This year my summer’s been a little different to previous ones, not just because July reached genuinely sub-tropical temperatures both on land and in the sea, but because I am now running Surf Sanctuary operations at the Headland Hotel. After a sleepy June it’s great to be stuck right into a hectic little business, with all the faces, clients, instructors and energy that goes with it, but it’s not for the feint hearted: Sunday was my first day off in 40 days, and would be my last one for a further 20.
It’s very important to manage your energy and health when you’re working flat out in a physical job. When the day is over, we all return home and spend the remaining hours of the day quietly socializing or just resting. No after work surfs, no hikes with the dogs and definitely no visits to the gym – that would only tear your body down rather than produce any gains. Training can begin again second week of September.
So, on Sunday the 19th of August, the tail end of Hurricane Bertha whipped into Cornwall and delivered 7m kite weather and stacks of fun waves. I predicted that Fistral Beach would be red flagged (it was) and rescheduled all of our lessons for later in the week. With no hire or lessons to do, I took the day off and went to the south coast for a day’s kiting with me old mate Smiler.
The last time I kitesurfed must have been…June? I can’t remember. Two months ago at least. That’s probably my longest break since I started kiting 11 years ago. Fortunately I still remembered which way round the bar goes (red’s not right) and the reef break was exactly as I left it. This summer we’ve been doing a lot of balance and simulation training with the clients and I was interested to see if I’d feel any benefit from it. About three waves in I was sure that I was having the best session I’d ever had at this place. Maybe it was the warm water, maybe it was the 7m Ocean Rodeo Prodigy, or just maybe it was the effect of a lot of land based skill training, but everything seemed a lot easier, the board stickier to the feet, the lip easier to hit.
I remember thinking as I was riding back upwind to find another set that this was the most restorative and refreshing thing I could have hoped to be doing on a day off. There’s a special moment in kitesurfing when you aren’t scrabbling for traction, or frantically wrestling the kite but are able to relax and enjoy the sensation of being powered by the wind, riding on the ocean’s surface, free from the rabble on land. I think a lot of kiters would agree that some of their most carefree hours are spent under a kite.
I’ve come down in size with the board a bit, too. It’s a 5’7 Ocean Rodeo Surf Series, as opposed to my till lately 5’11. I’m also running it with a three fin set up as opposed to the quad fin. The benefit of a smaller board is that it’s simply easier to keep under your feet during a dynamic high velocity kiting session. It doesn’t skip out when you are carving at great speeds. The thruster (3 fin) set up I reckon slows the action down a bit, giving you a pivot point that’s set a bit further back to the tail and drawing turns out. Well, we’ve got three more weeks of primo surf coaching season and then the beaches will clear once more. I’ll be looking forward to hosting our Cornish Kitesurfing Holiday: Total Immersion early October (still a place or two left!) and getting back out on those salty green waters under slate grey Celtic skies. Till then, come and see us at our base on the Headland and good wind n waves to ya. P.S. Thanks Kate for taking these pics!