Learn How To Kiteboard
It takes skills to learn how to kiteboard. Knowledge and finesse are the most important things when learning how to kiteboard. Being athletic or strong is cool, but not necessary for kiteboarding. The beginning stages of kiteboarding can be challenging until the fundamental controls “click”. Once things “click”, the muscle memory doesn’t go away and one can enjoy all the freedoms kiteboarding has to offer.
About this post
This post will cover the necessary skills to learn how to kiteboard. Before a person even attempts to kiteboard, there is information to know that will make everything safer and easier. The purpose of this article is to supplement a person’s on-the-water instruction. We do not recommend anyone attempt to learn how to kiteboard on their own.
Common Thoughts About Kiteboarding
Can I learn how to kiteboard on my own?
Is it possible to learn how to kiteboard on your own? It is possible but it will be significantly more challenging than you think. Plus you risk your safety, other people’s safety, and access to your local launch spot. Here’s an honest statement. We can teach a 9-year old girl how to kiteboard quicker than the most athletic person trying to teach themself how to kiteboard. To learn how to kiteboard requires finesse that requires little to no athleticism.
How strong do I need to be to learn how to kiteboard?
Not strong at all! The most important thing to remember when going into a kiteboarding lesson is to not muscle the kite. Kiteboarders are hooked into a harness that absorbs the power of the kite. There is a lot less tension in the control bar than you think. A soft and relaxed touch, even in windy conditions, is necessary for safe controls. In our kiteboarding lessons we are all about progress. We don’t commit people to a set amount of time. We work together with the individual to create a plan best suitable for them and their needs.
How much does kiteboarding gear cost?
The entire setup, everything needed to kiteboard, could cost between $2000 and $3500 for new equipment. Used equipment can cost between $1500 and $2000. The two most important things are selecting the right kite and control bar. More modern control bars are significantly safer. The kite size is dependent upon the wind and the rider weight. Another benefit of lessons will be that the instructor can help you find the right sized kite for you within your budget.
How long does it take to learn?
Learning how to kiteboard can vary from 4 hours to 14 hours. The better your kite control is, the quicker you will learn. Experience sailing, wakeboarding, or snowboarding can help but is not necessary. The most important thing will be the kite control and the environment where you learn. Learning in deep water is significantly more challenging and will take longer than 4 to 14 hours. Shallow, waist deep water with consistent winds are preferred. One of the best parts of kiteboarding in St Petersburg is that there is shallow, waist deep water for every wind direction. Learning to kiteboard in St Petersburg is one of the most ideal places to learn in the United States.
Process to Learn How to Kiteboard
The Beginner’s Guide on our website is another place that goes through the process of how to learn how to kiteboard. The process is important because it provides the building blocks towards a safe and independent kiteboarder. Before one can even begin the process, there is some critical information needed before going out kiteboarding.
Choosing the right spot
If you go to a known kiteboarding spot and there are no other kiteboarders out there, ask yourself why. Two important things to know before going kiteboarding are wind strength and wind direction. Both can be found on iKitesurf.com. It is important that the wind is cross-onshore. To keep it even simpler, you always want wind that will blow you back to shore in case something goes wrong. Wind strength is also important. Too little wind and too much wind can make learning how to kiteboard challenging. The ideal wind speeds are 10mph to 25mph. Remember, kite sizing is relative to the rider’s weight and wind speed.
Setting up the equipment
Before setting up the equipment, take a minute to assess the area for any potential hazards. If other kiteboarders are there, ask them about potential hazards at the spot. The first thing to do after making situational assessments is to pump up the kite. See the video below for a step by step on how to pump up a kiteboarding kite.
Once the kite is pumped up and positioned on the beach, the next thing to do is attach the control bar to the kite. See the video below on how to attach the control bar to the kite.
Know the Safety Systems
Before attempting to launch a kite, make sure to know if the safety system works and how it works. The more modern safety systems are much easier and safer than older systems. Cabrinha makes a safety system that is effortless to put back together and works all the time.
Launching a Kite
Most accidents that occur happen when launching a kiteboarding kite. There are a couple of different methods towards launching a kite. Regardless, it is imperative to know and understand the wind window before launching a kite. If the wind window is unfamiliar, then take a lesson with an IKO certified school, such as our school. Everything in kiteboarding can be explained through the concept of the wind window.
The most common way to launch a kite is through the assistance of someone else. This is an efficient method to those that are familiar and comfortable flying a kite. There are a lot of variables that go into choosing this method such as the launch spot, wind direction and other obstacles. For the most part, this is the most common method towards launching a kite anywhere in the world.
Safest method is subjective to the user’s experience and the situation. Under the right circumstances and at the appropriate spot, a drift launch is the safest way to launch a kite. This method requires shallow water to safely walk out and away from the beach. Our theory to why this is safer is because there tends to be less obstacles in the water than on land. If something goes wrong, there is more time to push away the safety release.
Basic Kite Control
One of the first and most important aspects towards learning how to kiteboard is to develop good fundamentals. People that teach themselves how to kiteboard develop bad habits. These bad habits make it difficult for them to advance as kiteboarders. There are two aspects towards learning the fundamental controls.
Controlling bar tension
The first aspect of kite control is all about a relaxed grip to balance tension in the control bar. There is a “sweet spot” along the depower mainline that trims the kite. When the kite is appropriately trimmed, the pilot of the kite should not experience any pull. If the bar is pulled in too much, common for beginners, the kite will either backstall or pull the rider. If the control bar is pushed too far out, there will be too much slack and the kite will not respond to steering.
Steering a control bar
The second aspect is steering the kite by pulling one side of the control bar in and pushing the other side out. Most beginners will make the mistake of steering the control bar like a wheel. When the control bar is steered like a wheel, the kite will not respond as intended.
At some point, the kite is going to end up on the water. An important skill is called a water relaunch. This takes finesse and is counterintuitive to what you may think to do. When the technique is right, water relaunches are easy. An intermediate level kiteboarder should be able to water relaunch a kite within a few seconds. One of the first things a beginner will learn is how to water relaunch a kite after crashing it.
Power strokes are to help a kiteboarding student learn the power needed to get up on a board. As experienced instructors, we can help teach this exercise specific to the rider’s weight. For example, a heavier person will need to create a more powerful dive than a lighter person. We can adapt this exercise specific to the individual. The purpose of this exercise is that it will be the most important step towards a waterstart with a board.
Upwind Body Drags
Upwind body drags are important for two reasons. The immediate practical application is if a rider crashes and loses their board in deep water. Upwinds body drags are a safe technique used to retrieve the board. The other reason is that upwind body drags serve as what it feels like to kiteboard, to some degree. The concept of putting the kite 45 degrees off the water and feeling the pull in the harness translates to what its like on a board.
Waterstarts are one of the most challenging steps to learning how to kiteboard. This is where having good fundamentals really pay off. There are some tricks towards making waterstarts easier like using a bigger board. The key point here is that the better your kite control is, the easier waterstarts will be.
A true sailor will know that the process is not over after waterstarts. Think of it like this, the wind is traveling in a certain direction. It wants to blow you in that direction, which is either onto the beach or further away from your starting point. The golden ticket towards being independent is to ride upwind. Kiteboarding upwind means to zigzag into the wind. It is like a heel side carve away from a wakeboarding boat or heel side carve snowboarding along a mountain.
Transitions are cool but not very important. Riding upwind consistently for a session is more important. Transitions are like icing on the cake. It just makes the experience better.
Have any questions? Contact us directly and we’ll be happy to help guide you in the right direction.