Archive for the ‘ Beginners ’ Category

Kiteboarding: Going upwind.

For kiteboarders going upwind is the skill that marks the end of being a beginner and finally being able to try those big jumps. However this is one of the skills that beginners find the most difficult.

Here I’ll relay the advice of an experienced kiteboarders using whose wisdom helped me put the walk of shame behind me forever:

  1. First start going slightly downwind on a broad reach till you pick up a little speed.
  2. When you have gained a little speed, dig in the heel side edge of your board and turn your body to look at a point about 30 degrees upwind from the direction you are headed. Your head and your shoulders should be squared to the upwind point.  As your head turns so should your board. It should be pointed slightly ahead of your intended point. Its very important to keep the board  between you and the kite.
  3. Move the kite in a small sine wave so that you can “feel” the changes in wind direction and speed.
  4. As and when you feel the wind change, adjust the direction of the board. If the wind lessens or if it veers toward the direction that your traveling then point your board slightly downwind – this will compensate for the slower pull of the wind. If the wind picks up or it starts blowing away from the direction of travel then you can edge the board harder to maintain your speed. These shifts in wind are called “headers”. You’ll soon realise that you can use the gusts of wind to go upwind at a steeper angle.
  5. Both your legs should be slightly bent and your upper body should be pointing towards the upwind point your trying to get to. Also, you should be going slower than when your going on a broad reach.

Soon you’ll realise that going upwind is all about using these wind shifts so that you are moving upwind most of the time. With practice your ability to keep the kite and you moving upwind will increase. Its all a matter of continously checking your direction and making changes on your board direction as the wind changes – ie in gusts you point the board more up wind and in lulls you point the board slightly less upwind.

When starting out you should really exaggerate squaring up yours shoulders to the upwind body. This is the key to being able to go upwind.

After learning to go upwind, you’ll be ready to jump which will make you even more addicted to kiteboarding.

bigsurf
Image credit: chrischappelear.

The best way to get started kiteboarding is to take a beginner lesson at a local kitesurfing school. Please read this article on What To Do Before Your First Kitesurfing Lesson to learn how you can save money on a beginner kitesurfing lesson by preparing for it before hand. Lessons are not cheap and reading that article could save you the cost of extra lessons (ie, at least $200). Not a bad deal for 15 minutes of your time!

When should I think of buying gear?

You should only think of buying gear after your first lesson and after you feel this sport is for you. Kiteboarding equipment is expensive so make sure you understand what your buying. I will write a separate blog post on what equipment to buy.

What should I do after the lesson?

Most kiteboarding schools will offer a service in which they will take you out to kiteboard at a nice shallow spot where they will keep an eye on you while you practice your new sport. This will be usually much cheaper than a lesson and will usually involve them helping you out when you get into trouble (eg: if the wind dies and your in the middle of the bay, or if one of your lines break etc). I would highly recommend you taking advantage of such a supervised type of situation.

If the above is not available then you should try to get a bunch of people together so that you can split the cost of a rescue boat or find a spot where its very shallow and you can practice without fear of not being able to make it back when the wind dies.

Always make sure that the wind is side shore or side on shore so that in the worst case scenario, you can drop your kite and it will float back to the beach.

What kind of equipment should I buy?

Generally you want to buy a stable kite which is easily re-launchable and forgiving in gusty conditions. For a board, you want some with a lot of surface area as these are more stable and easier to balance against the pull of a kite. I have 2 waroos which is also one of the cheaper kites on the market.

How can I make sure I am safe while kitesurfing?

The most important part that schools omit when you learn to kiteboard is the psychological mindset that you need when your learning to kitebaord. I’ve seen many kiteboarders buy expensive gear and take a lot of lessons and then, on the first day that they kiteboard on their own, they realise how dangerous kiteboarding can actually get and quit the sport.

Kiteboarding is dangerous. You need to accept that before you can become a real kiteboarder. The only way to accept that is if you realise that there are a lot of variables that affect your safety when you kitesurf and the way to stay safe is to keep those variables within the bounds that you are comfortable with.

The specific variables that I’m talking about are:

  1. Weather conditions. If its windier than 22 mph then dont go out. Dont go out if its more than your comfortable with. If the wind is blowing offshore then dont go out.
  2. Location of the kitesurfing spot: The ocean will have  a bigger waves and you will have to self rescue yourself back to shore if the wind dies as your feet wont be able to touch the floor. However in a shallow bay, you’d have the option to literally walk back to shore if the wind dies.
  3. Gear. Check your safety release each time before you go out. Make sure it works! And dont forget to reset it after you;ve tested it. Make sure your lines are all okay and dont have knots and arent strayed from excessive use.
  4. Protective Gear: Wear a helmet to protect your head and an impact vest to protect your torso.
  5. Number of people around to help you in case of a problem. Always go out kiting with a friend. If you cant find anyone to go with then dont go out.

Remember, if in doubt then dont go out. Take another lesson if you have to but only kiteboard when your confident. (Of course if you have kiteboarding in your blood, your not going to listen :)

Stay safe and good winds!

-Vivek

lots_of_kiters
Image credit: Ingrid Taylar.

Hi there! If your reading this, you’ve stumbled upon my little effort in de-mystifing the sport of kitesboarding. Kiteboarding is one of those sports which can be really hard for some people but very easy for others to pick up. If your finding it a little difficult then this site is for you. You’ll realize that a large reason why kiteboarding can be so difficult to learn has really nothing to do with you!

I will be discussing everything from kitesurfing equipment to kitesurfing vacations to the psychology of kiteboarding. I hope this site grows into an information source and a community for kiteboarding beginners.

Why am I doing this? Well kitesurfing (or kiteboarding) is complicated and I’d like to make it a little easier for people to understand and enjoy. Its also really expensive and reading this blog may save you a few 100’s of dollars!