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 kite size is an essential determinant of how much you will enjoy the surfing experience. A surfing kite can be between 2 and 19M2. How big yours will be is determined by the speed of wind where you are surfing and your size. If the wind is slow, you will need a bigger kite to harness as much wind energy as you need. Having too big a kite, compared to wind speed, will lead to too much speed; the kite might lift you off the water. Being lifted off the water when kite surfing isn't uncommon or undesirable. It is one means you will use to perform beautiful stunts when you get to an appropriate skill level.
Your size is another determinant of how well you can surf using a particular kite size. If you use a kite that is too small relative to your size and weight, the wind power it gathers won't be strong enough to propel you forward, and you might very well end up sinking. Again, when it is too big for your weight, you will spend most of your surfing time flying. You need to understand how to balance your body weight and wind power while surfing. If you are a beginner, you can always ask for help from the experts.
There are various kite surfing disciplines that you can engage in depending on your interests and your skill level. Some surfers specialize in one discipline, while the more adventurous ones may want to explore several or all of them. The following is a list of the disciplines.
As observed earlier, the main difference between general surfing and kite surfing is that kite surfing doesn't require waves in the sea for you to surf. The kite gives you the necessary propulsion to slide on the water surface. This, however, doesn't mean that you have to avoid the waves if you are surfing using a kite. This surfing that uses kites to ride waves is called wave kitesurfing. If you have the right skill level, you use your kite to direct you to the waves and then execute whatever stunts you are comfortable within that scenario.
An athlete rides a strapless board while holding on to the kite. This kind of surfing allows one the freedom to move their legs and thus execute stunts that would be impossible if the kite was strapped. The outcome of this kind of surfing is a combination of kitesurfing, wave surfing, and parachute jumping. The flay waters, waves, and the skies are all fair game. Strapless kite surfing isn't 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 a surfer's maneuvers on air. The success of a big air surfing undertaking is determined by how high you jump and how complicated the maneuvers you execute while on air. The kind of maneuvers involved makes this a dangerous sport, which you shouldn't attempt until you have developed considerable skills.
This may be described as an ‘obstacle race’ kiteboarding. In this discipline, surfers compete over a short distance. To complete the race, they have to jump over several 1 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 is flying a trainer kite. This is a small kite, two or three meters. 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.
You learn essential concepts such as power zone and wind window and how to manipulate them in this stage of learning. At this level, the skills you obtain will allow you to quickly learn other surfing disciplines such as snow surfing, 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 barding.
You should also watch instructional videos on YouTube or buy some from trainers. Taking time to watch is essential as you get ideas of some of the techniques you should be using. Study the videos at all skill levels, from beginners to how professionals do it. A good training video has a trainer explaining the tactics used by the subjects and breaking their action down frame by frame if necessary.
The final step you should take is getting into the water with a qualified trainer. It is not impossible to feel like you are already sufficiently skilled after taking the above steps but don't get into the water without a professional trainer in tow. Some people may consider it desirable to go through the above steps alone, and they may do it to a considerable level of success. Ensure you let somebody help you in the water for the first time.
After this initial training, you can continue increasing your knowledge by watching more videos and trying out moves to increasing degrees of difficulty.
Like with every other worthwhile endeavor, people have been working continuously to improve everyone's kite surfing experience. The most significant way they do this is by enhancing 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 to increase wind ranges and 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 speed of wind changes or you go surfing at a different place. Many other functional improvements are being continually 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 this 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, different wind speeds, and increasing skill levels. This ultimately makes the sport a lot more affordable. Some of the disadvantages of using this kite include its slowness when turning and taking longer to relaunch. Also, the Bow Kite doesn't do very well with unhooked riding.
The Hybrid Bow Kite has the same basic construction as the Bow Kite but improvements. It is easy to learn how to ride using it, and it has a wide wind range. However, its reaction time has been 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 kite of windsurfing.
The C-kite is among the earliest types of kites in kiteboarding. Its availability in the early days of kite surfing means 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 cure the weaknesses of the C-Kite. It has more wind range than the C-kite, and it has a higher upwind drive. The hybrid is now possible to teach beginner riders, which was impossible when using the C-Kite. Skill improvement beginners acquire as they use the hybrid C-Kite for training is within the same range as using the hybrid bow to train.
Delta kites are a hybrid between C-kite and Bow Kite. Combined, they form a D-shaped kite, enabling the surfer to execute many surfing styles. Kites in this category are best used by people in the basic and intermediate skill levels. This kite's main disadvantage is that it inverts quickly, cutting your fun within minutes.
All other kites in the market need to be inflated before you can take them out surfing. Foil kites are different; they are cells that fill up with air as the wind blows in them. Most surfers use these kites for foil racing since they can move either upwind or downwind.
You need to keep them in place before you start surfing to ensure 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 on the whole.
The following are some of the common kiteboards you will be using alongside the kites in your kite surfing. There are many kiteboarding disciplines, and each of them is best practiced using different types of kites.
This is the most widely used board as it can be used in virtually any discipline. It comes with foot straps and with pads. The board has a concave bottom which allows water to move in a manner enabling you to accelerate as you surf. Although this board can be used for all disciplines, professional surfers prefer it most for races, wake kiteboarding, freeride, and freestyle.
These boards are perfectly rectangular, except for the corners that are a bit rounded. It has less drag than the twin tip kiteboards, which are easier to lift. If you, therefore, are into disciplines like Big Air, this is the board to use. Heavy riders prefer them most.
These are also known as Wave Kiteboards. It is another favorite of Big Air enthusiasts and people who prefer to surf unstrapped. These boards have tapered edges, more or less like regular surfboards.
This is the board for you if you like speed. Its design allows it to slide through flat water without enduring the drag that comes with them. The board is made of hydrofoil, which means it is light, strong, and easy to turn. This is the best board to use when riding if you are in a race.
Kite surfing, the most popular extreme water sport, is also the easiest to learn. Some oceans are suitable for the sport worldwide, from Kenya, Brazil, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, France, the Congo, etc. Get your gear ready and rush to the location near you.