In my youth I engaged in various fighting sports, such as thai boxing and taekwondo. I also played bandy and football. For a while I was practicing athletics.Climbing was another passion. Activities that offered some action were my melody! Unfortunately, as it turned out my body did not appreciate the stress that these activities meant. Kicks, punches, throws, twists and other extreme movements led to inflated tendon anchors, the loss of one, then another anterior cruciate ligament, problems with painful joints etc …
Barely 30 years old, I finally cave up; both the body and my physiotherapist told me enough with the insanities. Depressed over the fact that my body already was about to fall apart I started to engage in more healthy activities as prescribed by my physiotherapist. Swimming and strength training did strengthen my muscles and lubricated my old rusty hinges, but it was so damn boring! Swimming back and forth in the pool together with a dozen walruses dressed in swimsuits and bathing caps was about as fun as paying my bills. Pumping iron with a bunch of testosterone-fueled guys did not suit my taste either …
The panic and the restlessness waited around the corner as I happened to meet the father of one of my friends who did something called kitesurfing. I remember thinking to myself; "kitesurfing … is not that something only guys in their twenties are doing?" as I recalled those times I had driven along the coast witnessing colorful bananas in the sky over the water. My friend's dad assured me that was not the case and insured that I should come along to the beach on a windy day, which I did shortly after.
To my big surprise, the mean age of the people that were kitesurfing was closer to 40 than 20. There were also a few men in their fifties as well as some young girls cruising on the water, as was the most natural thing to do!
To watch kitesurfing from a near distance was an experience in itself, it really looked amazing! I thought to myself that I wanted to do that as well, even if it would mean some pain for my poor body.
Naive as I am, I asked my friend's dad if I could borrow his equipment, just to try surfing for a short while, but was told that borrowing someone's equipment was out of question until I attended a kitesurfing course. Later on, after the course, I realized that lending your kite to someone is something that you would rather not do, unless the borrower is a pro. It's like lending your brand new car to someone that just took their driving license. Any, I booked a kitesurfing course and I stand on the beach with a trainer kite already the week after. The trainer kite, a small foil kite of about 2.5 square meters endured my initially quite harsh treatment, but it did not take long before my brain understood to pilot the kite like a bike and not like a car. To turn right, just pull your right arm toward you and extend your left arm. To turn left, simply do the opposite. Piece of cake!
The next element in the course was to go into the water with a large kite , and I had to admit that I had some difficulty in taming the kite, the power difference between the trainer kite and full-size kite was immense! At first me and the kite were not friends at all, it reminded me about the time when I was supposed to ride a wild horse! Like the horse the kite thread me about like a glove a few times. With the kite I landed in the water, which was not too comfy, but I can not deny that water in all cases is softer than the ground we walk on!
To make a long story short, at the end of the day I could ever come up on the board and surf a short distance before I (not surprisingly) fall. It was an indescribably good feeling to surf on the water! Later in the evening, still slightly intoxicated by the feeling to be able to utilize the power of the kite to surf, it stuck me that the body certainly felt a little tender, but without any indication that my joints would have gotten beat up from the session. I did however assume that the problems with various ailments would pile up if I decided to continue kitesurfing, which I intended to do, hooked as I already was!
It did not take long before I got my own equipment. My new toys constituent of one Slingshot RPM 12m kite, one Cabrinha Crossbow 9m kite and a Navis Board, plus harness and wetsuit. For the first time I was about to enter the water all by myself without the security of knowing that the instructor was there to rescue me in the likely case that I would screw up things! The feeling reminded me about the day when I had just taken my driving license and drove all alone for the first time in my life, a fear mixed with delight! With some assistance I managed to get the kite in the air and slowly moved out into the water to once more experience kitesurfing.
Half expecting to abruptly my kitesurfing career, 3 years later I have the pleasure to announce that my body is at its physical peak! I kitesurf on average 2-3 times a week and still can not believe that at this age I've found a sport that is not only great fun but also is like balm for body and mind! So all you old farts out there who warn for an activity that does not lead to arthritis or sore ligaments, check out kitesurfing, you will certainly not regret it!