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Downwind in Dahab

2: Kitesurfing

While sailing and biking held no fears, I knew my windsurfing was very shaky, and as for kitesurfing… I didn’t have a clue. I wasn’t sure whether to be relieved when my name came out as part of the red team, with kitesurfing specialist Neal Gent as our captain. Making up the rest of the team were an intermediate windsurfer, an advanced windsurfer, and our final teammember was an experienced dinghy sailor and windsurfer. As we ran through the challenge ahead I soon realised that it was my windsurfing which looked like providing the biggest challenge. Each of us needed to sail across the bay, and it seemed that everyone else had a fair bit of experience. None of us had kited, but Neal was confident we could grasp the basics, so we took that as our first challenge.

Neilson’s base is situated in the middle of the bay, with the windsurfing lagoon at the far northern end, which meant a bit of a walk with our kit; kites, helmets and harnesses. Wide and shallow, the lagoon provides a fantastic playground for learners, although it is tidal so you can’t use it at all times of the day. I have to admit I had never really fancied kitesurfing, but helped by Neal’s enthusiasm I began to really enjoy the power of a kite. Our first few hours were spent learning to control the kite, working in pairs we took it in turns to launch and fly what seemed like massive kites — although Neal explained we’d be soon be using bigger ones.

For our second lesson, with each of us merrily doing our figure of eight turns, we finally moved to the water. Before getting on a board you learn to body drag — basically pull yourself through the water using the kite in a controlled way. The first time I felt the kite lift me up was amazing, and as I grew in confidence I found it was a whole lot of fun. Unfortunately we were out of time, and as the competition only required up to be able to body drag, I didn’t have the chance to move onto the board as there was still the question of my windsurfing to crack.

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The area is naturally dry and barren… until you reach the hotel

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What made the biggest difference was John’s shoreside demonstration

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