Kitesurfing: The Best Way to Fly

20 OCT 2015
by: Adam | posted in: Adventure, Educational | comments: 0
If you go to beach and only bring a towel, you’re doing it wrong. Acres of soft, white sand, the ocean and its generous swell, and the swirling wind all say so. No, the beach is for living. And there’s no better way to celebrate living than by grabbing a board and enjoying all the gifts the beach provides to us. With kitesurfing (or kiteboarding), the combination of the wind, the swell, and the power of you will not only help you live, it’ll help you fly. Read along, and we’ll help you learn how to do just that.

Flickr: Andym5855
Flickr: Andym5855

Kitesurfing has only been around since the late 90s, so it’s understandable if this is maybe the first time you’ve heard of it. Although, if you’ve been to a beach in the last few years, you’ve probably seen the distinctive kite far off into the ocean twisting back and forth. It’s a sport that’s exploding in popularity, and it’s easy to see why. While it’s not cheap to get started, it is easy to learn, and just look at these pictures. That’s bliss.

Flickr: Steve Slaby
Flickr: Steve Slaby

Flickr: Patrick Savalle
Flickr: Patrick Savalle

Flickr: Toddy Murray
Flickr: Toddy Murray

Getting Started


Flickr: Ludovic Lubeigt
Flickr: Ludovic Lubeigt

Real quick, here are the key elements to kitesurfing. Follow along with the picture above. You have the kite, which attaches itself to the harness, which is attached to you. The kite is also attached to the control bar, which is what you’ll use to move the kite, and in turn, move you in the direction and at the speed you want. At your feet is the board, which you’re strapped into. This will help you glide across the water. 

Before you master the elements, you must master the kite. You turn the kite by using the control bar that sits in front of you. By pulling in with your left arm, the kite will move to the left, and you’ll go left. Same with pulling in with your right arm, you’ll go right. Controlling the kite is a little more complicated than that, considering the freedom of movement it has. If you imagine a clock, you never want the kite to be so far to the left it’s past 9 o’ clock, or so far to the right it’s past 3 o’ clock. 12 o’ clock, with the kite directly in front of you, is what will generate the most speed. 3 o’clock and 9 o’clock will generate the least.

The kite can also move up and down vertically. At 45 degrees the kite will generate the most speed. At 0 and 90 it will generate the least. This means that with the kite at a 12 o’clock position, and at a 45 degree angle, you’ll hit your top speed. But before you get up to speed, you’ll have to practice.

You’ll do first this by practicing on land with a smaller kite that is easier to control and also doesn’t generate enough force to move you. This will allow you to master the maneuvers and feel the force that is generated through them with your feet firmly planted in the sand. You’re just focusing on the upper body, without having to worry about staying afloat.

 

Flickr: Smudge 9000
Flickr: Smudge 9000

Next, you’ll trade the training kite in for a real one. Now you’ll be dragged across the sand, but don’t worry, you won’t go too far. The last bit of practice you’ll get in before trying the real thing is heading to the shallow surf and strapping on a board. You’ve got the upper body mastered (or well practiced) by now, it’s time to add in the lower half. Being in the water will change things, as you will have to work on balance and practice using the muscle is your legs to turn and cut through the water.

Finally, it’s time to head to the deep waters and put everything together. Most won’t get up and actually kitesurf their first time out, even those with wakeboarding or surfing backgrounds. But by most accounts, it only takes about 15-20 hours of practice until you start to really feel comfortable kitesurfing. Considering how many hours of enjoyment kitesurfing will eventually lead to, as your travel consultants, we consider this is a wise investment.

 

One more thing: here's how to actually fly. This is achieved by keeping tension in the lines while also keeping your edge in the water,sending the kite upwards to a 90 degree angle, and then jumping. See the steps below.

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Flickr: Bert Knottenbeld
Sequence from Flickr: Bert Knottenbeld 

You can use the edge of a wave as a ramp, or you can just jump out of the water. It’s easier if the water is relatively calm and not choppy.

 

Flickr: Matt Buck
Flickr: Matt Buck

Okay, you know the steps, but where do you go try it out? This is fairly easy. Just find a beach, or even a lake that has wind! Most do. Project Expedition has an introductory course, as well as an advanced course you can book through a location in Belize. Check it out! Now sit back and be blown away by the professionals.

 



 

Title Photo - Flickr: Steve Slaby
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