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.

The Kite Choice Equation

This is an equation The Kitesurf Centre instructors often use when choosing the right sized kite for their lesson. It takes the wind speed, weight and ability. See the full break down of each below. The important part is wind speed, as you’re likely to know your weight and ability fairly accurately, but wind speed is a guess at best if you don’t have the technology to accurate measure it. So always lean on the side of caution and go with a smaller kite if in doubt.

Rider Weight / Wind Speed x Ability

Rider WeightWind SpeedAbility=Kite Size
70kg20 knots1.8 (beginner)6.3m
70kg20 knots2.1 (intermediate)7.35
70kg20 knots2.3 (independent rider)8m

The equation can be used until you’re comfortable choosing the correct sized kite. It generally brings up a smaller kite than needed for the conditions, which is ideal for learning. Play around with the numbers and find something that works for you and your ability, then stick to it.

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 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 –

 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.

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 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.

How to self launch kitesurfing
  • 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.
  • *Be sure the post is tall enough that if the leash or straps moves upwards it doesn’t slip off the top.

  • 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.

how to self launch kitesurfing
  • 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.


how to self land kitesurfing solo
  • 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. This is where the solo strap is very helpful

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

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

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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

Learn How To JUMP Higher Kitesurfing & Improve Your WOO Score

Learn how to jump higher kitesurfing & improve your Woo score

In this blog post we’re going to talk about how to jump using the kite & then go onto improving technique and bettering your WOO score as the blog goes on.

Scroll down if you can already do the basics well to the ‘How to jump higher kitesurfing’ section. Although it’s sometimes worth taking another look to see how you can improve your base technique.

As I’m sure many of you have seen from YouTube videos, the heights that can be achieved through these jumps can be dizzying, and is one of the defining features that really sets kitesurfing apart from other water sports.

So much so that Red Bull have created their own sports event dedicated to a particular type of jump; the infamous megaloop. However, before we have you jumping higher than your house, lets start with the basics.

A few safety considerations to make before you head out or learn to jump higher….

Give yourself plenty of room, both from other riders and any obstacles. When you jump, you will travel with the wind, so it’s particularly important to make sure there are no riders downwind of you, and that you are well upwind of the beach.

Don’t jump beyond your capability and confidence. Like when learning anything in kitesurfing, stay patient, take your time, and enjoy the learning process. This will ensure you progress with a good technique whilst staying safe and most importantly learn how to land properly before going too high, or it can be painful!

Worn bars or bridles can cause serious injuries if they fail

Always make sure your equipment is in good order. It’s a good habit to get into to checking your gear for damage before you go out riding, especially your lines and bridles. And ALWAYS check that your safety systems are working before you head out.

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

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

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

Creating ‘POP’ – The Take Off

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

Take a look at this video to show the progressive edging and then final explosive thrust from your back leg. This is what makes the difference between going forwards and falling on your face, or going upward into a jump. Without the edging and take off, there is no way you can jump no matter what you do with the kite. So spend some time practicing this progressive edging and release from the water. The board tends to create a suction with the water while riding so this ‘POP’ technique also breaks that suction.

how to jump higher kitesurfing

While edging, you’re also building up the tension in your lines, so when you do start to use the kite for lift, you’ve created a kind of catapult affect between yourself and the kite due to that high amount of tension. 

How to improve woo score kitesurfing

The video shows why the board speed going into the trick is important as if you don’t ride fast enough with power then as you begin to edge you’ll quickly come to a stop. 

 

You’ll notice the rider does a little hop beforehand, so he can jam the rail of the board into the water even hard with all his weight, we’d suggest leaving this part out until you’re a little bit more advanced as it could end it a very fast crash! 

 

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

Tuck your knees up slightly in flight and point the board straight down wind for the landing as you’ll like be landing fairly fast. This will allow control of the board without having to engage an edge until you’ve run off a bit of the speed.

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

Common Mistakes While Learning to Jump High Kitesurfing – POP Errors!

  • Not Enough Weight On The Back Foot – Most kitesurfers struggle with POP because it’s hard to imagine how much pressure is needed through the back foot. Around 90% of your weight should be pushed through it with a lot of force from your muscles.
  • Not Enough Speed – If you were to do this at your normal riding speed, you’d quite quickly come to a grinding halt, so extra speed / power from the kite is needed. 
  • Not Enough Power –  We do suggest learning with minimal power, but you do need some extra pull as otherwise it doesn’t let you build the right amount of speed. Too little power and it will make the trick more difficult, it’s a happy medium that’s needed. 
  • Lean Back – To create enough the build up of tension in the lines, you do really need to be leaning back a fair amount as in the photo above. Trust in your harness to hold you and your fins to grip. 
  • Edging too slowly – The whole POP process should just take less than a second. Edging too slowly will just slow your board speed down and not build tension in the lines. It needs to be a quick fast push on the back foot to create the spray, tension in the lines and ultimately POP. 

The Kite – So You’ve Mastered POP??

How to jump higher kitesurfing

The kite is actually the easy part, POP is the hard bit. If you’ve mastered POP properly then you’re well on the way to learning to jump and trick.

The kite generates the majority of the lift in a jump and it does so in the same way it creates power to accelerate you forwards, by moving across the wind window. 

For a jump, it’s just moving across the part of the wind window which creates lift, above your head…..

So you’re riding along with the kite in a normal ‘parked’ position of 10 or 2 o’clock. You start loading your edge to begin your POP and just as you build up the tension in the lines and rail of the board, it’s time to start sending the kite backwards, over your head. 

The kite is aiming to go from 10 o’clock (or 2 o’clock dependent on which tack) through 11, 12 and finishing at around 1pm. So the movement of the kite is high above your head and not at all in front of you. This is a drastic change in direction from where it was so there does need to be some firm input into the bar. 

Until now the bar has been in a normal position, somewhere around 4 – 6 inches away from the chicken loop, so the kite is responsive but not fully powered up. 

As the kite turns backwards from 10 to 11 o’clock, this is the point the board should be released from the water signalling an end to the POP and simultaneously you’ll pull in the bar for full power. The catapult affect from POP, direction change from the kite creating upwards lift and fully powering the kite up by pulling in the bar all combine to get you airborne.

When in the air the same position should be adopted as when performing POP, knees tucked up with the board directly in front of you with the aim of landing directly downwind. Engage your core and this gives much better stability while in the air.

You should start practising with only a moderate amount of power in the kite and gradually increase as you become more confident.

While airborne what should you do with the kite? Nothing. Keep it at 1pm with the bar all the way in for full power (and therefore lift) as it’s essentially working like a parachute. 

Common Mistakes While Learning to Jump – The Kite

  • Sending the kite too early – Pull too early or too hard on your back hand and the kite will create lift and forwards pull before you’re able to build the tension in the lines from edging / POP. You’ll be pulled forward at a rate or knots but not generate any height. This is a common mistake as riders believe if they’re more aggressive with the kite they’ll more lift and height, but in reality, without the POP, you’re going nowhere other than forwards, very fast. 
  • Ride too fast  – Ride too fast and it’s hard to engage the edge of the board and create good POP, the board will skip and the same error will happen as above.
  • Don’t edge enough – If the board isn’t edged enough or released from the water well, again you’ll fly forward without generating any height. It’s sometimes easier to try and find a little wave or piece of chop to edge up as it helps hold an edge with extra power from the kite. 
  • Letting the bar out – While learning, it’s often natural instinct to let the bar out as you’re hauled off the water, to decrease lift and power, but don’t do it, you’ll drop out the sky! Keep it in and float down, even if you abort the landing and land on your bum. 

The Landing

The landing is probably the most important part of the jump and it’s where you could potentially injure yourself if not learnt correctly. 

Kitesurfers often learn to jump with more power and aggression and therefore get more height before they’re able to land properly and consistently – it’s just a recipe for disaster! 

The landing is essentially the same as a take off but in reverse, and it needs to create the same amount of lift with the kite or you’ll drop like a stone. 

In The Air – Coming In To Land

You’re in the air, knees tucked up and are losing height as you’re coming back down towards the water. As you do so you need to steer the kite back from 1pm through, 12, 11 and eventually 10am as you touch down, while keeping the bar in the whole time. As you hit the water you can let the bar out to decrease power and regain control of your board speed. 

It’s essential to do this movement with as much input into the bar as the take off, as you need the kite to create a lot of lift, otherwise you’ll crash down hard. Remember, the kite is still going over the top of your head and skirting around the edge of the wind window, without ever creating any forward pull. This helps you from landing with too much speed. 

It’s not unusual to actually start travelling up slightly again or at least staying horizontal. This is a good thing as it’s a sign you’re creating plenty of lift. 

As you come in to land, keep your legs slightly bent to absorb the impact and point the board straight downwind so you’re heading towards the kite. This will allow you to check your speed but will also take tension out of your lines so you’re easily able to control the power of the kite. 

Just remember, this maneuver takes up a lot of space, even if you don’t travel far in the air, you need a lot of landing space before you’re back in full control and continuing along your track.  

Learn How to Jump Higher Kitesurfing – The Timing

Everything about the jump and how successful it is comes down to the timing and how all the actions are tied together in sequence, with perfect execution. 

During take off, the POP and board release from the water needs to tie in with the kite being sent backwards and bar being pulled in. During landing the kite needs to be sent back again with the bar in and board pointed downwind. The key for the landing is deciding when you need to start sending the kite back again to create the lift and give you a soft landing. Only you can figure out how quickly you’re falling and when you need the kite, but generally when you’ve fallen about 60-70% of the jump height, you need action the kite promptly. 

If it’s a small jump while you’re learning, the kite may need to be redirected from the take off movement immediately and not held at 1pm (or 11am dependent on direction)

This video created by one of our ex instructors is well worth a watch.

 

Common mistakes

  • Riding speed – it’s essential to go into the trick fast enough that when you edge to put you don’t just kill all board speed and come to a stop but it’s just as important to not ride too fast. If you ride too fast you’ll not be able to hold the edge for long enough and again will ruin the board release from the water.  A comfortable riding speed (10 – 15 mph) is ideal to begin with.
  • POP & Board Release – Lets be honest, who hasn’t seen someone trying to jump that goes about 30cm into the air and 25m down wind? Everyone has! It’s the most common mistake when jumping and it’s all down to the take off. If you don’t hold the edge of your board in the water for long enough you can’t build the tension in the lines and upwards lift so the kite will swing across the window which will end with you being pulled forwards very fast and not going very high! To remedy this, ride a little slower, hold the edge for longer and only release when you feel the kite heading back over 12 o’clock, which will then be generating upwards lift. Using a small wave or kicker to aid this can also be very beneficial.\
  • Rotating in the air – These rotations are generally caused by an uneven take off or from edging too hard upwind, so it is important to try and get the board to release from the water all in one and without twisting too much. This is most easily performed by lifting your front foot up quite hard so that it breaks the suction of the board to the water. The advantage this gives is that it allows you to control when you want to take off exactly. Another way to stop rotating once in the air is to tuck your legs up close to your chest, and tense your core muscles. This will give you a lot more stability and allows a lot better control. It should stop you spinning once air born and remove the ‘dangling’ feeling under the kite. Your body will always follow where your head is going, so if you’re rotating, use your head to stop the rotation or to turn you back in the other direction.
  • Falling out the sky! –  It’s actually relatively easy to jump and get quite high, but the hard part is controlled and gentle landings. It’s better to get the landing dialed before going to high as we’ve seen some pretty horrific injuries from heavy landings! The redirect is as important as the initial directional pull to create the take off.  As you come in to land, don’t be afraid to steer the kite reasonably hard as it has a long way to go across the window in a short period of time. That movement is what is creating the lift to soften the landing. As you improve and begin going higher you can introduce the downloop landing (see below) for even more lift.

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

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

How To Really JUMP & Improve Your Woo Score

Now you’ve learned the basics, it’s time to look at getting higher with more control and softer landings.

Here we look at ways to ride in stronger winds and get past the double figure mark on your WOO.

To be continued…..

How To Kitesurf Upwind

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

than dropping a load of money on a new board!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

board, pushing you further upwind.

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

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

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

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

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

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

be riding back upwind again.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

riding upwind.

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

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

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

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

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

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

longer as you get closer and closer to riding upwind.

Overall the main points to riding upwind are:

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

 Correct stance/posture

 Keep the kite low

 Don’t ride too far into the wind

 Use the correct board speed

 Bend knees/ollie over waves

 Use a reference point

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

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

leaving the water!

SEA BREEZES AND HOW TO KITESURF WITH THEM

SEA BREEZE

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

THE BASICS

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

SeaBreeze

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

FACTORS WHICH AFFECT SEA BREEZE

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

BE CAREFUL!

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

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