Let’s be honest:
How much coolness does the sport really need?
During the past years I traveled to many different kitespots and got in contact with heaps of kitesurfers all over the world. It’s such a great feeling being part of this community which is – compared to many other sports – still small but absolutely amazing (at least most of the time).
But there’s one thing that I noticed which for me feels like a little irritating virus disturbing the kitesurfing community. I think this virus has always been there – let’s call it the “excessive coolness virus”.
Don’t get me wrong: There’s no doubt that kitesurfing is a cool sport! But in my opinion sometimes the spirit of the sport gets a little shadowed by the exaggerated coolness displayed by some members of the kiteboarding community. With the term “coolness” within this article I don’t only mean the playing cool and showing off thing – for me it includes also ignorant, rude behaviour and material thinking creeping in kite beaches.
So what about this weird coolness virus in the kitesurfing community?
Probably the coolness virus affects only a small part of kitesurfers. And maybe I’m even totally wrong and claiming all this here will cost me more than a few readers. Anyway: After pondering about this issue for a longer time already I had to finally put in onto paper. It’s probably not a very positive article cause it’s about things that suck (at least in my opinion). So choose wisely if you want to read on, haha!
It’s a little complicated within this topic to find a point to start with, but well, let’s go: Apart from the fact that mostly when you go for a session you will have a second person assisting you in launching and landing your kite (unless you do it on your own) kiteboarding is a sport where you are on your own on the water and there you’re doing your thing. At least when you reached a point when your kite and board control is good enough to go for a session without a teacher or someone else taking care of you. So it’s you and your kite and that’s it.
But is it really like that? What about the other kiters (and I’m not talking about those lonely sessions when one is totally alone on a spot). What about community? I noticed that many kiteboarders act like if they were alone even when they are at a super crowded spot. And yes, I think this is strange.
It starts with totally ignoring other people coming in showing landing signs and just turning their back to them. Or just looking or even going away when they obviously were watching other kiters having a serious problem on the beach (e. g. being pulled by their kite, being hit by a gust and cannot control the kite anymore and just would need someone who catches them on their harness to add a little extra weight).
I am aware of the fact that we can’t have our eyes everywhere at the same time – but I think you get the point.
Well, and then then there’s some other things I fail to comprehend. Like rude behaviour against beginners – for example screaming to them on the water that they should get out of their way or coming super close to them when the fear of a crashing into the other shows already more than obvious in their eyes. This behaviour sucks! Or not giving a beginner enough space to get back to the beach cause in front of the beach there’s the hardcore show-off jumping zone.
I understand that this is also justified – especially for professionals and their training – but I am not talking about pros here. I am just talking about people who do not give a fu.. about all the others. (Remarkably, the ignorants and super-close-to-the-beach-jumpers are very often not the good, controlled kiters – they only think they are the coolest …). Tip: If you want to dive deeper into the ignoramus topic, you might want to read this article.
And for those who might believe in the (ridiculous) cliché that for sure it’s only the youngblood which shows rude behaviour I tell you a story which happened to me yesterday: An elderly lady which was upwind from me shot me down with her kite from behind, and after the mess of lines and kites was sorted out again I was really wondering about the fact that she didn’t say something like “sorry”.
Well, I found out why – cause then she came to me just to blame me for the accident. I was confused and told her: “Well, but you came from upwind and I have no eyes in the back of my head – how could I have seen you.” Quite logical I think. But she kept claiming that it was for 100% my fault cause she wanted to land there (over my lines obviously). I could write more about this incident but to be honest: It isn’t worth it. She just don’t even wanted to think about – she just wanted to blame me for what happened and that’s it.
Anyway: Why is it so hard for some people to be a little more attentive and polite? Well, for sure there’s a lot of deeper psychology behind and people who act rude and ignorant when they go kitesurfing might be the same in their daily life. So maybe not the most pleasant coevals.
Apart from ignorance and rudeness there’s another kind of conspicuity in behaviour which drives my pulse up to an unhealthy frequency. It’s the “I define myself through my material”-mentality. Ok, we already know this from cars. Many people define themselves by which car they drive. I always had to laugh about this cause it’s funny on the one hand. And also not a serious problem – as long as you do this on your own and leave the others in peace with their choice of car/in this case kite gear.
Unfortunately I very often see people who obviously judge others by which kite gear they have. And to be honest, this really gets on my nerves. I feel very bad and kinda sad when I meet kiters who laugh about others cause they have old or shabby gear. Maybe they can’t afford newer equipment? Is this something to laugh about? Definitely no. Or maybe it’s just not important for them to have the latest material? Well, we could discuss about the safety factor, but that’s another topic which hasn’t really anything to do with what this article is all about.
Kitesurfing: What’s really important about it?
I think (and I suppose most of my readers think the same): No one is cooler or better or worth more than others only cause he has the latest equipment. Or “cooler” equipment. True story: I met people who got totally upset cause they saw a kiter doing unhooked stuff including passes with (in their opinion) a kite for beginners. And not a C-shape! Their reaction: “Oh no, how dare you? Why don’t you get proper equipment? It would make you look way cooler as the gear that you are riding now is a little bit embarassing …” They sure pack it into other words but this is what they think (or tell to others afterwards).
Same for the opposite case: A girl riding boots and not doing triple-passes? How can she!!! Why does she ride boots if she’s not a freestyle pro? … Well, maybe because she just prefers the feeling of boots compared to straps? Sometimes it’s that simple.
Don’t get me wrong: There’s a huge difference between proper and nice-meant, helpful advice from competent kiters – and people who actually have no clue but love it to provide guidance without being asked. And usually this are the people who ride the most radical freestyle equipment just for image reasons and usually not due to their skills. Oh well, I think I already wrote a whole article about this kind of people, haha!
I also noticed (not only a few!) kitesurfers who avoid to hang around with others that “do not yet do this or that trick” or as mentioned “ride the wrong/embarassing equipment”. And this behaviour is meant totally seriously – and not in the way that sometimes we just make silly jokes about certain kite brands which might be associated with fried eggs … Definitely not a great attitude if you ask me – it reminds me of being in kindergarten. And: Usually you will never see such an attitude from competent and experienced kitesurfers – no, in general it’s the (sorry for the wording) ridiculous wannabes who act unnecessarily arrogant. It’s funny somehow that the most experienced and talented guys are usually the humblest and quietest of all …
So in conclusion I think we should all just try to act a little bit “cooler” – but in a positive way! Which for me means focusing on what is really important in our kitesurfing life, and that’s quite simple: Having fun on the water and enjoying being part of a great community – totally independent from which skill level we are at and which equipment we own.
What do you think? Tell me about your experiences with this topic?
If you want to read more about behaviour on kitespots and -beaches, check out this article: The kite etiquette
Cover shot: © Helmut Fuchs/kitejoy