Kiteboarding will change your life. Once you feel the power of the wind and the rush of flying across the water you’ll get hooked real fast. And then you’ll start saving all your vacation time and money to go to great places like the Outer Banks, North Carolina or Bahia de Salinas, Costa Rica or dozens of other places around the world to kite. Sweet – rip it!!!
Kiteboarding for Beginners – The Importance of Lessons
It’s crucial to take kiteboarding lessons with a qualified instructor who has several different-sized kites and boards. The sport has a big learning curve and a good instructor will teach you a lot: how to properly set up your kite and lines, relaunching a kite after it’s hit the water, staying upwind, safety and self-rescue methods and more. And as soon as the conditions are right (there’s enough wind and it’s blowing in the right direction, ideally side onshore) you have to get out and practice.
I learned how to kite at the Outer Banks of North Carolina. I took five lessons over the course of one week. By my third lesson I was up and riding in one direction and by my fourth lesson I was riding in both directions. I learned how to stay upwind during my fifth lesson.
Reading the Wind
You’ll also have to learn how to read the wind. When we (kiteboarders) say it’s a south wind that means the wind is coming from the south. The best wind direction to kite in is when the wind is hitting the beach at an angle, or side onshore (see pic below). This direction is ideal because it makes it easier to get out and away from the beach once you’re kiting and if something goes wrong you’ll get blown back to the beach.
You can certainly kite in onshore conditions but you’ll have to head upwind immediately to get away from the beach. It’s not a good idea to kite in offshore conditions. If something goes wrong you’ll get blown away from the beach.
Side onshore is the best direction to kite in
Upwind vs. Downwind
You’ll also hear the terms upwind and downwind. If the wind is coming from the north and you’re walking north, into the wind, you’re walking upwind. If you turn around and start walking south, with the direction of where the wind is going, you’re walking downwind.
The amount of wind you’ll need to kite in is determined by several factors: your weight, skill level and gear. I weigh 155 pounds. So with my big board (150 cm wide) and biggest kite (15 meter) I can have a blast in as little as 12 to 15 mph of wind. If I had a foil kite and hydrofoil board I could have fun in even lighter winds (see more on this in Kites and Boards).
I’ve had this wind meter for about 12 years and it still works great (I’ve just had to change the battery a few times). The top number (24) shows the realtime wind speed. The middle number (29) shows what the wind is hitting in the gusts and the bottom number (19) shows the average wind speed. You can also set the meter to show the wind speed in four different modes: kilometers per hour (KMH), knots (KTS), miles per hour (MPH) or meters per second (M/S).
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