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Introduction to Kitesurfing

I’ve been teaching kitesurfing since 2002. This is one perspective, on one particular lesson that I have taught, adapted for the written word, as much as possible. This lesson is not custom adapted for your personality or your experience, nor will it give you the ability to interact or practice what is being explained. For the best possible kitesurfing instruction, experience, and reference, you must take lessons from an experienced, and knowledgeable instructor. However, this lesson, will give you an idea of the information and knowledge available and will give you an ability to evaluate the experience and knowledge level of you instructor or school that you plan to take lessons at. Also, it will give you the ability to review kitesurfing information that you have already learned.

This information is provided as if you were taking a lesson with me and had arrived at the lesson location:

Any idea why we chose this location?

It’s because it’s far away from obstacles, like buildings, trees, people, and problematic ground materials like rocks, or concrete. Before anything else, we know to know three things about the wind. It’s direction, Speed, and quality.

Any idea where the wind is coming from?

Good, but we need to know exactly where it’s coming from, because many things in kiteboarding on dependent on the wind.
It’s coming from the North, so we call it a North wind. Wind is measured from the direction that it is coming from, not where it’s going to.

Where the wind is coming from, is called upwind. If this is upwind, then that would be . . . downwind.

Any idea where we will be dragged if we lose control of our kite? . . . downwind

What if the wind is blowing away from shore, and we can’t re-launch our kite, where are we going to go? . . . out to the middle of the ocean.

That’s not a good place to be, so we have to be aware of where the wind is blowing relative to the shore. If the wind is blowing direction from the shore, out into the ocean, that is called a straight offshore wind. That is probably the worst wind direction, relative to the shore, and no one should be kiteboarding in that wind direction unless they are in a contained body of water, where the water is so shallow they can stand up and walk back to shore no matter how far from shore they get. If the wind is blowing out at an angle from the shore to the water, that is called a side offshore wind. That also is not acceptable for kitesurfing.
When the direction of the wind is blowing away from shore, that’s an “Offshore Wind.” When it’s blowing toward the shore, that’s called an “Onshore wind.” The best wind conditions for beginning kiteboarders is “Side Onshore,” or “Sideshore,” where the wind is blowing at an angle toward shore or blowing parallel to shore.

Any idea how fast the wind is blowing?

With experience, you will be able to estimate the wind speed well enough, but for now, you can use a wind meter or check the wind speed on a local weather site like www.wunderground.com
Wind Speed

Wind speed is measured as an average, or a lull and gust. The lull is the lowest consistent wind speed, and the gust is the highest peak. We are mostly interested in the average wind speed. Depending on your weight, you can kitesurf upwind, in as little wind as 12 mph. The maximum windspeed that I have kited in, is 55mph, so I would recommend you kitesurf in less than that.

Wind Quality

Any idea on what can affect wind quality? There are a lot of things. Rapidly changing wind speed, means the wind has a poor quality.
Obstacles either upwind, downwind, or both will dramatically affect wind quality. In kiteboarding we need to be aware of both, but downwind obstacles are paramount, since that is the direction a kiteboarder will be dragged, if control of the kite is lost.

Do you see any downwind obstacles?

Power lines, people, water, garbage cans, signs, walkways, trees, boats, sharp sea shells. . .
All obstacles are important to note.
A general guideline is to stay at least 300 feet away from the nearest downwind obstacles when launching or landing your kite. The more, the better. If you are a beginner, get more space, if you are an advanced rider, do what you want, but you are taking significantly higher risk by having more obstacles, closer to you.

Changing Weather

Do not kitesurf in storms. Use some common sense and weather shouldn’t be an issue. With rain, generally, comes different wind conditions.

Go fly trainer kite before reading any more.
Go Over the wind window. Insert wind window.

Kitesurfing is mostly a doing sport, like riding a motorcycle. You can talk about it, but your really need to get out there and practice it in a closed, learning environment before heading out into the open. This is why learning.

When it comes to setting up inflatable kites, there are many ways to do it. As a beginner, there are several things you should focus on:

Make sure you connect each line from the control bar, to the proper point on the kite.
Make sure you inflate your kite to the proper amount of pressure.
Make sure you