This Tampa Bay Kitesurf Guide will outline some important information for kiteboarding. We’ll look at some of the unofficial rules and regulations to preserve access. For specific spots to kiteboard, check out our launch spots page. We’ll go into some detail on the wind patterns and windy season here in Tampa Bay.
If there’s specific information you’d like to see on this page, send us a message below.
Rules and Regulations
St Petersburg Florida has unrestricted access to the waterways around Tampa Bay and the Gulf Beaches. Preservation is important, so it is up to us as kiters to police ourselves. Common sense rules, right of way and common courtesy will help us maintain access.
Common Sense Rules
- Avoid swimmers – keep at least one or two kite lengths away
- Avoid launching in crowded areas – if people are around, launch downwind of them
- Don’t jump close to the beach – keep two kite lengths away
- Know your skill level: don’t go out in conditions that are too much for you to handle
- Don’t go further out than you can swim
- Don’t go out in offshore conditions
Right of Way
- A person landing a kite always has right of way over someone looking to launch a kite.
- A person in the process of launching a kite has right of way over someone looking to land a kite.
- Same Tack Right of Way: The upwind rider must keep his kite above 45 degrees, downwind rider must keep his kite below 45 degrees.
- Opposing Tack Right of Way: When two kitesurfers approach from opposite directions the rider riding on his port tack (left hand forward) veers off and goes downwind of the rider who is riding on a starboard tack (right hand forward). The downwind rider keeps his kite under 45 degrees and the upwind rider keeps his kite above 45 degrees.
- Another way to view this: If you’re going left, go downwind… If you’re going right, stay riding upwind (see picture below).
- Leeward Right of Way: The leeward rider has right of way over anyone windward.
- Another way to view this: If you are riding upwind of someone and decide to go downwind, the riders riding downwind of you have right of way (see picture below).
- Speed Right of Way: When riding close to others it is always important to ride in control, the faster rider must avoid the slower rider by either staying upwind or veering off downwind.
- Look before you transition: hopefully you wouldn’t switch lanes on the highway without looking twice, the same applies with kiteboarding.
- Avoid hanging out on the beach with your kite at 12:00 while other kiteboarders are trying to launch or land.
- The pilot of the kite is responsible for a safe launch or land and should be familiar with the proper technique and positioning. See our how to launch a kite post.
- Maintain a similar tack so that other riders know when and where you transition.
- If you jump, make sure you won’t cross paths with someone downwind of you.
- Lend a helping hand to people launching or landing.
Wind In Tampa Bay
The wind in Tampa Bay can sometimes be difficult to predict. There are some patterns to the wind here that we’ve figured out. One of the best things about kiteboarding in St. Petersburg is that we can find a spot to kite on any wind direction! Since St Petersburg is shaped like a peninsula you can always find onshore or cross onshore winds.
There are multiple sources we rely upon for checking the wind. The number one we use is iKitesurf. They provide different model forecasts as well as real time sensors. For an in depth breakdown of the different sites we use check out our blog post on checking the wind forecast.
The windy season in Tampa Bay starts end of September through June. Wind during this time is more consistent. We’ll get wind from both fronts and sea breezes. The average wind speed during windy season is around 14 kts. The best months for kiteboarding are October/ November and March/ April/ May. These months have the best chances for wind almost every day. December through February are also windy months.
Here are some more detailed information for wind patterns for certain months.
During the summer months, end of June through September, sea breezes are lighter and fronts don’t make it this far south. We will get an occasional sea breeze that provides good winds, but they’re more difficult to predict. During the summer months we look for tropical low pressure systems that will bring good winds.
Our two biggest factors for wind are sea breezes and fronts. Sea breezes occur year round in Tampa Bay but are strongest between October and June. Fronts begin coming through the area in October and go until May/ June. Before and after the cold front is good and reliable winds. Forecast models pick up on fronts. Sea breezes are more difficult to forecast. Check out our blog post on how to read a sea breeze in Tampa Bay to better forecast sea breezes.
Learning To Kitesurf
Tampa Bay offers some of the best conditions to learning how to kitesurf in the world. What makes the Tampa Bay area so ideal is the amount of shallow water we have. Learning how to kitesurf or kiteboard (same term) in shallow water saves significant time in the learning process. One hour in shallow water is like six hours in deep water. All of our lessons are conducted in shallow waters!