“I am a certified kiteboard instructor and work for AIR in Mt. Pleasant, the only fully dedicated kiteboarding shop in Charleston. There are no other women instructors in Charleston, and only a couple of girls out kiting. You need to be in good physical and cardiovascular shape and be a good swimmer, but you don’t have to be a rock star by any means.

“For me, it was an extremely frustrating sport in the beginning. The learning curve for getting started can be a long struggle. But it’s a sweet success when you finally get there, like when you learn how to ride a bike and all of a sudden it just happens. When I finally got on a board I had a huge party.

“I’m always constantly learning and progressing as a rider. Every time I go out I try and beat my last performance. You can’t compare yourself to other riders and have to keep going out there and pushing yourself. The coolest thing is that every time I learn something new. On the water you can’t think about anything else — you’re totally focused on the moment, the conditions, and your board.

“Men and women come in the store and I’m a springboard for them because they feel like they can’t be shown up by some 115-pound chick. When people walk in the door, we try to find out everything about the student and their goals. Some younger guys want to do tricks. Then you have an older bracket that says, ‘Look, I just want to go out there and have fun and not have to break by neck.’

“AIR is offering all-girl clinics June 24-25. A woman named Petra Kantz, an old avid windsurfer, has been doing kite clinics for over five years and we are teaming up. We are doing an all-summer-long special and providing the first part of the lessons free and giving 30 percent off any current gear.

“I think for women, safety and feeling secure is a much bigger issue than it is for guys. Guys tend to want to get in there and mess all the gear around. They are kind of impatient. Women enter the relationship like, ‘I know I am not going to overpower this thing, so I have to get it to do what I want.’

“Adam (last name, owner of AIR) says kiteboarding is like a game because it’s so dependent on Mother Nature. If you actually get out there, you beat the odds in some ways. You’ve got to have a little flexibility if you want to get into this sport because the wind doesn’t always blow on your day off.

“People get addicted, they really do.” —as told to Sarah Grasmick

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