To work 4 months as a non-kiting intern at KiteWorldWide is a very long time between people, who talk about kite sizes and wind conditions while waiting for their coffee in the kitchen. But after a short time I got to know that a „chicken loop“ isn’t an extraordinary trick on the water and if they are talking about their „own bar“ they surely won’t have an alcoholics’ amount of alcohol in their suitcases. 40 hours a week working with kite-addicts bares a huge contagiousness and once it was clear that I will be send to the Seahorsebay in Egypt, my anticipation was enorme!
On December 1st at 09.15 o’clock, my Italian colleague Eleonora and me were flying on a direct flight with Condor from Hamburg to Hurghada. Flat water, a big, waist deep area, informal accommodation, nice temperatures and a good wind probability – that’s what I promised our customers on the phone and that was exactly what we got there.
We used the first evening to relax and get to know the other guests. On the next morning my training started: with a 3m2 trainerkite at the beach. After one hour I adjudged myself as a pro, regarding the kite control and went to get my whole equipment. „Safety first“ was obviously the main rule for kitesurf beginners so I found myself strapped into a seat-harness, wearing an impact protection vest, neoprene shoes and a helmet. Since I couldn’t even touch my knees without pinching off anything of my body, I strongly doubted my ability to get to do anything in the water apart from floating like a starfish… which is absolutely well working in the Red Sea by the way!
The first „body drags“ were working perfectly fine although it definitely felt wrong being dragged across the water from a 12m2 kite. My trainer Stefan seemed to get my not-so-great enthusiasm for this fundamental exercise and asked me if I wanted to try the water start with a board. But I got stuck with this first try. I peeled myself out of the equipment and tried to get rid of the amount of saltwater that got up my nose during those body drags.
You might not want to believe it, but after a long and exhausting day on the water, a nice sauna in December in Egypt doesn’t seem so wrong anymore. After the dinners we had together with all the other guests, we mostly sat talking about our day on the water and playing „Activity“ or billiard. Especially at the weekly barbecues at the bonfire the atmosphere got cosy and informal.
The next day I made huge progresses and after a few elegant downfalls, I finally got to ride 100m to the left and to the right. Getting carried across the water from a 12m2 kite was an absolutely unbelievable feeling as I then realized. My kite instructor seemed to made himself a goal, to turn me into a kite pro within 6 days and was shouting instructions at me like: „Kite on twelve! ON TWELVE! Drag your board closer to your body. Kite into your right hand. RIGHT hand! Pull the bar, to 10, to 11 and go!!”
It requires a lot of concentrate if you’re trying to allocate the times of the day to cardinal directions while being in a frog position, legs strapped to a board and your hands trying frantically not to use the bar as a security support. But if you then pull the kite more or less controlled and you get to slide over the water, the whole effort was well worth it.
We took the opportunity of the only wind-free afternoon to paddle to the reef, which is the limitation of the lagoon, by SUP. Armed with snorkel equipment we bobbed up and down over the stunning reef and observed the variety of plants and colors of the fishes. I’ve always thought, an urchin is just a little, tennis ball sized ball with short little spikes, but now I know that this little ball can have spikes as long as a lower arm.
The wind conditions in Egypt are perfect for beginners: onshore wind, that brings you back to the beach and not to the open ocean. But this also means that with the first meters of driving you’ll get back to the beach.
“Going upwind“ for me was still really „going“ – on the ground and with my feet. But with a kite strapped to you it can get pretty much exhausting, so I really wanted to actually drive upwind or at least stay at one point. On the fourth day I didn’t have to walk anymore and on the sixth day I could even ride upwind and I got away from the beach with a board underneath my feet.
The level that I had achieved was way higher than I would have ever expected it after one week in Egypt. So on the last day I went to the neighbors’ hotel to get on a horses back and ride along the beach. Mohammed, my guide there, was absolutely sure about my knowledge of horse back riding. He whooped our already parching horses with „Yallah“, which means „go, go“ or „go fast“, so that we galloped from one side of the beach to the other within a blink of an eye. I had the time of my life! After one hour we took off the saddles, our shoes and pants and went swimming with the horses. After a lot of funny pictures and a water fight we finally returned, completely wet and me with a sunburn, back to the Kiteclub.
Since the sun wasn’t set yet I got into my wetsuit for the last time and onto the water. While the sun slowly disappeared, I repeated everything I’ve just learned and even relaxed during this session so I could enjoy the nice atmosphere of our last sunset here.
Saying good bye the next day was really hard – that’s what you get with this informal atmosphere. I really embosomed these people and had the urgent need to come visit as soon as possible.