Tiger Tales – High as a Kite

Try… glurggrowlglurg… moving your shoulder… glurgsputter…to 70 degrees… glurg.”

I find it hard to digest instructions at the best of times, so I’m not sure why I thought I would be able to process them while snorting up mouthfuls of the South China Sea.

I am in Mui Ne, a coastal resort town in south-eastern Vietnam, trying to get to grips with kitesurfing, an activity that in just a few years has gone from niche pastime to mainstream sport – practiced by everyone from Virgin Group head honcho Richard Branson to Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page.

The premise is simple: fasten your feet to a wakeboard or surfboard, harness your body to a giant kite and then hang on tight as the wind propels you across the sea
at speeds – for those skilled enough – of upwards of 60km/h. Jumps can reach as high as 15m.

As a novice, I didn’t expect to scale those peaks. Neither, however, did I predict that I would spend much of my time perfecting an impression of a drowning rat.

As I mewl and splutter, my plight made even more pitiable by a lurid yellow helmet that barely covers my hefty Caledonian cranium, my instructor, Matt “Matto” Kwanes opts for some tough love. “Come on, man, we talked about your body position five minutes ago”.

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