The first cata-kite and kitesurf clinic for people with disabilities has just finished in Greece. 10 participants took part in the week long event- it was a fantastic success and welcomed volunteers and the participation of people from Greece, Belgium, France and Ireland.
The Clinic marked the start of GKF's ongoing training courses which are aimed at training people with disabilities to develop the skills to become independent in kiting. Training is progressive and follows an important learning curve so that everyone achieves new skills according to their preference and ability. Everyone who participated had already learned kite flying skills during our introductory 'Wind that Works' workshops. Now they were each ready to take it to the next level!
For participants, there were two main courses: introduction to cata-kite, and introduction to the seat for becoming an independent kiter.
-Cata-Kite: this is the next phase in the learning curve. Cata-kite involves using a kite which is attached to a modified catamaran to kite out at sea. This is an amazing experience that allows participants to get a feel for moving on the water, and learning to control the kite in open sea. They then learn how to fly the kite to sail the catamaran and to change direction. All this time, they are supported by 2 instructors and a volunteer with sailing experience. Instructors must have 6 months cata-kite experience before taking people with disabilities out for the first time.
Apostolos is flying the kite solo
-Para-kite Seat: specially developed by kiting pioneer Christophe Martin, this seat eventually allows a person with disabilities to kite in the water totally independently.
We all had fun assembling the seat, though we were thankful to have Christophe's expertise to guide us through it!
Gaspar and team are helping Christophe assemble the seat
There is a specific training course to use the seat itself, which includes initially getting comfortable in the seat itself, finding your balance, understanding and using the safety releases, how to hold and use the kite bar, and eventually how to use the kite to get kiting.
Tolis is practicing finding his balance in the water using the seat
For GKF, one of the most important aspects of the work we do is bringing together like-minded and fun people who want to share experiences and time together. It was a great success, with language barriers quickly dropped, and lots of fun had by all. It was a good time for bonding as a group, and between participants. So many different backgrounds made for exciting and fun dynamics, specially as it was the first time anyone had been involved in this sort of an activity or clinic.
When the trainers and instructors were busy working on special courses, the participants relaxed in the water or enjoyed the incredible Greek sunshine.
Jen and Alex relax on the beach
Participant Alex Feretos had this feedback:
"It was an amazing time! Meeting new people, working as a team and especially getting out on the water and some hands on experience! Just a perfect week"
The Clinic was an amazing success because I learnt so much and had the chance to meet new people who were all together in one place with the same goal in mind: to feel the wind on your face and be free to kite. It was amazing to meet a group of inspiring people. Its an exciting time us all to develop the Catakite world wide and continue on the development for seated kitesurfing...Stoked! I hope as time goes on more women will be representing seated kitting. A massive thankyou to everyone who made us welcome, Sandrine & Charles for your dedication to the cause.