Archive for the ‘ Kitesurfing Lessons ’ Category

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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

kitesurfinglessonImage credit: tac1980.

Kiteboarding can kill you if you dont know what your doing. Always, ALWAYS, always, always take a beginner kiteboarding lesson when first learning how to kiteboard.

Imagine being attached to a 200hp motorboat which you have to control while your wakeboarding behind it. That is essentially what kiteboarding is. Now, imagine that its your first time on such a “self controlled wakeboard-motorboat”. Do you really think that, in your first time out, your going to be able to do all the following at the same time:
1. Control the speed, direction of the boat
2. Balance on the board so you dont fall off
3. Keep your bearings so you can return back to shore when your tired
4. Keep an eye out for rocks, debris and waves so you dont get thrown off the board
5. Control the boat after you’ve fallen off your board.

As a beginner, 99% of your time will be spent in just figuring out how to just get on the board itself. Ie, you would be lucky to just do item number 2 listed above and you can forget about doing anything else. Now imagine yourself falling off the board (but still attached to the boat) and losing control of the boat while its charging at the shore at 40mph.  This is how dangerous kiteboarding can be if your a rank beginner.

Not a pretty scenario, right? Thats why I implore everyone who reads this blog to take a lesson when your beginning kiteboarding.

Some of the basic benefits of a kiteboarding lesson are:

  1. Understand the Safety aspects of kiteboarding
  2. Understand what kind of weather conditions, environment is safe to kiteboard in as a beginner
  3. Understand and practice self rescue.
  4. Understand and practice setting up your own equipment

So please go take a lesson. Sometimes I feel that kiteboarding should have licensing rules like cars and boats do.

This blog has some good information about kiteboarding but is no substitute for a kiteboarding lesson. If you read the information in this blog first then you’ll get much more out of your lesson and even minimize the number of lessons you will need to take to start kiteboarding.

Be safe and may the wind be with you.

What is kiteboarding?

240706224_ac32f3ba7eImage credit: Andre Charland.

Description

Kiteboarding is the fastest growing sport in the world. It’s a combination of windsurfing, surfing and kite flying. It also has elements of snowboarding and wakeboarding. There is literally no feeling quite like kiteboarding on the ocean.

Kiteboarding is characterized by a rider whose feet are on a surf-board/kiteboard while being pulled by a kite in the air. He is connected to the kite by 25ft kevlar lines which hook into a harness. The board allows the rider to firstly, control his/her direction of travel and secondly, to manipulate the power generated by the kite.

What is the required fitness level for kiteboarding?

If you can run 4k in one go, swim a 100 meters without getting winded and if you are comfortable in open water then I think you will find it easy to kiteboard. I’ve seen kiteboarders of all weights and ages. Due to the large amount of power generated by a kite, in my honest opinion, the sport is more about technique than fitness. However if you find yourself in a dangerous situation then athletic fitness will definitely help.

How do I get started?

You should definitely start by taking lessons at your local kiteboarding school. Kiteboarding is one sport where you could get hurt very badly if you try to learn on your own. I have a written a few articles which will give you an idea of how to keep the cost of lessons to a minimum :

7 Things To Do Before Your First Kiteboarding Lesson

How To Practice On A Trainer Kite

If you read the above articles, do what they say and are in good athletic shape then I dare say that you’ll be able to get going on a kiteboard by the end of your first set of lessons. Most people will require quite a few more lessons to get on the board.

Where can I kitesurf?

You can kitesurf literally anywhere that you have side-shore wind and water. Some beaches do restrict kiteboarding and you should check with your local beaches if they allow it.

The easiest way to find out kite-able beaches is to find your local kiteboarding shop and ask them. KitesurfingSchool.com has a good list of all kiteboarding schools that you can start with. Otherwise google is your friend.

Some schools will, for a fee, ferry you to a location where you can practice your kiteboarding skills and help you out if you get into trouble. This is very useful if you are just starting to learn and you dont have complete faith in your ability to rescue yourself.

How much does it cost to get started kitesurfing?

The required minimum gear consists of

  • a kite,
  • a bar and lines to connect to the kite,
  • a board and
  • a harness.

Accessories that you may need depending on where you live include a wetsuit, a pfd, a helmet, a rashguard and waterproof glasses.

You can get kitted out for a second hand kiteboarding set from $600 to $800.

I would say that kiteboarding is initially, a little more expensive that snowboarding but cheaper in the long run. This is because you dont have to pay for lift tickets again and again and again :) .

How much time does it take to learn kitesurfing?

Learning to kiteboard is controlled more by external factors than anything that has to do with you. Namely, the weather, the quality of the instructor, the equipment etc. My article on waterstarting will give you an idea of how these factors will affect your learning.

If you account for all of the above external factors then I would say it will take about 12 hours of lessons on average to be able to get up on the board. Now this will vary depending on your athletic ability, your knowledge for other board sports and as stated before the weather conditions etc.

Lots of kiteboarding schools advertise that you only need 9 hours to learn how to kiteboard. What they actually mean is thats the minimum time to get to a point where you can stay on the board for about 4 seconds is with 9 hours of lessons :) .

Bottom Line: If you can minimize the external factors then you can minimize the number of hours of lessons you need to learn to kiteboard.

How is kiteboarding different from kitesurfing?

Kitesurfing is now usually reserved for describing kiteboarding with a surf board and usually only for cases where there are waves involved. This is not a 100% strict rule and some people do use it when talking about regular kiteboarding.

SenseiTrainerKite

A trainer kite is a small foil kite on which you can practice your kite flying skills. Roughly 50% of the skill of kiteboarding is to do with being able to fly the kite to whatever position you want it to go with minimum effort. The other 50% is board-skills, ie, learning how you can adjust the board to change the direction in which your heading and to control the power of the kite. By practicing the different trainer-kite exercises you will familiarize yourself on how a 4 line kite will act and how you can control it. Plus, its a lot of fun! :)

Trainer Kite Skills

The skills that you will acquire by practicing on a trainer kite include:

  • Bar Control – How to use the bar to control the direction and pull of the kite. This includes learning where your hands should be placed on the bar for maximum effect.
  • Understanding the wind window. You will get acquainted to the different parts of the wind window. Understanding this is CRUCIAL to the sport.
  • Self Launching your kite. The method used to self launch a small trainer kite is similar to the one used for larger kites. If you learn how to do this then you do not have to be dependent on other people to help you launch and land your kite.
  • Understanding how to use the wrist leash. Some trainer kites come with a wrist leash which will help you understand how its used to make kitesurfing safer.Understanding how the leash works could mean the difference between losing and saving your $1000 kite.
  • Being able to control the kite without looking at it and with one hand. This is a very necessary skill later as you will need your other hand to hold your board when you step into it.

And after your done with the beginner kite you can give it to your girl/boy friend so that he/she has something to do on the beach while your off kite-surfing. When you start kitesurfing, your friends can use the trainer to kickstart their kitesurfing learning.

This video is a great video which tells you how to use and learn with a trainer kite. The kite featured in the video is also a good buy because its easy to self launch.

Buying a Trainer Kite


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There are many different varieties of trainer kites. Make sure you buy one which has a bar and NOT handles. All the kites that you will ride while kiteboarding come with a bar and its imperative you understand how to use one.

Some trainer kites can be used as snow kites in winter. These will be a little more expensive. I would not spend more than $100 – $120 on a NEW trainer kite.

I bought the blue 2m Slingshot kite pictured on the right above.

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Have a look on KiteForum and Craigslist for a used trainer kite.

If you have the money and would like to buy a small version of an LEI kite that you will actually use during kiteboarding then you may be interested in OCEAN RODEO RISE SLE 2 METER KITEBOARDING TRAINER KITE. This kite will allow you to practice launching, rigging, flying something thats very very close to an actual traction kite thats used in kiteboarding. If you have the money then this kite will give an idea of all complications that come with a 4 line kite which a 2 line kite cannot.

Trainer Kite Exercises

If you can do the following exercises on a trainer kite without “fudging” then you’ve reached a level where you dont need it anymore:

  1. Be able to comfortably control the kite and keep it at its zenith with just one hand. Keep your hands in the middle of the bar for better control. When comfortable use only one hand. Practice with both left and right hands.
  2. Move the kite in a figure of 8 through left and right side of the wind-window with your eyes closed. First do this with both eyes open and with both hands on the bar. Then do it with one eye open. Then with both eyes closed and finally with both eyes closed and just one hand. (This is difficult  :).
  3. Self launch the kite. There a lot of videos on you tube which will show you how to self launch the kite. This is a very important skill to learn as you will need it when you want to go kiteboarding alone.
  4. Use the power of the kite to pull you from a sitting position into a standing position with both hands on the bar. Essentially you should try to simulate the pull that is created when you water start. I will write a separate entry at some point on waterstarting technique but for now you should be able to find something on youtube :) .

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.