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How To Choose The Right Sized Kite

This is often one of the very first questions I get asked on the first day of a course, which is reassuring as it is a fundamental consideration when choosing what equipment to take and set up. If over looked, this can put both the rider and others in considerable danger. Kite sizes range from a tiny 3 meters to a huge 20 meters, and kitesurfers will be out riding in conditions from 6 knots to 50 knots, so there’s certainly plenty of sizes to choose from. How to choose the right sized kite revolves around the combination of 2 factors – the wind speed and the rider’s weight.

Wind Speed

Before you arrive at your kite spot you should have a good idea of what the wind forecast is for the day. Online sources such as Windguru and XC Weather will provide you with a good indication from within 2-3 days. What’s the basic rule with kite size and wind speed? I’m sure you guessed it. As the wind speed increases, the size of your kite decreases, this being the most effective way to moderate the kite’s power. This is the same in both windsurfing and sailing, where you put on a different size sail, or reduce the sail’s surface area, also known as reefing. Let’s assume an average riders weight of 80kg, and see how this stacks up in different wind speeds.

Wind Speed (knots) 8 – 15 15 -25 25 – 40 40 +
Kite Size (m²) 15 – 12 12 – 9 9 – 6 6 –

Kite Wind Range

As you can see, as the wind speed goes up, the kite size comes down. You’ll also notice that different sized kites can be used in the same wind strength. That is because each kite has a wind range, which is effectively a range of wind speed in which a kite can be safely flown. For example, a 9 meter can be ridden in anything from 15 to 30 knots. This varies with each type of kite, as the wind range is influenced by the canopy profile and the bridle system. Bow kites have a good wind range, partly because the shape of the kite allows for a lot of de-power from the bar. C kites on the other hand, partly due to their narrow wing tips, have a much reduced de-power function, and therefore don’t have such high wind ranges; they are designed to be flown more from the board then the bar.

Rider’s Weight

One of the great things about kitesurfing is that a student or rider’s weight bares little significance, though adjustments need to be made somewhere, and the kite is the obvious choice. A little like a car, the heavier the it is, the more power is needed to get it going, though this consideration is not nearly as significant as to how wind speed affects the kite size, and is also a little murkier to define. This is how I play it – take a look to see what is the most common sized kite being ridden, and take that as the average choice; the size of each kite is usually written on the wing tips. Assuming 80 kg is the average rider weight, you add or subtract 1 meter of kite size for every 10kg you are above or below that average weight. So if most riders are on 12’s, and you weigh 110kg (30kg more than 80kg, therefore +3 meters), you’d go out on a 15, or if your weight is 50kg (30kg less then 80kg, therefore -3 meters), you’d be better on a 9.

Like I said, not so easy to define, and actually you’ll be surprised at how quickly your kite size choice will become second nature to you, being more a familiar feeling rather than high maths. There are formulas and charts available online, though these are intended as guidance only.

So those are the two main considerations when choosing your kite size. What are the more subtle, though by no means subtle, variables?

Kite

As already mentioned, kite type does make a noticeable difference. I tend to ride on C kites, for no particular reason, and these generate power in a different way to bow or hybrid kites. C kites generate pull more from forward movement rather then catching the wind – again with the car analogy, more like an Italian sports car rather than a chugging American V8. So when most riders are out on 9 meters, I’m maybe out on a 12, or if they’re out on 6’s, I’m on my 9. The majority of riders fly hybrid kites, which is halfway house between a bow and C kite.

Board

As with the kite, board type makes a difference to a rider’s kite size, and this relation between board and kite is often a measure of the board’s efficiency. The more efficient a board is, the less power required from the kite, and therefore the smaller a kite can be used. For example, often to assist students with getting up on the board, larger twin tips tend to be the choice, as these have a lower planing speed. As such, a smaller kite, can be used, which is the safer choice for those with little experience on a kite. Conversely, smaller twin tips displace more water – more power, bigger kite. Another example is with wave riding. This is a style that is, as the name suggests, as close to surfing as a kitesurfer will get, and as they use ‘floaty’ surf boards, smaller kites can be used. This works well as smaller kites are more dynamic in flight and faster on the turn, which is ideal when ripping up and down waves.

Riding Style

As riders progress down the line, they tend to fit into a style of riding that they most enjoy. Some like to cruise whilst others like to jump, hitting records on the WOO database. This is a small electronic device that fits to the board, measures the height of jumps, and uploads the figures onto an online database, where profiles are pitched against one another. The current world record holder is Mike Mac Donald, setting a record of 33.9 meters. Pretty high! For those seeking such fame, going out slightly over powered, or ‘lit’, on large kites will maximise their jumping potential. This is referred to as boosting. In contrast, those who’d rather cruise comfortably will choose a kite size that is down the middle for the wind strength.

All this begs the question –

How Many Kites Do I need?

When you buy your first, we recommend a kite size that will suite the most common conditions that you’ll be progressing in, whilst taking into account your weight. This tends to be a size from 9 to 12 meters. As you develop, and start to explore wind speeds either size of this, you’ll need to invest in more kites, and the riding style you choose to pursue will define the type of kites these will be. Most riders find that 3 kites is enough to suit all conditions, some choosing even more to increase their wind range further.

Some Final Words

How to choose the right sized kite is fundamentally about your safety, and as long as you follow these steps, you’ll be safe.

  • Always turn up to your session knowing the forecast, and make sure you take a kite that is realistic for this wind speed. Make sure you’ve got plenty of time between tides, darkness, friends and family.
  • Choose your kite size based on your own knowledge and understanding of your kite. Always take a look to see what size others are riding on.
  • Setup your kite with time and patience. If it doesn’t look or feel right, it probably isn’t, so disassemble and start again.
  • As with anything in kitesurfing, if you are unsure, ALWAYS ASK another experienced kitesurfer – there is no substitute for the experience and advice of others. We at The Kitesurf Centre are always around to give advice and guidance.

As I said, with a bit of time, this will become second nature to you. See you out on the waves!

Other reading –

How Many Lessons Do I Need For Kitesurfing?

One thing for sure is that if you want to get into kitesurfing you need to have lessons. Thankfully, learning how to kitesurf is great fun. The process is broken down into simple steps, such as learning theory, developing kite flying techniques, and introducing the board, and these processes are taught in a way that is both informative and engaging.

Why Have Lessons?

Although kitesurfing is a perfectly safe sport, the potential for things to go wrong is considerable, so it is always necessary to have lessons to ensure that you learn how to use the equipment correctly, you develop the correct techniques, and you understand the procedures and when to use them. Of course not everyone follows this rule, and here at Camber Sands these cowboys stick out like sore thumbs. We call them Ebay-ers, as they tend to get hold of some kit online, setup according to what seems to make sense, and then what happens next is anyone’s guess. As you are reading this blog I take it you’ve decided to have lessons. Well done!

What’s The Minimum Number Of Lessons?

I always recommend a 3 day course as good introduction to Kitesurfing. The course begins with the basic theory that surrounds the sport, with particular focus on what set of conditions you need for kiting. Then it’s straight on to the practical side, with flying small kites on the beach to explore the wind window and develop good flying technique. Quick bite to eat, into wetsuits and introduction to the bigger LEI kites, including safety. … more information on what’s involved here – https://www.thekitesurfcentre.com/kitesurfing-school/3-day-course

And Then?

These 3 days will give you a good understanding of kitesurfing, and depending on your ability to learn, you may even be up and riding on the 3rd day. After this, I would recommend 2 more days of instruction as a minimum, and this can be done by either extending your group lessons, or booking in a couple of 1 to 1 privates. In these lessons the instructors will take a more passive approach, giving you room to apply your knowledge as if you were an independent rider, whilst providing corrections and tips where necessary. This helps to secure the processes in your mind, and allows us to asses you to see if you’re ready to head out on your own.

What’s the maximum?

Of course, there is no limit to how many lessons you can have. Everyone learns in different ways and at different paces. Here at The Kitesurf Centre we’ve had students that are still having lessons three years down the line. Sometimes it’s more enjoyable to have the company of an instructor, and because there is no real limit to how far you can develop as a kitesurfer, there is no limit to how many lessons you can have. What is important is that when you decide to become an independent rider, both you and your instructor are sure of your ability to remain safe.

So what can you bring to your lesson?

Previous Experience

A question we get asked a lot is does previous board or wind experience effect how long it takes to learn. The short answer is yes, and no! Students who have experience in other board or wind sports, particularly snowboarding, tend to be more able at grasping certain aspects of learning, for example applying the board during board starts. This is perhaps unsurprising, however, the kite is the levelling factor. Flying LEI’s is a new experience to almost all students, and as kitesurfing is 10% board, and 90% kite, every member of the group is pretty much at the same point of development when it comes to kite flying.

Psychology

I would say the most significant point which will affect how long you are learning is your own approach to lessons. When I first learnt I remember thinking I was going to extract every ounce of experience and knowledge from my course – after all I had paid for it! So I made sure I turned up on time, paid attention to my instructor, and really gave the practical elements all I could. I even took notes! On my 3rd day I was up and riding, and it was a truly memorable buzz. Of course, from time to time we do have students who don’t pay much attention in their lessons, and don’t apply themselves to flying the kite or riding on the board. As a result they don’t develop as quickly as others, and seldom enjoy their lessons. So if you’re gonna learn, go for it!

Time

A good approach in terms of time to learn, is to commit a season to it; this summer I’ll learn how to kitesurf. In a perfect life we’d have all our lessons together, one after the other, but of course lift isn’t like that, and the teaching process is often peppered with life’s other commitments. This is not really a problem, and often a break after a lesson allows you to reflect on the day, and help to consolidate what you have just learnt. If you’re booked into a group lesson, here at The Kitesurf Centre we organise every day to fit in with your requirements. What can really help to retain knowledge between lessons is to keep revising using books and online sources of information, and if the kite flying was a bit of a sticking point, buying a small foil kite to practice with is a great idea.

Different ways of learning

There are different ways to learn how to kitesurf, and some students respond to certain methods better then others.

Group Lessons

Most students are taught as part of group, and this is the best way to get off the ground. It’s always reassuring to begin something new with others who are in the same boat. The opportunity to make new friends and learn off each other’s interpretation is a fun and effective way to learn. Of course, this means that compared to a private lesson, you spend less time on the kite and with the instructor, but again, this helps students to learn. As previously mentioned, much of the learning occurs when you are not directly engaged with the kite or board, enabling you to reflect on the experience, and also to learn by observing the techniques of your fellow group mates and to discuss and critique. It certainly makes the lessons more fun, and perhaps most importantly for kitesurfing, it teaches you to be patient, and communicate with fellow riders.

Private Lessons

Private lessons are a great way to learn if you have something more specific in mind, for example learning how to ride toeside, or how to ride upwind. These enable you to have the instructor’s undivided attention, allowing them to focus on the more particular details of your technique. These lesson tend to be more intense and shorter, and are a great way to progress in the sport once you’ve been taught the fundamentals.

Holidays

If you want your Kitesurfing tuition to be involved in a more rounded experience, we provide holidays to warmer climes, where tuition is part of the package. This is a great option if you want to blast out a solid course, whilst taking in the cuisine and culture of somewhere a little more exotic. All equipment is included, and you just need to turn up to the airport in your wetsuit or speedos. More info here – https://www.thekitesurfcentre.com/kitesurfing-holidays

Conclusion

So how many lessons do I need for kitesurfing? Minimum 5, and maximum – however many is necessary to make you safe in the water with a kite. Your preferred method of learning will most likely become apparent on your first course, and can therefore be applied at it’s conclusion. Kitesurfing is not a hard sport learn, and as mentioned at the beginning of the blog, the best part of it is that it is all good fun! Give us a call to discuss.

Other reading –

 Is Kitesurfing Easier Than Windsurfing?

Often when you look out and see kitesurfers on the waves, you’ll also see windsurfers in the mix, so this seems like a rather logical comparison. Indeed, when you look into the history of kitesurfing, you’ll see that it owes a lot of it’s development and progression from the world of windsurfing. When kitesurfing was in it’s infancy, mainly in the 90’s, it exploded onto the watersports scene with its visual splendour, lofty kites and big jumps. This tempted many windsurfers to jump onto the wagon, and so naturally some of the big windsurfing manufacturers followed, with perhaps the most notable example being Naish. Many who now enjoy kitesurfing started out as windsurfers, and still mix up the two disciplines that have their fair share of differences. So if your looking into getting into a wind powered watersport, which is right for you? I’ll break it down into learning and developing curves, with some safety discussion, ending with a little about the equipment.

Learning

Generally speaking, learning to get up and ride is easier with windsurfing, and most beginners will experience the thrill of windsurfing on their first lesson. This is almost entirely due to the fact that the equipment is more user friendly, taking less instruction and time to grasp. The sails on a windsurf are simple to use and are held up by the riders arms, whilst with a kite there is more involvement with it’s control, keeping it flying and prevent it from falling out of the sky.

Another significant point is the buoyancy of the boards. Unlike a typical kitesurfing board, a windsurfing board will float with a riders weight, requiring no forward motion to keep it above the water surface. This means that a student can step up onto the board, sheet in the sail, and get moving with little coordination or effort, though some balance. The equivalent moment in kitesurfing is a bit more of a crescendo, where the skills that have been learnt over the previous few days are bought together in what is known as a board start. This is where standing and a forward motion are combined momentarily to hopefully make a kitesurfer.

So in terms of getting up on either a kitesurfing board or a windsurfing board, windsurfing is easier. However, this is where the advantage stops.

Development

Assuming you wish to return to your car at some point, you’re going to have to be able to come back the way you came, and with kitesurfing you simply send the kite the other way and swap the back of the board for the front by shifting your weight; there is no need to turn it around. As windsurfers use directional boards, or boards that only go one way, riders must turn the entire rig around, and this involves much dexterity and skill to master. It is also necessary for the rider to rotate around the sail, which when seen being done, is impressive.

The bit in between is pretty relaxed on both. When cruising in a straight line, the key is to trust your harness, learn back against the pull of the sail or kite, and enjoy the ride.

In terms of tricks and treats to develop into, kitesurfing comes out on top, this largely due to it’s smaller board size, the distance of the kite to the rider, and the impressive jumping potential. That’s not to say that windsurfers can’t get some serious air and do some head spinning flips with some strong wind and decent waves.

Fitness

Mainly due to the reasons explained in the development section, windsurfing does require a reasonable amount of strength. Sheeting in, and lowering and raising the sail, which is necessary when on the turn, requires a good bit of core grit. Kitesurfing in comparison has a lighter touch on the control of the kite, as almost all of the power is directed through a waist harness, and there is no need for any complex rotations when changing direction. As such, kitesurfing has no prerequisite for strength or fitness. Being a competent swimmer is essential for both.

Safety

The key here is knowing how to use the equipment correctly; as long as this is guaranteed by the rider, both of these sports are safe. The potential for things to go wrong is greater in kitesurfing. This is mainly because the power source is 25 meters away from the rider, as opposed to directly in front. In windsurfing you can simply let go of the sail to de-power. The process in kitesurfing is also very simple and effective, but if it the process is not understood correctly, or is disabled due to a bad setup, the consequences can be considerable. That is why having lessons is a must; so the student can learn and practice these procedures in a controlled, risk free way.

The gear

So what about the gear? This is where kitesurfing really shines. Everything that you need can be simply packed down into a large backpack, slung onto your shoulders and taken back on the bus. When broken down a windsurfing rig is more considerable and necessitates the need for a van or sizeable car. Of course this won’t be a problem if you have one of these.

Conditions

Both sports require the same set of conditions. With the recent advent of ultra light foil kites and super efficient boards, kitesurfing can be done in winds as low as 8 knots, and windsurfing claims similar speeds of winds as a minimum requirement. Onshore winds are the sensible choice of direction, as are spacious beaches that have been specifically designated for such sports. Windsurfing is not so dependant on low tide as these is no landing or launching procedure, though low tides are a good idea as a safety precaution. They do need to be able to walk in the sea to get their craft deep enough to ride.

To Conclude

So the answer to the question is kitesurfing easier than windsurfing is a little like the skiing/snowboarding comparison. Windsurfing, like skiing, is easy to get going on, but more challenging to develop in, whilst kitesurfing, like snowboarding, is trickier to get riding on, but easier to progress in once you start putting in turns and developing a more dynamic ride. Both these sports are an absolute blast, as what they both come down to is shooting across the surface of the sea at wicked speeds – I don’t think to call that biblical is an exaggeration.

Intrigued? Here’s some more reading you may find interesting, and a link to our videos page.

Kitesurfing/Snowboarding/Surfing/Windsurfing Comparison & Crossover

Any guesses on what all these sports have in common? I’ll throw skateboarding in the mix for another clue. You probably guessed it – they’re all board sports, and are all great fun to learn and do. So how are these sports similar, and how are they different? After all, some you can do locally, some you probably can’t, some are easier to learn then others, and some are more expensive then others. It’s a very broad question, and one I’ll attempt to answer by discussing the fundamental considerations of each. Here we go for a Kitesurfing/Snowboarding/Surfing/Windsurfing comparison & crossover!

The Basics

Let’s talk about the riding surface. Again, any guesses on which one is the odd one out? You probably guessed again. Snowboarding. Kitesurfing, windsurfing and surfing all take place on the water, as denoted by the term surf. Snowboarding takes place on snow, which provides a very low friction surface to gain some very fast speeds on – heads up to our own Rupert Cawte, who clocked an amazing 151 kph to match the British snowboarding speed record. And for kitesurfing? Links for both of these at the bottom of the page.

Secondly, propulsion. This splits the field down the middle. Both windsurfing and kitesurfing use the wind to propel rider across the sea, whilst snowboarding and surfing rely on gravity to either pull the rider down the mountain, or down the face of a wave. This makes for an interesting ride dynamic. Both snowboarding and surfing are what I call stop and go sports, with sessions being peppered with chair lift rides or wave seeking, whilst windsurfing and kitesurfing, providing the wind plays ball, are more or less a constant ride. So snowboarders look out for snow, surfers check the swell forecast, and windsurfers and kitesurfers are looking for a good wind forecast.

Learning

One of the beauties of all these sports is that they all relate in terms of board control. Simply put, if you lean the board left, you turn left, and if you lean the board right, you turn right, much like a skateboard. This technique is key across all the sports as it decides you direction of travel, is a way of controlling your speed, and very much adds to the fun factor. Great!

This means that, generally speaking, if you’ve learnt one of the sports, it’s easier to learn another. A great example of this is kitesurfing and snowboarding. Due to my experience as a kitesurfer, and specifically my ability to ride toeside, I was able to apply these techniques to snowboarding, and after an afternoon of steady progression, I managed to get down the mountain looking like a snowboarder – to my relief frankly.

Fitness

We have another odd one out here. Perhaps, not so easy to guess, this is surfing. Surfing requires a high level of cardio and core strength. Paddling back out to catch a wave, and paddling onto a wave requires both, whilst once on the wave, you have to pop yourself into a standing position, ready to make the turn into the wave. In decent surfing conditions, the environment is demanding, as tides, wind and underwater hazards are thrown into the mix to add to the challenge, but also the fun.

Next in line for fitness I would say is windsurfing. Lifting up the sail, sheeting in, and changing direction requires a reasonable amount of agility and strength, particularly in the upper body, though once hooked into the sail via a harness, cruising is pretty easy peasy.

Both kitesurfing and snowboarding are easily accessible, with neither requiring a particular focus on strength or fitness; gravity and wind do pretty much all the hard work! Again, as long as you follow the prescribed routes into these sports, fitness shouldn’t be much of any issue. Of course your body will adjust according to the demands that you place on it, and you will develop the fitness required as you learn.

Practicality

How practical is the sport to you? Are the right conditions easily accessible to you? How easy is it to ship the equipment around? As an example, here in Camber sands, both kitesurfing and windsurfing are logical choices of board sports to pursue. We have good beach access, plenty of reliable wind, and a well established community of wind sports-ers to join.

Surfing, on the other hand, is not a good choice. It’s not often that we get the perfect storm necessary to make good surfing waves. As is well known, this discipline belongs to the more westerly coasts of the UK. As the channel gives way to the Atlantic, there is plenty of fetch to enable good waves to develop, whilst these coasts are more exposed to receive the rollers coming in from the Atlantic.

Snowboarding of course can only be done where there is snow, making it very much a seasonal pursuit and requiring the need to fly, though any nearby dry slope can do a pretty good job at replicating the sensation.

OK, half way house in our Kitesurfing/Snowboarding/Surfing/Windsurfing comparison & crossover!

The Gear

The beauty of kitesurfing is that all the gear can be packed down into a sizeable backpack, with folding boards available to further reduce the size. This makes getting around on public transport a relatively easy affair, though you’ll no doubt receive some perplexed looks from fellow passengers. In contrast, windsurfing equipment, once broken down, still necessitates the need for a van or large car, making it almost impossible for anyone who doesn’t have these facilities.

Surfing comes in close behind in terms of size, and due to their fragile construction, always carry a risk when being flown anywhere. Renting on location is often a better option. With any good board bag, snowboarding is relatively easy to get on location, with many airlines offering a specific service. But what trumps the lot? A good old Penny skateboard!

Cost

The initial outlay for windsurfing gear is about a 3rd more expensive then kitesurfing gear, but as the sails are more sturdy then kites, over time they don’t need to by replaced as often as kitesurfing gear. As an alternative to new, both sports have well developed second hand markets, though it’s important to know exactly what you’re buying as some older gear can be dangerous. In terms of lessons, kitesurfing tends to require more, this partly due to the fact that there is more safety to be taught, and that the risks are greater to yourself and others if you don’t have lessons. With windsurfing you’ll likely be on the board and riding on your first lesson. All in there’s little to it between kitesurfing and windsurfing. For our lesson prices have a look here – https://www.thekitesurfcentre.com/prices

Surfing is cheaper, as once you have your wetsuit, you only need a board, which can cost anything from £50 to £500. Lessons are not required to get out and have some safe fun, though a good understanding and respect for the beach that you choose to surf at is. Snowboarding kit all in is comparable with surfing, though lessons are advised, and factor in the holiday cost: after flights, accommodation and lift pass, you can be looking at a tidy sum. I would say £500 all in for a week in the Alps will be the bare minimum; pain au chocolats not included.

Feel Of The Ride

Each of these sports differs significantly in how it feels, and what is most enjoyable to you is of course dependant on your preferences. Having experienced all 4 to some extent, for me nothing compares to the thrill of snowboarding. But as I live near the south coast of the UK, and not the Alps, kitesurfing is the best option for me. I would choose this over windsurfing as, largely due to kitesurfing’s jumping ability, the potential to develop tricks and techniques is almost boundless, whereas windsurfing is relatively limited to cruising, though this is also a great buzz. Surfing isn’t really an option due to the lack of decent conditions, though if I were really committed it wouldn’t be impossible, particularly with the advent of SUP boards, that are more adept at catching surf then their traditional counter parts.

So that’s my Kitesurfing/Snowboarding/Surfing/Windsurfing comparison and crossover. All of these sports are great fun, and are a great way to help you keep fit, happy and healthy. Hopefully this will provide you with an understanding of the main considerations. At the end of the day, there is no substitute for putting on a wetsuit, or pair of salopettes, and giving it a go yourself, so book some time off work, book a lesson, and get involved.

Here’s some more reading –

Rupert Cawte’s snowboarding speed record – https://www.datawax.com/waxes1/news-blog/rupert-cawte/

Difference Between Kitesurfing And Kiteboarding?

You may have heard these terms used in conversation and thought, what do they actually mean? Of course, one could easily mean the other; kitesurfing involves a kite and board, so could easily be referred to as kiteboarding, and kiteboarding could easily refer to riding along a beach on a beefed up skateboard being pulled by a kite. . .Waaaah, what’s the answer?! Well, it really depends on where the question is being asked. Let’s break it down.

The Difference

Here in the UK, kitesurfing is the sport of riding through the water with a kite and board, the logic being that surfing is a sport that takes place in the water. This is probably the definition that you are familiar with, and is the term that is used by the majority of kitesurfers and kite schools in the UK.

Many other countries, including the USA, South Africa and Australia, refer to kitesurfing as kiteboarding. So instead of referring to the act of surfing, they refer to the instrument on which it is done; the board. Why is this? Well a likely explanation is to look at the governing bodies of the sport.

BKSA

Internationally there are two principle organisations. The BKSA, short for the British Kitesports Association, is the governing body for the UK, and they are responsible for the maintenance and development of the sport. They train instructors, organise competitions and events, provide 3rd party insurance to riders, ensure safety standards in schools, and help to maintain beach access for kite flyers, along with many other things. Largely through their commitment to safety, an effective quality assessment method for both instructors and schools, and their accessible approach to training instructors, the BKSA have built a good reputation that is now being exported to other countries as a basis to train instructors and provide guidance to schools.

IKO

The IKO, short for the International Kiteboarding Organisation, is the American version, which has a much broader recognition internationally, and therefore promotes the term kiteboarding, for what we in the UK know as kitesurfing. The main difference between the BKSA and the IKO is that the BKSA is a registered non profit, whilst the IKO is not, and this is reflected in their practices. To summarise, IKO provide tuition for instructors and schools, much like the BKSA, but require minimal follow up to ensure that standards are maintained. For a more in-depth comparison – https://www.thekitesurfcentre.com/news/bksa-vs-iko

So kitesurfing in the UK refers to the act of whizzing through the water on a board with a kite. Abroad, this is mainly referred to as kiteboarding.

What does Kiteboarding refer to in the UK?

As previously mentioned, kiteboarding is the dry version of kitesurfing, and has been around for as long, or perhaps even longer, then kitesurfing. Instead of using a kitesurfing board, kiteboarders use a skateboard with large wheels, this providing them with plenty of ground clearance to whizz across the beach on. Sounds fun!

The other main difference in a kiteboarder’s makeup is the type of kite they use. Typically they use foil, or ram kites. As it is not easy for kiteboarders to redirect a downward pull, they require a kite that is effective at pulling them to either side. Foil kites are better at flying on the edge of the wind window as they are high aspect, and on account of their lighter weight, less likely to fall to the ground then the LEI kitesurfing kites. kiteboarders also do not require the use of an LEI as they are not playing around in the water. If they crash a foil on the beach, it’s not going to get mushed by the waves, and can therefore be easily relaunched.

Other considerations for kiteboarders centre around the beach. Long and deep sandy coastlines are ideal, giving plenty of room for all beach users and birds to enjoy the space. A decent run of sand needs to be exposed by the tide, and the density of sand is also significant. Kiteboarders prefer to ride on raised strips of sand, or sandbanks, as this is where the sand tends to be the hardest, providing the most ideal surface for riding.

If you’d like to give kiteboarding a go, have a look at our courses. It’s great fun, and teaches you many of the skills required for other kitesports should you wish to try something else. https://www.thekitesurfcentre.com/kitesurfing-school/kite-landboarding-lessons

So what is the difference between kitesurfing and kiteboarding? Rather oddly, your location!

How Fast Can Kitesurfers Go?

It’s a funny thing. Standing on the shoreline and looking out at any kitesurfer, you would be forgiven for thinking that riders seem to pootle along at no great pace. They are after all, usually a good distance away, with no still feature to relate their speed to, and they are usually tacking towards or away from you, meaning you don’t see them running the length of the beach. Don’t let this illusion fool you. Kitesurfing is fast! And can be very fast. So much so that almost since the sports inception, riders have been chasing down the coveted accolade of fastest sailor in the world, culminating in some interesting board design and kit combinations. Let’s take a closer look at the 2 main ingredients – the board and the kite.

Kitesurfing Boards – Choices For Speed

In pursuit of sheer speed, the limiting piece to a kitesurfer’s make up is usually the board, as this is what gives the most resistance. The standard board of choice for most riders is called a twin tip; a wonderfully versatile instrument that is great for anything from ‘mowing the lawn’, to doing a you have to be absolutely bonkers megaloop. Although with the right conditions a respectable pace can be reached with a twin tip, to truly join the speed club you need something a little more specialised.

An average rider on a twin tip would usually cruise at around 15 – 25mph but speeds of up to 35 – 40mph can be achieved in the right conditions. Take a look at the table towards the bottom of this post for the achievable speeds with different equipment.

The Race Board

As the name suggest, this design of board was born out of competition. Resembling a large surf board that has been cut in half, with typically 3 to 4 large fins, this board works on the principle of lifting the board above the chop, and therefore drastically reducing the drag caused by the water surface. This lift is known as the ground affect. As the rider gains pace, a high air pressure is developed under the nose of the board, and as the speed builds, this pressure develops further back, eventually filling almost the entire space under board and lifting it above the surface. As there is very little board in the water, it is up to the large fins to stop the rider being pulled downwind by the kite. Cool!

The race board was a successful design, being built by many of the major manufacturers. However, about 5 years ago, it was swiftly swept aside by a new style that has seen its way into just about every water sport out there.

The Hydrofoil

Very similar to the race board in terms of board shape and size, this one has an underwater wing that is attached to the board with a big fin. Working on the same principle of lift, the hyrdofoil creates this using water pressure, rather then air pressure. As the rider gains speed, and applies a little back foot weight, the underwater wing increases its angle of attack to the direction of travel, lifting the rider out of the water, much as a wing pulls a plane off a runway when the nose lifts up. The fin is a very effective surface that enables the most acute into wind tack of any board. These are finely tuned instruments with very little room for error, requiring an exact technique that takes a lot of dedication to develop. The hydrofoil is now the board of choice in racing. It’s very fast and spectacular to watch, but is by no means the fastest.

The Speed Board

Designed for the sole purpose of flat out sheer speed, it looks more like a single ski than a board. These have been around for quite some time, and work on the same principle of the twin tip, though with far less displacement. Compared to the hydrofoil, these boards enable the rider to hold down much more power from the kite, and when this is applied to a slightly downwind direction, the speeds that can be reached are pretty nuts! The current record holder is Alex Caizergue, laying down an immense 57.97 knots (66.66mph). What a buzz! Windsurfing is close behind at a wacky 53.27 knots (61.26mph). You can imagine that at these speeds you want a flat as possible surface of water – not an easy combination when your looking for wind speeds of up to 50 knots.

How Fast Can Kitesurfers Go – Board Top Speeds

So how fast can kitesurfers go? We’ve compiled a table with the tops speeds recorded on specific boards with GPS.

Board TypeTop Speed (mph) in perfect conditions
Twin Tip38
Surfboard38
Hydrofoil45
Race Board55
Speed Board67

So where can you do this?

The annually held Luderitz speed challenge is the home of watersports speed records, where speed daemons try their fibre glass against the strongest winds. A long, thin channel is dug along the beach, which when filled up with sea water provides the perfect flat water surface to let rip. However, the record has recently been snatched from Luderitz by Mr Caitergue, returning the title to the home of kitesurfing, France.

What about the kite?

Over the development of kitesurfing, the main focal point for manufacturers to flex their ingenuity and competitive advantage has been, perhaps not surprisingly, the kite. As such, there are many different designs and classes of kite available, classes which have been naturally paired with a style of riding. Although multiple lengthy blogs could be written on kite design, I’ll do my best at a succinct break down!

First Off

A kite’s canopy profile is the most important feature when considering how a kite will perform. This is broadly defined by something called the aspect ratio, which describes a kite’s depth in relation to its width. A low aspect kite has a deep canopy that typical narrows towards the tips, and a high aspect is of course the opposite; these are kites that have a thinner canopy that runs more or less constant to the tips. LEI stands for Leading Edge Inflatable. These are the pump up kites used by most kitesurfers.

LEI Low Aspect

Also known as bow kites, these fly comparatively slower through the wind window, and take more time to turn. As such, they are typically used in teaching, or for anyone who wishes to simply cruise along with a stable and easy to fly kite. They also have high wind ranges, meaning they can be used in a greater range of wind speed. Although very powerful, the deep canopy means they like to sit deep within in the wind window, which tends to pull the rider more downwind, rather then in a side wind direction. This means that more board displacement is required by the rider, increasing overall resistance; not great for higher speeds.

LEI High Aspect

High aspect kites on the other hand like to sit on the side of the wind window, pulling a rider along rather then downwind. This benefit is greatly furthered by a something known as apparent wind, which these kits are particularly effective at making use of. Not getting too technical, this is the phenomenon of when the angle of incoming wind to any sail is altered by it’s own momentum, resulting in an improved upwind ability that builds with the kite’s speed. High aspects also have a smaller front profile then lower aspects which decreases their wind resistance. A thinner leading edge does make them weaker in the high winds in which they are typically flown, so to compensate, they tend to have a 5th line that connects to the middle of the leading edge. Used by the pro freestylers, these factors combine to also make a good choice for any high speed pursuer.

The vast majority of kites flown are a half way house between these two designs, doing their best to utilise the advantages of both ends of the spectrum. These are known as hybrid kites, and typically marry performance, usability and versatility into a user friendly package.

Foils

The last and by no means least of designs is the foil kite. As they are a variant of a paragliding sail, these have been around far longer then LEI kites, and although they have been used in land based kite sports, they have never been specifically developed for kitesurfing. The advent of the hydrofoil changed this. With the combination of an efficient board and light kite, Hydrofoiling has filled the light wind void that was previously unattainable, mainly due to the limitations of heavier LEI kites and less efficient boards. Foils perform superbly in light winds. They are constructed from much lighter fabric, and don’t require as much hardware as the LEI’s; parts such as bladders, valves and tubes. They tend to float through air, providing more lift to the rider. This is handy particularly when tacking on a foil board, as the more light footed you are, the easier it is. They are high aspect, lending great upwind performance and flying efficiency to the rider. They are however not a kite of choice for speed riders, simply because without the inflatable rib structure, they can’t handle high winds.

So as you can see, many different kites are available to satisfy the many variables of kitesurfing. What would be the choice for speed pursuit? A high aspect LEI, such as an F-one Bandit would hit the mark.

How About Technique?

Previous discussion will give you an idea of some of the considerations to take into account. High winds, flat water, and specific boards certainly help, but in truth any rider can give it go, with any combination of equipment.

A word of caution: according to your responsibilities as a kitesurfer, always make sure the coast is clear, especially when travelling at high speeds, and that you are well aware of any underwater hazards that may be in your way. The guys hitting the speed strips are fully trained and build up to it. Check out some of their crashes if you’re feeling a little overconfident!

Here at Camber Sand, mid tide provides some great flat water channels. Alternatively, if the wind is strong and the waves big, in between the swell provides the flattest of all water. An easy way to keep track of conditions and tides is through our live feed – https://www.thekitesurfcentre.com/weather

To get the most power from the kite, fly it not far off from the water surface. The real key to speed is your tack. Coming off your edge, bare slightly down wind. The kite will seek for more power by sitting deeper into the wind window, and you will feel your speed increase dramatically. And to stop? This is not as easy at high speeds as edging your board is more tricky and tends to skip along the surface. Throwing your weight back, push down hard on your back foot and edge hard into wind while easing out the bar. You’ll notice the kite will ping forward, and the power will reduce giving you more control to bring it up to 12 o’clock, and your speed will decrease. Best to build up to this with good practice.

How fast can kitesurfers go? Very, very fast! Speed and kitesurfing are well acquainted. Check out these clips for some inspiration, and give it a go yourself. Just remember, be safe.

How Do You Kitesurf?

How Do You Kitesurf?

When I am asked about kitesurfing, from time to time, people often assume it is something that is done on land, or on the sea with a large sail attached to a board. Although there are relatable elements, these are not kitesurfing. So first off, let’s define what kitesurfing actually is. Simple put, it is a recently developed water sport, where an individual is attached to a kite via a harness, that propels them along the surface of the water with a board attached to their feet. It is much like kiteboarding, except in the sea, or windsurfing, though a kite instead of a sail, and one of the great beauties of these sports is they all utilise an abundant, free and green source of power; the wind.

So, how do you do it? Let’s break it down into three steps.

  1. Basic theory
  2. Rider technique
  3. How to learn

Like many sports, kitesurfing is about the rider balancing the various forces involved to create an equilibrium.

Basic Theory

There are 3 components of a kitesurfer; the kite, the bar and lines, and the board. Known as Leading Edge Inflatables kites, or LEI for short, a kitesurfing kite has a rib structure that is inflated with a pump, this to ensure that they don’t sink or loose their shape if they hit the water – a very useful feature when learning! This is obviously the power source, and works by catching wind in the canopy to create pull. Kitesurfers use different kite sizes for different wind speeds so they can moderate the power required, much like reefing a sail on a boat.


The power is transferred to the rider through the bar and lines, which is attached to the rider with a harness. The bar is where much of the magic happens, as this is where the kite is controlled from. Through 20 years of development, the bar has come to serve 3 purposes; steering the kite, controlling the power of the kite, and deployment of the safety system. A clever piece of kit, the bar and lines are a simple and very effective design.


The board. Very much refined from the wakeboarding market, when combined with a forward motion, the board provides the rider with lift so that the rider skims along the surface of the water, minimising displacement and therefore resistance. However, a small amount of displacement is necessary to redirect the pull of the kite so that you are riding from side to side, as opposed to directly to the beach, which is where the kite wants to take you. There are many different types of boards available, including hydrofoil boards, surf boards and race boards.


So there’s some discussion about the equipment used in kitesurfing, and how they relate to each other to make up a kitesurfer. But what about the rider? What technique is required to get up on those waves?

It is important that both time and energy is spent on developing a good kite flying technique. Without this, getting up and riding is usually a tiring and frustrating process, draining riders of the will to do anything but pack up and go home.

Rider Technique

N.B. This is a basic breakdown of the process. Other necessary considerations will become apparent when you are out with your instructor, such as the wind window, safety techniques, and rules of the road.

Board Starts

Often considered to be the hardest part of learning to kitesurf, this is a process that combines a number of techniques. Don’t worry, in your lesson we break it down for you!

  • When you are at least waist depth with your kite stable above your head, bend your legs and put your board on. Make sure your legs are as bent as possible, and the kite is stable at 12 o’clock.
  • Check all around for any hazards, and once the coast is clear, instigate a good dive with the kite; how much you dive the kite will depend on how windy it is and how big your kite is. This will power up the kite, which will then pull you up and forward onto the board.
  • Before you are crouched directly above your board, straighten your front leg, and lean back away from the kite. Your back leg should be pushing the back of the board into the water, providing resistance to the pull of the kite and redirecting your momentum in the direction you want to go.
  • Whilst you are getting up on the board, it is important to remember to redirect the kite to 12 o’clock, so that it doesn’t crash in the sea. We usually focus on board and kite techniques separately and then combine the two.

Riding

2 things. Broadly speaking, your kite controls your speed, and your board controls your direction.

  • Kite – once up and going, you then have to think about controlling the power in the kite. In light winds, it is often necessary to keep the kite moving between 12 and 10, or 12 and 2 o’clock. Once your desired speed is reached you can often ‘park’ the kite at the 10 or 2 o’clock position, where it will give a steady and constant pull.
  • Board – the board controls your riding direction. By pushing the back of the board further into the water, whilst rotating your upper body to face your desired direction of travel, you can ride further upwind. However, this increases the canopy pressure on the kite, which it doesn’t like. To compensate, the kite travels further out of wind where there is less power to pull you along. So it’s a balance. To ride further downwind simply do the opposite.

Stopping

Important! A combination of de-powering your kite and increasing displacement of the board can bring you to a prompt stop.

  • Kite – simply bring the kite to 12 o’clock to de-power the kite. Alternatively, you can just let go of the bar and the kite will crash in the water, bringing your ride to an un-stylish but effective end.
  • Board – increasing your back foot pressure will increase your resistance and slow you down. This is a very effective technique if you need to come to an abrupt stop, and will work regardless of where the kite is.

And that’s how to kitesurf!

If you’ve been seduced by the exotic looking images, check out our range of kitesurfing holidays – an adventurous and relaxing way to learn. https://www.thekitesurfcentre.com/kitesurfing-holidays

How To Learn

Kitesurfing is addictive fun that is, with good tuition, easy and safe to learn. Have a look at these blogs for more information on how to become a kitesurfer.

How Easy Is It To Learn Kitesurfing?

For anyone who wishes to get into kitesurfing, this will naturally be one of the first considerations. It will after all govern how much time, money and commitment will be required to experience the thrill of whizzing across the surface of the sea. I remember the first time I saw a kitesurfer; zooming along the coastline of Aberdeen. Despite the natural associations of playing around in the North Sea, I was immediately hooked with the idea of getting into kitesurfing, and committing myself entirely to whatever it would take to be that person. But it looked like an extreme sport, and according to my preconceptions, would therefore be hard to learn. 7 years on, 5 of which I’ve spent instructing at The Kitesurf Centre, I feel qualified to answer this question!

How easy is it to learn kitesurfing? Let’s break it down into the main points:

Prior Experience

Kitesurfing is 90% kite, 10% board. Although students with previous board experience, such as snowboarders or skateboarders, are advantaged, this is only marginal. Those with sailing experience tend to have a greater appreciation of the wind and it effects. No worries! This is theory that we teach from the beginning, and is simple enough to understand. Flying a kitesurfing kite, also known as an LEI, is a new experience for every student, so when we teach a group lesson, all students start from pretty much the same point. Teaching the theory of how a kite flies, developing the correct technique to fly a kite, and scaling that technique to the larger kites is a process that all students learn from, and ensures a good flying technique that will be the basis of development.

Gender

When kitesurfing was first getting going in the 90’s, it was very much a male dominated sport, this largely due to the makeup of the windsurfing fraternity, from which many kitesurfers originated. This has changed enormously since, with just as many women learning how to kitesurf as men. There’s loads of independent female riders at Camber Sands, and if you need further convincing, just have a look at the pro scene. At The Kitesurf Centre we have a good balance of male and female instructors, and the choice for ladies specific equipment grows every year, with specific harnesses, wetsuits and boards on offer. Check out our shop – https://www.thekitesurfcentre.com/kitesurf-harnesses

Age

I’ve taught students as young as 13, and as old as 73. One of the great things about this sport is that it doesn’t require a lot of strength or stamina, despite what it may seem. The usual assumption is that you hold onto the kite with your arms; after all it does look like this from a distance. The kite is actually hooked into a harness, and all you have to do is steer the kite, which is pretty easy peasy. I would say a minimum age is more relevant then a maximum age. A certain level of strength and size is required; too young and a student will struggle to reach the bar, or steer a larger kite.

Money

One thing that is fundamental is that you do have to have lessons. This is not a sport where you can simply buy a kite off Ebay, and have a go at learning yourself. There are a few variables that will effect the cost of learning. Some students are naturally faster at learning then others, and there are different ways of learning. I would say an average spend on lessons would be 500-800 pounds. This includes a 3 day course, and some private lessons to refine technique. In terms of equipment there are different ways of doing this. You can buy new, you can hire, you can buy second hand, or perhaps even borrow from a good friend! There is an extensive second hand market, though make sure you research what you’re buying before purchase. Finally, once you’re kitted out, the wind is free!

Safety

I recently wrote a blog about this. Improvements in kite design, well regulated schools, and highly trained instructors have a made a sport that is safe and fun to learn. More information here – https://www.thekitesurfcentre.com/news/is-kitesurfing-dangerous

To Conclude …

So there’s a little discussion about the main considerations in answering the question How easy is it to learn kitesurfing? One of the best pieces of advice I could give is, post first lesson, buy yourself a little trainer kite and practice in your garden or park. These are great for establishing a solid kite technique.

All in, if you are committed, kitesurfing is not a difficult sport to learn – how else would there be 1.5 million kitesurfers worldwide?!

Is Kitesurfing Dangerous?

This is a question that has often been asked when talking about kitesurfing with friends and family; it is after all a pretty extreme looking sport! There are various stories that circulate in the media and online about kitesurfing accidents. Being a safe kitesurfer is about taking the correct learning steps, and it is reassuring to know that the sport has come a long way since the early days of cowboys and pirates. Improvements in equipment design, UK schools that are well regulated by the British Kitesports Association, and a pool of hand picked, highly professional instructors, has led to a sport that is both easily accessible and safe to learn.

Of course, like with any sport, there are risks. However, these risks are avoided by good kitesurfing practice. Let’s take a look at the fundamental pre-requisites for safe kitesurfing.

  • There is the sea. To be a confident and capable swimmer is a must when kitesurfing.
  • Consideration. You will not be the only one on the beach and sea. Think of others.
  • Patience, patience and patience. From arriving from the beach to leaving, kitesurfing is a step by step by process. Carrying out this process with patience is fundamental, so give yourself plenty of time for your session.

So, you have these. What’s next? Through my 5 years of experience as a kitesurfing instructor, I know the difference between a safe kitesurfer and a not so safe kitesurfer. Simply put, it is those that have had lessons, and those that have not. Learning to kitesurf is like driving a car; without lessons driving is dangerous. With lessons, driving is safe. Kitesurfing is no different, and I would recommend at least a 3 day course as a good introduction.

Here is a break down of the lessons we offer – https://www.thekitesurfcentre.com/kitesurfing-lessons

Why is this?

Well, firstly, the combination of sea and wind throw up their fair share of potential hazards. On your first lesson we teach you about how to keep safe in this environment by following some simple rules. Aspects such as what is a safe depth to practice in, which kite size to use for what wind speed, and the role of tides will give you a comprehensive understanding of a safe kitesurfing environment.

Secondly, how to fly the kite, and how to use your safety system if something goes wrong. This involves teaching you some theory as to why a kite flies, developing your flying technique on small kites, and introducing you to the larger LEI kites in the sea, and the fun of bodysurfing!

As I mentioned earlier, equipment has come a long way in design. If something goes wrong, there is a very simple and wonderfully effective process to disable the kite. Great stuff!

More about day 1 here – https://www.thekitesurfcentre.com/news/kitesurfing-a-beginners-blog-part-1

Once you’ve had your 3 day course, what’s next?

Your safety is our absolute priority, so we suggest continuing your journey on further group lessons, or private lessons, until you and your instructor are confident for you to continue developing by yourself.

Of course, you are never alone. Being a kitesurfer is about being part of a community who share the thrills of what is an amazing sport. Once your lessons are complete, it is this community that is the greatest source of knowledge to ensure your safety. From how to setup your kite, to what the forecast is, if you are unsure about anything, always ask – don’t guess. We at The Kitesurf Centre are always around to help you out, so give us a shout.

So is kitesurfing dangerous?

Simply put, without lessons, yes. With lessons, no.

Get those lessons booked and get involved!

How Long Does It Take To Learn To Kitesurf

How Long Does It Take To Learn To Kitesurf?

How long is a piece of string? Learning to kitesurfing comes easily to some whereas others it’s more difficult. There are several factors which must be considered before it can be determined how long it takes to learn to kitesurf. The good news is that ANYONE can learn to kitesurf, we’ve taught a whole mix of people in the past, right up to 83 years old!

There has been students who are riding after 4 hours of tuition and jumping after 10 but below we’ve put a more realistic time frame together for the average Joe (or Jane!)

  • Age
  • Experience with powerkites
  • Determination
  • Experience with other similar sports (wakeboarding, snowboarding, skateboarding, etc)
  • Prior knowledge & understanding of wind direction & speeds
  • Ability to listen & take on feedback from an instructor
  • Fear
  • General co – ordination

The main advantage to reducing the time it takes to learn to kitesurfing, is having some sort of prior experience with other similar board sports. Wakeboarding is he best, as the board control is almost identical but snowboarding and skateboarding also help. Once you’ve learnt to fly the kite, getting on a board is more natural because you’ll have the muscle memory from the other sports. Getting hold of a skateboard for a quick ride will make a difference to your progression and it’s a cheap & easy way to improve your progression.

It’s no secret that as you get older, the more difficult it is to learn new sports, and kitesurfing is no different on the practical element, however, age can be your ally when it comes to understanding the theoretical and safety side of things which in turn aids with overall progression.

It’s occasionally an advantage for the younger generation to have a lack of self preservation and a ‘just go for it’ attitude. It sometimes helps break down barriers and aids progression.

Unfortunately as you get older self preservation moves up the ‘list of important things’ and even if you’re not in a dangerous situation (such as during a kitesurfing lesson), your brain doesn’t allow you to throw yourself into an unknown situation as easily. This isn’t always a bad thing though! People learn in different ways and sometimes ‘gung ho’ doesn’t help everyone’s progression

The good news is that most of the list above can be improved from reading our blogs & getting a skateboard & powerkite before your first kitesurfing lesson. The rest can be left down to our very capable instructors!

How long does it take to learn to kitesurf in hours

  • 0 – 10 hours – The Basics – Safety, theory, equipment set up, kite flying, body dragging & an introduction to the board & first rides. All covered in a 2 day course.
  • 11 – 25 hours – Improvers – This is where prior experience starts to tell, some people will now get up and ride easily where others will need more perseverance. The aim at 25 hours would be to be able to at least practice independently, even for those with no prior experience and those a little faster at learning should be riding in control over medium distances.
  • 26 – 50 hours – Riding! Progression really accelerates with riding in both directions, linking turns together, keeping upwind & looking good.
  • 50 – 100 hours – Introducing first tricks, jumps, toeside carves, & rotations.
  • This is a conservative estimate and some people vary with progression.

Is Kitesurfing Easy To Learn?

When comparing kitesurfing to other watersports, most would agree that it’s one of the more difficult to learn the very basics and does require some more patience than kayaking, windsurfing or stand up paddleboarding (which can be riding / moving along within 30 minutes) in the first 5 – 10 hours.

But, learning to kitesurf has an unusual & very rewarding progression curve. The hours from 10 – 20 can sometimes be frustrating and progression can slow, as 0 – 10 hours is all go full progression, and then it clicks and WHAM you’re up, riding and screaming along. You’re on the board more than you’re not and your progression goes through the roof. This is where kitesurfing leap frogs most other sports, because now you’re looking to turn, carve a wave and your first jumps. How long does that take when learning to windsurf for example, 3-5 years?! The great thing about learning to kitesurf is that it’s exhilarating at every stage of the way and completely addictive.

Do I need to Take Lessons?

How To Self Launch & Self Land While Kitesurfing Solo

How to self launch your kite safely

Although a very communal sport, there can be times during kitesurfing when there is no one else left on the beach to launch or land your kite; there is always a last person, waiting! These self launching/landing solo techniques are for just those occasions, and are a great way to get you out on the water or back in the car with a cup of tea in your hands.

A word of caution: we don’t recommend these techniques for beginner kiters, and if there is another kitesurfer at hand it is always best for them to launch and land your kite; two eyes are better then one to spot setup mistakes, and two pairs of hands are better than one in case something goes wrong. As always, give yourself plenty of room and be aware of any hazards, particularly downwind.

Launching

This is always my chosen method for self launch, and although there are others available, I consider this to be the safest.

  • Find a well anchored post on the beach that has plenty of empty space surrounding it – groyne uprights make a good choice.
  • Using some sort of sort of strap, such as a ratchet strap, secure a caribena to the post. Alternatively you can use you safety leash (or a spare) by tying this around the post with a secure knot, though of course it depends on the length of it and the width of the post. This becomes your attachment point for the kite.
  • Setup your kite as usual, taking your time to ensure that there are no crossed lines or other issues, and attach the chicken loop to the caribena/end of your safety leash. Make sure the kite is secured well downwind of the post.

  • Now, just as if you are launching someone else’s kite, walk the kite, with lines tight, around until it is on the side of the wind window. Eventually the canopy will fill with pressure and the lines will tighten. Hold the kite steady until it settles on the sand.
  • Take time to check your lines are all good, and that the kite is happy to sit on the edge of the wind window. Once you’re happy it’s behaving, make your way over to the post, walking upwind of the kite, and attach the kite to your chicken loop. Remember! Install your safety leash if you used it for an anchor.
  • Slowly bring your kite to 12, and get out there and rip it up!

One of these self launching solo straps works very well & is super safe in conjunction with the method explained below. Well worth the 25 quid!

There are other launch methods of self launching, such as a drag launch and a drift launch, though I wouldn’t recommend these as they are not as controlled, and pose a greater risk to you, others and perhaps most importantly, your kite!

Landing


As with launching, there are many ways of doing this, though I would recommend the following technique as it has worked well for me in the past. Onward with How To self launch & self land while kitesurfing solo.

  • Exhaust yourself with an exhilarating session and make your way in; your children may wish to see you, or your other half may have finished their book.
  • Once on the beach or shallows and in a good place to land, slowly bring the kite to settle on the beach as far way from any hazards as possible, and pull your primary release. It is good to practice pulling this so you know how to do it, and what will happen when an occasion calls for it.


  • The kite will now either settle to the sand, or it may flip upside down and go into the air. It cannot power up as your safety has been pulled, and will come to settle on the sand.
  • Pulling in your safety line as you go, walk over to the kite, and begin putting your gear way. Make sure you reset your lines before wrapping them up to avoid frustration for your next session, and remember to give your lines a good rinse in fresh water before you put them away. More info here

We would only attempt this type of solo land in up to 15 knots, in any winds stronger than this it’s advisable to perform a deep water pack down. This is an emergency procedure that every kitesurfer should know, and self landing is a great opportunity to practice this on a more regular basis. Check out this video for an explanation on how to perform it.

Post Landing

The final method of solo landing is to do the opposite of the self launch as mentioned above, using a secure attachment and a strap. The reason we’ve not used this as the preferred method is that you need a strap that can be left in place while you’re out riding, as it’s too dangerous to try and wrap your leash or strap around the post while flying a kite. However, if it is in place then you can go through the steps of the solo launch (but backwards) for a safe and secure self land.

So hopefully this will answer the question how to self launch & self land while kitesurfing solo. Remember, be patient, don’t rush, and give yourself plenty of room. Stay safe.

Further Reading

Gift Ideas for Kitesurfers

Gift ideas or Christmas & birthday presents for kitesurfers are hard to buy if you don’t know much about kitesurfing, and there are so many baffling choices available.

Below we take a look at the 10 best gifts for kitesurfers to help guide you towards making the right choice within your budget. All the ideas listed below are under £50 but check out our gift ideas page for more options.

10 Best Gifts For Kitesurfers – Christmas or Birthdays presents

1. Kitesurfing Gift Vouchers

It’s worth remembering that some kitesurfers have a lot of equipment already, which makes it’s hard to know what else they may need. Purchasing a gift voucher for a monetary value is sometimes the easiest choice. This also takes away the issues with getting something in the wrong size or colour. We appreciate it’s not considered as ‘personal’, but most people actually prefer this and it’s accepted that you’ve thought about their favourite hobby when making the purchase, rather than getting some tat from John Lewis!

2. Bamboo Tide Clock

Almost every beach in the UK is tide dependent and this quirky and well designed clock keeps track of the tides, making it easy to know when the conditions will be best on the beach. Set it once and it then follows the regular tidal patterns for years

3. Mystic Waterproof Carry All Bag

mystic norris bag

The Mystic Norris Carry All Bag is an essential part of any water man or water womans kit and it doesn’t cost the world. Large, durable & waterproof, it’s ideal to chuck in wet wetsuits, harnesses, bar & lines and the rest. They’re also very useful in day to day life and far more sustainable than an Ikea bag. It’s a really good Christmas or Birthday present for kitesurfers or anyone else, as everyone has a use for one.

4. Secure KeyPod for car / van keys

Northcore KeyPod Key Safe

The Northcore KeyPods are a really useful piece of kit. They allow the user to securely lock their vehicle keys inside the lockbox and then lock the box to their vehicle. This allows piece of mind while out on the water, rather than the conventional way which is to leave the key on the rear wheel (no one will ever guess it is there!) These are a far better solution than using a ‘dry bag’ when on the water, as they aren’t always dry and modern electronic keys don’t like sea water. It’s a tool which can be used in other sports or scenarios where taking the key with you isn’t the best option.

5. Mystic Towel Changing Poncho

2019 Mystic Poncho

Everybody needs a changing poncho in their life. These are not just fantastic for getting changed in and out of a wetsuit without flashing the general public, they are also great for keeping warm and drying off after having a shower or bath at home. They come in various colours and patterns, as well as kids sizes. It’s a really nice gift even if it’s not for a kitesurfer!

6. Tricktionary – the ‘How to’ book for kitesurfing

This books starts from the very beginning and covers every step of the way on the progressive kitesurf journey, right up to World Tour professional tricks. It’s breaks each part down very simply and is in a really high quality print. Written by pro riders for those aspiring to be one (perhaps). It really is a great quality book and makes the perfect present for any level of rider and something they’ll never stop learning from.

7. Northcore Grass Changing Mat

Northcore Grass Changing Mat/Bag

These grass changing mats may seem like a gimmick but are actually really very useful. Not only are they much nicer than getting changed on a muddy, cold, wet car park surface, they also keep all your wet kit mud or sand free together in one waterproof bag, and allow you to brush off your feet before getting in the car. It’s win, win, win! A really novel gift that most people wouldn’t have seen before. Ideal for any water sport.

8. Surfing Ear Plugs

Northcore Surfshields Surfers Ear Plugs

It’s relatively unknown that regular contact with cold water can cause Surfers Ear, which can be painful and disruptive. These water sports specific plugs are designed to prevent it by blocking water into the ear while allowing full hearing and balance. Get these for a friend before they unknowingly damage their ears while enjoying the elements. It will benefit you in the long run if they go partially deaf without them!

9. Waterproof Car / Van Seat Car

Northcore Waterproof Car Seat Cover - Single

Buy this as a gift and you’ll be thanked forever by the car owner. They are not only ideal for keeping the car seats clean and dry, but are the ultimate piece of equipment in the middle of winter when it’s too cold or you can’t be bothered to get changed, so just drive home in a wet wetsuit! It makes a great gift for kitesurfers but also ideal for use where cars need protection from dirt, oil, grease or mucky children as well.

10. Stand Up Paddleboarding Gift Voucher

It’s well documented that kitesurfers get very grumpy if they’re not able to get on the water due to lack of wind. So why not increase their chances of getting wet by introducing them to Stand Up Paddleboarding. It can be as relaxing or adrenaline fueled as you want it to be. It’s a nice gift for someone who is just starting water sports or youngsters as well, as it’s quick and easy to pick up while being great fun.

How to read a wind & weather forecast

There’s many forecasts out there and some are better than others, but a lot of it comes down to which forecasts work best for the local area and how you read them and interpret the results.

We could go into loads of information about weather systems and wind gradients, but that’s not what this page is about and not information you necessarily need to begin with. Being able to interpret a forecast is the key.

Lets be honest, the only place to get an accurate forecast these days is online. Although newspapers, TV and radio do give forecasts, they are never going to be as accurate as the internet which is automatically updating every 15 minutes.

The weather forecasting websites use data measured from atmospheric conditions and compare it to those taken in the past which helps them predict the incoming weather. Whereas the wind forecasting websites calculate the data picked up from weather stations around the world to calculation air movement and predict which pressure systems are moving where, which in turn forecasts the wind.

Image result for weather balloon

When taking this into consideration, it’s no surprise that the wind websites aren’t very good at forecasting the weather and the weather forecasting websites aren’t good at predicting the wind.

The best websites…..

For the UK and south east coast (Camber Sands, Greatstone, Winchelsea, Pett, Pegwell Bay, Hastings & Hythe in particular), we find the most accurate website for forecasting the wind strength is www.xcweather.co.uk. This tends to be the best for the UK but may not work so well around the globe.

The website gives a break down of 3 hour intervals for the coming 8 days and an hourly breakdown for the coming 72 hours. Realistically, any forecast is only really accurate 24 – 48 hours in advance and even then it can change several times.

However, it isn’t as good as www.windguru.com for the wind direction, which tends to be spot on. Windguru isn’t as good as forecasting the wind strength as Xcweather but it does get the direction right most of the time. It gives several forecasts for the local area and it’s worth looking at them all to take an average. But again, ignore the weather and wind strength part, which tends to be inaccurate.

So, immediately you’re going to have to check at least 2 forecasting websites to get a good idea of what the wind will do. There are quite big discrepancies between various sites (up to 30%) so it’s worth spending the time to find the most accurate forecast for your local spot.

The problem is, all of the weather & and wind reports are just forecasts. They are predictions of what a super computer calculates will happen after analysing thousands of pieces of information. But they are often wrong. The more you look at the websites and compare what’s forecast to the actual wind or weather, the more you’ll see patterns emerging that usually repeat themselves.

Things to take into consideration:

Gusts from average wind speed

There’s always going to be variations in the wind when you’re kitesurfing but you don’t want them to be too big, especially when learning and progressing. If it’s forecast 20 knots with 30 knot gusts, that’s a potential 50% change in the strength, how do you choose a kite for that? The summer tends to have more steady stable winds with less variations but in the winter it can be very gusty. This is due to the big pressure systems (weather fronts) that we receive from across the Atlantic. I wouldn’t suggest going kiting in winds that have more than a 30% variation unless you’re experienced.

Weather

Believe it or not, the weather does affect the wind speed and direction, and it can be quite dramatic. So it’s worth checking a forecast before heading to the coast. For the UK there is no better localised weather forecast than the Met Office (www.metoffice.co.uk). It shows how much cloud cover there is, the percentage of sun, temperature and most importantly, if there is likely to be any rain / storms.

A Met Office forecast for the day and week ahead

In the UK, if it’s forecast to be sunny with little cloud cover, there’s not much to worry about (other than a sea breeze – see below) and the conditions won’t change too much. If there are storms or clouds lurking, you need to be aware! A weather front (sometimes called a squall), which is effectively a dark or grey cloud can and does regularly change the weather. It can double the windspeed, half the windspeed, kill it off completely or change the direction by 180 degrees. If this is forecast then make sure you keep your eyes open when on the water or land your kite before it hits.

It can look something like the below images. Sometimes they aren’t menacing to the eye but can still change the weather significantly.

Image result for squall weather
Squalls aren’t always menacing to the eye, they can be quite a typical cloud but usually with a definite edge to them.
Image result for squall weather

When a squall hits it can have a devastating effect but it’s often over within 5 – 10 minutes so it’s worth sitting it out and waiting for it to pass. Once they pass the wind will often return to normal after about 30 minutes.

The live speed compared to the forecast

One of the biggest mistakes we see is kitersurfers turning up to the beach thinking it’s 12m weather because it forecast 15 knots and they believe it is 15 knots. But it’s actually 25 knots and the forecast was wrong or it had changed. A lot beaches have a live wind reading now (www.thekitesurfcentre.com/weather) or you can buy a an anemometer (wind meter) to help you read the strength. These are a really useful tools and worth checking regularly. They help you master reading a forecast, as you get used to seeing what the forecast says and then what the live reading is actually reporting. This helps to figure out which directions your local forecast is best for and when it is and isn’t accurate.

Live wind speeds are the most useful tool when you’re first few years of kitesurfing

If you don’t have access to a live reading, there are other signs you can look for when at the beach to give you an estimate of the wind speed. White caps on the water means it’s usually 14 knots or more and when a sea gull is able to hover without flapping their wings on a flat beach, it’s 22 knots or more.

Image result for hovering seagull
If a seagull can hover without flapping it’s wings, the wind is 22 knots or more

Sea breezes

Camber Sands is renowned for it’s strong sea breeze all through the summer months and it’s kept us in business for the past 15 years. Without a seabreeze there is actually very little wind during the summer months and we’d never be able to run a kite school. A sea breeze can change a forecast from 10 knots to 35 and the problem with a sea breeze is that no one is able to forecast it. You have to do that yourself!

The forecast wind speed and actual wind speed when a sea breeze is kicking in can be quite different. Always pack all your kite sizes, just in case!

How to forecast a sea breeze – sun, clear skies and warm temperatures is the recipe for a good solid sea breeze. Camber Sands works best if there is a light wind forecast coming from the south west and clear skies in the morning, to allow the marshland behind the beach to heat up. There needs to be a temperature difference of at least 3 degrees between the water and the air, the sea breezes tend to be stronger in spring and up around mid September. After that the sea is usually warmer than the air so it doesn’t work, even on the sunny days.

Sea-Breeze

At Camber Sands we’re fortunate enough to have flat reclaimed marshland for around 12 miles behind the sea and then the old cliff line, which is a vertical cliff. The cliffs send any light south westerly breezes straight up in the air, to add to the already rising warm air, which starts the cycle that create a sea breeze (see how see breezes are created for more information). Other popular beaches have other similar local effects which is often why they have regular wind and are popular for wind sports.

Image result for inland cliffs
The inland cliffs send the breeze straight up with the rising air to hugely increase the cycle which kick starts the sea breeze.

So if you’re looking at a forecast, you need to look at the base wind speed, direction and the weather. The hard part is guessing how strong the sea breeze might be but the best way is to look at the ‘gust’ part of the forecast on xcweather and the take that as being your average wind speed.

With any forecast it’s about interpreting it yourself, building experience but most importantly, always take all your different sized kites to the beach as it’s often not going to be what you were expecting!

How To Change Your Life – Start Kitesurfing!

A Little Bit About Me

MeKotor

All my life I’ve been obsessed with water. Rivers, lakes or the sea, there’s nothing like the sound of running water or crashing waves to simultaneously calm me down and make me feel. Growing up in Germany then moving to England, I lived for a long time at least an hour’s drive away from the sea, so made do with rivers and lakes. My parents will tell you that they never had to worry about where I was. If they didn’t know, I was probably at the local river. I longed for the sea; it was my release, when the world got a little too overwhelming, it was a constant. Going to University in Nottingham, right in the centre of England, only made me miss the sea more. Whilst there I started snowboarding and spent several weeks in the Alps. I fell in love with the snow-capped mountains but still missed the sea. When I got the opportunity in the summer of my second year to move to the coast in Portugal for 6 months, I jumped at the chance. But those 6 months flew by and before I knew it I was heading back to England to face the harsh reality of final year exams and my dissertation.

Adulting

Entering the “grown-up world” after graduation, the stresses of corporate life meant I needed the sea more than ever and I’d escape as much as possible. Whilst there I’d dream of living by the beach, walking along the sand with dogs and watching sunsets. I’d wander along and watch the kitesurfers, gliding over the water or jumping high in the air. They all had one thing in common; the massive smile on their face. I longed to join them, but every trip came to an end all too soon and I’d head back to the city. Week after week I’d spend my days stuck in the office, surrounded by people much more content indoors than I was. I began to miss the sea more and more.

Breaking Free

CamberKites

Eventually, after four years in the corporate world, I escaped when I lost my job. I decided that rather than getting back into the same routine at a new job, I would make happiness a higher priority than climbing the corporate ladder. Within four months (with a hiking trip to Tenerife, mini ski season in France and a fortnight touring Germany in between) I’d packed up my belongings and moved to Camber, Sussex. I was determined to join the people I’d seen laughing and smiling on the beach there. Nearly a year later and well and truly settled into my kitesurfing “career,” I can tell you that not only am I hooked, but that it’s the best decision I ever made. Kitesurfing has genuinely changed my life, and it could change yours too.

What is kitesurfing?

Kitesurfing uses inflatable kites to harness the power of the wind and allow the rider to skim across the surface of the water on their board. The kite is attached to you with a harness, and you control it using a bar. Depending on the wind you can use a variety of kite sizes, from a tiny 3m kite when it’s blowing a houlie to a huge 20m+ kite when there’s barely any breeze. As you progress there are a variety of disciplines you can try; wave riding, freestyle, big air and racing, as well as lots of different kit options such as surfboards and hydrofoils. It’s a relatively new sport and is adapting every year and building a dedicated following that now includes me! There is something for everyone and there are always new and exciting things to try out – you’ll never get bored!

Is it really for me?

KitesurfingInEgyptWhenever I talk to people and tell them I’m learning to kitesurf, it’s always the same questions – especially from the girls. “Don’t have you to be really strong to do that?!” “Isn’t it really scary?” The answer is no. Whilst I’ll admit I’m definitely nervous before each session, that soon disappears as soon as I’m in the water having the time of my life. I’m 5’2”, 56kg and I have a reconstructed left wrist and hand; so, if you’re thinking you’re not big or strong enough to kitesurf, trust me – you’re wrong. On my first lesson there was a 14-year-old boy learning, and I’ve since seen the TINIEST 9-year-old girl kiting. I spoke to the guys at the centre and they’ve even taught people in their eighties! Because most of the power of the kite goes through your harness, it’s much less physically exerting than you’d think. Even if you’re not keen on water, there are plenty of activities such as kitebuggying or landboarding which are also great fun!

Home or Away!

Another great thing about kiting is that you don’t have to go on holiday to do it – there are plenty of great kiting spots in England! Once you’ve got your kit, the beach is free. No more adding the costs of flights and transfers into your budget like you do with snowboarding. If you do have some extra cash, then there are some amazing kitesurfing locations around the world – ask your local school if they run any holidays or try searching Facebook for local kiting groups that might be heading out.

How do I get into it?

TheKitesurfCentreWhilst it’s completely safe when done properly, kitesurfing is still an extreme sport. The most important thing by a mile is to take lessons with a fully qualified instructor, preferably at a reputable kite school if you can. Since my local beach is Camber, I took my lessons at The Kitesurf Centre. They run a variety of group courses as well as private tuition. I’d recommend going for at least a three-day course. It will allow you plenty of time in the water and you’ll also have a thorough knowledge of the safety systems and how to use them. With each lesson I felt more and more confident on the kite, and by my fifth lesson (three group days and two private lessons) I was getting some decent runs in and was feeling pretty confident about my kite control. The instructors were friendly, knowledgeable and patient – I couldn’t have asked for more and I’m so grateful to each of them.

Once you’ve been signed off as an independent rider by your instructor and are feeling confident enough, I’d recommend hiring kit before you buy it. This will give you a chance to get used to some of the different brands and types of equipment and will save you from spending money on kit you end up hating. Used equipment is also a great way to build up your kit without breaking the bank – many shops will sell used equipment that has been checked over and repaired by a professional, so you know it’s completely safe.

My Advice

If I’ve tempted you to try out kitesurfing, here are my top tips!

  • SAFETY FIRST.

    Take lessons, check your equipment before every session and never go out in conditions you don’t feel confident in. There’s a saying in kitesurfing “If in doubt, don’t go out” and it’s famous for a reason. Better a trip with no kiting than a trip to hospital!

  • DON’T BE SCARED TO ASK.

    Everyone was a beginner at some point, and there is almost always someone who is better than you. The kitesurfers I’ve met at the beach are a friendly bunch and are always willing to help out with setting up my equipment, launching and landing and offering advice on the spot.

  • STICK AT IT.

    Throughout my third lesson I was struggling with getting up on the board and actually riding, and at times it can be frustrating to try something over and over again without seeming to progress at all. But I promise you’ll get there in the end, and you’ll feel all the more proud for keeping at it.

  • GET YOUR FRIENDS INVOLVED. 

    I found that my progression in anything is always much faster when there are others with me, I’m pretty competitive and they help me push myself. Having friends on the water is also great if you’re a bit nervous. You can make friends at the beach too – one of my favourite things about kitesurfing is the amazing community I’m now a part of.

  • ENJOY YOURSELF.

    I’ve heard it said in surfing and other sports that the person having the best session is the one having the most fun, and it’s so true! Some of my favourite trips to the beach have happened when the wind wasn’t right for kitesurfing – I went stand up paddle boarding into the sunset, took the dogs for walks in the dunes and even played beach volleyball!

A True Beach Girl

Meeting Aaron Hadlow & Lewis CrathernI’ve always been a perpetual worrier and spent a great deal of my life stressed about situations that were unlikely to happen. When I’m kitesurfing, I’m focused on nothing but the wind, the waves and my kite. All the stress and negativity is quite literally blown away. It’s replaced by the incredible feeling of skimming across the water. There really is nothing like it! Kitesurfing has made me fall in love with the outdoors all over again and has given me a new appreciation for Mother Nature. I’ve become more active and feel more confident in my own skin both on and off the water, met a bunch of amazing new people (I even met Aaron Hadlow and Lewis Crathern at a recent event in Camber – such nice guys!) and had some of the best days of my life at the beach. But most importantly, I wake up in the morning actually wanting to get out of bed because I’m so excited for the day ahead.

You can find more information and book a lesson here.

HOW TO: Look After Your Wetsuit

So, you’ve bought yourself a brand new wetsuit! After dropping a couple of hundred pounds on a wettie, you want to make sure you can get as much life out of it as possible. Our instructors spend hours every day in their wetsuits, so we’ve compiled their top tips for wetsuit maintenance (and repairs in case you need them!)

Before

  • Take care when putting your wetsuit on. Pull it on gently and try to AVOID SNAGGING it on fingernails or jewellery. Pulling it hard (especially the legs) can tear the seams around the knee or your heel can rip the ankle. Take your time and do a small amount at a time.
  • CHECK YOUR WETSUIT for any small holes, as these will stretch further if left unrepaired

During

  • TRY NOT TO WEE in it too often, as this deteriorates the neoprene and leaves a funky smell
  • If you stop for a long rest, change out of it– DON’T LIE IN THE SUN WITH IT ON
  • If you change out of it whilst still at the beach, make sure you DON’T CHANGE ON THE SAND

Image result for pulling on a wetsuit

After

  • Take care when taking it off, unzip all sections and GENTLY pull it off
  • SOAK for 15-20 minutes in WARM, fresh water
  • After soaking, RINSE it out with more fresh water
  • Always dry your wetsuit INSIDE OUT
  • Hang the wetsuit to dry on a THICK HANGER – a thin hanger can damage the neoprene (you can cut a foam pool noodle to fit over a hangover or tie a couple of thinner hangers together and cover with lots of tape). Draping it over a thick rope or washing line is ideal but not always accessible.
  • AVOID cleaning it with any aerosols, alcohol, solvents or petroleum
  • If your wetsuit seems a bit smelly you can wash it with WETSUIT CLEANER or small amount of BABY SHAMPOO
  • DON’T USE A BRUSH to scrub it, simply rub it against itself in any particularly smelly areas (armpits etc.)

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Storage

  • Store it LYING DOWN FLAT if possible, or on a thick hanger if not. DO NOT FOLD it to store it, especially if it remains there for a long time, as this can damage the neoprene
  • Store in a COOL, DRY AND PROTECTED PLACE – with NO DIRECT SUNLIGHT
  • Do not store it somewhere you also store vehicles which are used – the FUMES from the exhaust DETERIORATE the NEOPRENE over time
  • Do not store it near chemicals, gasoline, oil or solvents

Repairs

  • For major repairs, take it to a surf school or shop such as ourselves to be PROFESSIONALLY REPAIRED
  • Small holes in the wetsuit can be fixed at home, using special NEOPRENE GLUE or NEOPRENE PATCHES
  • To LUBRICATE ZIPPERS, rub a small amount of BEESWAX on them

Kitesurfing Equipment Maintenance

Let’s face it, kitesurfing is an expensive hobby, so you want to make sure your kit lasts as long as possible. Although it may seem like a chore at the time, the best way to ensure your kit lasts as long as possible is to maintain and store it properly. We’ve gathered some top tips for kit maintenance from our instructors, to help you get the most out of your equipment. And for those occasions where something goes slightly wrong, we’ve also included some tips on making small repairs. Should you need something more major, we offer an equipment repair service.

KITE

Before

  • When setting up your kite, try to avoid DRAGGING IT OVER ROCKS as these will scuff the material
  • INSPECT your LINES and CANOPY (especially near the leading edge) before every session
  • Only SELF LAUNCH if you are a proficient kiter – getting this wrong can severely damage the kite (or you!)
  • If not flying the kite, carry it towards the water in a “U” or SMILEY FACE shape, with the struts facing upwards
  • CHECK YOUR BRIDLES before each session
  • Before pumping up your kite, CHECK THE BLADDERS ARE NOT TWISTED
  • DON’T PUSH THE PUMP TOO FAR INTO THE VALVE, and check there is NO SAND IN THE VALVE

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During

  • PICK THE RIGHT KITE SIZE – Going out too overpowered can make you more likely to damage the kite
  • Try to avoid crashing your kite, but if you can’t help it, RELEASE THE BAR and crash in DEEP WATER
  • If you decide to take anything more than a 10-minute break, PACK UP YOUR KITE. Leaving the kite FLAPPING IN THE WIND or LYING IN THE SUN will damage the kite
  • Spend the last 10 minutes of your session cruising along gently, this will give the kite time to DRY OUT

Image result for kitesurfing kite on beach

After

  • Only SELF LAND if you are proficient – slamming your kite into the beach or dragging it over rocks will tear through the canopy
  • Pack up your kite as soon as possible, especially in strong winds. A FLAPPY KITE IS AN UNHAPPY KITE.
  • If possible, PACK UP YOUR KITE AWAY FROM SAND, on something soft like GRASS
  • Lightly BRUSH OFF ANY SAND
  • If you’re kiting somewhere particularly HOT with very SALTY WATER (i.e. NOT THE UK) then wash your kite with fresh water after each session to avoid the SALT DAMAGING THE KITE
  • Pack your kite away FULLY DRY – if you cannot dry it straightaway, be sure to unpack it and dry it out as soon as possible. KITES LEFT WET WILL GET MOULDY.

Image result for kitesurfing kite drying

Storage

  • STORE YOUR KITE DRY, WITH NO SAND ON IT
  • DON’T STORE YOUR KITE SOMEWHERE HOT for long periods of time, as the glue on the seams gets damaged
  • Store your kite with the BLADDERS DEFLATED and VALVES OPEN so they do not stretch
  • If possible, store your kite in it’s KITE BAG, as this is the safest place for it

Repairs

  • If your kite requires a MAJOR REPAIR, or if the damage is NEAR THE LEADING EDGE take it to a kite shop to be professionally fixed
  • Small rips and scuffs (NO BIGGER THAN 1CM) can be fixed with a PATCH, which are often included with your kite. Make sure to ROUND OFF the corners of the patch and ALWAYS STICK THE PATCH ON THE INSIDE OF THE KITE
  • Before applying the patch, CLEAN THE AREA AROUND THE HOLE
  • Small PIN HOLES IN A BLADDER can also be fixed with a patch

Image result for kitesurfing kite repair

BAR & LINES

Before

  • UNWRAP YOUR LINES CAREFULLY, taking special care to AVOID GETTING SAND IN THE LARKS HEAD KNOTS as this will wear away at the rope material
  • If you set up on the sand, DUNK YOUR BAR IN THE SEA to get rid of the sand

After

  • FOLD YOUR LINES NEATLY around the bar; this will not only make it quicker to set up on your next session, but also increase their life
  • After every session, WASH YOUR BAR AND LINES WITH FRESH WATER
  • WASH METAL PARTS WITH FRESH WATER as these are the points that get damaged most by salt

Storage

  • Store your bar and lines NEATLY; IN A COOL, DRY PLACE

Image result for kitesurfing bar and lines tidy

BOARD

Before

  • Every 10 – 15 sessions, CHECK THE SCREWS ON THE HANDLE AND FINS
  • If your screws regularly come loose, TRY USING MEDIUM STRENGTH LOCKTITE

After

  • After each session, BRUSH THE SAND OFF YOUR BOARD
  • WASH EXCESS SALT OFF YOUR FOOTSTRAPS

Storage

  • Store your board in a COOL, DRY PLACE

Image result for kiteboards

HARNESS

After

  • When taking off your harness, LOOSEN THE STRAPS SO THEY DON’T STAY IN THE SAME PLACE, as this reduces them wearing in one point
  • WASH your harness and leash in FRESH WATER after every session
  • Check thoroughly and REMOVE ANY SAND OR SALT FROM YOUR SAFETY RELEASE

Storage

  • Store your harness in a COOL, DRY PLACE

KITESURFING LESSONS – PRIVATE TUITION (LESSON 4)

Kitesurfing. 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 kitesurfing 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 – kitesurfing 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!

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 attempting 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

Hi 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