I realise as I sit down to write this reflection that, although I enjoy watching surfing, paddle-boarding, windsurfing and kitesurfing, I am totally ignorant of the techniques and equipment used to make the enjoyment seem so effortless. A few weeks ago, we spent a day on the Norfolk coast. Our first stop was the Cliff Car Park at Hunstanton. Suddenly, two feet and lower legs dangled in my line of vision at the top of the windscreen. The full picture emerged of someone sitting in their hang glider and steering the canopy above them as they were kept airborne by the thermals. Suddenly, with a dip of the left-hand side of the canopy, they disappeared over the cliff edge to quickly reappear and be swept off in the opposite direction. Even though I was safely sitting in a car, I admit I ducked as they went overhead.
I rather think that this sport, simple as it would appear, takes a lot of practice and experience for the rider to become proficient. It made me think of the sea birds as they, without any wing movement, are borne along so gracefully as they ride the thermals. They change direction, swoop down, rise up and hover effortlessly.
I assume that, over time, the sportsmen acquire the physical strength and mental ability to achieve maximum benefit from their chosen sport. We need perseverance to acquire both the strength and mental agility that comes so effortlessly to the sea birds. Life can be as challenging for us as sea, land and air are to those who seek the thrills of these sports. I’m often impressed to see the sea birds venture out in a gale, only to be blown backwards at incredible speeds until they find the rhythm of the thermals. When we find the rhythm of our thermals, we will be in a good place to go in a safe direction and reach our goal, whether it be at the shore, cliff-top or beach. If we don’t venture out, we won’t experience the thrill of life.