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Interviews

INTERVIEW: THE MAKER OF HAPPY KITEFISH

Those who follow me on Instagram have probably seen my buddy Freddy come by. For those who have no idea: Freddy is a fish made from old kitelines and belongs to the Happy Kitefish arts of Elsa. Time for an interview with the maker of these super cute & fun kitefishes!

Who are you, where do you come from and what do you like?

“I am Elsa and I am originally from Bergen op Zoom in the Netherlands. I currently live in Cadzand-bath in Zeeland (NL). I actually like everything that is outdoor, but kitesurfing is my greatest passion. When it’s not windy I like to go horse riding or just NETFLIX & chill. Or make some fish of course!”

What does Elsa do in her daily life?

“I graduated in June as an outdoor sports instructor and am working now at Cadzand Sports in Cadzand-Bad, a kitesurfing school that offers a lot of super fun other activities as well! I do everything there, from giving instructions to developing new activities. It is a small but growing company and I am proud to be part of it!”

What are kitefishes?

“Kitefishes are awesome knotted fishes made from old kitel lines. You can use them for your keys, bag or in front of the mirror in the car.”

How did you get started with kitefish?

“I broke my ankle with kitesurfing in 2016 and that recovery took a long time. Actually, for a long time I didn’t recover at all. In 2018 I had surgery on my ankle and was not allowed to walk for a long time, so I had to come up with something to do! By chance I came across a video on YouTube of someone who made koi carp fish key chains from wax cord. I thought “Yo, I should try that with kitel lines!” At one point I didn’t have that many lines anymore … So I posted a photo on the Facebook group ‘NL kitesurfers’ asking if people still had old lines. I received orders instead of old lines! That was so cool! And that’s how it started. 

In the meantime, I have become better and I gave my own spin on the fish. The reason is not simpler than occupational therapy and an undeniable passion for kitesurfing! Today, it also includes recycling and re-use, of course.”

 How many kitefishes have you made so far?

“Pfff, at least more than 40!”

What is the process of making a kitefish?

“Choosing colors is useful to start with, then cut the lines to length. There is a total of more than 9 meters of lines needed for 1 fish! After I cut the lines, knotting the body starts, then I make the fins & finally the tail with beads. It takes me 3.5 to 4 hours to finish a fish. If I have many orders I try to make more at once and then I divide the steps over several days.”

Do you ever make mistakes? And can you restore it or do you have to start over?

“I sometimes make mistakes, but I already recognize them before I tie the knot, so that is easy to correct. Sometimes I have to take everything back to that one knot and start over from there.”

What does a kitefish cost?

“A kitefish is 15, – excluding shipping costs!”

 Do you have a future goal with Kitefish?

“I don’t really have a future goal for kitefish yet. It would seem nice to me that my fishes end up all over the world, an Australian kitefish on Bondi beach for example!”

Which kitefish are you most proud of? * cough * Freddy

“I’m certainly proud of Freddy! But besides my first kitefish, I am especially proud of my mega kitefish! I made a fish that would originally go to someone as a thank you. But because of the many hours and knots that went in it, I have decided to keep it for a bit longer. That giant fish is made of approximately 100 meters of lines !! It took me a good week to make it. By the way, I will never do that again! My hands still hurt, haha!”

Which fish was the most difficult to say goodbye to?

“So I haven’t been able to say goodbye to the mega kitefish yet, haha! But I think the kitefish I made from old PLKB lines was one of the coolest, it was difficult to make and therefore extra special. Fortunately he went to a good friend of mine in France! I have my favorite fish on my keys.”

How can people get a kitefish?

“At this moment, contact can only be made via my Instagram @elsa.kitefish or via facebook /happykitefish 

I don’t have a website or specific Instagram page yet.”

Can people outside the Netherlands also order a kitefish?

“That is certainly possible! But the shipping costs will be higher and the shipping time is often longer.” 

Are old kite lines still welcome?

“YES! I especially need colored lines! The more unusual the colors, the better! I can also use white lines well.”

 How can people donate kite lines to you?

“A message via Instagram or Facebook is fine, then I will send my address and in exchange for old lines you can expect a kitefish made of your old lines!”

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Interviews

WATCH OUT FOR CORAL

So let’s talk about coral. We know it looks beautiful, it is endangered and if we want to keep it we really need to take more care of this world! But did you also know coral is the reason a lot of (kite)surfers get injuries while being on kitesurf vacation?

On Instagram I met @Kitetasticalso known as Maren. Just like me, Maren also had been through surgery & couldn’t kite. Her story started with bumping into coral… Fun fact is a lot of kitesurfers bump into coral. (I’ve done it too.) Most of us West Europeans don’t know the dangers of bumping into coral when we visit a warm foreign country for the first time to kite. If you’re a reader, keep reading. If you’re a listener, listen to our conversation in the video link below. Maren is going to share her story with us!

koraal 1

“My name is Maren, I am 36 years old. I’m from Germany and I start kitesurfing one year ago. This year, at the end of August, I was in El Gouna in Egypt. It was my first time there. It also was my first time being at a kite spot with warm shallow water. I was so excited to go kiting that first day! So, I made everything ready and jumped into the water… Go go go, get on that board!

Unfortunately it was low tide and the water was only 20 centimeters deep. To be honest, I was not used to such shallow water! The corals were directly below the water surface and some of them even above it! My board got stuck and I fell into the coral field. I had a lot of scratches and a wound on my heel, just a small one. I wore neoprene shoes so, you can imagine: the impact was pretty hard. But nevermind! I kept on kiting…

After one day, my foot was swollen and the wound was inflamed. I had to take antibiotic pills for some days, but fortunately I could kite again after 3 days. I had a great holiday, everything was fine! But back at home, wearing closed shoes, I felt that there was something wrong. The wound on my heel was healed, but I had a weird feeling. I went to the doctor again and there were two coral pieces inside my heel. To keep it short: I had to take more antibiotic pills and at the end I needed surgery.

koraal 2
koraal 3

In my opinion, corals are not that bad as you may think now. They are sharp and very hard and you should try to stay away from them if possible. But you don’t have to be afraid of them. All my superficial scratches healed completely problem-free. No inflammation or something like that. If you have contact with corals, clean the wounds directly and keep them clean. And if you are not sure, follow your gut feeling and go to the doctor for a check-up!”

Fortunately Maren is back on that water again!

A cut made by coral is more likely to infect & it also may contain poison from the coral itself.

How to treat a coral cut?

  • Clean the cut thoroughly and as hard as possible. (You can use a toothbrush for this.) Rinse the cut with clean sweet water as soon as possible. 
  • Rinse the cut with clean sweet water as soon as possible.
  • If it is stinging then you can rinse it with a form of acetic acid to reduce the effect of toxins from the coral. (Most use vinegar for this, but I was scrubbed with lemon.)
  • Rinse the cut daily and apply an antibiotic on to it.
  • Antibiotics are recommended, so you better see a doctor. He/She can tell you if you need it.
  • If you have pain you can take some pain medication.

Just like Maren said, it’s best to stay away from it, for both parties. 🙂

Quiz

What do you know about coral?