Questions on kitesurfing
Clear ideas on what Kitesurfing is? With this article we want to answer the questions that all the non-professionals in this sector are asking about this sport. Sometimes what it seems is not what it actually is …
- Is kitesurfing physically challenging? If by that, you mean do I need to be strong and muscular, the answer is no. When doing this sport all the muscles in your body do come into play: legs, core, shoulders and arms, however the kite’s dragging force is transmitted through the harness, which uses your bodyweight and core muscles to counteract the kites forces. The proof that you dont have to be all muscle is amply demonstrated by the fact that kitesurfing is practised by everyone from children to over 60’s.
- Is kitesurfing dangerous? It used to be. Nowadays, thanks to advanced emergency systems and innovative teaching methods, the dangers associated with this sport have been practically eliminated. However, a teach-yourself approach is highly inadvisable: the dragging force of a badly piloted kite can reach hundreds of kilos, so it risks rising up into the air and crashing down anywhere with the possibility of disaster.
- At what age can you start and for how long can you learn and practise this sport? There is no precise minimum starting age (with the exception of local rules or regulations). There are two factors to consider: the weight of a child (not less than 35 kg) and rider responsibility. Regarding the latter, it is essential to remember that the child will learn to pilot an object, in this case a kite, which could be a danger both to the learner and anybody else around should it not be piloted with due care and caution. Kitesurfing is more technical rather than physical, which explains why the over-60s are still able to enjoy it, although it must be said that as with other sports, learning may be more challenging with age.
- Why choose to learn on a lake rather than in the sea? When choosing where to learn kitesurfing, apart from depending on where you live or how far you want to travel, you must take certain points into consideration. G
enerally speaking, there’s no clear winner between a lake and the sea. There are fantastic seaside and lakeside locations where this sport can be learnt. Fewer waves, fresh water, frequent and constant thermal winds are the certain advantages of a lake; whereas wide beaches and stronger winds are the obvious attractions of the sea. Before making your decision you should think about the distance you’ll have to travel and investigate the pros and cons of the place you’ve chosen.
- How long does it take to become a self-kiter? By definition an autonomous kiter is someone who has: 1) mastered the emergency systems and self-rescue techniques and 2) is able to ride in all directions: upwind, downwind and crosswind. Point 1 can be quickly learnt in just one lesson as the procedures are simple, easy to carry out and easy to remember. Learning times for point 2 vary as they depend very much on individual ability and what teaching methods an instructor follows. Once again I wish to point out that personal ability does not mean physical force but good balance (in order to stay on the board) plus good hand and eye coordination (so as to pilot the kite). Fortunately these two skills can be both easily and quickly improved with the right exercises. Constancy and perseverance are key here, particularly during the early stages of learning. Learning body move comes with practice. As a general rule, don’t trust anyone who says you can learn to kitesurf in 3 lessons. After 3 lessons you’ll certainly be able to appreciate all the aspects of the sport, you’ll log your first metres upwind on the board and be able to decide if this is a sport you’re prepared to dedicate your time and money to. After 6 lessons those who are cut out for kitesurfing will reach their goal and with 10 or so lessons even the less able will become self-kiters.
- What’s the biggest obstacle I have to overcome if I want to be a kiter? The biggest challenge for the beginner is learning to get out of the water with your feet on the board. In seconds a number of moves have to be properly carried out so that you go from a position of “in the water with your feet strapped to the board” to “on the board and out of the water”.
- Will I be able to become a kiter? Anyone can be a kiter. The learning times between the quicker students and those a little slower come down to just a few more lessons.
- Is kitesurfing gear expensive? Thanks to the expansion and increasing popularity of kitesurfing, many people can now afford to buy all the necessary equipment (the kite, board, body harness and lifejacket). If you want to buy new gear, there are two kinds of companies: those who invest time and money in research and development and smaller ones who “copy” other firms products a few years later with varying degrees of success. As a general rule you’ll need tospend about 2,000 Euros in order to buy a complete new set of equipment. I find that there are two sorts of customers who buy new: the kiter who loves trying out and using the latest products on the market regardless of cost and the first time buyer who doesn’t feel knowledgeable enough to evaluate second-hand equipment. To the first I say: “Have fun!”, whereas I advise the second to trust the professionals who have been teaching him or her. Remember a true professional’s advice will be unbiased and sound. Of course, second-hand prices can vary enormously, but if we exclude excessively used equipment ( the material the kite’s made of can tear) and outdated gear (it might not have all the emergency features in use today), the price of a complete kit will be around about 1,000 Euros.
- How do I decide on what equipment I need? There are 2 things to consider when buying equipment:
- Body weight – the more you weigh, the bigger the board and kite.
- The place where you’ll be doing most of your kitesurfing. You need to know the average seasonal wind intensity of your chosen home-spot in order to have the right square footage for your kite and the correct size of board.
And here’s another point – so long as you don’t weigh more than 90 kilos or under 50 kilos and wind conditions are normal (between 13 and 30 knots), board size should be between 135 – 139cm (approximately 1cm for every 10 kilos).
When choosing a kite there are wing shapes for a greater wind range (Delta) than others (C-Kite). Obviously this greater wind range advantage slightly reduces flight performance in comparison with a kite for lower wind ranges. The most important thing, however, is to choose a kite that is easy to re-launch and that has easy-to-activate safety systems. The staff at our centre are always available to help you choose the right kite and board with full respect for your personal choice of brand and price.