“…you will be flying through the air in no time”
How to start Kitesurfing:
- Go for lessons at a reliable kite instructor. Most kite shops will be able to teach you or guide you in the right direction in terms of finding an instructor. The instructor will teach you everything you need to know! They will guide you from your first steps learning about the weather and the kite setup up until your first time up and riding on the board. You can also rent the gear from them until you are ready to buy your own.
- Buy used gear. When you first start out you are going to seriously mess up your gear, particularly your kite. If you can afford to buy the latest gear, then go for it. But most people buy a good quality second hand kite to learn. Once you are confident and know which direction you want to take your riding, then you can buy new gear, if you want, which suits your specific riding ability.
- Persevere. The learning process can be frustrating as everyone learns at a different pace. When I first started out I was so eager to get up on the board that I skipped the crucial “body dragging” step and went straight into the water with my board. It is important to stick to the learning process and go through all the steps; otherwise you may run into problems later on! The learning process can also be scary if you crash your kite and fall onto the sand or in the sea. Keep at it and soon enough you will have learnt the skills to handle anything that comes your way!
- Safety first. This is very important, especially when you are first starting out. If you do not feel confident with your gear or with the conditions, then don’t go out! Do not feel bad if you are missing out on a session because you are unsure of the wind or if the waves are too big for you to handle. Also, don’t be afraid to lose your kite. Your life is far more valuable than your kite so do not be scared to completely release your kite if you are in danger. Rather safe than sorry!
- Be humble. Respect the ocean and the sport. Even if you are experienced in the sea or with other board sports, you still need to stay humble and remember that this is an extreme sport. Often the people out there that are getting hurt are the ones that do not realize or care about the extremeness of the sport. In kitesurfing, it is good to be a little scared every now and then.
…and how NOT to:
- Don’t teach yourself! Kitesurfing is an extreme sport and can be very dangerous if you do not know exactly what you are doing. You cannot learn kitesurfing by watching a YouTube video, asking a friend who kind of knows what he’s doing or just by going out there and trying it out.
- Don’t buy an ancient kite. Don’t buy a kite that is more than a few years old. When buying your first kite, get some help from other kitesurfers to guide you into what a good kite is for you. Kites that are too old are extremely dangerous as they do not have the correct safety features.
- Don’t be a hero. Every Kitesurfer out there remembers what it is like to be a beginner. You crash all the time; your lines get tangled up almost every session. And after just a few minutes of riding you have to do the “walk of shame” to get back to where you started. Also, you look like a dork. You are probably wearing an unattractive seat harness (unfortunately nicknamed a “nappy harness”) and maybe even an impact vest, helmet and a board leash. Your first stage of kitesurfing is the time to suck it up and be humble. This is not the time to be a hero. This is not the time to show off. This is the time to really listen to your instructor. Learn from others and take your time to do it properly. Kitesurfers are really friendly and there is nothing they love more than sharing the stoke! If you are unsure about something, ask another kitesurfer on the beach and they will be more than happy to help you and guide you.
It can be frustrating when you are first learning but if you take the time to do it right, you will be flying through the air in no time with every right to brag about your achievements.
Henry with his youngest student
I asked Kitesurfing instructor, Henry Smith, to share some tips for beginners:
“My most used phrase during teaching is let go of the bar. I also remind my students to keep their hands soft and relaxed. Remember it’s a process and not an event.”
Bonus tip: remember to have fun!