Common Beginner Mistakes Kiteboarders Make
With several years of teaching all levels of kiteboarding and traveling to various kiteboarding destinations around the world, we’ve identified common mistakes typically made by beginner kiteboarders. There are many articles and videos to show what to do. The purpose of this article is to show what not to do. Seeing what not to do results in the identification of what to do.
This article will go through what the most common mistakes are, what they look like, and how to fix them. We will start with some of the more fundamental mistakes that happen before a kite is launched. We will proceed through the Beginner’s Guide list of steps towards learning how to kiteboard.
Common Kiteboarding Mistakes at the Beach
Choosing the correct spot to kiteboarding is so important! This topic has a lot to do with situational awareness, or potential hazards. What is the correct spot to kiteboard? Below is a list of things to be aware of.
- Are other kiteboarders around? If not, why?
- Is the wind blowing onshore, side onshore, or sideshore? If these terms are unfamiliar, talk to your instructor.
- Does the wind feel consistent?
- What are the conditions in the water? Is the water deep? Are there riptides? Is there exposed reef or obstacles that could create injury?
- Is there enough space on the beach to launch a kite?
Ask these questions before rigging a kite. A typical kiteboarder should instinctively process all this information before going on the water.
Launching a Kite
Most accidents we see occur on the beach during the process of getting the kite into the air. We recommend two safe ways to launch a kite. The two ways to launch a kite that we recommend are:
In either situation, it is important to know and be familiar with the wind window. If you have been taking lessons and do not know the wind window, then it is time for you to find a new instructor. At the beach, take a minute to assess the wind and determine the wind window. It is critical that the kite gets to the edge of the wind window.
Here are what some common mistakes kiteboarders make when launching the kite:
- Hot Launch – this occurs when the kite is directly downwind from the pilot of the kite. In this scenario the pilot of the kite is launched downwind without any control. Their options are to get the kite to the edge of the wind window or to push away their quick release.
- Pulling too much on the control bar – we teach kiteboarders to use one hand to launch a kite. Our theory for this is that it prevents kiteboarders from pulling too much on the bar. Too much pull on the control bar can cause the kite to backstall and crash into the beach.
Common Kiteboarding Mistakes Operating the Kite
Fundamental Kite Control
Kiteboarding may look easy, and it is with the right technique. But learning to kiteboard is all about technique and good fundamentals. YouTube makes learning to fly a kite look easy, but the reality is that you’ll forget all the good techniques when instincts kick in. Here is another YouTube video to see what the common mistakes look like when instincts kick in.
Besides safety, another important reason to get kiteboarding lessons is to learn good fundamentals. As instructors, we can see things happen before they happen. For example, we can see if the learner is going to crash the kite long before the kite crashes. We can provide feedback to help them adjust to prevent crashing the kite.
This takes us to our next common mistake..
Everyone crashes the kite sooner or later. And that is okay! An important technique is learning how to water relaunch. In a lesson, this is one of the first things to learn. When beginners try to teach themselves, this is one of the first things they run into. We have seen complete beginners spend hours standing in the water trying to get the kite up. They cannot water relaunch the kite because of these basic mistakes.
- Pulling on the control bar – for hours we have seen people trying to teach themselves pull on the control bar. When the kite is on the water, do not pull the control bar. You do not need the control bar when water relaunching.
- Pulling too much on the line – this happens when the pilot of the kite pulls one of the outside line too much. When the kite becomes vertical, the technique is more of a push the line out. A common mistake is continuing to pull on the line until the kite backstalls.
- Letting go of the line too soon – this occurs when the kite gets vertical or just before the kite is vertical. The pilot of the kite lets go of the outside steering line too soon causing the kite to go back down in the water.
Upwind Body Drags
Upwind body drags are a useful skill for retrieving a kiteboard in deep waters. There are a few beginner mistakes kiteboarders make. The most common mistake we see people make is that they panic. Stay calm, and trust the fundamentals learned from lessons. Here are two common mistakes we see with upwind body drags:
- Pointing too far upwind – an important rule in sailing is to tack side to side. Beginners tend to see their board and try to body drag straight upwind. Do not point straight upwind, rather, tack side to side to retrieve the board.
- Hand on the outside – if the pilot’s hand is too far on the outside of the control bar, the kite will likely crash. Place one hand close to the center of the control bar. This will help keep the kite in one spot.
This is one of the most challenging steps towards learning how to kiteboard. Waterstarts can be difficult and frustrating. There are a few techniques we have learned over the years that make learning waterstarts significantly easier. These techniques we’ve developed help stand us apart from other kiteboarding schools. Below is a list of what the two most common mistakes look like with waterstarts:
There are many more common beginner mistakes kiteboarders make. But, we want to hear from you! What were some of the challenges you had when learning to kiteboard? What helped get you past that challenge? Are you in the process of learning how to kiteboard and feel stuck? Send us a message to let us know your thoughts.