Solitary kitesurf sessions: A field report about going kiting alone

After spending a few weeks in Italy including lots of lonesome kite sessions I gained some fresh, interesting insights which I want to share with you. To cut a long story short: This is not a typical “5 tips for …” article but instead a quite personal one, mainly about going kitesurfing alone.

Why not a typical article about kitesurf tips and tricks?

I didn’t publish regular posts now for a longer time. To be honest, I suffered from a little lack of inspiration. On the one hand I had so much articles to write for different magazines and channels that not only my fingers felt empty from all that typing but also my brain. This year was a year with lots of changes so far. Moving to another city, giving up a house, decluttering a lot, trying to get my freelance life a little bit more organized – and, not to forget, struggling to pack enough kite sessions and trips into the time remaining as I know that this is my energy source which I have to tap as often as possible.

Still my energy source No. 1: A good kite session!

This year my husband’s and my summer plans were not as ambitious as they have been the past years. What for sure we wanted to do was to enjoy our appartment in Italy, Grado, and our new boat, Gina. Grado is not a kitespot where you’ll find wind every day – but WHEN there is wind, it is just awesome! A lot of people ask me about wind statistics and wind in general here but to be honest, especially after my experiences during the last weeks, the only thing I can say is: If you are here permanently and you have the possibility to be super spontaneous, then for sure you will score a proper amount of sessions.

The rest is quite insecure and there are no 100% reliable indicators for wind (except when the bora diagram shows a massive pressure drop). Anyway, this will not be a spot review as there are already some good ones out there 😉


My Italy experience with solo kitesurf sessions

It was about middle of June when I decided to relocate my workplace from Graz to Grado for this summer, which is possible due to my freelance jobs as there are not a lot of appointments during holiday season. At the beginning I didn’t know how long I would stay but I got hooked to the Italian lifestyle quite quickly and I noticed that it doesn’t affect my working attitude too much when I have to work with sea view, haha! It’s just a little bit more organizing and sometimes shuffling around work sessions from day- into nightshifts (especially on days when the wind pops up unexpectedly or it stays longer as the forecast showed). 

So I enjoyed a lot of kite sessions with friends and with my hubby, but there are even more days that I spend here alone and these are the days which I want to talk about in this article – the ones when I’m going for a session without company. Due to the fact that (as mentioned above) at this spot it’s not uncommon that you get a session out of nowhere without a promising forecast it happens very often that I find myself without a soul to be seen at the spot. It was absolutely nothing new for me to go out on my own – I had experienced such situations before and knew how to deal with it (launching and landing on my own etc.). And during the past years I did a lot of solo trips due to my job too.

Sessions with a kite buddy? I’m always in! © Helmut Fuchs/Kitejoy

But, to be honest: There’s a huge difference between traveling alone and being totally alone on a spot. When traveling you often have a community at the spot, if not even a kite station. There are other kiters and (if you’re lucky) likeminded ones around. You know there’s an infrastructure and if something happens, the chance is high that someone’s is willing to assist or to rescue you, if necessary. Which is not the case when you’re the only kiter at the spot. Or (sorry for that, but it’s a fact) when you can definitely SEE that the other kiter(s) will not be able to help at all when things go badly…

Facts like these provoked a series of different feelings and even more thoughts in me. On the one hand I noticed that every session I master on my own makes me feel strong, alive, each time it’s an uplifting feeling when you nailed everything without the assistance of another person and still you managed to have fun and to come out without major damage, hehe! Plus of course the stoke that comes automatically after a session – at least for me it’s like that.

I noticed that even if my session was a bad one and no tricks worked I’m still stoked afterwards cause I feel it in my bones, haha! Then at least I can consider the session as a workout. And definitely every day on the water is one more day spent on the water – which I really learned to appreciate.

On the way to an important board meeting… Of course pics like this one are only possible when you’re NOT going for a solo kitesurf session. © Ines Rodlauer

Kiting alone: What about this discomfort? 

Well, on the other hand there are those less pleasant feelings that came up. Sometimes there were kind of mysterious sentiments when I arrived at the spot (especially when it was a dark and cloudy day or one with super strong and gustier wind, or thunderstorms that you have to be aware of). Sometimes I felt indefinable discomfort even it was sunny and the wind felt stable. I noticed that (at least in my case) my gut feelings and intuition seem to be way more intense when I’m going for a session entirely alone. Which is kind of logical cause then your subconscious mind knows that there’s no other one to rely on.

Also being on the water without any kite buddy feels TOTALLY different. I really enjoy a session with friends, cheering and motivating each other, making nonsense and just having fun. Even if it’s just one other person you’re going kiting with it’s still an activity which feels shared. And even if I enjoy having the whole spot on my own, being blessed with endless space and feeling 100% connected to nature and the elements – these solo sessions are still accompanied by a strange feeling, it’s not fear but a kind of wariness that I can’t switch off. Well, I think this extra cautiousness makes definitely sense although it feels like it still keeps me from enjoying a session 100%. Or let’s say, being 100% relaxed.

Having the whole spot on your own also has its downsides. © Helmut Fuchs/Kitejoy

Additionally there’s the fact that when I go kiting with my hubby or with friends it’s totally normal for me to try new tricks and most sessions I go for 100% (depending on the conditions of course). But not when I’m alone! Especially when it’s about unhooked tricks. The thought of drifting out there alone with a ripped ligament for example and no one’s there to pick you is definitely blocking.
Of course there are a lot of tricks which are kind of safe to practice. Nevertheless without company I often feel like I can’t progress a lot cause I just don’t have the balls to fully commit to all the tricks I want to learn and that’s frustrating! And even more it makes me often feel feel bored to do the tricks that I already handle asleep.

Well, I know that usually nothing happens and even if something goes wrong then I know how to do a self rescue. I am always aware of the weather, look at gusts in the forecast and thunderstorms around. Nevertheless when I’m out completely alone there’s this little voice in the back of my head that always reminds me: What if??? I don’t have to list possible injuries or kitemares which can happen cause there are so many different ones. And I already experienced some really serious trouble on the water. Luckily I was always in company in these situations! I know that hefty crashes and stuff are part of the game but still I can’t switch off this warning voice. And it’s a fact – going kiting alone contains major safety risks. I know that some might even say that a session without company is a no-go but I think that’s an another discussion.

On the way to an early morning session. © Helmut Fuchs/Kitejoy

Solo kitesurf sessions: My conclusion

So there’s one fact about going kiting alone: I definitely found out that TOGETHER IS BETTER. For sure empty spots and heaps of space are a true luxury, but having good company is a priceless blast. Nevertheless I will not stop kiting alone – cause everyone who knows me also knows that if the conditions are ON, you will always find me out there. No matter what, I can’t just sit and let the wind pass by… I would go nuts, to be honest.
The main downside of those solo sessions is that I don’t feel as motivated as I usually do. Not at all! Which made me think at the beginning that I might have lost my passion for kiting (which is – thankfully! – not the case). Sometimes it really feels like I have to force myself to pack my stuff and move my ass to the spot! But I still do it cause I know that it’s usually always worth it and nothing beats the stoke after a good session.

And yes, going kiting alone does not only increase your adrenaline level, it also encourages self-esteem, control and awareness on the water which I think makes you a better kiter in the end. The only person you can rely on in these moments is YOU and that’s special. Not to forget that without any disctractions you feel even more connected to the elements.

Oh, and while writing this my tips about how to pimp your kite sessions are coming to my mind … what a shame that I obviously completely forgot about them! For sure some of the tips might add a little thrill if it gets boring out there doing the same tricks all the time 😉

Playing the waiting game… which can also be a little bit boring if you’re alone out there. © Helmut Fuchs/Kitejoy

Kiting alone: Would I recommend a solo kitesurf session?

What still remains is the question: Would I recommend going on your own to others – far away from the next kite station and without any other kiters at the spot? I would never suggest it if you don’t have a few years of experience, many sessions and solid kite control. Well, if you are an experienced kiter it’s up to you to count the risk (like always in life!). What you should absolutely practice before (more than once)  is self launching and self landing as well as self rescue, at best supervised by an experienced kiter or kite instructor who knows for 100% how to do it.

What about your experiences with going kiting alone? Feel free to put them in the comments – I’m super curious!

No matter if you go kiting alone or with your friends: It’s all about enjoying your time on the water and having fun! © Helmut Fuchs/Kitejoy

Push your kitesurf progress with Sensi Graves

Bringing your kitesurf skills to the next level isn’t always easy – but one thing is for sure: It’s way easier and more effective to follow a reasonable learning curve. And to have expert advice! Check out these useful tips from pro kiteboarder Sensi Graves and get them first hand at her kite camp in Dakhla/Morocco together with Colleen Carroll this October.

Often women are afraid to try their first unhooked tricks – what’s the best way to overcome this fear? 

Great question! It can be really intimidating to start unhooking for the first time. The best way to overcome this fear is to start small. Start by just unhooking for a few seconds and then hooking back in. Start with the kite at 45 degrees off the water, release your edge and head slightly downwind, keep your hands close together, pull the bar in and down and unhook. Keep riding downwind toward your kite, then hook back in and re-engage your edge. 
Make sure you’re with people who are encouraging and supportive and can give you tips. This is beyond helpful!

Sensi Graves in Dakhla, Morocco
Progressing is so much easier if you have advice from a pro like Sensi Graves! And of course great conditions are helpful too. © Debbie Jean Hollmon

If it’s about to start park riding, which basics skills are essential?

The number one basic skills needed to ride in the park is comfort unhooking and staying in control. You have to be confident in approaching an obstacle, bearing off to flatten your board and then just doing it. It helps a lot if you’re able to get some time in at a cable park. Cable parks are excellent cross-training playgrounds and super helpful when first getting up the courage to hit obstacles. 

Sensi Graves knows how to rock obstacles!
Park riding opens a whole new world of kitesurf experiences. Sensi Graves knows how to rock obstacles! © Vincent Bergeron

What’s your personal approach to learn new tricks? 

Just keep trying! It can be really easy to get discouraged when trying new tricks. It can take a long time to learn something new! It’s important to allow yourself to fail and not be super discouraged by it. If you find that you’re just getting frustrated, it’s time to go in and take a break and come back out when you’re fresh. Reaffirm that you can do it, believe in yourself and keep going for it!

Kite retreat in Dakhla, Morocco organized by Sensi Graves and Colleen Carroll
Being in an engouraging and supportive environment (like Sensi and Colleen offer at their retreats) helps to feel more confident on the water.

What can participants expect from your kite retreat in Dakhla together with Colleen?

Participants can expect an empowering group environment that allows for connection, progression and fun! We find all women’s kite camps to be really supportive of the individuals and allow for tons of encouragement and connection. It’s always really fun to meet like-minded women, cheer each other on and bond over kiteboarding in a new location. We’re really looking forward to Dakhla for it’s charm, excellent wind conditions and easy access to kiteboarding. 

Check out everything you need to know about the retreat in October from Sensi Graves & Colleen Carroll here:

https://www.sensiandcolleen.com/dakhla-2019

For those who have never been to Dakhla before – here’s a glimpse on Morocco’s kite paradise:

Cover shot: Rider Sensi Graves, © Vincent Bergeron


Interested in more tips and tricks for your progress? Then you might like these posts:

Getting unhooked – tips from the pros
How to pimp your kite sessions
Unhooked basics: Pro tips from Lauren Holman