kite_pumping
Image credit: Andre Charland.

Kiteboarding lessons are expensive! And thus you have to make sure that you get the most out of the ones you take unless you have a rich daddy. This article will help you get the most out of your first beginner kiteboarding lessons in case, like me, you dont have a rich daddy.

Having taken kitesurfing lessons with different companies, I’ve seen my share of good lessons and bad ones. Looking back over the lessons that I’ve taken, I’ve realised that there is one big difference between a useful and a useless lesson. And it is : preparation. Dont get me wrong, there are a lot of other factors as well but this aspect (ie, preparation) is something that you can fully control.

The act of preparation dictates how much value you get out of the lesson and the number of follow-on lessons you need to acquire a particular skill.  By preparing for a lesson ahead of time, you achieve much more during your lesson. Sometimes you may even be able to execute the skill that you’re focussing on during that lesson. This usually leads to saving a lot of money because you have spent the bare minimum, on lessons, to learn that particular skill.

Here are 7 things you can do to prepare for your first kiteboarding lesson:

1. Practice on a trainer kite

Practicing on a trainer kite is the BEST preparation you can do before your first kiteboarding lesson. This is because during your first lessons, the instructor will be teaching you with one. You will save about 2 hours on your lesson ($200!!) if you can show that you can fly a trainer kite with your eyes closed (literally).

Have a look at my post How To Practice On A Kiteboarding Trainer Kite to learn more on trainer kites and how you can use them.

This video tells you how to use and learn with a trainer kite : http://vimeo.com/4133932

2. Check The Weather

Make sure the wind forecast is between 15mph and 24mph. You could do it with a little less wind but its usually easier to get on the board if you are slightly more powered up. Also you dont want too much wind because this will pull you right off the board and could be dangerous.

All in all you want the following on the day that your going to learn how to waterstart:

  • Wind direction should side shore or side-on-shore
  • Wind speed should be between 14mph – 21 mph. The more gusty the wind, the harder it will be for you to learn.
  • The water should be flat with little or no chop.

Do not underestimate the weather. If you the conditions are worse than the above given parameters then getting on the board will be exponentially harder unless your athletically built. I’ve seen a lot of people give up kiteboarding because they kept taking lessons in less than perfect conditions and blamed themselves for not being able to get on the board.

While your learning to kiteboard there are a LOT of variables. The weather is usually the biggest variable you need to give allowance for.

3. Watch an beginners instructional video

If your going for a beginner kitesurfing lesson then I highly recommend that you rent or buy Progression – Beginner 2nd Edition

. This is a great DVD which explains everything you will need to know before you take a lesson.

Its not the most exciting of DVDs but is priceless with respect to the time you will save on the water.

I highly recommend the Progression Beginner DVD. If you just use the steps 1-3 I think you have a very high chance of getting on the board within your first lesson.

4. Visualise The Water Start in Your Mind

During a 9 hour or 8 hour beginner kitesurfing lesson, the most important thing you will need to get a handle on is the waterstart. This is the safest way to get going on a kiteboard and it will become second nature. I feel that the hardest part of kitesurfing is learning this skill. Many a people do give up right here.

The secret to the water start is to breakdown the maneuver in your mind into a series of steps and visualise each part in your mind.

Eg: For a water start for a beginner:

  1. Kite at 12, knees should be bent. You should return to this position before attempting to waterstart again.
  2. Move kite to 11 oclock and bring down to 2oclock into the wind window.
  3. As the tension increases and when you feel the pull of the kite, point board downwind while getting up on it.

Note: Keep board between you and the kite.

Visualise yourself performing these steps in the water.

  • Feel the water lapping around you and looking upto your kite and seeing the sun in the corner of your eye.
  • Feel the wind blowing and your board under your feet.
  • Next visualize looking at the kite in the sky and bringing it to 11o oclock.
  • And feel your board and body pointing downwind a little.
  • Then you swoop kite down into the wind window and feel it pull you. As you get pulled you point your board downwind, and try to get up on the board as you straighten your legs.
  • You then bring the kite back up into the window and then your going down wind and leaning back on your harness back while in the distance you hear yelps of delight and applause :) ….

Repeat the visualisation process till you cannot see how you could possibly NOT get on the board and sailing away.

5. Share your expectations

Share your with your instructor before you start your lesson.
Its very important that you get what you want out of your lesson. If your a beginner the school will already have a plan for the stages that you learnt.

List what you didnt like about your last lesson and share these with the instructor.

6. Things to do right before the lesson

Get your Gear in Order

This is a BIG BIG time waster if not done before your lesson. Kite lessons are real expensive and if your using your own equipment, try to set up the lesson such that the gear is ready to go within the first 10 minutes of the lesson. This way you can use the lesson riding instead of pumping your kite, talking to the instructor and paying him for the privilege.

Test your safety leash

Always always always always test your safety leash before you get in the water. This is very easy to do. Just put on your harness and put your chicken loop into your harness-hook. Next, have someone pull on your lines and then pull the safety system to see if detaches you from your kite. Make sure you put it back right after doing this.

Sand, salt water and other debris can get stuck in your safety release and can lead to a malfunction of the system. It takes 17.3 seconds to test a safety release and it could save your life.

7. During the lesson

Concentrate on one aspect that you want to improve

For eg: For a begginer, water starting and going down wind on long rides. For an intermediate: Doing your first jump and landing it or going upwind. Have fun!

Remember to Ask Questions

If you dont understand something, ask the instructor about it. Seriously, in kitesurfing you could get hurt because your unclear about something.

After the session, hang out with the instructor and ask him all of the questions that your mind should be exploding with in exchange for a beer too. With a good instructor you could learn a lot in the space of just a couple of beers. It will be the best drinks you ever buy another kiteboarder.

If your wondering which kitesurfing school to go to then have a look at my article named How To Choose A Kitesurfing School.