In recent years, kitesurfing has become one of the fastest growing watersports in the world and has attracted many extreme sport lovers. One of the most interesting aspects of kitesurfing, is that it combines various elements from different types of sports like skateboarding, windsurfing, surfing and paragliding.
What is Kitesurfing?
Also known as kiteboarding, kitesurfing is a wind powered watersport which uses a board and a kite to propel you across the water. Basically, you utilize a board which looks like a surfboard to surf in the open waters, and are powered by the kite to generate the pull which you need to surf over, in and out of the waves.
How To Get Started
Unlike some sports which you can easily teach yourself via trial and error, kiteboarding is a sport which requires training and lessons from a qualified kitesurfing instructor. Investing in kitesurfing lessons with a qualified kiteboarding instructor will be cash well spent, since you will not only learn how to ride safely, but you will also learn to kiteboard much faster.
It is important to note that learning how to kitesurf requires lots of patience, therefore it’s recommended that you diligently go through the various kitesurfing lessons so as to be best prepared for it. You should also consider joining a kitesurfing school or a kiteboarding camp where you will learn more on how to progress from a beginner, how to buy the right kitesurfing equipment, how to learn tricks and much more. That said, here are some of the things you are expected to learn before you go kitesurfing;
-How to set up your kite properly
-How to launch, fly and land a kite safely
-Kite control on land and in the water
-Understanding the weather conditions and exactly how wind window works
-Understanding wind direction, gusts, currents, tides and hazards
-Getting on the board and riding
-Choosing the right kitesurfing equipment for your skill level and conditions
-Safety measures and what you need to do in case of an emergency
Apart from teaching you how to set up and ride in a relatively short period of time, a qualified instructor will also teach you about kiteboarding safety tips, rules and regulations. Some of them include;
-Avoid going out in weather conditions that are above your skill level or ability.
-Always use the right kite size for your height, weight and wind strength.
-Carefully consider the other beach goers and kiteboarders when launching and landing your kite.
-Always assess the local hazards and take the necessary steps to avoid them.
-Never jump in shallow waters, near objects or near other riders.
-Stay away from boats, buoys, piers, groynes and such other objects
-Avoid going kitesurfing alone.
-Follow the laid down guidelines.
-Do not grab or touch the kite lines when they’re under tension.
-Always use a safety hook leash.
-Wear a helmet and an impact vest for protection
-Make sure all of your kitesurfing gear is well maintained.
How To Progress From a Beginner
Kiteboarding is not something you can easily learn in a single day and become a pro. There are certain skills you need to acquire before you progress from a beginner. As a beginner you need to take numerous lessons, and keep practicing, then you can advance from there with the help of a skilled kitesurfing instructor.
When you are a beginner, wider and longer boards are ideal because they provide more buoyancy, are much easier to stay upright on and they’re less prone to crashes due to riding error. Most boards for beginners also have boots which lock the riders to the board for enhanced safety. As you progress from a beginner to a more casual kiteboarder, you can use a board with simple foot straps which allow your feet to slip in and out freely; this will allow you to do more advanced tricks while riding.
Different Types of Kite Equipment
Beginners are usually excited about purchasing the best kiteboarding equipment that they can find on the market. However, it’s important that you buy the correct kitesurfing equipment that you need at a particular level. As a beginner, you need the kitesurfing equipment which will help you learn all the kiteboarding basics in a easier and better way. Here are the different types of kite equipment;
-Kite; Generally speaking, this is a large kite that comes with different controls and it’s designed to pull the rider. It has the ability to re-launch off the water and generate enough pull you upright on the board. The kites are usually available in 2 main forms namely, foil kite and LEI kite, also known as (Leading Edge Inflatable kite). However, there are various other kite designs available in the market. Sizes vary from 4 meters to 9 meters, and the size you pick will depend on your weight, height and riding conditions.
-Control bar and line; You need to choose the right length, weight and size to match your kite. As a rider, you will hold the control bar so as to control the kite and rotate it clockwise or counter clockwise. Most of the control bars available in the market come with a quick release safety system.
-Board; Choosing a board which offers the most learning benefits is important for beginners. Therefore, when you’re buying a board, make sure you choose one that is large and fits your height, weight and your experience level.
-Harness; A harness is one of the most overlooked kitesurfing gear. When choosing your harness, keep in mind that it is directly connected to your own body, hence it needs to fit well. There are two main types of harnesses, namely, the waist harness and the seat harness.
-Helmet; If you’re a beginner it’s advisable you protect yourself by always wearing a helmet. A helmet will protect your head from trauma, head lacerations and many other neck and spine injuries in case things happen to go wrong when you’re learning to ride. Remember to choose a helmet that is specifically designed for kiteboarding.
-Wetsuit; If you will be learning or riding in cold weather conditions, consider getting a wetsuit so as to protect yourself from the strong winds by reducing excessive heat loss from your body. Many kiteboarders also wear wetsuits to protect themselves from sea life like jellyfish.
Apart from the aforementioned kitesurfing equipment you will also need to get a safety hook knife, a safety leash, flying lines, a personal floatation device, gloves, eye protection and a GPS.
Famous Kitesurfing Spots
-Maui, Hawaii; This arguably one of the most famous kiteboarding spots in the world, and the Kite Beach is probably the ideal place to experience everything Maui has to offer. This beautiful tropical beach has long stretches of warm waters, steady winds and gentle waves for all riders to enjoy.
-Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands; Grand Cayman has among the best kitesurfing weather conditions on the planet. The winds are usually steady and warm, and the numerous protected bays which can be found all over this beautiful island, offer plenty of room for beginners to advance their skills and for professional riders to cruise around.
-La Ventana, Baja California; This spot is consistently ranked as one of the best spots for kitesurfing. Here, riders can enjoy great winds and warm waters all through from fall to spring; this makes it a great destination for spring breakers and winter breakers looking to learn how to kitesurf, and also professionals looking to practice new tricks.
-Tarifa, Spain; This is the most popular kitesurfing spot in Europe. Tarifa is a true kite surfing paradise for both beginners and expert riders. It’s blessed with warm waters, consistent winds, 300 days of sun annually, delicious foods and a vibrant nightlife.
Can anyone kiteboard?
Definitely. Anybody between the ages of 10 and 80 years and is physically fit can kitesurf. However, this does not mean you have to be muscular or with an extraordinary physique in order to learn how to kiteboard.
Where can I find kitesurfing schools?
Since kitesurfing has become so popular in recent years, you will be able to find schools almost everywhere. That said, make sure you look for schools which have qualified instructors with IKO (i.e International Kiteboarding Organization) certification.