Beginner’s Guide to Kitesurfing
Kitesurfing, also known as kiteboarding or flysurfing, is one of the newest and fastest growing water sports in the world. The sport is so young that in 1998, Hawaii held the first kitesurfing “world cup,” and most of the participants learned how to kitesurf only weeks before the competition.
The sport combines principles of waterskiing, surfing, and kite flying. Kitesurfers stand on a board and glide across the water while holding a kite, which pulls the rider. Take a look at the video on the right to see why people find the sport so fascinating.
Though kitesurfing has only recently been recognized as an extreme sport, it was originally created as a form of transportation by the Chinese in the 13th Century, who used it to propel canoes.
Kitesurfing has become much more exhilarating since then. Although the concept behind the sport sounds easy (“all I have to do is stand on a board and fly a kite?”), kitesurfers need to know a variety of skills, such as how to balance on a board while being pulled and different kite manoeuvring techniques. These are not the kind of kites you buy for a pleasant afternoon at the park; most kites resemble massive wings (yikes!).
Something that would be beneficial to have before learning to kitesurf but doesn’t exist: a pocket dictionary of kitesurfing lingo. The sport is full of so much terminology that in learning how to kitesurf, you will also pick up a new language.
Thankfully though, with proper instruction and practice, kitesurfing is one of the easiest water sports to learn, and even easier if you’ve had experience with other water sports such as wakeboarding or skiing. Once you’ve got the basics down, you can learn and master tricks.
Although it’s possible to teach yourself how to kitesurf, lessons are highly recommended. You can search the web for a kitesurfing club that gives lessons or go to a kitesurfing school. It’s best to learn from a licensed instructor rather than a friend who has been kitesurfing for awhile because instructors are trained to effectively teach and show you how to kitesurf without hurting yourself (most will offer injury insurance just in case).
The most important thing to remember is that you will probably fall (a lot) at first, but that it does not take long to learn how to kitesurf. With lessons, it usually takes someone about 3 group sessions to learn the fundamentals, and even faster with private lessons. A three-day group course typically costs £250.
Kitesurfing is for all ages, but children should definitely know how to swim.
Starting out, kitesurfing can be a little pricey with the cost of equipment, and most lessons require that you have your own gear. A beginner kit, which includes a board and a kite, can cost as much as £850. You will also need a helmet, harness, impact vest, and a wetsuit depending on the water temperature, which brings the grand total to roughly £1400. If the price tag seems intimidating, there are also many ways to save money. Look for second-hand gear or talk to instructors and other kitesurfers about where to find good deals.
The type of board and kite you get depends on your size and experience. An instructor or kitesurf shop employee can help find the right fit for you.
Wear sunscreen if not wearing a wetsuit, and if you have sunglasses, make sure they fit securely.
A knife is vital to have when kitesurfing. Knives are necessary to cut yourself free from a branch or if you get stuck on something that is pulling you underwater, but hopefully you will never have to use it.
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