Is kiteboarding difficult to learn?
Is kiteboarding easier than windsurfing?
Where can I do it?
How much does the gear cost?
Should I buy a trainer Kite before the lesson?
Is flying a trainer kite a substitute for a lesson?
I have windsurfed for 20 years, will that make me a better kitesurfer?
How long will it take me to learn?
Is kiteboarding fun?
Q.Is kiteboarding difficult to learn?
A.Learning to kiteboard is easier than ever before. We have been teaching kiteboarding now for over twelve years, and it just keeps getting better and better. Our new equipment and new training techniques have made the learning process fun and rewarding . It only requires a modest investment of time and money to get into the sport. This combined with a little patience and motivation is all it takes to be a kiteboarder. Compared to other water/wind-sports kiteboarding is relatively easy to learn. The learning curve compared to windsurfing is faster, and the kiteboarder will be more advanced after their first year. Kiteboarding is harder to learn than wakeboarding, because it is more technical. Remember that Kiteboarding is like learning two sports, Board riding, and kite flying. Kiteboarding is getting easier to learn each year, and is now available to a wider demographic of participants.
Q.Is Kiteboarding easier than windsurfing?
A.Learning to kiteboard is "faster" than learning to windsurf. We like to say that the kiteboarding learning curve is steeper than the windsurfing learning curve. This means that you will learn more in a shorter time. In windsurfing there are several stages of learning, the longboard stage, then the shortboard stage, that requires a waterstart lesson and advanced sail skills. You will begin to learn the harness and footstraps after about one or two months or so. In kiteboarding you will learn the kite flying, harness and footstraps and waterstart in the first few days. There is only one stage, and the basic skills to master. The basic kiteboarding skills can be learned in a week or two and most people will be upwind riding in 6 to 8 weeks.
Q.Where can I do it?
A.You can kiteboard anywhere that you see windsurfers. Kites like medium to strong wind, 10-25 miles per hour, and shallow water a few feet deep (sandy bottom). Generally kiteboarders will like the same wind and weather as windsurfers. Kiteboards get good speed and can do jumps in much lighter wind than most windsurfers because the kite can be more powerful than the windsurfing sails. Kites are also going on the ice and snow, and on land buggies and dirt surfers.
Q.How much does the gear cost?
A.Kiteboard equipment cost less to buy than windsurfing equipment. Kites complete with the bar and lines cost about 950.00 to $1600.00 each depending on their size. Boards cost from 599.00 to 899.00, then you need a harness and jacket for another $150.00. Totaling 2000.00 to $3000.00 new. However now there are many great deals on last years stuff, or packages that come complete for under $1500.00. There is also lots of used gear available, of all conditions an ages. This years kite used may be 30-40 percent less than its new price. And a complete used setup a year or two old may be as low as $600.00 - $1000.00. Beware when buying gear more than 3years old. Never buy kites from before 2006.
Q.Do I need to take lessons?
A.Absolutely, Kiteboarding is a technical sport with a steep learning curve. Like scuba diving, or flying a paraglider, you don't want to take unnecessary risks while learning. Many of the techniques are counterintuitive, and are best learned in a lesson. Because of the huge forces involved you do not want to make costly mistakes. Lessons shorten your learning time and keep you much safer in the process.
Q.Is kiteboarding Safe?
A.Kiteboarding is safer than ever! Since the invention of the sport there has been a lot of attention paid to kite safety. The pioneers of the sport had their fair share of problems as they figured everything out. All kites nowadays come with safety systems as standard equipment. Kites safety systems that allow the rider to release the power, kite leashes and safety training have all contributed to make the sport as safe as possible. In particular the newest kites that have become available in the last few years have the ability to fully depower 100% at any time. This has made the sport much safer than at any other time in the sports history. Two things to keep in mind are, 1) always use the latest gear, that is in good condition, and 2) Make sure you get professional instruction, that includes the proper use of the safety systems. (Of course there will be some people who take unnecessary risks, by not getting lessons or generally not respecting the kite's power).
Q.Can I learn Kiteboarding from watching a video?
A.Definitely not! (but they can help). There have been instructional videos available for as long as there have been kiteboards. And like the equipment the videos too get dated, old and superseded. Watching a few videos before your first lesson will help you to visualize the overall process. Only very few videos or DVD's will have up to date techniques that will stand up to the latest equipment. That is why a lesson with a live instructor is so important.
Q.How about books and DVD's ?
A.Books and DVD's are great homework before and after your lesson. Watching a good instructional DVD before your lesson, and having a good instructional book to refer to after your lesson is great to reinforce what you have learned. Students who watch the DVD before the lesson, learn faster, and progress earlier. Students who read the instructional books after their lessons will have much better retention of the information. This is a real advantage in kiteboarding because people often have a long period after their training before they try their own equipment for the first time.
Q.When should I take a lesson?
A.Take a lesson Before, During and After you purchase your equipment. Take a lesson to see if you like the sport. Doing a single day lesson will give you a taste of what is to come. Most people will know right away if it is right for them. The investment is minimal in a single lesson. Be sure to tell the instructor that you are just trying the sport out. They usually have a "discovery" type program that is light on the technical jargon, but gives you an overview and hands on experience.
If you like the sport you should sign up for a complete course usually up to 3 to 5 more days. Then you will have progressed beyond the beginner equipment and be ready to purchase you own gear. Ask your instructor what gear they recommend. After purchasing your equipment take it back to your instructor and do another lesson on your own gear. New Gear needs to be set up correctly, and adjusted to suit you. You instructor will make sure that you know how to use your new gear correctly. Take as many lessons as you need to feel confident and have all the skills to be independent. Then after you have mastered riding in your local area, you should take a lesson whenever riding a new location for the first time. Hook up with an instructor who is local to the area, and they can show you "where the rocks are", Knowing the local conditions and hazards, and customs will help you enjoy the new location safely without creating problems for yourself and others. Once you turn Pro, don't forget the instructor who helped you get into this great sport. Send your friends to him for lessons, you will be doing them and him a favor.
Q.Where should I take a lesson?
A.Always take a lesson from a certified Instructor. Not all instructors are the same. More than half of all kiteboarding instructors have never received formal training. They put the guesswork back into kiteboarding. The best lesson will come from an experienced and certified instructor that has been professionally trained. There are a network of official schools that offer the best level of professional service. These have been trained in many aspects of safety and teaching protocols and have a proven teaching system. You would not go to an unlicensed doctor for surgery, or a self taught scuba instructor to get training. (Some schools and instructors just say they are certified when they are not). Don't just take their word for it, check out their credentials first. It pays to do your homework and seek out the best instructors possible. Your life is literally in their hands. Do not be tempted to go for a few dollars cheaper lesson to save a few bucks. The certified Instructor has made a big investment in training, certification, and always carries insurance. They are definitely worth every cent when it comes to your safety training.
Q.Should I buy a trainer Kite before the lesson?
A.Sure why not, kites are fun. A good trainer kite will cost between $100. and $200. They should be ram-air (soft) type, with a control bar. They should be used safely away from people and powerlines, and you should start in light winds. You will need a dedicated buddy to run around and relaunch your kite too. Flying any type of kite will help you to understand the wind and kite better. A tow-line delta kite with handles works too. I have even heard of instructors who make their students fly a single line kite before they progress onto the two-line. Trainer kites and kite flying in general is especially good preparation if the water is cold where you live and you are preparing for your lessons that you have booked while on vacation in Hawaii. Trainer kites are also good for young kiteboarders and kids of suitable age. Take care because even a trainer kite can kite your butt, and drag your knees along the grass (ouch!). Be safe and start out in light wind.
Q.Is flying a trainer kite a substitute for a lesson?
A.Definitely Not!!! next question? Trainer kites are no substitute for the larger "traction Kites" that need more respect and control, also when you add the water into the equation it is much more complicated again.
Q.I have windsurfed for 20 years, will that make me a better kitesurfer?
A.Kiteboarding is not windsurfing (snowboarding/ wakeboarding/ etc). These sports have similarities to kiteboarding that will carry over. And the same determination that was required to master these sports will also be required to learn kiteboarding too. Most people who ask this question don't like the idea of being a beginner and learning all over again. But the sooner they put their egos aside and hunker down to the learning process, the sooner they will be out there cruising. Of course a guy with 20 years windsurf experience will do well. It is the same water, the same wind and it is a sailing sport with lots of the same jargon an concepts, but the equipment is different and the techniques used to ride the equipment are different. That is why in a lesson the instructor will take into consideration the previous experiences of the student and focus on the things they don't know, "the Differences". If the student has an open mind they will learn very quickly. If they are resistant to new ideas or wont let go of their ego, they will be in for a rude awakening, or at best a very frustrating experience.
Q.How long will it take me to learn?
A.It takes as long as it takes. Everybody is so different when it comes to kiteboarding, as I said a lot of skills carry over from other sports, So that if a guy is; a surfing/sailing/wakeboarding/paraglider instructor, he will pick up the sport much faster that someone who hasn't ever done a board sport in their life. But as a rough guide, the longer kiteboarding courses are the best place to start. They range from 5 days to two weeks. After the lesson phase is the self training phase, where the student practices what they learned in the lesson and gets water time, this is when they will go from a downwind rider to and upwind rider. This process often takes a month or 10-20 sessions. Don't be too fixated or worried about how long it takes, because you do not want to rush the learning phase. If you put too much pressure on yourself you wont enjoy the process as much as you should. Just be sure to give yourself as much time and patience as you need, and you will breeze through it.
Q.Can I check it out first?
A.Yes you can! We recommend anyone curious about Kiteboarding to do the one-day "Discover kiteboarding" class. You can check out the sport and get an overview of everything from the skills to the gear. You can see how the sport feels for you. After your first session you will be able to get a concept of the sport and how much training you may want to take, then if you like it you can always upgrade to a longer course.!!. Some people will just take the sport day by day, and do several single lessons until they are ready to take the next step.
Q.Is kiteboarding fun?
A.Ask any kiteboarder!! Kiteboarding is heaps of fun and very addictive. Most people I know spent their whole week waiting for their weekend kiteboarding sessions. Most people secretly want to quit their day jobs so that they have more time to kiteboard, quite a few people actually do quit their day jobs and go kiteboarding every day. Then there are a growing number of full-time kiteboarders who do not have any other job. And of course there are the professional kiteboarders who fly around the world following the windy conditions in all the best destinations for at least 9 months of the year.
Q.What is the maximum age that you will teach?
A.The oldest student we have taught is 73!! Kiteboarding lessons can be adapted to just about anyone. We will take into consideration that age and fitness level of a student and recommend a specific lesson program for the individual. Older students will need to take some more time, and some extra lessons to learn. It is quite uncommon for anyone over 65 to take lessons. But most students are in the 35-55 year old category. We will train the body as well as the mind. Usually the more active seniors that are already doing other sports, are the ones that will be able to do kiteboarding. It really depends on the persons fitness and health being appropriate for the activity. Many seniors today do regular exercise and even yoga. Age is just a number, but all students should be realistic about their expectations, and fully disclose any medical conditions or problems that could affect their ability to safely participate in kiteboarding activities.
Q.What is that minimum age for your students?
A.The minimum Age has just been lowered to 9years Old!! The minimum age we were allowed to teach was 12years old. This was because of insurance and our instructor regulations. We have recently introduced a special "teaching Kids to kiteboard" program, which is a special IKO endorsement that your instructors receive after doing a specialized training module. We have small gear just for kids and the program is designed to teach the youngest kids all the skills they will need to become independent kiteboarders. We also teach younger kids to fly the trainer kites, and prepare them for power kiting an sports kite flying. Younger kids can do special kite flying kids classes and join in the action. Call to discuss the different programs for different age kids.
Written by David Dorn first version posted 2005, copyright © 2005-2012 all rights reserved.
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