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BEGINNER KITESURFING LESSONS GUIDE – PRIVATE TUITION (LESSON 4)

Guys. I did it.

Yep, guess who is now able to get up and ride 10 – 15 metres to her right (only 2 metres to her left, but sssshhh) and THE BEST TIME EVER doing it?! You guessed it, me! And for all you wonderful people out there who have been following my journey, and for those who have had a laugh watching my many failed attempts, our lovely instructor Paul filmed it for us!

After feeling like I’d made really good progress when I went out with Rupert I wanted to make sure I didn’t leave it too long before my next attempt so as not to forget everything I’d learned. As luck would have it just a couple of weeks later we struck gold, a lovely sunny day with plenty of wind and nice small waves. More wind meant not having to pump up a 17 metre kite, yay! After a site assessment and setting up the kite we headed down the beach and I chatted to Paul a bit about what I’d achieved so far. The great thing about having private lessons is that you can go entirely at your own pace and work on whatever you’d like, rather than following a set lesson plan. I mentioned I sometimes struggled with rolling up towards the kite when doing my board starts, so Paul suggested we try working on that on the beach, with him gently tugging on my leash to give me the feel of the kite. After a few attempts I was a lot closer to standing up so we headed out into the water, which was a lot warmer than I thought it would be!

Because of the lack of wind when I’d gone out with Rupert, he had held the board to help me get into it so that I was ready to go as soon as there was enough wind. Since we had enough wind this time, Paul said he wouldn’t being do that, and I’d have to learn how to put the board on myself whilst holding the kite! This genuinely terrified me. How was I supposed to float in the water and put the board on without diving the kite and getting dragged away?! In fact, it’s actually not that bad. I’ll admit I definitely struggled the first few times but after a while you learn to “feel” what the kite is doing without looking at it so you can focus solely on getting the board on. By the end of the lesson I had no issues in getting the board on pretty quickly each time, something I was actually quite proud of!

The “rolling up” to standing position was definitely the part I struggled with the most. Whilst I’d heard many horror stories about students “superman’ing” over the front of the board (shout out to my friend Shannon who managed to release the safety AND lose a contact lens in the process!) I seemed to be going the other way, being too timid with standing up and ending up sitting back down in the water. The best tip Paul gave me was to try and get my head to my knee. For someone as unflexible (is that even a word?) as me that sounded ridiculous, but aiming for that did sort of force me to try harder with the motion of getting up.

The great thing about Paul as instructor is how genuinely patient and encouraging he is. Every time I tried to get up on the board, he was right there with me to give me little tips and pointers, and didn’t get frustrated with me at all. As the guys who own the centre will tell you, I am a perpetual worrier. It’s difficult not to worry that your instructor is bored (and freezing!) whilst it takes you what seems like 5387 attempts to get up on the board. I have to give it to every instructor I’ve had so far – you can tell they love their job and don’t mind at all if you don’t get things right all the time. Massive thanks to Paul, Rupert, Jen and Samina for putting the time in with me! If you’re nervous about trying kitesurfing because you think you’ll struggle, I’d honestly say just go for it!

The most difficult thing I found when first attempting the board starts is how much you have to think about, so it was useful to focus on a small part of it each time I tried, until eventually I could put it all together. Because I’d spent some time flying powerkites in between my lessons and had also had a kitebuggy lesson at the centre last year, I found the kite control part of the board start manoeuvre quite easy. If you’re struggling with controlling the kite or feel quite nervous with it, I’d definitely recommend having a play on something like a Peter Lynn Impulse Trainer – they’re super easy to launch even on your own and I’m much more confident with kites thanks to them.

After a good few attempts and correcting different things I was getting wrong, I was getting up more consistently, and in the 90 minutes we spent out in the water I noticed a definite improvement. Not only was I able to get up most times, I was riding further each time and wasn’t so hesitant about diving the kite. Most of the time I was trying to go right – this felt more natural as it’s the same way I snowboard, but Paul also helped me try to go left a couple of times. I was nowhere near as confident that way, but it was good to see that it didn’t go as terribly as I had thought (my left side can be pretty useless at times!)

I came back in with a huge grin on my face, happy that I was even closer to being able to kitesurf independently. I can’t believe that in just 4 sessions I’ve gone from learning how to fly a power kite to getting up and riding along without looking like I’m completely out of control!

Now it’s getting to winter and we’re a little less busy I’m hoping to get out another few times, but I’ll be wearing a jacket, booties and gloves for sure – being in just my 4/3 is a little brave for December! Luckily we have a stash of super warm stuff for students throughout winter so I’ll be raiding that! I’ll keep you updated on my progress, but for now – check out this video Paul made of our session!

 

 

BEGINNER KITESURFING LESSONS GUIDE – DAY 3

Hey guys!

I’m back again and I’ve been back in the water! (I can’t wait to say I’ve been “on” the water rather than “in,” but I’m still spending a fair amount of time in it at the moment!) For my Day 3 lesson I had private tuition with Rupert, one of the three brothers who own and run The Kitesurf Centre. Rupert has been kitesurfing for many years now and is an experienced instructor – you’ll often see him out in high winds attempt to jump really high! Whilst I’m not planning on jumping any time soon I was hoping he would be able to offer some good advice and tips.

When it came to the day we’d planned to go out the wind was much lighter than expected, but Rupert explained that if I took a big enough kite I’d still be able to get up and riding. In fact, he said that it would be great for me to go out in light wind – having only ridden before in strong wind the light wind meant I would have the chance to perfect my kite-flying technique, not to mention the waves would be smaller! As a 5’2″ woman I can tell you that made me very happy!

Now, when he said big kite, I hadn’t quite expected 17 metres big! The fears I had had on my first lesson of being dragged along the beach by the kite came rushing back to me. How could I, a 60kg woman not get dragged along by a kite that big?! I asked Rupert if, before we headed into the water, I could have a go at flying the kite on the beach to see how it felt. Once again I was pleasantly surprised, I was still able to fly the kite without feeling like it was pulling me too much. It took me a while to get used to how much slower the kite flew through the air and how much more I had to move the bar with this compared to the 5m. Instead of just moving the bar slightly I had to get the bar almost parallel to the lines with my knuckles touching them! Rupert explained that the kite being slower meant that I would have more time to think and react when attempting my board starts.

Once we were out on the water I was amazed by how much smaller the waves were and felt pretty confident. It was brilliantly sunny and I was determined that this would be the day I would finally get up on the board. Since the wind was lighter, Rupert told me I would need to keep the kite moving as much as possible and do my very best not to crash it since relaunching would be difficult. He advised me to fly the kite in a figure of eight pattern before diving it for my board start manoeuvre. Before I knew it was I was going for my first attempt – I dived the kite, rolled up… and braced my legs, meaning I went ploughing through the water directly towards the kite. Oh dear, that wasn’t what I had in mind! I headed back towards Rupert and we chatted about how me being nervous had made me brace against the board, rather than straightening my right leg and bending my back one to kite off to the right. This time, he said, I was to “kick” my right leg out in front of me to get the motion and direction right. I tried again, dived the kite, extended my right leg… and forgot to roll up! I sank back down into the sitting position and sort of floated there for a bit, wondering how I was ever going to remember to combine all of the different parts of a board start. It all seemed so very complicated, but I was determined to keep at it. Luckily, Rupert has years of experience teaching complete beginners, so was super patient with me.

After a few more attempts, we realised my biggest problem was fear – I was scared to go over the front of the board, so I wasn’t rolling my body far enough forwards. I was scared to go too quickly, so I wasn’t diving the kite far enough. Often, I would go to dive the kite and then decide something wasn’t quite right – maybe the wind had lulled, maybe a wave had just hit me – so I’d panic and take the kite back to 12. Rupert decided it was because I was overthinking it and worrying too much, so we tried something different on the next attempt. He was going to tell me to go, and I had to do it. No worrying about the wind or whether or not everything was perfect, I had to go. “Go!” he said, and I dived the kite, extended my front leg… and WENT! I was up, on the board, heading off to my right. The feeling was incredible and a huge smile spread across my face. I was up! I could do this! Then it occurred to me I didn’t really know what to do when I was up, and as I slowed down I sank back into the water. Kite up in the air I practically ran (as well as you can through water) back to Rupert for a high five, grinning from ear to ear. I may not have got very far, but I’d got up, and I was unbelievably proud of myself.

“What do I do when I’m actually up?” I asked, eager to see how far I could ride. Rupert laughed and explained I needed to then go for the second power stroke, whereby I’d dive the kite again, to make sure I had enough speed to start planing across the water. After that I’d be able to keep the kite steady in the air and keep going. Still riding the high from my last effort I was keen to go again, so with my board back on my feet and Rupert shouting “Go!” I did it all again, this time managing to ride a little further but not quite getting the second dive strong enough. After a few more attempts I was able to go around 5 metres (this may not sound much, but I was more than happy with that!) before we decided to call it a day. I’d just had a great run and I’ve heard of too many kitesurfers injuring themselves after saying “just one more run” so it seemed like a good point to stop. By this point the wind had died off slightly and I was starting to get hungry – learning to kitesurf is a great excuse to eat more food!

As we headed back to the centre I couldn’t wait to tell the others how happy I was with my progress. Having worked in the school all summer, one of my favourite parts of the job has been seeing the smiles of students coming in from the lesson they’d first managed to get up and riding on. This time I got to swap roles and be that happy person already stoked for their next attempt. I couldn’t stop smiling for the rest of the day, happy that I was finally able to share the sense of pride and new found adventure I’d seen so many of our students have.

Next time guys, I’m going to get a decent run in. I’m aiming for 20 metres, and I’m going to get that second dive of the kite. I can do this! And you can do this too! If you’ve done your Day 1 and 2 with us, or had lessons elsewhere but aren’t quite managing to get up on the board then our Day 3 (Board Control) course is perfect for you! Drop us a call and book in – if you get a really happy sounding girl on the phone, it’s me! 🙂

BEGINNER KITESURFING LESSONS GUIDE – DAY 2

  • B7Hi there, you’re back!

Did you catch the kitesurfing bug on Day 1 just like I did?! It’s so much fun. I couldn’t wait to get back out into the water to perfect my body dragging techniques and maybe even try the all important board start! If you can, try to do your Day 2 course as soon as you can after Day 1 so it’s all still fresh in your memory, but don’t worry if you can’t – your instructor will give you some “homework” at the end of Day 1 with some useful pointers and reminders of what you covered. You can’t even go away and check out some tutorial videos on YouTube, there are some great walkthroughs and exercises geared for kitesurfers so you can progress even when you can’t make it to the beach.

A couple of weeks after my Day 1 Lesson, I headed back out for Day 2; this time with Jen, our resident northern instructor (everyone needs a friendly Northerner – they can teach all year round without being put off by the cold!). At the start of the lesson, Jen went through a quick recap of setting up the kite and flying it to check how much we had nremembered. I was worried I’d have forgotten everything but was pleasantly surprised by how much came back to me once I was flying the kite again. As the wind was quite strong, Jen put us on a smaller kite and gave us each a turn to show that we could still use it without getting dragged away, we just needed to remember that the smaller kite would be a bit quicker so our reactions would need to be too. After a couple of turns each we headed out into the water to progress with our body dragging.

On Day 2, you learn a new type of body dragging – the upwind body drag. This involves learning to fly the kite with one hand, straightening your body out parallel to the kite and tensing (almost like a seal in the mud with it’s head and tail raised!) in order to be pulled along. Upwind body drags are helpful for body dragging out to sea when you’re kiting somewhere with a shore break, getting back to the beach with cross shore and most importantly – getting back to your board when you’re out to sea!

After a couple of attempts where I didn’t make it all that far upwind, I managed to get the hang of it. Practising flying the powerkites with one hand was really useful here, it’s a scary thought at first but it’s actually not that bad! Despite having one wrist significantly weaker than the other following a bad snowboarding injury, I was able to fly the kite with each hand separately and make it upwind. If you’re worried you may not be fit enough to try kitesurfing, don’t be! Chances are you’ll be absolutely fine.

Once we’d all had a few turns at bodydragging the moment was here, we were going to try and get up on the board! We headed back to dry land to go through some theory and to practice the technique we’d use to stand up on the board. Since I have absolutely no core strength, I was pretty sure I wouldn’t be able to do it, and I certainly struggled for a while, but eventually I was able to roll up to stand with just a small tug from the instructor on my harness, which simulated the way in which the pull of the kite would help us get up. The trick here, Jen told us, was to not try and use the kite to pull us up too much.

Theory and beach practice done, it was time to go back into the water, only this time with the board. I watched the others have a couple of goes, getting to stand up once or twice, sometimes sinking back down pretty quickly, sometimes falling over the front of the board. It was great learning in a group here as we could laugh at each others experiences and reassure each other that even the crashes that looked bad weren’t actually that painful!

When it got to my turn, I pushed my feet into the board, sat back in the water, dived the kite… and STOOD UP! I got up the first time, and I couldn’t quite believe it. It became real pretty quickly when I sank back down into the water almost instantly, but I’d done it! Sure, I hadn’t quite got it right and on my next few attempts I had pointers each time of things to work on, but I was getting there. By the end of the lesson I may have only managed to ride a couple of metres, but it felt like a mile to me and I couldn’t stop smiling.

As we walked back up the centre to change, I was already excited for Day 3 and dreaming of eventually being able to call myself a kitesurfer.

 

 

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BKSA vs IKO

When looking to take lessons or become a kitesurfing instructor, you may find yourself choosing between the BKSA or IKO. To give you all the account of each organisation and what they offer, we’ve drawn up a comparison below.

 

BKSA vs IKO

The BKSA (British Kite Sports Association) is the governing body (non profit) for all things kiting in Britain. They run all the training schemes, from grass roots to coaches. They are one of the most respected organisations world wide and set the bar in terms or quality and integrity. All BKSA schools have BKSA trained and qualified instructors who continually have to re-validate, update and pass assessments to keep their qualifications valid. The schools are inspected regularly by external examiners to check the equipment is in good condition and they are abiding by the strict guidelines set by the BKSA. It’s an official governing body for Sport England and therefore ticks all the relevant boxes in accordance with this.

One of the main aims for the BKSA other than training are the grass root schemes for kids and the racing events, which eventually may be used for the qualification for the Olympics.

The VDWS is the German counterpart and one of the other internationally recognised governing bodies.

The IKO (International Kiteboarding Association) is a privately owned company based in Cabarete, Dominican Republic. The IKO was set up as the sport began and became the leading organisation as the sport developed in the late 90s. As the sport became more mainstream, most developed countries created governing bodies to take the sport forwards and develop nationally. In terms of schools and instructors, the IKO differs to the BKSA, it follows a similar course and to become qualified but once qualified the instructors are left to their own devices. They have to keep a log of their students email addresses online (which they pay for) and a revalidation is an online quiz every couple of years. The schools pay an annual fee to become IKO approved but are never inspected as the organisation is in the Caribbean and it’s the schools choice whether to carry out risk assessments and follow standard operating procedures, all of which are strict procedures for any BKSA school.

Our verdict – Stick with the BKSA or a governing body for whichever country you’re in. The IKO is run as a profit making business with disregard for quality and safety. Kite schools and instructors can’t be assessed with an online tick box test every 3 years and often the kit is totally inadequate within the schools as they’ve never inspected and never will be. The IKO has been banned in several countries already and will likely be in more in the future. Don’t get us wrong, the BKSA has it’s flaws as well and can be improved in certain areas but the training side and structure of the governing body is spot on.

bksanew

An example of the quality of IKO instructors is someone who came for a job interview with us and claimed he had never done a self rescue / deep water packdown. This is a method used to get yourself safely back to the beach if everything goes wrong when out on the water. It’s something any BKSA school would teach on the very first day of a kitesurfing lesson and all BKSA instructors are trained to both teach it but also how to rescue someone who has begun one, either on a boat or kite. To say we were shocked was an understatement!

The IKO has it’s place in under developed countries as a governing body isn’t available, so it’s better than nothing, but anywhere else it’s inadequate.

From a potential instructors point of view, the qualifications gained are also something to consider. We would suggest first deciding where you want to instruct. The BKSA qualification is recognised worldwide and we’ve never had an instructor declined a job because of their qualification. The IKO is recognised worldwide and as previously mentioned, in less developed countries it would be no problem picking up work. However, for a lot of countries it is becoming a banned qualification and may cause problems.

For information regarding instructor courses please click here

How to JUMP while Kitesurfing

Hi guys,

In this blog post going to talk about how to jump using the kite. As I’m sure many of you have seen

from YouTube videos, the heights that can be achieved through these jumps can be dizzying, and is

one of the defining features that really sets kitesurfing apart from other water sports. So much so

that Red Bull have created their own sports event dedicated to a particular type of jump; the

infamous megaloop. However, before we have you jumping higher than your house,

lets start with the basics.

A few safety considerations to make before you head out or do a jump….

Give yourself plenty of room, both from other riders and any obstacles. When you jump, you will

travel with the wind, so it’s particularly important to make sure there are no riders downwind of

you, and that you are well upwind of the beach

Don’t jump beyond your capability and confidence. Like when learning anything in kitesurfing, stay

patient, take your time, and enjoy the learning process. This will ensure you progress with a good

technique whilst staying safe.

Always make sure your equipment is in good order. It’s a good habit to get into to check your gear

for damages before you go out riding, especially your lines and bridle. And ALWAYS check that your

safety systems are working before you head out.

OK

So let’s assume your now riding confidently with good upwind ability.

Firstly, make sure you have a reasonable amount of power, enough to ride upwind comfortably but not so much that you’re likely to lose control or be pulled off your edge. We want to leave the water but not into orbit while learning!

Getting airborne is the easy part, maintaining control while in the air and landing softly is the key. Then you can confidently get higher and higher knowing you’ve the skills to land it without injuring yourself.

Once you’re happy with the power of your kite, ride across the wind as if on a normal tack with your kite at either 1 or 11 o’clock, increase your speed slightly and edge harder to check how much power you have from the kite. If you have plenty of pull then progressively edge harder still until you’re creating a big spray from the back of the board.

Take a look at this video to show the progressive edging and then final explosive thrust from your back leg. This is what makes the difference between going forwards and falling on your face, or going up into a jump. Without the edging and take off, there is no way you can jump no matter what you do with the kite. So spend some time practicing this progressive edging and release from the water.

The video shows why the board speed going into the trick is important as if you don’t ride fast enough with power then as you begin to edge you’ll come to a stop. This part of the trick is called ‘pop’ and it’s the most important part of the jumping and any trick where you leave the water.

The key to pop is pushing down hard with your back foot to create a spray from your board but in just a fraction of a second. The amount of pressure needed from your leg is high, so imagine you’re trying to push your back foot through the board while ‘loading it up’ and then when you can push no more, lift your front foot up to break the suction the board has between its base and the water. All in a moment, the tension you’ve been building up in the lines will suddenly catapult you forwards as the board leaves the water.

This is something that can be practised without moving the kite at all, and is worth spending some time on it as it’s the most important the part. The rest is just steering the kite and timing!

 

Once you’re happy there’s no obstacles downwind of you, send your kite to 12. This will create a

high pressure under the kite canopy, which will give you the boost you need to jump.

Pull the bar in, and you should leave the water.

Whilst in the air, keep your kite at 12, and the bar pulled in. Leaning back away from the kite will

increase your stability.

As you start to come down, the kite will act as a parachute and steady your decent.

Just before you land, bend your front leg to give yourself a soft landing. If one of your feet comes out

of a binding whilst in the air, it’s best to kick the board off before you land to avoid the possibility of

any ankle injury.

Dive your kite, apply your edge and ride off, feeling truly rad.

Obviously you want to steadily progress your way to higher heights. The following factors are what

affect how high you jump, so as a simple rule, the less you apply them, the lower you will jump.

– the speed you are riding

– how hard you are edging

– the speed you send the kite to 12

– the amount you pull the bar in

And that’s it!

Take a look at this video by one of our instructors which helps explain the process.

 

Common mistakes

  • Riding speed – it’s essential to go into the trick fast enough that when you edge to put you don’t just kill all board speed and come to a stop but it’s just as important to not ride too fast. If you ride too fast you’ll not be able to hold the edge for long enough and again will ruin the board release from the water.  A comfortable riding speed (10 – 12 mph) is ideal to begin with.
  • Pop & Board Release – Lets be honest, who hasn’t seen someone trying to jump that goes about 30cm into the air and 25m down wind? Everyone has! It’s the most common mistake when jumping and it’s all down to the take off. If you don’t hold the edge of your board in the water for long enough you can’t build the tension in the lines and upwards lift so the kite will swing across the window which will end with you being pulled forwards very fast and not going very high! To remedy this, ride a little slower, hold the edge for longer and only release when you feel the kite heading back over 12 o’clock, which will then be generating upwards lift. Using a small wave or kicker to aid this can also be very beneficial.

Check out this video for details on how to pop.

Rotating in the air – These rotations are generally caused by an uneven take off, so it is important to try and get the board to release from the water all in one. This is most easily performed by lift your front foot up quite hard so that it breaks the suction of the board to the water. The advantage this gives is that it allows you to control when you want to take off exactly. Another way to stop rotating once in the air is to tuck your legs up close to your chest, and tense your core muscles. This will give you a lot more stability and allows a lot better control. It should stop you spinning once air born and remove the ‘dangling’ feeling under the kite.

Falling out the sky! –  It’s actually relatively easy to jump and get quite high, but the hard part is controlled and gentle landings. It’s better to get the landing dialed before going to high as we’ve seen some pretty horrific injuries from heavy landings! The redirect is as important as the initial directional pull to create the take off.  As you come in to land, don’t be afraid to steer the kite reasonably hard as it has a long way to go across the window in a short period of time. That movement is what is creating the lift to soften the landing. As you improve and begin going higher you can introduce the downloop landing for even more lift, but that’s on another blog!

 

Developing your ability to jump will unlock lots of potential for tricks and fun.

So give it a go, progress steadily, and ride safe.

How To Kitesurf Upwind

Once you’ve mastered the board start, can ride both ways fairly confidently and can turn without

crashing/losing your board/launching yourself downwind, you’re ready to start to learn how to stay

upwind! Everyone knows, that although there’s nothing to be ashamed of, the walk of shame back

upwind is one of the most frustrating and exhausting experiences involved in the learning process of

kitesurfing. Without the ability to confidently ride upwind, trying out new transitions or playing

around in waves can also become less attractive as the thought of that dreaded walk coming sooner

than you want looms overhead! Luckily enough riding upwind isn’t as far away as you’d think and if

you follow these few tips you’ll be confidently riding upwind in both directions and as soon as you’ve

cracked it, you’ll be ready to work on your first jumps and other fun tricks.

To start off with, going out with the right gear is essential. If you’re confident with flying kites

(hopefully you should be by now) and maybe have a couple yourself, and you rock up to the beach

and the wind is looking in between sizes i.e. you’ll be slightly underpowered on your 9 but will be

slightly overpowered on your 12… Go for the 12. When learning to ride upwind, being

underpowered will make your life a lot harder than it needs to be. Riding upwind takes more power

than doing board starts and riding downwind. With less power your technique will have to be

perfect as any mistakes will be hard to recover from, and as you pump the kite through the air to

generate more power, the kite will pull you further downwind. With a more powered kite you can

ride further into the wind and if you make a mistake a small movement of the kite will bring you

back up to speed faster than an underpowered kite will. As well as this to ride upwind easier, a

larger flatter board is preferable, however if you’re struggling, correct technique will see you further

than dropping a load of money on a new board!

The first technique based tip and absolutely the most important technique when learning to ride

upwind is to look where you’re going! For many people learning to ride further upwind one of the

biggest mistakes they make is always looking at the kite. The kite is downwind of you and if you look

at that, your body is set up to follow that direction, your board will point you downwind and your

walk back up the beach will come a lot faster. When you look where you’re going, your shoulders

will naturally open up a little and twist in the correct way, which your hips, legs and board will follow

and you’ll already be riding a lot further upwind than before! An extension of this motion to get your

body pointed in the right direction if you’re feeling super confident, is letting go with your front

hand. This will twist your shoulders further than before, making riding upwind easier. But only if

you’re confident enough to fly the kite one handed!

The next most important thing when learning to ride upwind is your stance. For the perfect stance

you’re aiming to have a straight line between your leading shoulder and your leading heel. Bring

your hips forward and shoulders back, with your front leg straight and your back leg slightly bent.

With normal riding you want most of your weight on your back leg, but when riding upwind you’ll

want even more of this weight on your back foot. You want to lean back on your heel edge so the

board is carving into the surface spraying water away from you. Bring your toes up on your leading

foot and this will help the angle of your board in the water.

The next important thing is the angle of the kite in the sky. If you’re struggling to ride upwind, try

bringing your kite lower in the sky when riding, around or below 45 degrees. With a kite high in the

sky you’re more likely to be yanked off your edge as the vertical pull of the kite tries to pull you

upwards. If you have your kite below 45 degrees you will be able to send the kite further to the edge

of the window, and lean further against it at the horizontal pull tries to bring you back onto your

board, pushing you further upwind.

One common mistake people make when learning to ride upwind however is trying to ride too far

into the wind. Theoretically, you can ride up to 40 degrees into the wind when kitesurfing, however

with normal conditions and equipment 10 to 20 degrees is usually achievable. You’ll need to strike a

balance between edging your board enough that you’re riding into the wind, but not too much so as

to kill the power in your kite. If you edge too hard into the wind, your speed will deteriorate and you

will come to a halt. If this happens, come off your edge a little, increase your speed and you should

be riding back upwind again.

Speed is also another thing to consider when riding. Depending on the conditions you may find that

riding fast or slowing down will increase your chances of riding upwind. This all depends on the

power you have in your kite. If you’re super powered up, and you ride super fast, the apparent wind

you create whilst riding may create enough power to pull you off any edge you try to create to ride

upwind. If this happens you should be able to ride upwind whilst riding very slowly. However, if

you’re not quite powered enough, speed will be your friend. You’ll need to bear downwind to

increase your speed creating a good amount of apparent wind keeping you powered up enough to

ride into the wind. This can be tricky as finding the balance of using apparent wind to ride upwind

can be hard to strike, so as mentioned earlier going out with more powered than less usually helps.

One issue that also occurs when learning to ride upwind, especially here in the UK where we’re not

usually blessed with knee depth flat lagoons, is waves. Waves can be a major cause for riders to

crash out sending them further downwind leading to a faster walk back up the beach. Depending on

the size of the wave you will want to approach it slightly differently. With small waves, around waist

height or below, you’ll want to edge into the wave slightly and bend your knees as a kind of

suspension absorbing the wave as you ride over. With larger waves, you will have to edge into the

wave harder, and just before the wave hits, you want to effectively ollie over it, still tucking in your

knees to absorb the wave as it goes. To ollie over the wave you want to raise your leading leg whilst

pushing hard down on your back foot to get some vertical pop before the wave comes. With all

waves, as soon as they pass you’ll want to get back onto your edge as soon as possible to get back

riding upwind.

Finally, the last tip which is a great way to judge your progress is using a point to aim for. If you can

see something in the distance like a groyne or some flags, aim for that. It will give you a point of

reference as to where you are on the beach and how far you’re progressing. If before you could only

ride so that you’re further downwind from the groyne as to when you started, head back and then

try again to ride slightly further upwind and you will be able to see your progress as you get closer

and closer to where you started. The visible progression is a great motivator and will keep you riding

longer as you get closer and closer to riding upwind.

Overall the main points to riding upwind are:

 Look in the direction of travel, and if feeling confident release your front hand from the kite

 Correct stance/posture

 Keep the kite low

 Don’t ride too far into the wind

 Use the correct board speed

 Bend knees/ollie over waves

 Use a reference point

To learn to stay upwind can be frustrating at first, but with enough patience and practice you’ll nail

it. Focus on each individual technique first, then bring them all together to ride for hours without

leaving the water!

SEA BREEZES AND HOW TO KITESURF WITH THEM

SEA BREEZE

One of the most common phrases you will hear from kitesurfers is “sea breeze.” But what does it mean, and how can we use it to our advantage?

THE BASICS

Sea breeze is the term given to wind which blows from the sea towards the land, and it is created due the different rates at which the land and the sea warm up. During the day, as the sun shines down, the land heats up at a much faster rate than the sea. Warm air above the land rises throughout the day, causing low surface pressure, whilst the opposite happens over the sea – colder air causes high surface pressure. Wind blows from the high-pressure area above the ocean to the low-pressure area above the land.

SeaBreeze

How strong the wind is depends on the difference in temperature between the land and the sea; to create a sea breeze there only need to be a 3 degree difference! If the wind direction is already blowing onshore, the combination of the original wind and the sea breeze means that the wind strength will increase dramatically, and can be 1.5 or even 2 times the forecast strength. This is perfect for kitesurfers as it means both there is sufficient wind to kite and it is blowing in the best direction… onshore!

FACTORS WHICH AFFECT SEA BREEZE

Features on the land, especially mountains and channels, can increase the sea breeze further. This means that some places are able to rely almost solely on consistent sea breeze, whilst those with already good natural winds will see them increase by the sea breeze on a regular basis. The sea breeze can also be affected by patches of cloud which cover the sun, causing the wind to drop, or by the natural wind blowing in the opposite direction, though as long as this is under around 15 knots then the sea breeze can be strong enough to overcome it.

BE CAREFUL!

The sea breeze can be a big problem for kitesurfers with it being so unpredictable at times. The wind can go from next to nothing to blowing 20 or even 30 + knots in a matter of minutes, or can completely drop off and change direction. Kitesurfers can get caught out with kites that suddenly become too big, or may even need to self-rescue when the wind drops completely or changes to offshore. It can be worth waiting for an hour or so to check how the wind is building before on which size kite to take, and it is important to keep an eye on the cloud and winds during your session.

If you’re ever unsure about what size kite to take, you can always ask around – other kiters on the beach are a good place to start and are usually happy to chat and help. Schools on the beach are also good to ask!

BEGINNER KITESURFING LESSONS GUIDE – DAY 1

So, you’re 26 years old and you’ve left the corporate city life behind you to move to the South coast of England and work at a Kitesurf Centre. Turns out the first thing you need to do is learn how to kitesurf…

Well, that might not be you, but it’s me. Hi! I’m Karen, and this is my story of learning to kitesurf.

I’ve recently moved to Camber to start work as a Bookings and Retail Co-ordinator at The Kitesurf Centre, Camber Sands. If you’re already booked in with us you may well have spoken to me on the phone or over email. The guys running the centre have decided it would help me with chatting to you guys about kitesurfing if I actually know how to do it myself, so I’ll be taking lessons over the next couple of months and hopefully one day, perhaps next year, I’ll take my instructors qualification. I’ve been visiting the guys in Camber for the last 4 years, but never actually got round to learning… so, maybe just like you, I’m a complete beginner!

DAY 1 – “Even the words ‘body dragging’ sound scary”

It’s a warm, windy day here at Camber and there’s a space on a Day 1 of the Beginner’s Kitesurfing course with Samina. I’ll be learning with two guys; Bradley and Gedi. As luck would have it, I’d assigned the course to Samina, our Lithuanian instructor, and on the morning of the course, Gedi (a fellow Lithuanian) had called to check if there were spaces.

Samina is super enthusiastic about taking me for my first lesson, and though I’m a little nervous, I’m excited too! Once we’re all signed in and ready to go, Samina takes us up to the beach promenade to go through some basic theory and safety. She tells us all about the three key things to remember when picking a beach to go kitesurfing; the direction of the wind, the speed of the wind and the tide. Camber, on the coast of East Sussex, is a great place to learn and progress in kitesurfing. Because the centre uses both the beach at Camber and the beach at Greatstone (just a 10 minute drive away), the instructors can teach in any wind direction. She explains how when we’re first learning to kitesurf, we need just enough wind but not too much. Knowing there’s a maximum wind speed we will learn in (ideally, we’re looking for 10 – 25 mph) is reassuring; as a rather petite girl I’d like to know I’m not going to get blown away. Then we learn about the tides, and how it’s important to leave enough space either side of high tide to go kitesurfing, so we can safely launch and land our kites on the beach. Lastly, we talk about the hazards on the beach, in the air and under the sea. With all that done, we’re ready to go out and fly our first kite!

We head back to the centre, pick up a helmet and a kite and walk down the designated teaching area of the beach. To learn how to fly the kite, we’re using a Flexifoil Buzz kite, which Samina tells us is a great way to learn the basics of kite flying. Once down on the beach she shows us how to set the kite up in the correct position based on the wind direction and to check we aren’t setting it up near any hazards. She then talks us through the different parts of the kite and shows us how the lines and bar work. Once we’re all safely set up, we’re ready to fly! With a couple of small tugs on the bar my kite is up in the air and I’m actually doing it! I must admit I was pretty nervous about getting pulled down the beach by the kite, but just a few minutes in I realise I had nothing to worry about and I’m having loads of fun flying the kite in a figure of 8 and through different positions in the wind window Samina has taught us all about. Learning to fly the Buzz ensures I know all about the safety features and best way to use the kite and bar, something which we’ll continue with the whole way through our journey of learning to kitesurf. Learning this way is also seriously fun, so I can see why we have people who just hire the small training kites for a fun afternoon on the beach.

I really enjoy learning to the fly the trainer kite, and found myself proud when Samina tells me I’m getting on really well and that I’m ready to learn how to kite loop. Once we’ve all got our kite control to a good level we head back to the centre for a quick snack and to get changed into our wetsuits… we’re heading into the water to learn body dragging!

Stood at the centre in a wetsuit, harness and buoyancy aid (not to mention the bright yellow beginner’s helmet!), I’m beginning to feel like a real kitesurfer! Samina teaches us all about how to correctly put on our gear and how the chicken loop and safety mechanism work. We each have a go at putting on and releasing the safety, making sure we know exactly what to do when something goes wrong. As a massive worrier, this is really reassuring – learning everything step by step and practicing actually doing it using a trainer safety line attached to the side of the centre really makes me feel more confident about going into the water.

Samina picks out a 6m Airush DNA, we put our helmets on and walk down the beach… this is it! Once we get to the edge of the water Samina talks us through the different parts of the kite and how to check them all during the set up. We each have a go at holding the kite once it’s inflated, feeling how the wind fills it and making sure all the lines from the kite to the bar are untangled and damage free. Before we know it we’re ready to go, the kite is flying and we’re in the water ready to learn body dragging. Even though it’s only the beginning of June the water is much warmer than I expected and soon enough I’m bobbing around in the small waves excited for my turn on the kite.

Samina has explained the body positions and kite control we’ll need for our first body drag – the downwind body drag, and I feel confident in giving it a go (knowing she’ll be holding on to my harness and coming with me the first couple of times is still super comforting though). I take hold of the bar, get a feel for the power in the kite, steer it a couple of times and I’m away! Whizzing forward through the sea with a massive grin on my face… this is amazing! All the fear I had before I tried it (I mean, even the words body dragging sound scary) has gone and I can’t wait to give it another go. I try another few times and I’m really happy with my progress; I’m starting to see how my movements of the bar affect the kite and that it’s a lot more controlled and steady than I’d thought. All the images in my head of accidentally flying off to France have disappeared.

We’ve all had a couple of attempts at downwind body dragging so now it’s time to try directional body dragging, where we’ll change the position of our body and fly the kite using specific positions in the wind window to go across the wind, side to side along the sea. This is a little harder and we all crash the kite into the water a couple of times, which is great for two reasons; we learn how to safely relaunch the kite in the water and I learn it’s not nearly as scary as I’d thought to crash it – the kite doesn’t break and I can get it back into the air after a couple of tries.

After we’ve all crashed and relaunched the kite a few times, Samina shows us what we’ll need to do if we’re not able to relaunch the kite for any reason, and we learn how to pack down the kite and go through a self rescue procedure. We learn how to safely ensure the kite won’t power up and drag us away and how to wrap away the lines. We even learn how to use the kite as a sail or float to safely get back to shore if we’re injured. It’s a lot more methodical than I realised and I like that; going through each bit of the theory and safety procedures makes me feel much happier about eventually going out in the water on my own. With the kite slightly deflated and rolled up, we pick up the kite and head for the beach… we’re going to learn how to correctly pack away the kite.

Samina shows us step by step how to untangle the lines and roll up the kite, remembering to pick up our bag and pump we left on the beach and checking we’ve not damaged the kite in any way before putting it away. With all of that done we start walking back to the centre to wash our kit and store it, and on the way Samina chats to us about what we’ve managed to achieve today and what the next day of the course will include.

Back in my own clothes and stood inside the centre shop, Samina gives us a couple of fliers with information and a link to a website we can look at to recap what we learnt today before we come back for Day 2. She tells us we all had great kite control and we’re super happy – you can tell by the grins on our faces. I pop back into work mode for a few minutes and chat to Gedi and Brad about booking them in for their next lesson, then before I know it it’s all done… my first day of kitesurfing lessons is finished and I can see why people get so hooked on this; it’s unbelievably fun! I thank Samina – she’s been patient and enthusiastic the entire way through the lesson and a great teacher all round. I already can’t wait for Day 2, where she tells us we’ll learn some more different body drags and even work on standing up on the board!

For anyone considering learning to kitesurf I’d absolutely recommend the beginner’s course, I ache a little now and I’m ready for a hot chocolate, but I’ve definitely found my next hobby. I hope I’ve inspired you to give it a go and can’t wait to tell you all about my Day 2 lesson… maybe I’ll even be with you on it!

To learn more about our Kitesurfing Beginner’s course or other lessons you might be interested in, pop over to the kite school section of our website here or give us a call on 07563 763046.

10 simple steps to repair a leaky valve

Nobody wants a leaky valve but unfortunately with time, it happens… This is where the valve peels away from the bladder as the glue deteriorates and will result in a slow puncture. This is often discovered when looking for a puncture or if you wiggle the valve and hear a hissing noise.

Spare valves are sold at The Kitesurf Centre (£9.99) which already have and adhesive applied to them, just like a puncture repair patch. This saves buying a tube of Aquasure glue and makes for a quicker job with no drying time. However the whole process is outlined below in 10 simple steps for a standard valve replacement.

  1. Locate the leaking valve either by sound or if you can’t hear it, use bubbly water like you would for a normal puncture (Check previous post).
  2. Remove the bladder with the leaky valve. If it is on a one pump system, then remove the connecting tube if needed. Again, DON’T forget to tie a long string onto the valve or bladder if you need to remove the strut completely. Then you can pull it back through easily.
  3. If there is only a small leak then you can leave the valve in place and bung up and glue over the hole with Aquasure glue, however it is usually a sign that the rest of the glue is about to go too.
  4. If it is a large leak or you want to redo the gluing, remove the valve. It may be easier to heat it up using a hair drier first.
  5. Clean and sand the valve and bladder where it was attached.
  6. Apply a thin layer of glue around the base of the valve.
  7. Squish it back into place, making sure the bladder isn’t stretched or crumpled underneath the valve. It is best to put it on a flat solid surface for this and leave it here for drying.
  8. Apply pressure on the edges of the valve; an upside down shot glass normally does the trick.
  9. Weight it down and leave it to stick for 6 hours.
  10. Put the bladder back in and make sure there are no twists. Inflate and test.

10 simple steps to repair a punctured leading edge or strut

If you kitesurf I’m sure you have or will run into this problem at least once. Learning and progressing your riding naturally comes with a few extra spills. Thankfully, punctures are super easy to fix. It’s just like riding a bike (literally) – bike punctures.

Kite bladders are just like massive bike inner tubes. If you can fix a bicycle puncture then you can fix a kite puncture no problem.

  1. Inflate your kite to the normal pressure.
  2. Locate the puncture – This is the hardest part and can drive you crazy! Use a sponge with soapy water and run it over the leading edge, struts and the valves – Look for bubbles growing.
  3. Once you have located the approximate area, remove the bladder. Depending on where the puncture is located, the best way to remove the bladder differs. You can either undo the end of the leading edge or the strut, then pull the bladder out or alternatively you can remove the bladder through the zip if this is closer. You may need to disconnect the valves and pull them through too. If you are removing the whole bladder DON’T FORGET to tie some line to the end so you can pull it back through later.
  4. Once the punctured section of bladder is out, pump it up but DON’T over inflate. Run the sponge over it again or dip it in a bucket of water to find the hole.
  5. Mark the hole with a biro.
  6. Clean, dry and lightly sand the hole using the sandpaper in the kit.
  7. Lay the bladder flat on a hard surface, peel the back off the repair patch and stick it on If it is cold, use a hairdryer to help the glue stick.
  8. Put the bladder back in as it came out and pull the valves back through the holes. Make sure that no bladder is trapped between the valve base and the kite material.
  9. Inflate the kite slowly, looking for twists in the bladder. Sort these out if they occur. You might have to take it out and do it again until it is flush.
  10. Repeat step 2 and leave inflated for a few hours to see if puncture is fixed.

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New shop!!

Since last season we have now expanded the centre and now have one building totally dedicated to the shop, allowing us to stock a huge range of kit in loads of sizes and colours and even have a sofa to chill out on while you watch everyone kitesurfing out the front!

2013 Equipment is all here

All our 2013 equipment ranges have now arrived, come and take a look at them all in the centre.

Huge range available to demo, loads of kites & boards from Liquid Force, Airush, RRD, Best, F-one, Shinn plus many more, come and test them out!!

 

2013 season has started!

Our kite courses have kicked off for the season, conditions have been excellent, windy everyday! With these northerly winds the temperatures has been quite cold but we have bought lots of new wetsuits, boots, gloves, hoods and jackets to keep you nice and warm. This first week has been perfect, everyone has had great fun!!

2013 online lesson calendar

We have now updated our calendar for the 2013 season , take a look all the scheduled kitesurfing, kite buggy,  kite landboard, powerkite and stand up paddle board (SUP) courses HERE

If you would like to come for a lesson on a date that is not on the calendar please let us know as I am sure we will be able top put one on for you.

Winter is here…………still kitesurfing!

It is starting to become a little chilly with these northerly winds, not keeping us out of the sea though!! Lovely strong winds all of last week and it has been sunny and windy all this week……perfect!

We are still open for lessons all the way through the winter, you will not even notice the cold with the equipment you will be supplied with: high quality thick winter wetsuits, gloves, boots, spray jackets and hood……toasty warm!

If you are thinking of venturing out by yourself and need a few extra items for the cold, pop into the centre as we have stocked up with a range of boots, gloves, hoods and jackets, plus the usual rack of warm wetsuits. Check them all out HERE

 

Amazing waves and Dolphins at Camber!

Fantastic waves today at Camber today, super clean and long wave period, probably the best so far this season!

Tristan and Paul had a great time and caught some long rides.  While out teaching a SUP lesson, Paul even saw a pod of Dolphins porpoising and riding the waves.