I was first bit by the bug some 7 years ago in 2010. My wife and I were on vacation in FL, and a local kite shop had an advertisement in the tourist paper for a free 1 hour kiteboarding lesson. I called them up, and they met me at the beach with a B3 trainer kite. As soon as they put the bar in my hands I was hooked. I couldn't believe the power the kite was able to generate- and I was even more amazed at how much control I had over it. Growing up, like most people, my only real experience with kites was with the basic one string kites, over which you had essentially no control. The idea that I could harness mother nature with a kite just grabbed a hold of me, and it hasn't let go.
The following year we were back on vacation and I was taking my first lessons with that same kite shop, XL kites, in Destin, FL. Those guys are terrific if you're ever down in the area. Those early days were rough. I was impressed with the power of the trainer kite the year before, but I was terrified of the power that a 13m Crossbow could generate. I can remember being so completely exhausted after my first lesson, not from the physical exertion, but from the constant adrenaline that was coursing through my body as I was sure I'd get ripped up into the sky at any moment. All that control I felt with the trainer kite was gone. Depower was a whole new world, and I had to put my time in.
That same year I bought my first kite (a 10m Griffin Argo - which I really love - bought another one a few years later, 14m). I did most of my riding in FL because where I live in NY it's very expensive to pay the local shops to get to the good (read safe and shallow riding areas for beginners), and if you've ever been to FL in the summer you know the wind isn't great. So, I spent most of my first few years struggling to keep the kite in the air, and getting a few rides here and there.
Summer of 2014, I purchased a used Spleene Door and that board changed my life. All of a sudden, the light FL winds were enough to get riding, and I did more riding in a few days that summer than I had in the previous 4 years.
Last summer, my wife and I bought a small used boat to get access to some great local riding spots here in NY, and now I feel like a real kiteboarder. I spent hours on end skimming along the surface of the water propelled only by the wind this summer, and I can't wait to get back in the water next year. It's been quite a ride, and for me, a pretty steep learning curve, but in the end it's all been so worth it.