When it comes to kiteboarding the wind is everything, though it is possible to go in any direction you want regardless of the wind for the beginner that isn’t so easy. Moving upwind is far more challenging than going downwind, what are the ideal winds for kiteboarding? Ideally you want winds that flow parallel to the shore or that are blowing towards the shore at an angle, these are called “side onshore winds”.
Conversely when the wind is heading straight from the sea to the shore, referred to as onshore winds can be dangerous, they can blow you directly on to land. The same goes for winds blowing in the opposite direction, from shore to sea, if you lose control of your kiteboard you can end up being blown out to sea, you don’t want that either.
Wind Speed is Important
When you first start out kiteboarding you should train on the beach first and not in the water, use a kite trainer and stick to days where the wind is somewhere between 7 and 20 knots. To get yourself familiar with the kiteboarding zone, take some time to snorkel and swim around the beach (check this guide). Once you have some practice time under your belt you can worry less about the wind speed and direction as you will be able to handle stronger winds blowing in different directions. Bear in mind stick to wind below 30 knots. Experienced or not wind gusts can be dangerous and you will find anything above 8mph tough to manage.
Now let’s talk about trying to surf in those low winds. If you’re only chance to get on the water is one of those really calm days with little or no wind, don’t despair. You can kiteboard in winds that are as low as 5 knots but you’re going to need different equipment. For low wind days you’re going to need a larger board, larger kit and longer lines. Anything lower than 3 knots and you probably won’t get any surfing done.
When the wind is high that turns into large and choppy waves and if you are a beginner or even an experienced surfer those can be a lot harder to surf. If you are a newbie to kiteboarding then try and stick to waves that are under 3 feet tall. Once you have more experience then you are better able to handle bigger waves. On really windy days waves can hit more than 15 feet, that can be an accident waiting to happen so be very careful.
When you first start off kiteboarding be very wary of the wind and only board during winds you can handle, as you gain more experience you can try working up to more difficult waves.
In the early hours of this morning we returned from a wonderful trip to the Channel Islands. It was all the more excellent because in truth, we had had no idea what to expect and what we found was a real revelation.
Trip was decided on at short notice, what with Scotland (our originally planned destination) being bloody miles away and us suddenly realising that there were islands only 60-80 miles (a two hour ferry ride) from our house that we’d never visited. After a bit of web research, my personal priority was to visit Alderney…and indeed, in the event, I was not disappointed by the place…
Group was a few female friends, plus some token Welshmen who decided to ditch their planned Scottish trip and join us. Paddling ability and experience was mixed, but everyone coped fine with what proved to be some fairly serious paddling jaunts and some occasionally intimidating conditions.
Friday – everyone turned up at our place in Dorset and went to bed.
Saturday – several hours after going to bed, we all got up again and drove to the ferry terminal at Weymouth for the 6 am sailing. The Seacat whizzed us to St Peter Port on Guernsey, where we disembarked in wind and rain and (the first of many surreal not-quite-England experiences) had breakfast in a French-speaking boulangerie. We spent the morning sorting food and kit and deciding where/ when to launch (there is a good chandlery and kayak shop in Sampson). After a bit of research, we turned up at the Beaucette Marina at the north tip of the island (a flooded quarry with a channel blasted through to the sea) and enquired about parking and launching. Despite the fact that the place was filled with chic superyachts, they invited us to go ahead and use the place as we pleased, free of charge. So…we launched late afternoon to cross to Herm Island. It’s only a short crossing, but it involves strong tides and the wind was blowing a grim Force 5-6. We just about made it to Herm, where island staff met us and tractored our gear up the hill to the campsite. I returned from a walk to find my tent festooned with balloons…it was my 40th birthday, as if I needed reminding.
Where do they come up with this stuff, really? I mean, power kite kayaking? It sounds like a ridiculous activity, but it’s actually loads of fun! We went out with some good friends the past few weekends to see what all of the fuss was about. It turned out to be two weekends of pure joy.
What’s that? You want to try it you say? Great! We have a few tips for you!
First, you’re going to want to make sure your kayak will work well with a power kite. It’s best that your kayak isn’t too heavy. Obviously, you’re not going to get the best speeds with a heavier kayak. You also want a kayak that is narrow. Kayaks with wider bases have too much resistance. The more narrow your kayak is, the better it will interact with the power kite.
Once you have your kayak picked out, it’s time to find a place to launch and kayak! We would recommend a place that is very open. Sometimes it can be hard to predict where your power kite will take you, and you can’t just let go of it once it starts because the power kites run well over $1,000 each. Try starting out on a lake with plenty of open space. You want to have a team nearby who can act as a spotter for you while you power kite kayak.
If you’re looking for the best kayak for the job, we’d recommend you try looking on Paddle Pursuits.com. They review tons of different types of kayaks, and you’re sure to find one that works best for you. They have plenty on there that will work best for power kite kayaking.
You could also check out a tandem fishing kayak. Tandem fishing kayaks are actually really great for this. The only difference is since there is more weight, you’re going to need more power a.k.a. wind. For this, try an open area on a day where the wind is too much for people who are trying out other recreational activities. This should work really well. And you guys are sure to have plenty of fun!
We appreciate you reading. We know this topic is a little different than what we are use to, but we think once you get out there, you will enjoy it! We’d like to know your stories of your power kite kayak trips. Feel free to leave us a comment below for your story, or if you have any questions or concerns. Have fun!
Stand Up Paddle Boarding and Kite Surfing = SUKing. Except, it doesn’t suck at all, in fact it’s pretty fun. It’s not as enjoyable as rolling through waves with a surfboard and kite but it sure as hell beats moping because there aren’t any waves to catch.
You’ve been warned though, if you’ve never SUK’d it’s actually tougher then you’d think (or at least it was tougher then I thought it’d be). SUKing is ideal in light conditions, if it’s super breezy you’re probably going to have a heck of time on the water. Seriously, you’re going to look like an ass if you’re trying to take your big kite into even mid speed winds. If you do this against my warning expect to be dragging your huge ass kite and an equally huge paddle board half a mile down to the beach to where you left your belongings.
A Few Tips for SUKing
First off, it’s easier to start on shore then it is to start in the water. This video demonstrates how to get back on your SUP without destroying it with your kite harness.
Second, make sure you’re using a big ol’ stand up paddle board. I personally like my 11.5 tower social for SUKing. The more stable it is the easier it’s going to be. If you’re looking for some reviews on stand up paddle boards check Paddlers Retreat. They’ll cover you on what boards to look for if you plan on getting after some SUK.
Third, make sure you stay on your rail. This is not like normal paddle boarding where you get to gently glide across the shoreline on your board. A kite, even in low winds is going to whip you in different directions, if you’re not on your rail you’re going to get tossed. I promise that much.
If you’ve never kite surfed before SUKing is going to be extremely tough. Granted learning how to Kite is pretty damn hard as it is. Learning to correctly maneurve the kite while keeping your balance on a SUP board can be pretty damn tough, I recommend you learn a little bit about kite surfing before trying Stand Up Kiting. It’s not entirely necessary and you can learn as you go, just as you can with normal kite surfing but you’re probably be climbing out of the water a lot. And trying to climb back onto your paddle board can be pretty exhausting if you’re doing every few minutes.
Kite surfing is an incredible sport, the number of things you can do with your board and your kite are nearly limitless. Don’t believe me check out this gnarly compilation video of some of the world’s best kite surfers.
At the minute forty two mark, a kite surfer does a hand plant (rea hand not face!) while zipping along the ocean, pretty incredible stuff. Kite surfing is unique in the sense that you can use so many different types of boards. Some guys use surf boards, other folks use paddle boards and of course plenty of guys use wake boards. Each board allows you to do different things, obviously the wake board you’re strapped in which means you can go air borne without holding onto the board. However, it’d be pretty tough to surf with a wakeboard, which is why some choose to use a surf board when they plan on surfing.