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:
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.
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
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.
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!
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?!