What level of kitesurfing are you at, and do you need lessons?May 4, 2009
Kitesurfing, as you well know, is an extreme sport and a mixture of paragliding, wakeboarding, surfing and windsurfing, so it appeals to a really large target group. All you need is a board that is just two metres long and weighs between 3 and 5 kilos, a kite that folds up to rucksack size, and a control bar and kite lines.
Whatever you do, don’t try kitesurfing via the “do it yourself” approach. It’s absolutely essential to take part in a course in order to be aware of the potential dangers – and above all to know how to cope with them. Be smart and get taught properly! A kite that’s out of control is a danger to people on the beach as well as to the pilot.
So, you’re thinking of giving it a go? Maybe for the first time, or just wanting to improve your technique, so… how to you classify your level?
Which Kitesurfing level are you?
Kitesurfing level 0 – New Kiter
You are totally new to kitesports (power and sport) or you are currently training with smaller power kites along with a kite control class and/or DVD.
Kitesurfing level 1 – Novice Flyer
You just learned the ropes and can properly set up and launch with assistance. You’re body dragging with control and are now working on smooth starts & riding skills. This is where most students are after their first “on-the-board” lesson.
Kitesurfing level 2 – Intermediate Pilot
You’re up and riding, though may be stopping during direction changes. Staying upwind is not your goal as you’re probably focused on keeping your kite stabilized in the air, and out of the water.
Kitesurfing level 3 – Advanced Rider
Making basic turns and riding in both directions is comfortable. You’re staying upwind more and are experimenting with different power techniques. “Water launch fear” is behind you as you might be trying your first jumps.
Kitesurfing level 4 – Progressive Kiteboarder
Staying upwind is second nature. You’re actively jumping, landing and working on specific tricks. Your kite rarely crashes and you have mastered basic techniques. You are now addicted and have become an avid wind chaser.
Taking courses is highly advisable when learning to kitesurf as it can be extremely dangerous.
People skipping basic kite control training (Level 0) significantly increase their kiteboarding learning curve. Stats show those who skip kite control average a 10% success rate only. Those students taking an introduction course and mastering the simulation exercises show a 90% success rate. Remember, success is defined as being able to get up on a kiteboard and sustaining a short distance ride.
People skipping the safety & rigging course significantly increase their risk of injury. Stats show those who skip kite control average a 98% error rate. Those students mastering proper rigging and safety techniques show only a 2% error rate. Error rate is defined as a students needing assistance during self-rescue drills.
Those are just a few things to think about. And whilst we’re on the subject of education, we’ll end with some kitesurfing guidelines that you would be wise to take on board too:
- Always use a safety system that depowers the kite.
- Always use a kite leash with “Quick Release” device.
- Stay clear of power lines and overhead obstructions.
- Select a safe launching site.
- Always maintain a downwind safety buffer zone.
- Keep windsurfers outside the power-cone.
- Maintain a 200 ft clear zone around all divers.
- Observe all mapped kitesurfing boundaries.
- Do not lay kite lines across any ones path.
- Do not launch or land at crowded areas.
- Always announce you are launching a kite.
- Give way to all other water users.
- Incoming kitesurfer gives way to the outgoing kiter.
- When consideration has been given to the above, normal sailing rules apply.
- Prevent kites from re-launching with sand.
- Disable unattended kites.
- Kite with a friend.
- America’s beaches, airspace and ocean environment belong to everyone. Keep our beaches safe, clean and free.
We’ll follow this lot up with more in the future. Watch this space….
And to end on a cheerier note, enjoy this video from from nuwakite, and remember – kiteboarding is meant to be fun!