Mark My Words
WORDS - Mark Shinn
INTRO – Mr Shinn has dreams of his own airline
I'm afraid I’m writing this on a plane again! I know some of you will find this hard to accept, but apparently my travel schedule fits almost exactly with the Kiteworld publication deadlines and, whenever I have to submit some words I find myself travelling (of course the cynics among you might suggest that I travel a lot so it’s inevitable that I have the chance to write on a plane, but I think this view totally misses the coincidence here and thus I shall ignore it).
To be honest I boarded this particular plane with no real idea what I was going to write about this month. My plan was to think about it whilst checking in and dealing with all the other tedious airport chores, but I made a rather crucial error. There I was sat at home drinking one of nature's finest gold ones (yes a beer) when it occurred to me that if you are on a four hour flight and it arrives at midnight it has to take off at eight and not nine o'clock as I had previously miscalculated.
The following 20 minutes are more-or-less a blur in my mind as I still had most of the packing to do and very, very little time indeed. The end result (for those of you reading this and thinking “Who cares?”) is that I didn’t have the time I would‘ve liked to prepare for this month's words and now I’m facing a blank screen with no particular plan.
In fact the only enduring memory of the last hour or so is the one of frustration that I have on every trip. In this current climate of unification, it never ceases to amaze me that no one has solved this problem: cables!
I’ll admit that I’m as partial to the odd electrical gadget as the next person and whilst I might agree that they don’t always make life simpler, they almost invariably make it more fun. But surely in 2008 there must be a way to simplify the bewildering array of cables and power adaptors needed.
I normally travel with:
My laptop (complete with a 12v and normal 240v adaptor)
An external hard drive (USB cable and power adaptor)
A video camera (mini fire-wire cable and power adaptor)
A stills camera (mini USB cable and power adaptor)
Mobile phone (power adaptor)
Blue-tooth head set (power adaptor)
Ipod Touch (USB cable)
Noise cancelling headphones (power adaptor)
Memory card reader (Mini USB cable)
PSP (power adaptor)
External speakers (power adaptor and audio connecting cable)
That makes a total of ten power adaptors and six cables: About two kilos of cable and chargers. Seems crazy to me. In fact the whole lot is generally too much to take in your hand luggage so it has to go in your check-in bag and when they lose it you then have several thousand euros worth of completely useless electronic equipment. I told you that gadgets make life more fun, no?
Anyhow, this has nothing at all to do with kiteboarding so I shall try to get back on track. I was supposed to be flying with British Airways this trip but was forced to cancel my ticket. For years BA has been the athlete's friend and airline of choice; one free piece of sports equipment was an incredibly enlightened baggage policy. So, like many others, I was absolutely gutted when they seemingly out-of-the-blue announced a complete ban on surfboards, with no exceptions. The only explanations they offered was something about space in the hold and too much hassle. Since this announcement GB Airways, a franchise of BA, has been bought out by easyJet, so there is hope that this policy might change somewhat.
You may never fly with BA if you don't live in the UK, however, if the other airlines see this policy has worked and decide to follow suit we will all be in a mess. It’s pretty interesting that easyJet got to be in a position to buy part of one of the biggest airlines in the world; the group easyJet group is now in fact the biggest air carrier worldwide. Overall they have a very good attitude to kiteboarders - book your gear on-line and pay for it in advance and you have no problems at all. If they apply this attitude to their new scheduled business then it would be a step in the right direction for all of us.
Since I had some knee issues I have been out of the water for some weeks but in the last few days I have been able to head out again. Sometimes when you do something a lot you take it for granted and don’t really appreciate what you have. I think I kited a longer session last week than I have in years. They say a rest is good for you and in my case it certainly has been. There are so many things I want to try again and so many ideas I have for new moves that I am more motivated than ever. If you are getting a little stale in your riding then try something else. Try strapless, try a directional board, try some old school again...it doesn’t matter what. Just try. A change is as good as a rest and your kiting can only get better for it.
Oh and one more thing...
Find more on Mark and his boards at: www.shinnworld.com
This column is in issue#31. Read this whole issue online for free, now click here