Kite surfing and Diani beach totally belong in the same sentence.
Located at the South coast of Kenya, Diani beach is not only sunny and sandy but the beach also has consistent side-shore winds for easy kite take-offs and landings making it one of the best kite surfing beaches in the world!
The warm water is welcoming and the good news is there is almost not a bad season with the best being January to April and June to September.
No wonder Linzi, born and bred in Diani had the perfect chance to learn the sport!
“I learned over 10 years ago, in 2003 when I was 20 years old, it was here in Diani Beach where I was born and bred. It was a new sport then and very few women did it because the equipment allowed very little room for error. If you got it wrong you could be thrown or dragged quite suddenly. Luckily for me, the great wind conditions in Diani allowed for me to learn safely enough. And my instructor Boris polo who started the first ever kite school didn’t let me doubt myself and made sure I stopped wimping out and toughened me up.” She laughs.
She has since developed a love for harnessing the power of the wind!
“Once, a group of us went on a kite trip on a large catamaran which sleeps 8 people. For a week we sailed around the Lamu archipelago as far as north of Kiwayu. Kiting kept us entertained and we kited wherever we found an exposed sand bar or beach. Another occasion saw me go to America where I was teaching kite surfing in Keywest for 3 months. It was on submerged shallow sand flats 15 minutes out to sea and I had crabs pinching my toes in defense thinking they were a shark, and small sharks nibbling my toes thinking they were sand crabs! We were out there on a boat, no land for miles teaching in the water. Apart from Dolphins, dugongs, and turtles we also saw Cubans on the escape to America! I saw the strangest things in America and was quite an eye opener for me.” She recalls
Now, if that’s not fun, I don’t know what is! Thankfully, technology today has given us advanced kites, which allow for more safety and ease and this has seen the sport grow considerably with more and more beginners taking interest in the sport here in Kenya.
“Progress is very quick, from complete beginner to independent rider it takes a matter of days. The difficult part is the kite because flying the kite is counter intuitive. You can be shown how to do something over and over yet you still instinctively do the opposite. Once you have the kite under control you don’t need to think about the board so much and then it becomes natural. But getting to that point takes time and practice. It is a sport that requires at least 6 hours minimum of constant close instruction. But to really get the hang of it would take about 2 weeks. And then to have the experience enough to teach people takes about 6months of continual training. To learn difficult tricks and jumps takes about 2 – 4 years of a lot of practice. However the equipment makes it pretty safe, and it is a very fun process as long as you are committed.” Linzi who also trains kite surfing at H20 Extreme Kitesurf Center says.
“I have been training people for about 7 years now. And training myself about the same amount of time. Every time I go on the water I practice new moves old moves, and think about the next move I want to learn. As a beginner, here is what you need to know, if in doubt, push out! A beginner instinctively pulls in the bar when they feel like they are going out of control but in fact that is the worst thing to do.” She warns.
Speaking of beginners, if I take the kite surfing course, will I be standing up on the board by the end?
“Tough question to answer. It looks a lot easier than it is but at the same time it is achievable as long as you put in time and effort over time. It is not something you can just pick up on a long weekend at the beach. It depends on each person how quickly you learn. It depends how determined you are to keep practicing even though you have swallowed half the ocean and you look a bit un-cool with a helmet on! The quickest person I have ever taught took 3 days to be off and going. But the longest took a month. As a beginner you need to know that you really want to do the sport because it is not cheap and requires a bit of battering.” Linzi adds.
It may not be cheap, but kite surfing sure sounds thrilling.
“Yes, it has its adrenalin pumping moments. But for me it is more about the challenge, being able to test myself by trying to succeed in landing difficult tricks and jumps which you need bravery and focus to be able to do. There is nothing better than learning a new trick and landing it fluidly. Kiting gave me a purpose and a group of friends and colleagues something to do. When you travel it makes a big difference to have a sport and something to focus on. In 2006, my sister, 2 friends and I, drove a 28 year old Mercedes from Cape town to Kenya, with the purpose of kiting all the way up the coast at different spots. We kited South Africa east coast, Mozambique, Malawi, Tanzania and Kenya. It was such an adventure and was fun to find different conditions in all the different places. This was probably my favorite part of my kiting history! “She gladly recalls.
Linzi’s love for the sport has brought so much meaning into her life leading her to establish South coast’s best watersport center, Kenyaways Kite Village.
“If it was not for kiting and traveling I would not have started the Kenyaways Kite village. It was an idea that came to me after about 4 years of kiting and travelling to different kite spots. I realized there was potential in Kenya and a market for a place where like -minded kite surfers could come and do their thing affordably and comfortably.” She says.
Linzi’s Top Tips:
If you are looking to learn, invest properly into some lessons, minimum of a week and then if you enjoy start looking to get your own equipment, it is expensive but then it will last you about 5 years of fun.
In the beginning, you should always kite with someone who knows what they are doing and who is around in case you get into trouble. That is why a lot of kiters like to kite at a kites school spot where there are instructors, assistants and other kiters who are always willing to give a helping hand.