Kitesurfing For Beginners – We have put together this Introduction to Kiteboarding to offer a basic overview of the sports and what you need to know to have you on the right start. By no means do we advocate that anyone should learn to kiteboard just by reading this. If you are a beginner, we hope you come away understanding the value of knowing safety precautions, taking lessons and getting involved with your local associations. Our goal is to point you in the right direction.
In this guide, you will find many tips that will help save you time and money and ensure a positive kiting experience. It is broken down into many sections for both before and after you’ve had your lessons covering the aspects of the sport most important to beginners. We also tackle the most commonly asked questions in each section of this guide, as well as some general ones at the end. On the final page, we list as many credible sources for learning and getting gear as we could find.
There were no schools when I learned to kiteboard. If this guide can help shorten your learning curve and teach you to kiteboard responsibly, the kiteboarding world will be a better place.
WHY TAKE LESSONS?
So you’re wondering, why should you shell out that money for lessons? The most important reason is so you don’t hurt yourself or others. You will also save yourself time and money by learning from qualified instructors who have developed instructional programs that will guarantee a positive learning experience. The following list gives
more reasons you should take lessons:
- Save Money. You will save more money by taking a lesson that you will be trying to learn on your own. Why trash your new equipment when you can take a two-to-three-hour lesson and use the school’s kites, boards, bars etc.
- Knock the learning curve in half. Instructors will show students safe shortcuts and will get riders up to speed more efficiently.
- Experience. Most schools have worked with thousands of students and can effectively assess and address bad technique and set you on the right track.
- Equipment Education. Schools are a great place to learn about the multitude of equipment available and what equipment is best suited to a beginner.
- Discounts. Many schools have deals set up with shops and manufacturers. That way, when you are ready to buy your equipment, you will know you are getting a fair price.
- Positive Experience. Most importantly, you will have fun and learn in a safe, nurturing environment.
Please make sure you take lessons from a certified school or instructor with insurance. Many schools will issue a card after your lesson detailing your experience and level. If you are having trouble choosing a qualified school, get in touch with your local kiteboarding association. Your local association will be able to supply a list of the most credible schools.
Frequently Ask Question By Beginners?
How much does it cost to start kiteboarding?
A full set of gear (board, kite, bar, lines, and harness) will run you anywhere from $500 to $2000 depending on what you decide to buy. Many manufacturers offer entry-level packages that are very reasonable.
Is kiteboarding easy?
Yes and no. With good instruction, most people enjoy an incredibly fast learning curve. Without instruction, trying to learn kiteboarding can be frustrating and dangerous.
Do I need to be in good shape to kiteboard?
A basic level of fitness is all you usually need. Modern gear can be adjusted to work for people with a broad range of physical ability.
Why can’t I just learn from a video or a magazine?
You can learn a lot from videos and magazines, but there is no substitute for having an instructor provide feedback, share local knowledge, maximize safety and customize instruction to your individual needs. Not to mention most of them are really cool guys!
Why can’t I just learn from my friend?
A friend is a good starting point, but he likely won’t have the beginner-friendly gear nor the patience and experience to give you the most effective lesson.
How much do lessons cost?
Lessons can range from around $150 to $300 for the basics.
How do I find a school in my area?
Your local kiteboarding association or retail shop should be able to provide a list of schools in your area. Check out the back page.
Do I need any skills before I take a lesson?
All you need is to be comfortable in the water and ready to learn. Many people learn kiteboarding despite limited board-sport experience.
Why do lessons focus on flying the kite?
Flying the kite well is at least 90 percent of kiteboarding. Trying to ride a board without having good kite skills is like trying to wakeboard behind a boat that is swerving and changing speeds. It can be dangerous, and it is not much fun.
How can I tell which way the wind is blowing and its strength?
Pick up some sand and toss it into in the air. The sand will blow in the direction of the wind. There are several efficient wind meters on the market that measure wind speeds accurately. It’s a minimal investment that will help you ensure you take out the right kite.
How much wind do I need to go?
With the right gear, a 170-pound person with average skill can ride and stay upwind in as little as 6 mph
Is it safe to jump on land with my kite?
It is never safe to jump on land at any level of kiting expertise.
What happens if I put my kite up and I am lifted off the ground?
This can be a frightening experience when learning to kite. Don’t panic! Try to sit down and steer the kite slowly to the side of the edge of the window. If someone is around, have them hold you down until you can safely land your kite. If all else fails, grab the tether on your leash and let your bar go. This will depower your kite enough so you won’t get hurt.
What kites are best to learn with?
Many foils are used for trainer kites. However, it is recommended you use either a foil kite that can re-launch efficiently or use an inflatable. Most schools teach with inflatable kites.
How many kites do I need?
Modern kites can handle a wide range of wind conditions. In most areas, you can get by with two or three kites.
What happens when you crash your kite?
With some instruction and practice, many kites (especially inflatables) can be re-launched from the water. Make sure to find out if your kite is water re-launchable. If so, take the time to learn this important skill.
Can I put straps on a surfboard or use any old wakeboard to learn?
Yes, you can use either, but your learning curve will be shortened with a board designed specifically for kiteboarding
Do I have to live near an ocean to kiteboard?
No! Anywhere with a stretch of clear land, water, snow, and wind can be ridden. People ride on lakes, rivers, snowfields, grass fields, even hard-packed dirt. So for all of you middle Americans, this sport is the best-kept secret. Take it to your windblown lakes and snowfields!
Is it safe to ride in offshore winds?
It is never safe to ride in any conditions you cannot handle. Make a plan before you go out and designate where you will drift if you or your equipment fails. Most importantly, never ride alone!
Safety rules to be followed
For kiteboarding in safety, some theoretical information concerning the environment in which we should have kitesurf, the equipment and the rules to be followed in order to prevent accidents, damages, and dangerous situations.
The kiteboarding is a wonderful sport that can be dangerous if you don’t know and/or respects some basic rules of sailing and if you don’t practice kiteboarding in the right conditions. If you like to start with kiteboarding, a kitesurf course with a qualified instructor should be getting in order to be self-independent and safety rules and instructions must be respected.
- Never do kiteboarding alone: have kitesurfed with a friend should be nice for the company and helpful for sharing tips and for mutual helping and support
- Find out about the regulations on regional and municipal ordinances and on local customs, especially with regard to the safety devices required (quick release, leash, life jacket, helmet, etc.)
- Read all the features of the spot and check the accessibility of a downwind point to be used in case of leeway
- Always watch the weather forecast to know the intensity and direction of the wind in order choose which is the best spot for kitesurfing. Important: It is good practice to avoid kiteboarding with Offshore wind unless a launch and recovery service is available
- Choose the right kite size according to the wind. In case the intensity is unclear, get the wind intensity with an anemometer. Never kitesurfing with an oversized kite
- Arm (install) the kite carefully and check if safety systems (Kite Quick release and quick release of the leash) are well working
- Never arm/run/land in unsafe conditions (avoid the presence of obstacles/bathers/ other kites in the area you are kitesurfing)
- When not in use, do not leave your kite unattended on the beach
Launching and landing phases
- The majority of accidents during kitesurfing happen when the kite is on the beach, during the takeoff or in the moments before the entry into the water: in those moments it is necessary to pay close attention.
- Recheck that lines are well armed before the kite take-off
- Get help just from experienced kiteboarders and use the appropriate signals for take-off and landing the kite
- Do not take-off the kite in the presence of obstacles (people, animals or things) and be careful to have a safe distance downwind (if it is possible at least twice the length of the lines)
- Do not stay on the beach with the kite in flight longer than the strictly necessary time for entry in the water
- Do not go in the water alone: better to be kept under control by someone or bring a device to call for help in case of need (e.g. a mobile phone)
- Monitor the weather and any changes on wind direction and intensity
- Maintain a safe distance from other kitesurf, windsurf, boats of all kinds, swimmers, and obstacles in general
- Be aware of our limits and possibilities: manage the time and difficulty of the sailing according to our level of experience and to our physical conditions
- Don’t go away from the beach too far: calculate a distance from the beach that allows to easy return In case of problems
Foils, Inflatables, Two-line, Four-line Have you ever noticed that at almost every beach you go to there are always some guys talking about the right or wrong gear to use? Of course, they are the ones using the correct gear, and in their opinion, everything else sucks. Are you confused about what type of gear you should be riding? Don’t let these people get to you. Remember, the most important thing is that you use the equipment you are most comfortable with.
What’s a foil?
A foil kite uses a double surface structure that provides a foil-like airflow similar to a traditional wing. Its wing-like shape is supported by a bridge that connects to a number of points on the kite’s base and leads to a two- or four-line connection. Typically foils maintain their shape by air continually flowing into the leading edge and filling a series of cells within the body of the kite. No need for any pumps here! The kite will maintain its shape until its leading edge is moved out of the wind. The flat wing shape of a foil gives it a greater projected area, which equals more power and efficiency.
What’s an inflatable?
An inflatable is a single-surface kite that has a semi-rigid structure. The inflatable’s leading edge and series of struts allow these kites to maintain their shape while flying. Once the bladders are pumped up, it takes on a curved shape and stays that way until the air is released, either by opening the kites valves or by a leak. Because an inflatable is more rigid than a foil kite, it requires fewer bridle lines or none at all. Overall, inflatables are the most popular type of kite to use for kiteboarding because they float and, in general, they’re pretty easy to re-launch.
What’s up with two-lines?
The big advantage to flying a two-line kite is simplicity. It’s easier to set up and put away, and there’s less chance of getting tangled. Because of these features, beginners may prefer to learn on two line inflatable kites, which also tend to be easier to re-launch.
What about four-lines?
Four-line kites give you added leverage, making the kite very quick and responsive. On four-line inflatable kites, you have the ability to sheet the kite in and out, thereby adjusting the kite’s power in gusts and lulls by changing the pitch of the front lines. This really opens up the wind range of the kite. Four-lines can be more complex when setting up because there are four lines to deal with, making a greater potential for tangles. Despite this, four-line kites are very popular and have expanded the light-air limits of kiteboarding.
What’s up with three-lines?
Most three-line kites are foils where the break line bridles are attached to a single line that runs down to the center of the bar thus giving the name the three line kite. Many of the modern three lines are designed to give the rider the ability to change the pitch of the leading edge by using a chicken loop system, which allows the rider to power and depowers the kite through the gusts and lulls.
The Kitesurf equipment consists of 4 main items (plus the pump required to inflate the inflatable kites):
The kite, the bar and lines, the board and the harness.
The kite can be divided into two main categories:
This kind of kites, which inflates automatically with the wind, is powerful and lightweight but slow. Foil kites are not recommended for using on the sea because, when falling on the water, they will fill up with water and the re-launching of kite is compromised
Pump Kite (inflatable kite)
Equipped with inflatable bladders, pump kites are the most suitable for use on the sea because they can be easily re-launched, they are easily visible and they constitute a good lifesaver in case of need.
The pump kites, depending on their shape, are divided into:
- C kite that has a C-shape
- Bow kite that has an arc shape; they are equipped with bridle for connecting the lines, have a total de-power system and a wind range much wider than the C-kite.
Different types of kites will have different sizes. These sizes are indicated by a number that roughly represents the kite surface in square meters. With a certain wind intensity, with the increasing of the kite size the kite power increase too but it decreases the speed and the kite handling. Each brand of kite recommends a wind range in which a kite of a specific size can be used. Given the cost of kites, we must carefully choose the correct size according to the wind “average” present in your area to your weight. In general:
- if we have a weight of about 75 kg, the most suitable size to buy is “10”,
- if we have a weight of about 50 kg, the most suitable size to buy is “8”.
Bar and lines
The bar, which has a width of about 50 cm, and the lines allow us to control the
kite. The lines (which are in Dyneema or Spectra and have a strength from 150 to 350 kg for each line), through which the kite is controlled and connected to our body, are normally four:
- The “Front-Lines”; these lines, that connect the front part of the kite to our body through a rubber ring (chicken loop) and the harness, transmit us the power of the kite
- The “Back-Lines”; through these lines, that connect the back part of the kite to the bar, allow us to control the kite.
The harness allows us to connect our body to the kite. It consists in a soft part that wraps around the abdomen and a metallic part (hook) to connect the “front lines” through the chicken loop
BOARD! WHAT SHOULD I RIDE?
The kite-boards can be of two types:
These kinds of boards have a bow and a stern and are typically used for surfing
the waves. These boards are used always in the same direction.
Bi-directional boards (Twin tip)
These boards are symmetrical, very easy to handle and compact ( they have a size between 120 to 160 cm in length). With these boards, the sailing direction can be changed simply reversing the direction of the kite without moving the feet.
Kiteboarding encompasses such a variety of riding styles it’s no wonder there are so many types of boards to choose from. You can have a blast on pretty much any board, but some are better-suited for certain types of riding. Here are some generalizations that may help you decide among directionals, twin-tips, and wakeboards.
Directionals have a clear nose and tail, and usually, have three-foot straps and three or four fins toward the tail. They can range from 4’6” to 8’6” long and are usually between 16” and 20” wide. If you are used to surfboards or sailboards you may find directionals have the most familiar feel. They are popular in the surf and in flat water for riders who like a “surfy” feel to their boards. Directionals are thought by many people to be the easiest boards for beginners to get upwind, and consequently easy to learn on.
Wakeboards aren’t usually the wakeboards used behind boats, but they look pretty similar. Wakeboard-style boards are popular among riders who are into wakeboarding behind a boat and like technical wake-style tricks or who like to use their edge to ride very powered up. Twin-tips offer versatility. If you want a board that works in the widest variety of conditions, twin-tips may be the ticket. They allow you to switch directions (jibe) with the ease of a wakeboard, yet they work over a wide wind range like many directionals.