- Beginners use larger surfboards as they are unlikely to sink. Mr. Mutunga remembers surfing in the light of a full moon.
- Daniel Heinrichs, who founded the Diani Kite Club, says you don’t have to be super fit to kitesurf.
- Even 10-year-olds can surf with the right kite and board.
It’s around 3pm and the beach is a spectacle as kites of different colors hang beautifully in the sky, surfers running against the harsh waves leaping over the clean waters of the Indian Ocean.
The sport is a thrill and for spectators it can seem difficult to understand. A surfer rides the deep face of a moving wave, which brings them back to shore.
For Christopher Mutunga, it took him four years to go from being a beginner to having fun on the water.
Mr. Mutunga trained for two years as a kite surfer at the Diani Kite Club located within the Simba and Oryx Beach Cottages in Diani.
He started by pumping air into the kites, installing the lines (lines of bars) of the kites and rescuing the surfers in case of emergency or accident.
âI had just graduated from high school and had a passion for swimming. Hanging around the beach made me passionate about sports, âsaid Mr. Mutunga.
The 27-year-old surfer is daring. He surfed up to four kilometers deep and to the Diani Reefs.
To start kitesurfing, he says, you need a kite, 24/25 meter barlines, a surfboard and a harness. Plus, a life jacket and wetsuit will help keep you warm and afloat.
“You also need gloves and reef shoes to avoid bruising from the coral rocks,” says Mutunga.
A kite surfing course begins with theoretical notions where you learn the safety measures before going in the water.
âThe second practical course is done on the water. Make sure the barlines are well laid out and securely fastened to the waist harness before getting on board, âsaid Mutunga, adding that you also have to be a good swimmer as the sport is mainly played in the area. water and in case of an accident; one may be able to swim to the shore.
Also, you have to be able to communicate well. Seeing and hearing well are necessary to be able to hear when warned of imminent danger and to avoid causing accidents such as clashes with other surfers, boats and swimmers.
âLearning to study weather conditions, especially wind direction, is essential. We practice studying the direction of the wind, the seasons and also the tides, âexplains Mutunga.
Beginners use larger surfboards as they are unlikely to sink. Mr. Mutunga remembers surfing in the light of a full moon.
âThe pros can use boots, small boards and other technical boards to navigate the waves. As a beginner I only surfed close to the shore. I had an instructor accompanying me. Of course, I fell several times, âhe says.
Daniel Heinrichs, who founded the Diani Kite Club, says you don’t have to be super fit to kitesurf.
Even 10-year-olds can surf with the right kite and board.
âYour arms can’t take the strain, but the kite’s traction goes through your harness, so your abdominal region gets the training. You just need to be comfortable in the water and have a reasonable level of fitness, âexplains Heinrichs.
Kenya has two windy seasons, so a surfer needs to know when to take the tides. âThe hot northeast wind called Kaskazi blows from December to March with a constant speed of 18 to 24 knots and from June to September the wind changes direction and comes from the south to the southeast. The conditions during this season are more variable with sometimes stormy winds up to 30 knots, âexplains Mr. Heinrichs.
Waves suitable for surfing are mostly found in the ocean, but can also be found in lakes or rivers in the form of a standing wave or a tidal bore.
âKitesurfing is an extreme sport and can be dangerous. You must follow the instructions and put on safety equipment. During the rainy seasons, it is difficult to kitesurf due to the visibility and the weak manifestation of the wind, âexplains Mr. Heinrichs who made a maiden voyage from Lamu to Diani.
âI qualify kite surfing as a free sport because it needs water and wind. It took two days to surf from Lamu to Diani, which is about 273 kilometers long, with a stopover in Malindi. I documented the trip, âhe said, adding that he would soon be surfing as far as Zanzibar.
Sport is not cheap. A 10 hour beginner’s course costs around 38,000 Sh.
âIt can take four to five days to learn the basics and safety measures,â he said, adding that Kenya is one of the countries with great potential to develop the sport.
During the holiday season, more than 250 people practice kitesurfing along the beaches of Diani.
Mr Heinrichs, who started kitesurfing in 2011, said Kenyans should generate interest in the sport and the government is backing it as well.
Another surfer, Bonny Otieno, who became interested in the sport five years ago while selling statues in the Mwazaro area of ââKwale County, said the sport taught her to work hard, to obey, to persevere and to time.
âI also interacted with many people around the world. We have the resources and young people can turn the skills they learn into business opportunities, âsaid Mr. Otieno.