Kitesurfing – The Essentials

Don’t be fooled into thinking everything comes as standard, invest in your passion, your safety, and yourself. Once fully equipped, kitesurfing isn’t an expensive sport: your kit is fairly easy to transport – kites pack into rucksacks and boards are rarely over 1.5m long, so you don’t need a van.

As for the wind, well, that’s free!

Safety First
There are some common-sense essentials and it may be helpful, until you’re an old pro, to keep a checklist. First-up should be sun block, PLENTY of water and high protein snacks, shades and a towel; then you’ll be needing a wetsuit, a helmet and a lifejacket. A harness is also mandatory, a seat harness is best for the less experienced surfer as it’s more secure although waist harnesses offer more mobility. It also makes sense to always take a mate.

So that’s the serious stuff taken care of, now for the fun. A word to the wise though, approach bargains with caution, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is – the same applies to preloved items. That said, if you’re buying from a reputable source (perhaps a specialist offloading last season’s gear) or a surfer you know, it could be worth it.

The Kite
Ask for expert advice and listen to it. Ignore anyone who suggests something too advanced because you will not grow into it and progress faster, you’ll just get frustrated and take longer to learn. Also, bear in mind that most kites are sold complete, that is with the bar, lines and safety system. If it states ‘kite only’ it’s just that, and so not the bargain it seems.
• C Shaped Kites: until 2006 all kites were C-shaped, but they’re really not suitable for the beginner, as they’re difficult to re-launch and harder to de-power than the alternatives, so really best left to the advanced surfers, as they lend themselves to unhooked tricks.
• Bow Kites: Bow kites are the leading edge inflatable, incorporating a bridle to the leading edge, with a concave trailing edge. They’re flatter when flying and easily de-powered and re-launched and have a wide wind range. Not so good for advanced surfers as they don’t perform as well unhooked, and lack uplift for jumping.
• Hybrid Kites are designed to combine the ‘direct feel’ of a c-shaped kite with the wind range and safety features of a bow kite.

The Board
Again, consult the experts. A good surf shop will be happy to guide you – their reputation is at stake and they’ll want you to return every time you upgrade too. As well as skill level, your height and weight will be taken into account when buying your kiteboard, but as a rule of thumb newbies will have a larger board for buoyancy before graduating to smaller, lighter boards for speed and lift. It’s so important to get this right – you have to be comfortable and happy on your board, as well as secure, so make sure you have suitable foot straps and a harness.