Q: What is Kiteboarding?
Kiteboarding has been around for some time now, but if you haven’t heard of it yet, that’s ok! Check out this video for a bit of motivation and inspiration….
Kiteboarding (or landkiting/landboarding and snowkiting) involve a kite, harness and board. The rider utilizes the power of the wind to move (think of wakeboarding without the boat, or snowboarding without needing a slope).
The sport can be done on the water, land or snow-making it extremely versatile. In addition to being able to practice on any terrain, the disciplines range from free-riding, freestyle, surf style, foil and racing. There is literally something for everyone within this sport.
Q: Is kitesurfing difficult?
Yes…and no! Kitesurfing is difficult without lessons (which we highly discourage). With the guidance of a professional, certified instructor, kitesurfing becomes much easier.
- Do I really need lessons to do this?
As we answered in the previous question: yes. There are several reasons for this:
- Progression: What may take you a long time to learn on your own is fast tracked with an instructor. As an IKO instructor, I am trained to teach you using a “crawl-walk-run” methodology. All of the skills taught build on one another. As a result, you not only learn more quickly, but you learn the right way (and therefore avoid developing any bad habits).
- Personal Safety: Kiteboarding is an extreme sport. A responsible kiteboarder should be able to make the appropriate decisions based on weather, the spot and his/her own ability level before riding. During your lessons, you will learn how to make those decisions and also learn about the safety features of the kite that will keep you safe and having fun.
- Public Safety: Not only can kitesurfing be dangerous for the rider, but (and perhaps more so) it can be dangerous for the public. You will encounter many people who still do not know what kiteboarding is and they won’t understand, for example, to not go near your kite. Because of this, it is important that you as a rider understand how to control your kite to avoid injury of a third party.
- Legality of the sport: Kiteboarding is constantly in danger of being shut down by regulations prohibiting it on the beach. This danger is largely a result of irresponsible riders.
Q: I’m not in very good shape, can I still do it?
Of course! People of all shapes, sizes and ages can practice kitesurfing. Kitesurfing does not require a high level of physical fitness to ride. Now, the more aggressive you are with the sport, the higher the level of physical fitness required. However, for 90% of riders, it isn’t an issue and they will never need anything more than their current level of physical fitness.
Q: I’m not a very good Swimmer, is that OK?
No, you need to be at least an intermediate swimmer to kitesurf safely. There may be times when you will have to do what we call a “self-rescue” and swim into shore with your kite. There may also be (albeit rare) situations where you will need to do a type of self-rescue where you do not have a fully buoyant kite. In those instances, you will need to rely on your swimming skills. Don’t worry though-the buoyancy provided by your harness and the salinity in the water make floating pretty easy even without the kite!
Q: Should I buy my equipment first or do you supply it?
If you are 100% sure you are going to learn and to continue practice kiteboarding, then yes, buy your own equipment! Learning on your own kit is incredibly beneficial. However, this is not necessary to do. We recommend that you take lessons first to not only decide if you like kiting, but to decide where you would like to go with the sport (e.g. what discipline you are interested in and the area you are kiting in) as this will affect what type of equipment is best for you.
When you do make the decision to buy your own equipment, speak to your instructor first. They will be able to best guide you into the brand and model of kite, board and harness that is best for you!
Q: It’s cold here, what kind of wetsuit will I need?
The water is cold here and if you decide to invest in a wetsuit, we recommend a 4/3 mm or thicker. Women or those more intolerant to cold may want to invest in thicker wetsuits.
Q: Why do I need to use a trainer kite first?
Trainer kites are a useful and often underutilized tool in kitesurfing. A Trainer kite is a 2 or 3 line kite that teaches you only how to steer the kite. However, any kite that does not have the capability to pull the pilot off balance can be considered a trainer kite.
When using an LEI (Leading Edge Inflatable) or 4 line foil kite for kitesurfing, you control the steering of the kite as well as the power (angle of attack) of the kite. To make your learning easier, we “crawl” (remember the “crawl-walk-run” methodology) using the trainer kite and steering before we “walk” and start using the 4 line kites.
During your lesson, you will learn how to properly steer the trainer kite, where the wind is strongest and movement drills with the kite that you will later mimic with your 4 line kite.
Q: How long does it take to learn?
The timeline with students varies based on several factors: what you want out of the lesson (e.g. do you just want the experience of kiteboarding or do you want to learn how to become an independent kiteboarder?), your previous experience with boardsports, your previous experience with kite flying, your style of learning, comfort in the water, etc.
On average, to become an independent kiteboarder, you will need 7-9 hours of lessons. This timeline can be condensed or extended based on the student. Our instructors do not move onto the next step in the progression until the previous step is mastered- this is for your safety.
Q: It looks dangerous, will I get hurt?
Kiteboarding is a fun and safe sport when practiced safely. Conservative kitesurfers who make sound decisions about the wind, weather and water, know their own ability level and avoid jumping solid objects will almost never get hurt.
Q: Can children practice kitesurfing?
Yes, children can practice kitesurfing. Younger children (less than 10) may be limited depending on their maturity, interest level, swimming capability and/or weight. At that stage, we focus more on learning the skills of kite flying. Children older than 10 can become involved in traditional kitesurfing.
It is important to understand as a parent that, for the safety of the child, lessons follow a much different lesson plan. Your child’s time spent kitesurfing extends over a longer period of time to ensure that your child is safe and feels comfortable with the kite on the water.
Q: Can I kitesurf in light wind? Strong wind?
The wind that you are able to kitesurf in depends on your kite size and your ability level.
Light winds (8 knots or less at the lull): Contrary to what you might think, light winds are actually more advanced conditions. Riders need to understand the wind window and how to generate the most power out of the kite-while also preventing it from stalling and..literally falling out of the sky!
Strong Winds (24 knots or more): While strong winds can be great at times (it’s pretty easy to board start in this wind), it can be an unforgiving teacher. The stronger the wind, the bigger your mistakes become. Always be sure that your instructor has signed off on you working in strong winds.
Your kite size also determines what wind speeds you can venture out in. Generally, the larger your kite, the lighter the wind and vice versa. Your weight and ability level affect this as well, but don’t take your 12 meter out in 25 knots, no matter how good you are.
Q: I’m a windsurfer, is it difficult to learn kiteboarding?
Windsurfers generally have a very good knowledge/understanding of the wind and the theory behind it because you are directly connected to the sail when riding. Additionally, these riders have excellent board skills. With that understanding, windsurfers have some difficulty in “fighting with the kite”. In Windsurfing, you need to have some strength to handle the boom. Windsurfers tend to carry this habit over to kitesurfing which becomes counter-productive. The touch on the bar to steer the kite and change the angle of attack of the wing is light (and in reality, can be done with just a single finger on each hand). Besides this, once windsurfers learn to let the harness handle the pull of the kite, they do quite well.
Q: Will my wakeboarding/snowboarding/skiing skills help?
Absolutely. Any time that you have spent on any kind of board: wakeboard, snowboard, skateboard and even surfboards help you with kitesurfing. You understand weight distribution, edging and the feel of the board better than someone who has never tried a board sport. Once you learn how to fly the kite (which in the beginning takes a significant amount of time), you board skills will “kick in” and you will progress more quickly.