Kiteboarding in lightwinds can mean many things depending where in the world you are. For example, kiteboarders in Maui determine lightwind to be anything under 20 kts. In Florida, we’re happy with 20 kts of wind! So what is lightwind?
What Are Lightwinds
We determine lightwinds to be the minimum amount of wind necessary to keep a kite in the sky. A safe bet is a consistent 11 mph or 9.5 kt breeze is the minimum wind to keep a kite in the sky. It is possible to keep a kite in the sky in less wind but it does take technique and finesse.
Wind alone does not dictate whether or not someone can kiteboard in 11 mph of wind. There are other variables to consider. One important variable to consider is the current. Is the current going with or against the wind? If the current is going into the wind, then 11 mph will feel like more wind. When the current is going with the wind, then 11 mph will feel like less wind. Try to watch the water before going out. But sometimes it takes trying to find out the direction of the current.
Another variable to consider is the water depth. Kiteboarding in lightwinds in deep water can be very difficult on a twintip board. Shallow water with a twintip board is much easier than deeper waters.
Learning to Kiteboard In Lightwinds
There are beneficial skills that can be learned from kiteboarding in lightwinds. Every mistake gets amplified in lightwinds. So, a kiteboarder’s technique must be precise to ride in lightwinds. If a kiteboarder can ride in lighter winds, then they can ride in most other conditions.
Beginners in Lightwinds
A true beginner will not benefit in winds under 11 mph or 9.5 kts. It is not “safer” to practice in winds under 11 mph. The reality is that the kite will not stay in the sky. It will be more frustrating than beneficial. 11 mph is the minimum wind needed to fly a kiteboarding kite. In winds 11 mph to 15 mph, most beginners will have an excellent experience in a kiteboarding lesson. These winds are light, but just enough to comfortably fly a kite.
Kiteboarding Techniques for Lightwinds
There are some techniques that make lightwind kiteboarding easier and more fun. Lighter winds can be frustrating at times, but with the appropriate skills can be fun. With the appropriate skills and equipment, it is still possible to do all sorts of extreme kiteboarding tricks.
Water Relaunching in Lightwinds
There’s a good chance the kite will crash at some point in lightwinds. So, an important skill is how to water relaunch in lightwinds. This technique here has helped us water relaunch in winds under 11 mph. It is highly recommended!
This technique here helps to maximize power when there is little power. The downloop helps get the kite to cross through the apex of the wind window. In light winds it is important to get every bit of power possible.
Kiteboarding Upwind in Lightwinds
Kiteboarding upwind in lightwinds can be a challenge with a twintip board. Being on the appropriate equipment helps but technique is still the most important variable. The key point to kiteboarding upwind in lightwinds is to generate board speed. That board speed can then be used to cut upwind.
Styles of Riding in Lightwind
There are a few different styles of kiteboarding that can be done in lightwinds. Perhaps the most popular style of kiteboarding in lightwinds is foilboarding. Foilboarding can be done in extreme lightwinds because of the design of the hydrofoil. It isn’t necessarily easier to learn how to foilboard in lightwinds. But once a rider is on foil, they are more efficient at going upwind that a traditional twintip. We recommend trying all the styles and determining the one most appealing to you.
Foilboarding is probably the most effective way of kiteboarding in lightwinds. When the hydrofoil is engaged, it is easy to cruise upwind. As a result, it is possible to ride a much smaller kite in lighter winds. For example, a 160 lb rider can ride a 12m in 9 kts of wind with a foilboard. The downside is that there needs to be deeper waters. If the kite touches the water in such lightwinds, the rider may need to swim or drift back to the beach.
The bigger the twintip, the easier it is to kiteboard upwind. A big twintip board is recommended and makes riding much easier! We suggest a 160cm board. Depending on weight, it is possible to ride a smaller board. Kiteboarding with a smaller board does take skill and practice. Develop your skills with a big board first before switching down to a smaller board. Even a big board can be fun in lightwinds.
Take a Lightwind Lesson
It may not be the most appealing to take a lesson in lightwinds, but there are so many skills and techniques that can be applied to other areas of kiteboarding. Learning skills in lightwinds help with creating good fundamentals and is safer! Come up with a list of skills you want to learn and schedule a lightwind lesson with us. Fill out the form below: