Choosing the Right Kiteboarding Spot
One of the best parts about kiteboarding in St Petersburg is that no matter what direction the winds blowing from, you can find the perfect place to ride. In general, when kiteboarding the ideal wind direction is side shore or side onshore wind – because St Petersburg is shaped like a peninsula, you can find these ideal wind directions in several spots. After you’ve found a spot, the next steps are to make sure to check your surroundings and that the conditions are favorable in the location you’ve chosen.
Reading the Forecast
When choosing a place to kiteboard you need to know the direction the wind is blowing. Take the below forecast chart from Ikitesurf as an example. The arrows in between the Wind (mph) and Gust identify the direction the winds blowing. If the arrow is pointing straight up like how it is from 2pm to 8pm, that means the wind is coming from the south. From about 5am until about 11am the arrow is pointing up and to the left meaning the wind is coming from the southeast.
Choosing the Spot
Continuing with the above example, we have determined that the wind on Thursday morning will be from the southeast and gradually shifting to the south. Now we need to figure out where we’re going to kiteboard. Below is a diagram of what the wind direction will be like on Thursday from 2pm to 8pm.
When choosing the right kiteboarding spot we want to make sure the wind is clean and uninterrupted. We want to choose a spot where the wind is not coming from over land or any buildings. Based on the diagram above, the ideal place to go kiteboarding where the wind direction will be side onshore would be Fort Desoto East Beach. Other places like 10 Cent Bridge and St Pete Beach work as well. (A place that would not work for a south wind is Lassing Park because the wind would be coming from over the land making it super gusty.)
Anticipating the Wind Change
In the above example, the wind is forecasted to switch from the southeast to the south during the late morning. In this situation it’s important to choose a spot where if the wind shifts you’ll still be okay. For example, in the early morning Lassing Park will be okay because there is enough east in the wind that it comes from over water. By late morning and throughout the afternoon when the wind is out of the south, Lassing Park will not be good. If you’re planning on going out mid morning then choose a location that works for both a southeast and south wind.
Finding Consistent Wind
Nobody enjoys kiteboarding in gusty wind conditions. It’s not often St Petersburg receives gusty wind conditions. Gusty winds are typically caused by turbulence in the wind, from either going across land or interrupted by buildings. Did you know you can feel turbulence 3x the height in front of an object and 7x the height behind the object. For example, if you have a 10 ft building, you will feel turbulence up to 30 ft in front of the building and 70 ft behind the building. So if you’re kiteboarding along the coast and theres 100 ft tall buildings along the beach, you need to be further than 300 ft away from those buildings to experience cleaner wind.
The Skyway Bridge East and West launch area is a perfect location for every wind direction except wind out of the NNW, N and NNE. These three wind directions are not ideal because from these directions wind travels from over St Petersburg. The land interrupts the air flow and if you try to kite on those wind directions, you’ll experience gusty conditions.
The most important thing is to have a safe and fun session on the water. Choosing the right kiteboarding spot where the wind is consistent and clean will make kiting more enjoyable. Being able to read the wind forecast plays a huge role in being able to choose the right spot. Ikitesurf is a reliable place to get the information you need to figure out where to ride. If you see a change in direction with the wind, choose a spot that accommodates the different wind directions. If there’s a major change in wind direction, be aware of that while you’re on the water. Stay alert and always check the surrounding area, even while riding.