Health Female Adda
1 year ago
Lift Off

After cruising for a mile through West Florida's Tampa Bay to a tiny island called Three Rooker Bar, we step out of an inflatable boat onto a half-mile arc of white sand. With waist-deep blue water everywhere and a steady wind at our backs, we unload our equipment: kites, strings, harnesses, and helmets. I smile at my friend Kelsey as Shawn, our 19-year-old burly blond instructor, wraps a thick foam harness around her waist. Can't beat the scenery!

Until now, the closest I've come to any water sport is breaking a nasty sweat during landlocked adventures -- rock climbing, trail running, backcountry skiing. But last fall, when I came across a jaw-dropping magazine photo of a female kiteboarder catching 30 feet of air, I instantly knew I wanted to dial in. So I enlisted Kelsey, a surfer-slash-mermaid, and signed us up for a weekend of lessons in Clearwater Beach, Florida's kiteboarding epicenter.

First we have to learn how to launch the kite on land before adding water and a board. It's surprisingly easy: We unwind four thick nylon strings in the opposite direction of the wind, connect them to the bow-shaped, 10-square-meter kite, and point its tip skyward. Shawn jerks the bar attached at the other end of the strings. Within seconds, the kite's airborne -- and I'm soon to follow.

Shawn hands me the bar and hooks it to my harness. I instinctively let the kite shift from above my head to directly in front of me. Suddenly, I'm yanked a few feet off the ground. Caught off guard, I let go of the bar, which causes the strings to give and the kite to crash onto the beach. Oops. I dust off and cautiously grab the bar again. After a quick relaunch, I practice moving the kite in and out of the wind while running close to the coastline.

Next we move to the water for body-drag drills, which are way more fun than they sound. Using the kite's pull, we'll cut through the water on our bellies. Kelsey goes first and gracefully keeps her shoulders back and abs tight. My drag doesn't go as smoothly. The kite lifts me again, then slams me back down and tows me sputtering across 30 feet of water before I finally give up the handle. I don't care one bit that I'm crashing -- this is as close to flying as I can imagine. I let the kite skip me like a stone across the water a few more times before we call it a day.

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