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.

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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

BEGINNER KITESURFING LESSONS GUIDE – DAY 1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

10 simple steps to repair a leaky valve

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

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

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

10 simple steps to repair a punctured leading edge or strut

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

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

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

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