Kiteboarding 101 – Before you Ride…

Respect

Everyone is out at the ocean to have a great time and while we will be using kites, others will be enjoying the wind, water, and sun in other ways. Treat others as you would want to be treated.

Your Gear

When it’s crowded, try to keep your kite lines wound up as this will make it easier and safer for those on the beach or those that are in the process of launching. The best time to do this is after someone has caught your kite or you have self-landed and properly secured the kite. Please put the proper amount of weight on your kite to keep it from blowing away. This way one can easily avoid damaging gear or injuring bystanders. Usually a board, sand, or rocks will do the trick.

Safety

Keep an eye on others as they are launching and landing to keep yourself safe and/or to assist in case launching/landing does not occur properly. Beginners to advanced riders should speak up to anyone, no matter the ability level, if they see something blatantly wrong with kite set up or launching and landing techniques. This should keep our riding areas safe and prevent someone from ruining their day.

Leashes

The use of a kite leash is required at all times when the kite is in use. While we can’t make you wear a leash, it is strongly recommended that you use one to prevent the loss of your kite while out on the water. A lost kite in busy areas not only could endanger you but others as well.

Beginners

All beginner kiteboarders need to seek professional instruction before riding. Talk to the local riders before riding, as they will be more than willing to explain launching/landing procedures at that particular site and may even be able to point out possible hazards in the area that you should avoid.

*Stay away from roped off swim areas. If you can not avoid the swim area and find yourself inside the roped off section, get out as quick as you can or down your kite. This area is usually full of swimmers most of which are small children.

* When launching, slowly bring your kite to the neutral position and then quickly proceed to the water. The kite should be launched with your body closest to the water. If conditions are gusty have another rider hold onto you to avoid being lifted off the ground or dragged. Do not shackle or hook in until you are in the water. If you are unsure you will be able to hold the kite in the conditions that are present, ask for assistance or wait until assistance is available.

* Ask questions!!! The more questions you ask, the less chance there will be that you or someone else could get hurt, damage your gear, or get a kiting spot banned. No jumping or moonwalking with kites on the beach. The beach is for launching and landing only. If you want to jump, practice out in the water. Water is softer and more forgiving than shorelines.

* WEAR A LIFE VEST!!! Learning to kite brings new adventures and experiences every time you ride and it is going to be easier to deal with these experiences if you don’t have to worry about keeping your head above water.

What are the Ideal Winds for Kiteboarding

What are the Ideal Winds for Kiteboarding

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.

Surf Conditions

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.

Channel Hopping

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.

 

More on this in my next blog post…