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KTA UnHooked the unofficial news and views of things

Let’s start with a story: How I discovered kite surfing and the KTA

“Are you in control?”

Now, there’s a good one to chew on. To what extent am I in control of my life? It’s a question that sneaks its way into all corners of our daily existence, that feeds into some deliciously dark part of our self awareness that we often shirk away from. What do you do when the answer is “No.” ? That’s when you’re in trouble. Feeling out of control is the starting point of chaos.

 

One year ago I left Ireland feeling very much out of control, with a bag packed and a ticket to China. At the time it felt like a lucky escape, and you know what- it probably was. Despite what anyone may tell you about the economy picking back up and the bad days being behind us; it’s still a very much recession based culture. There’s still a constant struggle felt around the place, as if maybe we are on the way back up, but everyone is still for sure going to drag their heels on the way. Not for me though, I was bound for The East, for Hainan.

 

30 hours and 3 plane rides away from Cork airport, we made the descent over the South of the Island. Sanya city stretched out beneath us, the outskirts choked by thick jungle; palm fringed landscape gave way to turquoise water and white sandy beaches. I was already in love.

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Apart from securing myself a position as an English teacher, I was about as prepared for the move as Tony Montana for a drug test. If there was one thing I was sure of at that point, it was that the info available online about Sanya sucked. Honestly, who was getting paid to write that “Hawaii of Asia” waffle? The internet however, the wonderful cyber universe, works in mysterious ways. During the course of some non-committal Googling of what I can only imagine was research into where my new drinking spot was going to be, I happened across the website for Kitesurf China. Kitesurfing, yep I can definitely dig that. So I promised myself that as soon as I arrived I’d send an email and go get involved.

 

I had never flown a kite before, not even a little butterfly fairy whatever shaped one as a young’un. I had never so much as stepped on any sort of “board” before. Okay fine, I had never really done any sport before (ummm is Yoga a sport?), I wasn’t exactly sporty (if the Spice Girls had a Lethargic Spice, that would have been me). But water sports always held an appeal to me, so in the spirit of trying new things I got in touch with the school within my first few days in Hainan.

 

A week later I was on the train up to Boao to meet the kite surfers at Asia Bay. I had no idea what to expect. I was welcomed by a very diverse team, both Chinese and foreigners, men and women of all ages. I have to say, it was this community that first made me fall in love with the sport. All of these people from all over the world, who travel almost obsessively based on where the wind is going. I was immediately caught up in the romanticism of it all: pack up your kite bag and follow the wind. The friends I met on that first day told me stories from all corners of the globe- from Morocco to Cape Town, Taiwan to Sri Lanka, West Indies to the West Coast of America. I felt like I had just been let in on the world’s best kept secret.

 

 

From that first day I was hooked. It was impossible to curb what was sure to now be my new obsession. Each trip back to the school was more intoxicating than the last. The thing about kite surfing is that as soon as that kite is attached to your harness, it’s almost impossible to think of anything else. In today’s hectic world, few are the moments of calm where we can find the means to leave our constant struggles behind. Out on the water though, we can finally allow ourselves to be completely present. It’s total engagement.

 

After a few months of hard practice, several litres of swallowed sea water, and a handful of accidental kite loops I think I can just about call myself a real kite surfer. It certainly hasn’t been without its difficulties, but that’s a big part of the magic. I have never had to work at anything in this way before, so learning to kite was an important exercise for my personal growth as well as everything else. Overcoming paralysing self consciousness was central to this- step one was learning not to care who was watching me try and fail to stand on the board, or what criticism they might be giving from the top of the beach. Step two was understanding that being a beginner kite surfer and a bad kite surfer are not the same thing- the most important facet was learning how to learn; learning that sometimes the best thing to do is to let go. Our culture forces us to be obsessed with being in control; in the workplace, in relationships, in conversations… What if we let ourselves lose control? Let go of control, let go of your inhibitions, let go of the bar and just be safe in the knowledge that out of all chaos comes creation.

happy fisherman at Sanya Bay 

 

The past year of chaos has certainly delivered new and exciting horizons. This, to me, is what is so special about this part of the world. If you try, even just a little bit, to go out into the madness that is the Orient and make connections with people it won’t be long before you find yourself rewarded with positivity and opportunity. For me it was meeting a few special people on a little beach, in a little town, on a medium sized island in a really big country. These are the people who taught me how to fly. They have given me something very special, so now it’s my turn to give something back.

 

I have always upheld that one of the most powerful forms of communication is photography; and being surrounded by the thick palms, fiery sunsets, and skilled riders in Hainan I have had an excellent chance to stretch my legs creatively. I have been proud as punch to collaborate with Kitesurf China previously; be it writing articles or publishing my photography- because this work, while A) being super cool and awesome B) in turn allows others to get a better look at what we are up to here. As if this alone wasn’t enough, becoming involved with Kitesurf China gave me a platform to learn about all of the different kiting communities around the globe, most notably that of the KTA. We spent months in the office pouring over old tour videos, reading testimonials, and talking excitedly about where future tours might go. So OF COURSE my ears pricked up the second I got wind that there might be space for one more on the next tour. As much as I love Hainan, just the thought of being able to use words and photographs to launch myself into a season of travel and kite surfing is enough to pack it all in here and hit the road again. And the most amazing part about it? It’s not just my adventure. It’s an adventure waiting to happen for everyone who is going to be involved in this year’s tour. Hundreds, thousands of people! My job is just to make sure the world hears about it.

 

Over the coming weeks and months I am determined to dedicate my time to sharing the stories, and capturing the unique memories that only the kite surfing community can offer. Through involvement with the KTA we now have an incredible chance to discover places, people, stories and ideas that we never before could have even dreamed of. We all know how amazing this community is, so let’s make it grow, let’s connect it, let’s not take our stories and ideas for granted- let’s share them with the world. I can’t wait to meet you all.

 

– Grace