The beach I frequent is tranquil and idyllic, revered for the solitude it provides. Last weekend though, despite a 7:30 a.m. departure for the Cape, the parking lot was chock full when my friends and I arrived at 10:00. Once on the sand, we were met by a gusty wind on a mission that pelted us with sand, sand that burrowed its way into every crevice in an annoying way but that a fellow beachgoer tried to spin as a free exfoliation. All told, I think I lost a full layer of my epidermis.
Everywhere though, unnaturally fit men and women traipsed down to the shore wearing wetsuits, harnesses, and carrying enormous pieces of equipment that looked like pterodactyl wings; the kitesurfers had descended. It was as if every novice and amateur kite surfer had woken up, sniffed the air, and quickly threw their gear in the hatch before barreling down to the beach. They spread out across the beach like sand flies, leaving no room for sunbathers and swimmers. We tucked ourselves away in a dune of questionable protected status (seriously, I wouldn’t sit on a piping plover), away from the chaos and at least minimally sheltered from the assaultive wind.
The preparation involved in this sport was staggering: inflating the parasail-like kite part, getting it in the air and stabilizing it by holding a trapeze-style bar connected by heavy cables–hard enough on land, but near impossible on the water. Next, a surfer wades into the ocean and secures his feet in a snowboard apparatus (this is when I gave up any hopes of trying), keeping the kite aloft, and then somehow get up on the water, only to be immediately pulled at high speed by the wind. Holy.
We watched a small-framed guy glide across the water at frightening speeds, gasping when his board lifted above the water, suspending him in midair–child’s play to him though, as his next run involved tricks that made it look like he was skateboarding above the water. Tired of watching all this exertion, I finally rolled over and succumbed to the most perfect beach nap, cushioned by baby turtle eggs.