Matt Chernishov, amongst other things, enjoys kite surfing. Even more than finding a bargain, perhaps. “I got this kite for one hundred and fourty bucks,” he informed me proudly as we set up on one of the many beautiful bays near Wellington. “An old kite like this isn’t as fancy as the newer ones, but it’s good for just hacking about.”
Like a lot of outdoor sports, I found the setting up phase tedious. To get a kite ready for kite surfing, it requires pumping, rigging, untangling…
Once the kite was ready to fly, Matt gave me a quick lesson while the kite was attached to his harness. “You just pull on this and this to make it go side to side. To power it up, you push on this. Don’t put it too much into the window,” he said as he manouvered the kite expertly from side to side and up and down in the 15 to 20 knot breeze.
“Just keep it fairly high in the sky and you’ll be fine,” he continued as he unclipped the kite handle and clipped it into my harness.
It looked easy enough, but before I could finish the sentence “Um…I don’t actually have any idea what I’m doing,” I was sliding on my bum along the sand towards a row of very expensive looking beach-front properties. Half-way there, I stopped. Half a second later, I had resumed my rapid approach to the houses.
I was only after about 50m worth of sliding in a beautiful arc in the soft pebbly sand that I registered that Matt was yelling to me.
“Pull the safety cord,” he screamed. “Pull the cord!”
Luckily he had had the foresight to hook a safety line to my harness and had briefed me on what to do.
I pulled on the cord. The kite banked hard. The kite landed with a loud thud on the roof of the most expensive-looking beach house, quite nicely wrapping itself around the chimeny.
A concerned resident of the house came out to see what the calamity was all about, by which time Matt had already managed to calmy pull the kite free with a few solid jerks of the lines.
The kite drifted back down to earth, lightly grazing some powerlines on the way.
“Um…yeah…sorry about that Rob. I guess I figured since you skated half way around the world, you’d be fine with this,” he said apologetically, but trying to suppress a smile.
We decided that the 12m kite was probably a little too big to learn on, so Matt opted instead to go for a surf on his own. I was more than happy with that decision, and enjoyed watching from the beach, along with Matt’s dog, Ollie.