The most frequent question that I get is, How long does it take to learn?
That is a tough question and one that doesn’t really have an exact answer. Your learning process is very unique and everyone comes into the classes with a different background. Learning to kiteboard can take an average of 4-10 hours. The goal at the end of the classes is that you are independent, safe.
Classes are 2-3 hours in length. I do not recommend taking longer sessions in one day.
Beginner classes are taught in La Boca (near Matanzas). This area is flat and shallow with boat support if necessary. While other places in Chile are certainly windy, this is the closest spot to Santiago that offers the necessary conditions for teaching beginners.
Advanced classes are taught in Playa Ritoque. Advanced classes can be taught in other locations, contact me for more info!
At the conclusion of your classes, you will receive an IKO kiteboarder certification dependent on the level reached.
To help answer questions about the process, here are the steps to learning that each student must go through! Each step builds on the other and focused, as always, on being independent and safe!
Trainer Kite: I use a 3-meter trainer kite with each new student. This kite allows the student to explore the wind window (more on that in wind theory!) and learn about how to move the kite.
Set-up and Safety: Setting up your kite and lines is easy once you get the hang of it! During each class, you will practice setting up (as well as packing away) the equipment. Each class will also include a review of safety procedures at the beginning of each class.
Basic Wind Theory: Since we are using the wind, it is pretty important to know a bit about the theory! While you will have already learned some of this with the trainer kite portion of your training, you will learn the basics.
Flying the kite on the edge of the wind window: The wind window is simply what we call the space where we fly the kite. Learning to fly the kite on the edge of the wind window is important as this is the area with the least pull. Therefore, we use it for different skills, including upwind body drags and launching/landing the kite.
Relaunching the kite from the water: Inevitably, your kite will fall in the water (or, more likely, you crash it in the water!). Learning how to safely and effectively relaunch the kite is an important part of the training.
Self-Rescue (Basic): Students learn the most basic way to conduct a self-rescue in the water.
Hand Signal Review: This is a review of the hand signals that an instructor uses to communicate with the student in the water. While I work with a radio helmet, equipment can always break down! For extra safety, we also reinforce hand signals combined with a whistle to get the student’s attention.
Downwind Body Drags: This is a really fun part because this is where you get to put power in the kite! We use the downwind body drags to simulate the movement you will need to do with the kite to do water starts. We first do downwind body drags in a half-circular 8 motion and then practice getting power in the kite and setting it to receive a constant pull.
Advanced Wind Theory and Kiteboarding etiquette: This is our opportunity to review anything not already covered in wind theory as well as some “rules of the road” and etiquette for when you are on the water with other kiteboarders!
Upwind Body Drags with and without the board: Upwind body drags are also a key skill to learn, and one that students inevitably don’t enjoy that much! Why is it important? First, an upwind body drag allows you to recover your board when you inevitably crash and fall downwind of the board. We also teach the movement with the board as this is an effective way to both leave and approach the shore (beginners should only begin board starts with some distance from shore for safety).
Self-Rescue (Basic and advanced): This is a review of the basic self-rescue and an introduction to more advanced self-rescue techniques.
Hand Signal Review: Students review the hand signals already learned as well as hand signals used for launching and landing the kite on the beach.
Launching and landing the kite: Besides safety, this is a skill that allows you to be independent! Launching and landing the kite on the beach can be intimidating. Students learn how to safely launch and land the kite as well as how to be an assistant for another kiteboarder who wants to launch or land their kite.
Board Starts: Finally, the board! We do spend a lot of time on the kite, but because it is such an integral part of riding! Once the student gains mastery over the kite skills, we begin with the first attempts to ride.
Deep Water Self-rescue: This may happen at any point in the board lesson, but it will happen! Practicing a self-rescue in shallow water is one thing, but in deep-water it becomes a completely different situation! Students will have at least 1 deep water self-rescue during their classes.
Riding and Upwind Riding: When you first start to ride, it is downwind (don’t worry, it is normal and every student has to go through this process!). Once you get more confident riding, we begin to work on riding upwind. This gives a kiteboarder even more independence. If you can ride upwind, you can go wherever you like!
Transitions: Learn how to change directions without dropping back down into the water.
Advanced lessons include toe-side riding, jumping, tricks and advanced safety.