KITESURFSCHOOL ADvice

Take lessons!

Kiteboarding is about as dangerous as riding a bicycle. If you aren’t comfortable riding a bike you can also hurt yourself significantly, but at the same time its perfectly doable if you know what you are doing. Naturally you’ll have to know how the brakes and steering works, or what to do when you get a flat tire. Here a few guidelines you’ll need to kiteboard safely.

You don’t just go diving or skydiving either without a course with a certified instructor and accompanied exam. Or driving a car? That will require 30 lessons! You can learn to kiteboard much quicker and you likely will not have a theoretical exam, but without some lessons you’ll certainly start wrong. Take a lesson with a school that is certified with the IKO or KNWV. Only there can you be sure they use up-to-date equipment (safety systems, helmets, life jackets, etc), certified instructors and they are insured for accidents. During your first lesson(s) you’ll learn all about the equipment and its setup, safety procedures and have fun kiteboarding! You cannot learn all this just by reading a forum or this website.

 

Take care when buying equipment

The most important aspect when buying equipment is the safety system on the bar. These are getting better each year, so the newer the gear the more safe it is. Check and test the ‘quickrelease’ system. All kites have a different system but it comes down to one basic function: release all the power of the kite when you activate it. Meanwhile the kite will be flapping downwind from you. Both four- and five line systems must have a release system like this. The ‘safety’ (quickrelease) is usually on the chickenloop at the bottom of the bar and some you will need to push while others need to be pulled. If it is not a new kite.. again.. test this!

 

What else do I need?

Some harnesses have a built-in safety knife to cut through your lines in an emergency. Otherwise you should buy one for 5-10 euro. If you ever do get caught in your lines in the water you won’t have time to unravel it. If you are in trouble the line cutter knife is your escape!

When you start kiteboarding and are in the water a lot, the life jacket (or buoyancy aid) is a necessity. For a bit more you can buy an impact vest. The life jacket allows you to float, the impact vest gives you enough float to keep your head above the water. Some experience riders even use these, because as the name already implies, if you are trying a new trick and you fall hard and often, its nice to have a little extra padding.

Kiteboarders of all ages and sizes are wearing helmets. When you are starting out this is an absolute ‘must’. They are light – made from plastic, rubber or just styrofoam, so you’ll hardly notice it. Even later when you are trying new tricks or are in big waves the helmet can save yourbrain. And when it’s busy on the water it can happen that another kiteboarder crashes his/her kite on you!

 

Use a safety leash!

Any new kite with a bar also includes a safety leash. This leash attaches the kite to your harness, so when you use the quick-release, the kite does not fly away to hurt someone else. If you bought your kite second-hand you will need to purchase one. Also ensure that it attached correctly to a secure part of your harness. A leash has two attachment points. One of the two sides also should have a seperate quick release. That side should be attached to your harness, so if you get in trouble after releasing the kite, you can still release the safety leash! Smaller trainer kites might have a leash that attaches to your wrist. That is not sufficient when you use a real kite.

 

Using the safety release

You might get into problems with your kite – whether it is your fault or not. Someone else might fly his/her kite into yours, you can get caught in a gust or something else unforeseen might happen to you. The emergency exit is your safety-release. If you activate your safety release the kite will be flapping in the wind on a single line. Figure out how you should activate it and what you must do next. If you have release and the danger has passed, it is usually quite easy to relaunch the kite and keep going. Always check that the lines are not tangled, else you might need to walk or swim back to the beach to reset the rigging.

 

Back on the beach

In cases where your equipment faults or the weather suddenly is too extreme you may not be able to kiteboard back. In these cases there are only two solutions: bodydrag back or perform a ‘self-rescue’ with your kite. Bodydragging is as the name suggests – get yourself pulled back using your kite. If you cannot find your board you can use this method to get back to the beach and ask for help. During your kiteboard lessons you will learn how to bodydrag. The self-rescue is necessary if you are too far from the beach to swim or walk and your bar, lines or kite is broken. Using the method you learned during your lesson you must work your way to your kite. Then your can grab the outside struts (or grips on some kites) and let your kite pull you back towards the beach. This will ensure that you do not have to swim back!

 

Conclusion

Remember that these are things you should pay attention to and that you should have practiced at some point. You need to react quickly in an emergency, so you need to enable the quick-release. So check it out when you buy new or used gear. If in doubt, ask your instructor. Try to prepare yourself for these situations, because eventually they will happen to you too!

start your kitesurf journey now!

More advice?

Kites advice

We start with 3 simple rules:

  1. There are no more bad kites being produced!
  1. Make sure your first kiteset (board + kite) costs no more than € 1400,-
  1. Buy a hybrid or bow / sle kite.

 

No more bad kites?

Nope! Which means you’ll get quality for your money. Don’t get suckered in by the expensive brands and shops unless you’ve get plenty of cash. If money is an issue, you could check out last year’s models. They are often half the price and are just as good for you as beginner. Just like in other sports, only the pro’s get everything out of the equipment. Second hand is another options, but at shops you often get a guarantee and (usually) good advise. If, however, you still wish to choose second hand gear make sure you ALWAYS pump it up hard and then wait for 15 minutes. Then you’ll be sure that the next time it all stays inflated. It is also a good idea to bring an experienced kiteboarder with you for more in-depth inspection of the kite.

 

Which type do I need?

The 3 types are mainly hybrid, Bow/SLE or C-shape. There are countless discussions about which is best. Well, its actually quite simple. The hybrid and bow kites are much more forgiving when you make a mistake. C-shape are more aggressive and thus used by the more experienced kiters. The bow and hybrid kites are the new evolution and the kiters who learned before 2005 learned it with the C-shape, so its quite possible. We highly recommend that beginners start with the hybrid or Bow/SLE kites for safety reasons and in order to progress faster.

start your kitesurf journey now!

More advice?

Advice Kitesurfboard

Board type

Boards come in all shapes and sizes. Most common you will find the so-called twinip (or bi-directional or TT). A twintip looks quite similar to a snowboard or wakeboard. With a twintip you can go left or right without switching your feet. The other common board is the directional. The directional can only go “forward” much like a small surfboard with straps to put your feet in. There are other types of boards, but let’s start on your first board!

 

Your first board

Some of the kiters who learned the sport a while ago learned to kiteboard on directional boards, but nowadays most people learn directly on twin-tips. When you start learning it is advisable to start with a slightly bigger board than what the more experienced kiters are using. A larger board is more stable, has more flotation but also that it starts planing much earlier. Smaller boards steer quicker and require more technique to get better quickly. So generally your first board should be a second hand twin-tip between 135 and 145cm long and 40cm wide (approximately).

 

Your second board

Once you can go in both directions and can get upwind you’ll need a new board. Try out many different ones (just like with the kites) to find out what you prefer. So buy something that fits your style and is more comfortable. You can also search for a second hand board, since the market is full of them. Obviously there is nothing better than your own brand new board.

 

More boards!!

For most kiters the rule of thumb is that they get a smaller board once they get better. A short and wide board has a lot of “pop” and is great for doing the new tricks! If you are often kiteboarding in the sea you’ll eventually run into waves. For beginners the waves are just a nuisance, but for the more advanced folks the waves are a whole new ballgame. Wave riding with a kite is fine with a twin-tip, but with a directional board it becomes a different experience altogether. Catching that 3 meter wave just on the lip and ripping it to shreds is just as exhilarating as a massive 10 meter jump!

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More advice?

Clothing advice

WETSUITS

A wetsuit is a suit that fits tightly around your body. You get wet, but your body heats up the thin layer of water and insulates you. Momentarily there are roughly 4 types of suits. Kiteboarding, windsurf, wavesurfing and drysuits.

 

Kiteboarding wetsuits

Kiteboard wetsuits are specially designed for kiteboarding by using special materials around the arms and legs to improve maneuverability. It also uses tougher materials on the outside to prevent damage to the suit.

 

Wavesurfing wetsuits

Wavesurf wetsuits are very similar to kiteboarding suits regarding maneuvrability and the use of the materials, but often they don’t provide extra straps or velcro to close off your wrists and ankles. With kiteboarding you often have high speeds and water will enter your suit in those areas. Often people will use these suits anyway since they are usually slightly cheaper and do not restrict your movement.

 

Windsurfing wetsuits

Windsurf wetsuits do not have the extra protection patches on the suit and causes the suit to get damaged quickly. You can often close them off well and they are usually warmer. As material development and choice improves the other suits are catching up. The warmer windsurf suits are often less flexible.

 

DRYSUITS

For the real cold a drysuit is preferred. They prevent any water to get to your body and you can wear regular, comfortable clothes underneath. So besides kiteboarding in relative warmth you will also be warming while taking the suit on and off. The prices of drysuits are drastically falling, so it is definitely worth looking into after your first year. Remember that if you are in trouble in very cold conditions this can become very dangerous even with a drysuit!

 

Winter and summer suits

The warmth of the suit depends mostly on the thickness of the material, which is usually between 5 and 6 millimeters. If you see the expressions “5.3″ that means that the areas around your chest and back are 5 mm (where you need less movement) and the rest is 3mm. So you have to find a trade-off between movement and warmth. When it’s warmer you can wear a shorty which has short arms and legs. When it’s colder you can wear a titanium or neoprene shirt underneath your regular wetsuit.

Our advice is, if your budget allows it, is to buy a winter and summer suit. A 5.3 wetsuit will cover the regular season and for the late fall, winter and early spring a very thick wetsuit or drysuit is preferred. Otherwise a titanium shirt underneath a 5.3 will get you through most of the year in NW Europe.

 

Damage

Like we mentioned earlier, the windsurf suits are most damage prone because you’ll get your board and bar against it more often. You’ll also be more in the shallows near the beach in the beginning. You’ll often see kiteboarders with a boarshort over their wetsuit. This is not only a fashion statement, but also a good way to protect your expensive suit.

 

Boots, gloves and caps

When it gets really cold you’ll need to pack yourself in as much as possible to stay warm. In cold water you’ll get colder very quickly and drowning is a very real threat quickly. Around 40% of the heat loss goes via your head. The best caps are the ones you can stick under your wetsuit. Some wetsuits have a cap attached to them. Gloves are also essential at colder temperatures. The gloves will wear out your arm muscles quicker so you might need more breaks. Gloves just have to fit right en seal off with your wetsuit so water doesn’t get in. Some gloves are more like mitts to provide better grip. With gloves you generally have to try it out to see what you prefer. The material should not be too thick, provide a good grip and be supple.

You can wear booties all year through if you don’t find them too uncomfortable. They are great for walking in at rocky or slippery places. More sure they have a thick and coarse sole if you are wearing the boots all year round for durability. If you dislike wearing them and only need them for the cold, get the type with a thinner sole so your “board-feeling” is better. Also make sure they fit tight without clasping your toes too much. Also check the material. If it is too supple the boots will rip when you pull them on and they won’t last a season.

We advise high booties that seal well with your suit. When it gets cold you want as little water flowing in and out of your boots and suit. Ensure that you can close the boots off with velcro straps. You might have to buy a separate set of these if your suit and the boots do not have those attached. 

WIND-CHILL-FACTOR

When you go out kiting its windy and especially in the winter this means you will cool down quicker than without wind. The cold wind will disperse the warmth around your body quicker. Your body is continuously creating more heat to compensate. So when you are taking a break in between sessions its highly advisable to wear a wind blocking jacket or neoprene jacket over your wetsuit. Even a simple rain jacket or poncho will provide your with an additional layer that will keep you much warmer.

thats it. now start your kitesurf journey!