The first few times a kiteboarder goes out on their own can be intimidating. This post is to address that and provide knowledge to help beginner kiteboarder’s make safer decisions. To us, it is important that a kiteboarder can safely launch and land their kite and ride upwind. To kiteboard upwind implies that one also knows the previous steps to get to this level of kiteboarding.
Before Pumping Up A Kite
Before pumping up a kite look around to see if there are any other kiteboarders riding. If there are not any kiteboarders riding and you are at a main kite beach, like the Skyway, ask yourself why? Even on a weekday there will be other kiteboarders at the Skyway bridge if the winds are good. Reason why there may not be kiteboarders at the beach:
- Not enough wind
- Wrong wind direction
These scenarios can lead to bad outcomes for a beginner kiteboarder. If there are storms, do not go kiteboarding. Even if there’s no lightning, the wind can gust unexpectedly up or can switch directions.
Make sure you are familiar with situational awareness.
There Are Other Kiteboarders!
If there are other kiteboarders on the water, observe their behavior. Are they able to park and ride their kites or are the kites moving up and down. If the kites are moving up and down then that is a sign that the winds are light. Going out as a beginner in lightwind may be difficult. If the riders have their kites parked in one spot, then that is a sign that the winds are good. Find someone that is similar in weight to you. See what size kite they are riding and how much power they have.
Speak To Another Kiteboarder On The Beach
Do not assume that other kiteboarder’s know much. We’ve heard a lot of bad advice given to beginner kiteboarders over the years. Be wary of the average rider providing “coaching”. Direct your questions to situational awareness. Here are a list of useful topics:
- How have the winds been? Consistent, dropping off, picking up?
- Are there any hazards I should worry about?
- Where would you say are the best areas here to ride?
- Where are the deep water spots and the shallow water spots?
- Would you be able to assist me with a launch?
What is the wind direction, is it onshore, side-onshore, offshore? Visualize the wind direction and where you will ride. If other kiteboarders are riding, look at their angles and pay attention to their tack lines.
Time To Ride: Launch a Kite and Waterstart
Launching a kiteboarding kite can be one of the biggest challenges for a new kiteboarder. Ask someone with experience for assistance and let them know that you are new. Have patience and do not rush a launch. If you are nervous, ask a second person to stand by you to prevent you from making a big mistake.
Once the kite is in the air, have your board ready to walk out. Avoid spending time on the beach with your kite in the air. Walk a safe distance away from the beach. Two kite line lengths away and upwind from the beach should be a sufficient distance before a waterstart. We have witnessed beginner kiteboarders start too close to the beach, crash their kite on the beach, and get dragged on the beach. Falling in water is better than falling on the beach for both yourself and the kite.
Be aware of your surroundings! Be aware of the area you visualized before going on the water. Are you in that area? Are you able to ride upwind? If you are riding downwind, where are you in relation to the beach where you launched? Make sure to avoid riding downwind and traveling further from the place you launched. If other people are around, remain calm. Keep a relaxed grip on the bar and be predictable. Do not make drastic motions like pull one side of the bar aggressively.
Familiarize yourself with the right of way rules.
Landing/ Coming In
If you want to come in, assess the launch and landing zone before coming in. Ask these questions:
- Are there people available to land you?
- Are there other kiteboarders with their kites up on the beach?
- Is there anyone trying to launch their kite?
Once you get to the beach, focus on the kite first and foremost. Make eye contact with someone on the beach and give them the signal to land your kite. Let them know that you are new to kiteboarding. Ask for help to assure a safe landing.
Graduate Class/ Supervision
If you are at the in-between stage, you are able to ride upwind but do not feel comfortable on your own, reach out to us for an advanced class. This customized advanced class will be to create the skills and confidence needed to kiteboard on your own.