INTRO - If you fancy your hand at this kiting lark, but are unsure what you'll need, or are a bit anxious about what it all entails, then look no further. We've assembled a wealth of information from shop owners, instructors and manufacturers from around the world to bring you the ultimate five minute guide to the essentials you'll need to get out on the water as safely and quickly as possible
The idea of this guide is to act as a back up to lessons, not a replacement for them. Come back to it again and again as you start collecting all your equipment.
Despite the images you see of buff blokes flexing their biceps as they fly through the sky on their kites, kitesurfing is more about finesse and understanding than muscle. There is no substitute for lessons with a professional instructor recognised by the sport's major governing bodies. These include the IKO (International Kiteboarding Organisation), BKSA (British Kitesurfing Association), PASA (Professional Air Sports Association – USA) and VDWS (Verband Deutcher Windsurfing und Wassersportschulen – Germany).
The sport has come a long way and is much safer than it was to learn, even just five years ago, but trying to learn on your own, or with your mate who's told you, 'Don't worry, I'll teach you – I've been kiting for years!' will take you much longer and could put you or others on the beach in danger. There is a technique to teaching and beginner equipment is designed and set-up specifically with getting you up and going as safely and quickly as possible in mind.
You should aim to take a course long enough so that when you've finished you have the knowledge to confidently be able to turn up to a beach, assess whether the conditions and environment are safe for you to go out or not, be aware of any hazards, correctly set up your kite, launch, get out on the water, rescue yourself (if you need to), land safely and pack up. These are only the basics, there are many more elements than these to learn to give you the least amount of knowledge that anyone turning up to ride on their own needs. According to the BKSA, a course getting you to this level will average around 15 hours of instruction time, usually over a few days. Not bad considering it would take you weeks without lessons, if you survived. You will start your lessons out on land learning to fly a trainer kite to give you the basics. Richard Gowers, Chairman of the BKSA says: 'The primary skill to kitesurfing is being able to control and fly the kite competently.” So it's a good idea to get yourself a good trainer kite as the more time you spend picking up skills on this, the easier your time will be when you come to getting on the water.
Ozone Imp 3:
Most brands make some kind of introductory trainer kite that will work fine. The Flexifoil Quark is a fun, affordable three-line kitesurf trainer kite, designed to specifically help new kiters learn to fly with skill and confidence. Equipped with all the usual Flexifoil build-quality it's ideal for use in kitesurf schools or by anyone looking for a tough, high-performance kitesurf trainer. The Quark has a huge wind range and the power is delivered smoothly and progressively by the 2.4 metre canopy. All power can be killed instantly using the third-line wrist leash system with push-away primary release and chicken-loop.
Find more at: www.flexifoil.com
Also pictured is the Ozone Imp 3, another classic trainer kite. Find it at: www.flyozone.com
Although you may not see many people on the beach wearing them, they are vital for your first few months riding, at least. Getting hauled by the kite can be painful, and you usually go head first, so you do the maths on what could happen. And there's no reason to stop wearing one once you think you're getting good. The extra confidence that the little plastic bowl on your head brings will mean you'll ride harder and learn more! your rippinMaelstorm do fantastic deals on their Aqua helmet that is constructed with high-impact resistant ABS plastic with an inner lining moulded in waterproof, shock absorbing EVA foam. They have also designed the ear protectors to be removable for those who value style and that skater look more than their ears! But also so you can hear a little better if someone is trying to give you instructions.
More at: www.maelstormgear.com skills!
Gath, who are based around the rough waters around Margaret River in Western Australia, also make solid, no nonsense helmets and have been saving heads in watersports for years.
Find more of their products at: www.gathsports.com
Find your closest schools at:
Click here to buy Progression Beginner DVD
Click here to buy Theory and Technique DVD