Kiting & Playboating From London

A small car with 4 people's worth of kiting gear means it's pretty heavily loaded!

A small car with 4 people’s worth of kiting gear means it’s pretty heavily loaded!

I intentionally kept this weekend as a free weekend in London, I’d thought that I’d need a weekend to sort my life out a bit after returning from week kayaking in the alps (more posts about that to follow once I’ve managed to go through some more of the footage!). Somehow, the productive weekend I’d planned didn’t quite materialise! After a few too many beers on Friday I got up early on Saturday morning and headed off to load up my car with a load of kit and mates before heading to Southend for some kitesurfing.

We got there to be greeted by building winds as the tide turned and started to head out. Two of our group, Nadia and Tom, got out first whilst I was setting up some replacement lines on my bar. I was just about to launch Matthias’ kite for him when I felt a gust of wind and some rain blow in. I signalled to him we should wait a minute and put the kite back down.

Uncle Toms at Southend in the sun

Uncle Toms at Southend in the sun

It was lucky that I did! A stormy 15min gust period blew in with the rain and the wind really picked up. Matthias and I went running down the beach as we saw Nadia and Tom getting blown towards the shore. Nadia managed to land her kite on the beach just before she had to pull her safety release, Tom wasn’t quite as lucky. Having lost his board a few hundred meters away from the beach he pulled his safety just before he reached the shore. We helped him get his kite and lines in and then walked the kite back up the beach whilst he ran off to see if his board was anywhere to be seen.

Once the wind had stabilised again the sun came out and it was a lovely day. Unfortunately it was a bit windier than we’d expected and Matthias didn’t have a small enough kite that it’d be safe to go out on so he sat in the sun for  a while. I pumped up my 9.5m Best Kahoona for the first time in a few years, it’s an old kite (2009) and I’m not a big fan of it so I don’t use it much. I then had a great session out on the water and remembered how to do quite a few tricks which was awesome.

My hand looked more dramatic than it was when the blood was in full-flow!

Duck tape fixes everything!

However, I did get caught out by a sandbank as the tide went out. My board stopped suddenly but me and my kite kept going, I put my hand out to break my fall on the sandbank but unfortunately it landed on a sharp oyster shell. After continuing to kite for a bit the blood flowing out of my hand started to get a little alarming (despite knowing it’d look much worse due to the water). I headed into the beach to bandage it up. It took quite a long time to be able to get my hand to stop bleeding, but eventually it did and the damage doesn’t look too bad. Tom didn’t find his board but he borrowed Matthias’ for  while and Matthias got out for a short session on Nadia’s kit. Luckily the guys from Essex Kitesurf School found Tom’s board and kindly called him up, so he was reunited with it the next day.

On Sunday I had a lazy day until I headed to Lee Valley White Water Centre for some kayaking. A group of us from Regents Canoe Club had arranged to paddle a few hours on the Legacy course. For some of the group it was their first time on white water in playboats which lead to absolute hilarity. Lots of time was spent upside down by all, but everyone (apart from me!) paddled really well.


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Hannis Whittam

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