Making a decision to embark on learning a new sport can be exciting and scary all at the same time and kiteboarding is no exception. Kiteboarding is an addictive, adrenaline filled sport that can quickly become a passion and a lifestyle. Learning can be frustrating at times but imagine how good it will feel once you have the skill to hit the water in prime locations all across the planet. In my experience Kiteboarding has provided me with the opportunity to travel, keep fit, meet amazing people and learn.
“It is hard to fail, but it is worse never to have tried to succeed”
Some of my fondest memories are from my early learning days of kiteboarding because this is the time when everything is new, unknown and exciting, Being a newbie has a few advantages! To be fair of course, I do remember the times I got worked as well but if you follow the advice in this article you can minimize those times and when your in the water shredding it, you will know the sacrifice was absolutely worth it!
Keep in mind the early stages won’t last forever and that it is wise to enjoy this time as a beginner. As your skill improves and you look back and connect the dots of you progression, they may be some of your fondest memories as well.
Although I recommend enjoying the journey as much as the destination, it is best to learn your way through the newbie stage as efficiently and safely as possible and this article will give you ideas on how to approach learning this sport for maximum efficiency and fun!
Saturation is key
If you want to learn faster, more thoroughly, and have the knowledge firmly planted in your brain, saturation is a must. Saturation is a method in which you attack a subject you aspire to learn from different angles or vantage points. We are literally saturating our brain with content from different sources and engaging all the sensory channels.
Let’s take a look at how this is done as it relates to kiteboarding. Here are 10 tips to fully saturate your brain and boost your learning potential.
- Purchase and fly a trainer kite. Talk to anyone who has learned to kiteboard and they will probably give you this advice. Flying a trainer will ensure you acquire the feel of a pulling kite, develop necessary muscle memory and is as close to the real thing as you can get as a beginner. Developing good kite control skills early on will save you time, money and frustration down the road. Good kite control skills will save your bacon in those inevitable hairy situations as a beginner. If you only take one thing away from this article make sure it is this because flying a trainer kite will immensely improve your transition when you’re ready to move to a full size kite. There are many trainer kite options so make sure to do your research and buy one that is good for you. Check out the additional resources section at the end of this article for a good write-up on selecting a trainer kite.
- Take a lesson. Although taking a lesson is a must when learning to kiteboard with a full sized kite, it is not absolutely necessary in the trainer kite stage, although it is advised. If you really want to jump-start your learning take an introductory kiteboarding lesson from a qualified friend or instructor. Having someone there to take the guess-work out of learning is helpful and is a great resource at this stage.
- Watch people kiteboarding. To saturate your visual sense watch kiteboarders at all skill levels, either in person or online, you will pick up subtleties that will help you along with your own learning.
- Read kiteboarding material. Read online content, magazines, books or anything else you can get your hands on. A book I highly recommend is Tricktionary Twintip Supreme Edition. This book is 424 pages of kiteboarding instruction gold with colour pictures, sequence shots and detailed write ups. This book will be a staple throughout your progression from beginner to expert. If there is a kiteboarding bible, this may very well be it! (I have no affiliation with this company other than I own the book and it has been incredibly useful.)
- Talk about kiteboarding. Take any chance to talk about kiteboarding with fellow kiteboarders, friends and family. If you can explain it you are that much closer to doing it!
- Ask questions. Every Kiter I know likes to talk shop, so ask lots of questions to kiteboarders you meet and also take advantage of the vast online resources available.
- Find a formal or informal kite mentor. Find someone who can guide you along through your progression. This could be a friend, a local kiteboarder or an instructor. Local riders can provide valuable resources and information including details of your home spot and are usually eager to help beginners. Don’t be afraid to spark up conversations with them as you will soon be shredding the same water.
- Ride at a cable park. Unfortunately the wind isn’t always blowing 🙁 Cable parks are a great learning tool and provide an opportunity to learn crossover skills and lets face it cable parks are just fun to ride!
- Learn about weather. As a kiteboarder you are at the mercy of mother nature and should become one with her. Keep tabs on the wind speed, wind direction and dangerous weather systems moving through your kiting locations and when the right conditions exist, get out there! There are multiple online resources to help you become a hack weatherman. I use windfinder and the weather network for my local area. By accessing these two sites I can find all the weather related info I need.
- Remember to have fun!! When you’re having fun learning is effortless and this is really what it is all about, learning an amazing sport that you will be doing for years to come, so lighten up, stay relaxed and have some fun!
To recap, flying your trainer kite will ensure you acquire the physicality of handling the kite and when combined with the saturation techniques listed above you will be well on your way in putting it all together.
“Board skills are learned, kite skills are earned”
Learn to communicate
Kiteboarding has a unique language of its own and as you progress you will inevitably pick up what you need, but to get you started here is a list of the top essential beginner jargon!
Trainer kite: Yes, I have already mentioned this but it is worthwhile mentioning it again. A trainer kite is a practice kite that you should fly, fly and fly some more, before moving onto a bigger kite. The skills you will learn with a trainer kite will reduce the amount of holy shit moments in your progression. I flew a Slingshot B2 two-line foil trainer kite for a total of approximately 10 hours before taking my first big boy lesson.
If you are looking to get your foot in the kiteboarding door on a limited budget, the slingshot B2 trainer is a good option as it is simple, relatively cheap in price but gets the job done.
Wind window: The entire area where the kite can be flown is known as the wind window. A clock is used to represent the different locations in the wind window from 9 o’clock through 3 o’clock downwind of the pilot. Study this diagram to get a solid understanding of the wind window and the different zones within it.
When flying your trainer kite explore flying it through the whole wind window to get a feel for the power in different zones.
Zenith: Zenith (12 o’clock) is a position in the wind window directly above the pilot’s head. Become familiar with this position because it is referenced in kiteboarding frequently. Refer to above photo.
Larks Head knot: The Larks head knot is a knot used in kiteboarding to attach your lines to your kite. The Larks head knot is a great knot for the sport because it is simple, easy to apply and no matter how tight the knot gets it is relatively easy to remove.
Larks head knot
Upwind, downwind, onshore, offshore, sideshore:
This picture contains essential jargon for every kiteboarder. As a beginner make sure you have this information down. Everything in this diagram is referenced from where the wind is coming from and where the kiteboarder is located. Study and enjoy!
Knots: Knots (Kn) is a unit of speed and is popular in kiteboarding to measure wind speed. For reference 1kn=1.85km/h and 1kn=1.15mph.
Chicken loop/Spreader bar: Depending on the trainer kite you have you may not need this equipment yet, but it is still a good idea to get familiar with ahead of time.
The chicken loop connects to the spreader bar which connects the rider to the kite. The chicken loop has quick releases to disconnect the rider from the kite in emergency situations. It is essential to learn your safety systems and be efficient at activating them. Practice deploying your safety systems in non emergency situations to ensure you understand how they work and are comfortable with them. All manufactures use different release systems so familiarize yourself with the one you are using.
This is an example of a Cabrinha chicken loop with QR1/QR2 (safety system) and safety leash attachment. Learn your safety systems for the specific equipment you own.
The chicken loop connects to the spreader bar hook and the donkey stick ensures the chicken loop doesn’t disconnect. Yes, these are real terms!
Kook: Last but not least on this short list of beginner jargon is the kite kook! A kite kook is by my definition, someone who puts themselves and everyone around them in danger by their actions, ignorance, lack of knowledge and unwillingness to take advice from well-intentioned fellow kiters. This term can be applied to any kiteboarder at any level and you should avoid actions that may land you in this category!
Sure you will make mistakes during your sessions as a kiteboarder – I’ve definitely made my fair share of them – but mistakes do not make you a kook. Learn from your mistakes, take advice from experienced kiters and when you’re in a position to help others, please do so. This is the best way to stay kook-free.
Having made your way through this post, your inspiration is at an all time high, you have acquired some valuable saturation techniques, you know the essential beginner jargon and are kook proof! Congrats!
With theses resources now at hand I encourage you to integrate them into your learning style, put them into action and make the decision to take the first step in learning this amazing sport and lifestyle!
Next post: Top 5 list of most surprising kiteboarders!?
Please reach out via the contact page with any questions you have about learning to kiteboard or otherwise. Experienced kiters, if you run across this post and have any constructive newbie advice that would benefit newcomers to the sport we would love to hear it, please reach out via the contact page, I will add any reader contributions to the post!
- Learn to tie a larks head knot
- Trainer kite selection
- Tricktionary kiteboarding book.
- Wind reports, windfinder