Updated: Oct 28, 2018
Although much safer than 10 years ago, kiteboarding remains an extreme sport and it can be dangerous to people without adequate preparation and training. A good knowledge of safety measures is important such as providing a safe kiteboarding launch site, weather conditions, proper care of your gear, and many more. It is an ongoing learning experience and takes years to become an experienced rider. Kiteboarding is also a state of mind and being part of a community, so unless you want to make enemies your very first days, remember that in most spots it is no longer socially acceptable to just show up on a beach and launch a kite on your own, as it creates unnecessary risk and injury for yourself and others. So here are 10 things every new kiteboarder should know to help you get started with the best sport in the word!
1. Safety first
Kiteboarding is relatively safe as long as you take the necessary precautions but it is still an extreme sport and accidents can happen. To start, do not ride alone, in offshore winds or in stormy weather. You should also know your gear and safety systems inside out and you should always be ready to release the kite when at risk.
If you go to a new spot and you do not feel 100% confident, do not hesitate to ask people around you about potential risks in the area or take a short lesson in order to familiarize you with the spot and build confidence.
2. Be patient: kite is a journey, not a destination
Learning to kite takes a while so do not expect to be up and riding your first time, although there are ways to improve your chances. As with any sport, the sooner you begin the faster you will learn. Getting lessons is another way to fast track your learning process as kiteboarding instructors use proved teaching methods for practice and you will improve faster in the long term.
More importantly, practice is the very best way of getting through skill barriers and keeping your kiting fun. As soon as you become an independent kiter, (i.e. you can ride upwind) you may also want to get together with a crowd of kiters who are at a similar level. Film each other, talk through tricks and sessions and use the web and other resources to keep things fresh and exciting.
3. Learn how to check the weather
Knowing the weather and maximizing your sessions will enhance your learning experience. The most important thing is to do your research and get some decent advice. You can also the web and kite forums to find relevant information. There are good and reliable sites that provide detailed and up to date wind and weather forecasts such as iKitesurf and Windfinder.
4. Take Lessons
Kiteboarding is much safer when you start learning from the beginning. A good instructor can assist you a lot and he will teach you the basics, essentials and provide all the necessary equipment to help you progress in a safe and fun environment. Your first lessons will provide you with valuable knowledge and will enable you to build confidence in your skill and equipment. If you want to do it on a budget, take a lesson to learn how to fly the kite, then pick up a trainer kite and spend as much time as possible flying it. Remember that kiteboarding is 80% kite skills, and 20% board skills. So, even if you are an experienced wakeboarder, surfer or snowboarder to put those board skills to good use, you need to be an expert kite flyer. A minimum of at least one lesson is mandatory for a start and we recommend taking lessons until you will be able to ride upwind.
5. Meet other kiteboarders
There are numerous great places to meet other beginners such as kiteboarding schools and beaches or Meetup, WhatsApp and Facebook groups. This provides a platform to meet other beginners and practice kiteboarding with them. These groups will give you great opportunities to connect online and chat with fellow kiters before meeting them at the beach on a windy day and to gain valuable knowledge of the area.
6. Practice in safe conditions
For every beginner, it is very important to know the kind of conditions that are safe for learning. You need to know how to read weather forecast to know if the wind will be too strong or too low. If you go to a new spot and you do not feel 100% confident, do not hesitate to ask people around you about potential risks in the area or take a short lesson in order to familiarize with the spot and build confidence.
7. Invest, don’t spend
There are many places to buy kiteboarding equipment. As a beginner, the best way to get a good product is to get good independent advice from your instructor or more experienced kiters. When visiting stores, both physical or online, you will see that most shops have beginner’s packages available which are often cheaper than what you will find buying your gear piece by piece. No matter what you choose, do not simply take what a local shop needs to unload from the last season. Do some research, check online and ask around for the best available prices and offers.
8. Renting vs buying
Before spending $2000 on kite gear, make sure you know how to use it and you do not risk to crash in the trees during your first session. On the flipside, when you have reached a certain level and are sure you like the sport, you should probably think about investing in good kite gear. Rentals can be convenient when you travel and do not want to carry all the equipment, or just want to kite one day or two. Think about it as a car rental. You do not rent cars to learn!
9. Don’t buy the first gear you can find on eBay
eBay is not really the place for beginners as it is always difficult to find out the true worth of the kite. We strongly recommend staying away from eBay whenever you want to buy a kite unless you are a seasoned kiteboarder and you know exactly what to look for in a kite. Every kite listed on there is "great for beginners” but many times, the kite is old and may not have much in terms of the ability to depower the kite or other safety features. Also, kites on eBay may have hidden holes, hidden defaults or stretched outlines, making the kite hard for a beginner to fly. One great way of getting advice on where to buy your setup is going to take lessons and have your coach recommend or an experienced kite friend the best gear suitable for you.
10. Travel as much as you can
Traveling is the real experience of knowing new amazing parts of the globe having perfect kiteboarding conditions. The kite magazines are some of the best places to look for inspiration on your next trip; however, some of the best tips come from local people passionate about kiting or fellow kiters who have been there before. This will inform you about the destination and find out if it is right for your skill level.