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Published April 13th 2016
Go fly with a kite - literally
Kitesurfing (by Jim Semlor / Public Domain)
What's better than a day at the beach, surfing the ocean waves? How about a day flying above the beach, as sea breezes send you sailing skyward while surfers and swimmers marvel at your acrobatics? This is kitesurfing, the latest seaside adventure sport, harnessing wind and water by combining 2 great inventions – the surfboard and the kite.
Kitesurfing (by G.rom18 / CC BY 2.5)
Since an American showman sailed across the English Channel with a kite attached to his small canvas boat over 100 years ago, kitesurfing has steadily evolved into the adventure sport we enjoy today. Adventurous kitesurfers have reached speeds of over 90 kph, and surfed over 5,500 kms to cross the Atlantic ocean. Your range of motion when kitesurfing allows for spectacular aerial tricks, hang-time and speed racing.
If you're new to kitesurfing, many centres offer instruction to guide you with the basics, including turning, flying, jumping and board grabbing (similar to a skateboarder's stunts on ramps and jumps). Start with a training kite to learn, controlling the smaller foils via the flying lines connected to a control bar attached to your chest harness. Once you can balance it one-handed, you'll have more fun and fewer dunkings, tumbles and prat falls.
For safety, you'll suit up with a helmet, wetsuit, safety knife (used to cut flying lines if they entangle you), radio or signalling device if you're far from shore, GPS tracker/smartphone to log your distance and speed, flotation device in case of injury and an impact vest to reduce bruising from heavy hits onto the water (you won't be bulletproof though, so don't use it to fight armed bad guys).
Injuries are rare. You'll enjoy the wind in your hair for decades if you listen to the safety advice from your instructor and use appropriate safety equipment.
Kitesurfing (by Anastasia Zhebyuk / CC BY-SA 3.0)
Choose from one of these instructors, located on Sydney's southern beaches:
This shop in Sans Souci offers 2-hour lessons for complete beginners. You'll be setup with all the kitesurfing gear to get started with your qualified instructor. They'll guide you with a powered watercraft to maximise your time flying the kite instead of treading water. Once you've got your sea-legs, progress to the level 2 lesson for a 2-hour session of manoeuvring your kite and learning the techniques to master kitesurfing's fun acrobatics. Each 2-hour lesson costs $250. Visit the Kitepower website to book or to browse the extensive range of kites, boards, apparel, DVDs, and kitesurfing holidays. Visit Kitepower at 302 The Grand Parade, Sans Souci or call 1300 732 432.
Alliance Gear's instructors offer an hour of instruction for beginners, intermediate and advanced kitesurfers. They'll customise the lesson so if you're eager to learn a particular technique, just ask. Equipment is supplied, including a kite and board. Simply choose your favourite beach, confirm it with the instructor and book for only $100 per lesson. Please note, certain beaches may be unsafe for kitesurfing, e.g. the middle of Bondi Beach on Christmas Day. You'll also need a nice breeze of at least 10 knots. Alliance Gear also sells boards, kites, apparel and cameras. Visit Alliance Gear at Unit 10/260 Captain Cook Drive, Kurnell or call 0405 149 182.
Before you're carried into the Pacific ocean, enjoy this inspirational video of a man kitesurfing after a tragic skydiving accident forced him into a wheelchair: