To the uninitiated, kite surfing is a fascinating extreme sport they may not be sure about. The problem is usually not the sport. It gives everyone a powerful adrenaline rush just to watch! The problem is that they don't think they are skilled enough to participate.
For those who have experienced the sport, on the other hand, it is not too much to move from Tarifa, Spain, Kalpitiya, Sri Lanka, Cumbuco, Brazil, Mui Ne, Vietnam, Hawaii, Zanzibar, or anywhere else in the world where kite surfing takes place. Once you are into it, there is no stopping. We shall discuss some of the famous kite surfing destinations in the world in a short while but first, let us talk about the sport itself.
Kite surfing is categorized as an extreme sport. It is the fastest growing sport in this category because it is easy to learn and extremely interesting. It is a sport in which anyone with average fitness, especially at the core, can effectively engage after a few hours of training. Of course, the potential needs to be comfortable in a large water body.
Surfing is typically associated with large sea waves, but kite surfing needs no waves. The game uses wind power to pull the surfer on the water's surface. The kite surfing kit consists of a kite to harness the wind and a small surfboard that you put on your feet to enable them to slide on water. This surfboard is also known as a kiteboard.
The size of your kite is an essential factor in determining how much you will enjoy the kite surfing experience. Kites used for surfing can range from 2 to 19 square meters. The size of the kite you need depends on your body size and the speed of the wind where you are surfing. If the wind is slow, you will need a larger kite to harness enough wind energy. However, using a kite that is too big for the wind speed can result in excessive speed and cause the kite to lift you off the water. While being lifted off the water is not uncommon or undesirable in kite surfing, it requires appropriate skill levels to perform beautiful stunts.
Your body size and weight are also important factors in determining which kite size will work best for you. If you use a kite that is too small relative to your size and weight, the wind power it generates may not be strong enough to propel you forward, and you may end up sinking. On the other hand, if the kite is too large for your weight, you may spend most of your time flying instead of surfing. To optimize your surfing experience, it is crucial to learn how to balance your body weight and wind power. As a beginner, it is always advisable to seek help from experienced kite surfers.
There are several kite surfing disciplines that you can engage in depending on your interests and skill level. Some surfers specialize in a specific discipline, while more adventurous ones may want to explore multiple or all of them. Here is a list of the different kite surfing disciplines:
As mentioned earlier, the primary difference between general surfing and kite surfing is that kite surfing doesn't require waves in the sea for you to surf. Instead, the kite provides the necessary propulsion to slide on the water surface. However, this doesn't mean that you have to avoid the waves when kite surfing. In fact, surfing waves using kites is a popular discipline known as wave kitesurfing. If you have the right skill level, you can use your kite to direct you towards the waves and execute various stunts depending on your comfort level in that scenario.
An athlete rides a strapless board while holding onto the kite in this kind of surfing. This allows for greater freedom of leg movement and enables the execution of stunts that would be impossible with a strapped kite. The outcome of this kind of surfing is a combination of kitesurfing, wave surfing, and parachute jumping, with flat waters, waves, and the skies all being fair game. Strapless kite surfing is not recommended for beginners.
This is meant to help the surfer attain the maximum speed over a 500-meter distance. Kite surfing has proved to be the fastest type of surfing over this distance.
As the name suggests, this type of kitesurfing focuses more on the surfer's maneuvers in the air. The success of a big air surfing undertaking is determined by how high you jump and how complex the maneuvers you execute while in the air. Due to the nature of the maneuvers involved, this sport can be dangerous and should not be attempted until you have developed considerable skills.
This is an 'obstacle race' in kiteboarding. In this discipline, surfers compete over a short distance, and to complete the race, they have to jump over several one-meter-high obstacles.
This is another professional-level kiteboarding sport in which riders use speeds and tactics to surf faster than competitors over a set distance.
This doesn't happen in the water. Athletes surf on snow on hilly terrain in which they ride snowy hills like one would ride waves in the sea. It is a blend of kitesurfing and skiing.
The surfer sits on a buggy attached to a kite and slides fast on solid ground as an airplane does on a runway. When they get airborne, they execute maneuvers depending on their daring and skills. The initial kite traction in the 'runway' enables it to tap the wind power, which the surfer uses for the rest of the maneuvers.
It involves riding on the land and maneuvering around with the kite.
Each of these disciplines requires a different type of kiteboard; we shall discuss the kiteboards and kites later. Meanwhile, let's have a brief look at how you learn kite surfing.
Kite surfing may appear impossible when you look at people doing it from afar, but it isn't that difficult. You can be in the water within three days of learning. Contrary to popular belief, you don't need to be highly fit or super athletic to get into this sport. All you need is an adequate amount of core strength, and you are good to go. The beauty of this sport is that you don't have to do the crazy stunts you see the professionals do. You just start where you are and work your way to more intensive moves as you get more skilled.
Each of the initial three-day lessons should be at least four hours long to be effective.
The first thing your trainer will work with you on is flying a trainer kite. This is a small kite, usually two or three meters in size. Using it allows you to learn how to use the kite on land before entering the water. Controlling the kite is a critical skill because it will enable you to change the kite's direction and speed.
At this stage of learning, you will learn essential concepts such as the power zone and wind window and how to manipulate them. The skills you acquire here will enable you to quickly learn other kite surfing disciplines such as snow kiting, kite buggying, and land kiteboarding.
The next thing you should do is learn wakeboarding. You must be able to focus on flying a kite when you finally get into the water for kitesurfing. The boards used for wakeboarding have many similarities to kiteboarding boards. Thus, if you can manage wakeboarding, you will not need to divide your attention between flying and sliding when you finally get into the water. Your trainer will let you know when you are ready for the next step, but this shouldn't take long, especially if you have prior experience in wakeboarding or any other form of boarding.
You should also watch instructional videos on YouTube or purchase them from trainers. Taking the time to watch is essential because you can get ideas for some of the techniques you should be using. Study the videos at all skill levels, from beginners to professionals. A good training video includes a trainer explaining the tactics used by the subjects and breaking down their actions frame by frame if necessary.
The final step you should take is to get into the water with a qualified trainer. It may seem like you are already sufficiently skilled after taking the above steps, but do not attempt to kiteboard without a professional trainer. Some people may consider it desirable to go through the above steps alone, and they may achieve a considerable level of success. However, ensure that you have someone to assist you in the water for the first time.
After this initial training, you can continue to increase your knowledge by watching more videos and trying out moves of increasing degrees of difficulty.
(As with every other worthwhile endeavor, people have continuously worked to improve the kite surfing experience for everyone. The most significant way they do this is by enhancing the tools used by the surfer.
Kites are made in different shapes and materials depending on the intended purpose. Manufacturers invest in research and development to improve the kites' aerodynamics, in-flight stability, and wind range, as well as performance for each kite.
When you have a kite with a broad wind range, you don't need to change the kite every time the wind speed changes or when you go surfing at a different location. Many other functional improvements are continually being made to meet every rider's needs.
The following are some popular types of kites in the market today.
When kite surfing enthusiasts wanted to make the sport more accessible, they developed the bow kite in the mid-2000s. It is now one of the most popular kite designs in use. The bow kite has many advantages. It makes it easy for beginners to learn kite surfing, and it makes it possible for surfers to ride in many different styles. The kite is also equally effective in many different wind ranges.
All the above advantages mean that you don't have to buy multiple kites for different surfing styles, wind speeds, and skill levels, ultimately making the sport more affordable. However, some of the disadvantages of using this kite include its slowness when turning and taking longer to relaunch. Also, the Bow Kite doesn't perform very well with unhooked riding.
The Hybrid Bow Kite has the same basic construction as the Bow Kite but with improvements. It is easy to learn how to ride using it, and it has a wide wind range. However, its reaction time is better than that of the Bow kite, and you can turn more efficiently using the hybrid. This kite is ideal if you are trying to take an unhooked ride. You can use the Hybrid Bow Kite with every type of kitesurfing.
The C-kite is among the earliest types of kites used in kiteboarding. Its availability in the early days of kite surfing meant that much research hadn't been put into its design. As a result, it has some limitations, mainly the minimal wind range.
If you are using a C-kite, you will need a different kite size any time there is a significant change in wind speed or when you go surfing at a different location. Highly skilled surfers can only use this kite, and it is almost impossible to use it to train new surfers without experiencing accidents.
Its other disadvantage is that you can only use it for a single surfing style. It is also challenging to relaunch this kite inside a surfing session.
This kite was designed to address the weaknesses of the C-Kite. It has a wider wind range than the C-Kite and provides higher upwind drive. The hybrid design allows for teaching beginner riders, which was not possible with the C-Kite. The skill improvement beginners acquire as they use the hybrid C-Kite for training is comparable to using the hybrid bow for training.
"Delta kites are a hybrid between C-kites and Bow kites. When combined, they form a D-shaped kite that enables the surfer to execute many surfing styles. Kites in this category are best used by people with basic and intermediate skill levels. The main disadvantage of this kite is that it can invert quickly, cutting your fun short within minutes.
All other kites on the market need to be inflated before you can take them out surfing. Foil kites are different; they are made up of cells that fill up with air as the wind blows into them. Most surfers use these kites for foil racing since they can move both upwind and downwind.
You need to keep foil kites in place before you start surfing to ensure that the cells fill with air. It will be difficult for you to control the kite if you start riding when one part of the kite isn't filled up with air. Foil kites can be used to train new surfers, but they are a bit complex overall
The following are some of the common kiteboards you will be using alongside your kite while kite surfing. There are many kiteboarding disciplines, and each of them is best practiced using different types of kite.
This is the most widely used board as it can be used in virtually any kiteboarding discipline. It comes with foot straps and pads, and has a concave bottom that allows water to move in a way that enables you to accelerate as you ride. Although this board can be used for all disciplines, professional kiteboarders prefer it most for racing, wakestyle kiteboarding, freeride, and freestyle.
These boards are perfectly rectangular, except for the corners which are slightly rounded. They have less drag than twin tip kiteboards, which makes them easier to lift. If you're into disciplines like Big Air, this is the board to use. Heavy riders prefer it most.
These are also known as Wave Kiteboards. They are another favorite of Big Air enthusiasts and people who prefer to surf unstrapped. These boards have tapered edges, similar to regular surfboards.
This is the board for you if you like speed. Its design allows it to glide through flat water without enduring the drag that comes with other boards. The board is made of hydrofoil, which means it is light, strong, and easy to turn. This is the best board to use for racing.
Kite surfing, the most popular extreme water sport, is also one of the easiest to learn. There are suitable locations for the sport worldwide, including Kenya, Brazil, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, France, and the Congo. Get your gear ready and head to a location near you!