Choosing your first kiteboarding kite is a big deal. You’re new to the sport, and want to chase the wind as much as possible. You want a kite that’s reliable, has a large wind range and gets you to the next level. Here are some things to consider.
New vs Used
Is a new kite worth the investment? Or do you feel like you’re going to beat the kite up so much you may as well get a used kite. If you’re new and you’re slamming the kite uncontrollably then chances are you didn’t get lessons or the lessons you did get weren’t very good. If you want to learn good kite control so you don’t beat up your kite, contact us. It’ll be worth your time to get professional lessons so you progress faster and can take care of your kite!
The advantage of a new kite is that you get the latest technology. The leading kite manufacturers invest a lot of resources into improving the equipment to be safer and more user friendly. Each year the goal is to make the latest kites have more wind range, more response to rider input, depower on demand, safer control settings, and more durable products. The aerodynamics have improved in a substantial way so that riders are more in tune with their gear. To put things in prospective, a new kite is like the latest computer vs a 10 year old kite would be like a computer from the 90s. It works but it’s frustrating.
We personally love Cabrinha because you get the latest in kiteboarding technology. The Cabrinha Switchblade, Contra and FX are all kites we’ve used for teaching. We’ve taught on other kite brands but feel Cabrinha are the most durable and have excellent performance. With either the Switchblade, Contra or FX, a brand new rider can develop the necessary motor skills of proficiently operating a kite within a few hours. If it is a freestyle session, the bridle of the FX can be tuned to the “Freestyle” setting for a truer C shape feel for complex handlepass tricks. The Switchblade is our go-to kite for big floaty jumps and board off tricks. The Contra is a super easy to fly lightwind kite that does everything from big jumps to foilboarding. If you choose to invest in a new kite, it will become a kite you’ll have and love for many years.
The advantage of a used kite is that you can save money if you get the right kite. Getting the right kite can be a risk if you don’t know what to look for. When shopping for a used kite, you want to make sure that the kite holds air for at least 24 hours. A slow leak doesn’t get better with time so avoid any leaky kites. Feel the material and make sure the canopy is still crispy and that there’s no unfixed pinholes. Look at the bar and make sure there’s no rust or corrosion on the bar itself, as well as no knots in the lines. Make sure the bar is tuned right, if the bar is out of tune the kite will not fly as designed. We personally inspect and tune all the used kites that come through Watersports West as trade ins. If you take lessons through us we offer special discounts on gear to make the prices on new gear more reasonable and comparable to used gear pricing.
Choosing the right kite size is dependent upon your weight and the wind speed. Figure out what the average wind speed is for the area you’ll be kiting. The easiest way to find this out is to ask the local shop or local kiters what they think the average wind speed is. The average wind speed for the Tampa Bay area between October and May is 15mph. Once you know the average wind speed, see which size kite best fits you. James Douglas created a kite size calculator where all you need to do is type in your weight.
There are several different kite shapes including, Bow Kites, Delta Kites, C kites, Hybrid C kites, and Foil Kites to name a few. Before getting into the different designs of kites, figure out what style of riding you’ll want to do. Here are some questions to ask yourself:
Am I content freeriding?
Do I want to jump?
Do I want to do tricks?
Do I want to unhook?
Do I want to foilboard?
If you see yourself as someone who wants to do all of the above, our recommendation is for a bow/ hybrid design like the Cabrinha Switchblade. The Switchblade is our go-to kite for teaching and is also the kite Nick Jacobsen won the King of the Air competition with. This kite has been modified for over 10 years to deliver high performance for kiteboarders that do every and any style of riding.
The Cabrinha Contra is designed to fly similar to the Switchblade. It has the same goal, to deliver high performance to any style of riding. The Contra is slightly modified from the Switchblade to be more efficient in lighter wind conditions. The more recent Cabrinha Contras offer a 19m size and are much quicker turning.
The Cabrinha FX is a hybrid C that mixes freeride and freestyle. The hybrid C shape means that the FX will sit deeper in the wind window than a Switchblade would. What you can expect to feel on an FX is a kite that flies a little more on all four lines. New for the 2018 Cabrinha FX is the option to tune the bridle to position the kite where you want it to sit in the wind window. Whether you’re looking to freeride, jump high or unhook, there’s a setting for your style of riding.
We want you to make the right decision when choosing your first kiteboarding kite. Your first kite should maximize your days on the water so you can build experience and confidence. Your kite needs to be reliable and safe. Accidents can happen at any time but being on the newest gear can help you avoid being in a bad situation. Kiteboarding is a ton of fun, the more you progress, the more fun it becomes!