and politely pointed out our mistakes so we knew what to work on.
Learning how to properly control the kite takes some work. Knowing which way to steer and when to let go if you lose too much wind to recover is a big one. Without a doubt, I can say that Rose’s Pilates classes at Zen Arcade were an asset on kiting coordination. At the same time, it is more about technique than fitness… although fitness helps.
Due to a large amount of power generated by the kite and being a lightweight, I was airborne a few times throughout the session. Never high enough to worry and the kite flying me was definitely a thrill ride 🙂
Another thrill was practicing body dragging and we were instructed to fly like Superman and let the kite torpedo us through the water. That was fun. The occasional face plant was not so much but we survived them with smiles and thankfully no sand burn. I only ended up with a salt water taste on my lips, but not a mouthful 😉
It was a fantastic day and both Kendall and I agreed we will eventually be ready to take on the challenge of lesson number two and a board one day.
Overall, I didn’t think it was going to be as easy as it was and Kendall said same. In 3 hours, Audrius took us from totally green to almost capable and wanting more. In spite of it being easier than we thought, it is still challenging and not a sport for those who are extremely lazy or have aerophobia (fear of flying or drafts of air.)
There are a few variables that can affect your safety when you kite-surf and keeping those variables within the bounds that you are comfortable with is important at any level. For beginners, do not hesitate to interview your kite-surfing school before you let them slap a harness on you. If you are not satisfied with the answers shop around till you find an instructor you are confident with. For experienced kite-surfers renting gear, check the quality of the shop you are renting from and make sure they keep their equipment in good condition.
I did not need to do an interview, I knew without a doubt by the way the San Pedro Sailing School is run that founder Andy would not have a kiteboarding instructor onsite that was not world class.
When learning you want the following conditions:
- Wind speed should be between 14mph – 21 mph. The gustier the wind, the harder it will be for you to learn.
- You should be in a shallow open water space. That seems like a no-brainer but I have heard stories of rocks and blood.
- The water should be flat with little or no chop.
Remember, if in doubt then don’t let your instructor take you out. Stay safe and enjoy good winds.
Top kiteboarding tip for Girls:
Wear a sturdy swimsuit 😉 The force of the drag when you face plant is enough to give you a streaker moment, thankfully it did not happen to me and my bikini bottoms held their own. I will likely opt for a full suit when the day comes that we get to practice on the boards.
To read more about our fun adventure check out Kendall’s post – Kiteboarding Adventures on Ambergris Caye – Reset and Restore Belize Blog.
If you are looking for some adventure on your vacation, I highly recommend Kiteboarding Belize.