Kiteboards for Beginners – 5 Boards that Will Make You Smile!

Kitesurfing Kites for Beginners – 4 Kites That Won’t Let You DownIn my article “Best Kiteboard for Beginners” I talk about the features you should be looking for in your first kiteboard and explain what effect the different design characteristics have.

The first thing to say about board choice is that virtually any twin-tip is usable, even as a beginner, but there are some features that will make your early days easier.

These are mainly:

Size – The right length and width (i.e surface area) will make it easier to get up and planing in the early days. Don’t go too big. It’ll help for the first few sessions but will limit your progression. But be realistic. My earlier article covers this in more detail.

Profile – Very square edges and tips make early planing and going in a straight line easier but will make the board more difficult to ride in chop and waves, and will make turns and transitions more difficult.

Rocker-line – A reasonable amount of rocker makes the board easier to ride in chop and waves but too much makes early planing more difficult, especially in light winds.

Flex – You want a reasonable amount of flex to make the board more comfortable to ride and land from your first attempts at jumps.

Foot-pads/straps – Should have a good amount of cushioning and be a snug fit to help keep the board attached to your feet. Don’t use boots on your first board, they make it difficult to manouever to the water and also prevent you ditching the board when you have a wipe-out.

When it comes to kite boards for beginners the main thing to look for in the description of a board’s style is “free-ride”. This means the board is an all-rounder, good for flat water, waves, chop, jumps, turns and most tricks.

Don’t confuse this with “free-style” which tends to mean the board is geared toward wake-style tricks and will be a bit too stiff for comfort in chop.

All the boards I’ve featured are great kite boards for beginners and have the right attributes to take you from beginner to advanced rider. As you progress and get a feel for the types of riding you prefer you may well buy other boards for different styles.

If there’s one item of your kit that you can afford to save money on it’s your first board. They’re hard-wearing and a few scrapes and scratches won’t affect the performance.

The main part that can fail is the footstraps. If they haven’t been rinsed regularly they can perish and give way when you’re out on the water.

If you want to buy second-hand, leave a bit of info in the comments box and I’ll help you find something suitable.

But great boards can be bought new at very reasonable prices, especially if a retailer is selling off last year’s model to make way for the next version.

I made the mistake of buying a massive light wind board as my first. Whilst it was easy to get up and moving on it, within a couple of sessions, especially in stronger winds, it was too big to control.

The next board I bought, a Nobile T5 (or rather the second one – the first disappeared out to sea off Cape Verde – another story) still comes with me every time I go to the beach. I don’t always use it but only because I’m playing with a new board with more advanced characteristics. But I definitely haven’t outgrown it.

The boards I’ve featured will all give you the same years of use as I’ve had from my T5’s.

Here I’ve chosen 5 boards that I know will take you from your first tentative steps to a fairly advanced level.

I’ve also provided links to eBay pages where these boards can be bought new as I’ve found that eBay has the best selection at the best prices. Have a browse to get an idea of the prices.

Nobile T5

I have to be honest, I love this board, but that’s because it’s seen me from my very early stages right through to where I am 18 years later, and is a great all-round board.

The main features are:

Dynamic flex – the board is designed stiffer at the centre with progressively more flex towards the tips.

This makes early planing easy but means the board is very comfortable in chop and waves. The flex at the tips makes it very forgiving in hard landings from jumps.

It also gives it great”pop” – a term you’ll soon understand when you start to get airborne!

Light weight – It is light and feels it. This makes it easier to plane in light winds and has the effect of making you feel connected with the water surface. It also helps with big air jumps.

Wavy bottom channels – Very subtle concave channels on the bottom surface keep the board going in the direction you want and make up-wind travel a lot easier.

Asymmetric profile – The back “heelside” edge is longer than the front “toeside” edge. The longer heelside makes planing quicker and helps with upwind riding. The shorter toeside edge makes turns and toeside riding a dream.

T5 Wmn (Woman) version – It comes in a women’s version with smaller footpads/straps, more closely spaced and a slightly different profile, more suited to women/girls.

Browse on eBay

Crazyfly Allround

A great board that lives up to its name. And new prices are very competitive too.

The main features are:

Soft flex – The board has dynamic flex, which makes it comfortable to ride and jump and gives it a reasonable amount of “pop”.

Single concave channel – From 2017 models onwards the formerly flat bottom was re-designed with a single concave channel. This helps with direction and upwind performance.

Upgraded footpads from 2017 onwards – The new footpads have nice heel indents and a small toe ridge that makes it comfortable and snug-fitting.

Browse on eBay

Cabrinha Spectrum

A great all-rounder with much of the basic DNA of more expensive boards from the Cabrinha line-up, without the cost.

Great footpads/straps available in the H20 pads option that have a choice of base pads so you can choose softer or firmer feel.

A board that will see you from beginner to intermediate although the trade-off between flex and stiffness limits the “pop” very slightly in favour of ride comfort. Most beginners to intermediates wouldn’t notice this to be honest.

The main features are:

Soft flex – Provides great ride comfort and means it handles choppy conditions nicely. Makes landings very forgiving.

Single concave bottom – Keeps the board going in the direction you point it and tracks it upwind a treat. Compensates nicely for more rounded profile.

Rounded profile and corners – Makes turns, transitions and toeside riding quick and comfortable and also helps with riding through waves and chop.

H20 Footpads/straps – Offer great comfort and feel secure under-foot without having to be so tight that it’s difficult to get your feet out in a wipe-out.

Browse on eBay.

Liquid Force Drive

Designed specifically for kiters wanting to progress from beginner to intermediate level this board is a great combination of value for money and useability.

It has a good amount of flex, which makes riding in chop and small waves easy and also helps with learning to jump. The high degree of flex helps absorb the impact of heavy landings.

The main features are:

Soft flex – makes for comfortable, forgiving riding in chop and great for learning to jump.

Single concave bottom – keeps the board moving forward and tracking upwind.

Choice of footpads/straps – If you can, go for the Pro-pads. They have nice heel concaves and raise instep and toe ridge to help keep your feet firmly in place.

All the pads come in a choice of S/M or L/XL.

Browse on eBay

Duotone Gonzales

Duotone’s (formerly North) entry level board, aimed firmly at beginners aspiring to progress.

Great build quality and plenty of flex to make for comfortable riding in chop.

The Gonzales also incorporates an innovation pioneered by Duotone, torsional flex, which means the board can twist slightly along its length, a feature designed to keep just the right amount of edge in contact with the water, which is great for early planing and upwind riding.

Main features:

Soft-flex – Makes the board comfortable to ride in chop. Also has more flex at the tips to help with riding into chop and waves and to absorb impact on landing from jumps.

Single concave bottom – Keeps the board tracking in the right direction and helps with upwind performance.

Rounded profile – To help with turns and transitions. This also helps with riding in waves and chop.

Browse on eBay

Contact us for Advice

As I’ve mentioned, all of these boards have been chosen for their great all-round performance and forgiving ride characteristics. You won’t be disappointed with any of them. There are of course many similarly suitable boards available from most manufacturers, but look out for boards that have similar features to these ones.

A lot of the process of choosing the right board for you comes down to how much experience you’ve had when you buy and also the direction you expect to take your future kiting, whether you’ll be boosting large (that’s big jumps), free-riding or just getting out in whatever conditions you find.

And if you need advice on kites check out my article Kitesuring Kites for Beginners.

So please leave a question below and I’ll happily point you toward the right board for you.

Affiliate disclosure:   As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases, and, as the owner of this website I may also receive a small commission for any purchase you make as the result of clicking a link

Kitesurfing Kites for Beginners – 4 Kites That Won’t Let You Down

If you’ve read my article “A Guide to Best Kites for Beginners” you’ll have a good insight into the different types of kite design and how they might affect the choice of kitesurfing kites for beginners.

Firstly, kite design and manufacture has come a long way over the years, and there aren’t many “bad” kites out there in terms of quality if you buy fairly recent models (say, less than 3 years old).

Secondly, there really isn’t any such thing as an out and out beginner kite. Most hybrid kites will see you through your early learning stages and then remain suitable for a long time after that.

As you progress you’ll decide for yourself what style, or more likely styles, of kiting you prefer or simply are more likely to do because of your local conditions.

I’ve assumed you’ve had a few lessons already and are reasonably comfortable with controlling a kite.

So the kites I’ve chosen to feature here are ones that will see you through the next early days, of putting what you’ve learned into practice and then onwards for a good time, if not years afterwards.

I’ve pulled together my own experience of some of these kites along with the views of fellow experienced kiters, including qualified instructors.

There are other kites out there that are great quality and good for beginners. However, I’ve chosen to recommend only those kites I have direct knowledge of from using them myself and/or from my discussions with kiters I know and trust.

My experience of trawling the on-line market for new and used kitesurfing equipment is that the best selection is to be found on eBay, where there is often a good selection last year’s models on sale at good discounts.

I’ve included links to take you direct to the relevant pages and I’d recommend you take a look to compare the prices of the various kites I’m featuring.

If you’d like advice on any others you might be looking at feel free to post a question below or email me at adrian@kitemadworld.com.

All of these kites are user friendly and have all the attributes that you’ll want as a beginner/intermediate kiter:

Stability

Depower

Easy re-launch

Good safety system

Strong build quality (i.e. thrashability!)

You won’t be disappointed with any of these kites so the choice will come down to availability, budget, and possibly how ambitious you are in terms of progression as most will see you right through to advanced level kiting.

My Featured Kitesurfing Kites for Beginners – And on into Intermediate to Advanced Kiter:

Cabrinha Switchblade

Cabrinha has been around since the very first pioneering stages of kitesurfing and the switchblade is in its 12th year of production.

It’s renowned for its versatility and ease of use. Will take you from your early stages to wherever you want to go after that, whether it’s massive big air jumps, free-ride, or wave riding.

The Switchblade is a hybrid bow (although getting close to a hybrid C in terms of its profile. Although not a delta kite it has very narrow wing tips  that give it many of the advantages of a delta, particularly ease of water relaunch.

There’s plenty of de-power and when the QR (Quick Release) is fired, it’ll drop gently to the edge of the window, completely de-powered.

Extremely stable in the air, this kite won’t give you any nasty surprises in lulls and gusts.

Great wind range, so although 3 kites is optimum, depending on your size and weight, a combination of 7m/10 or 11M or 8m/11 or 12m will get you out most days.

Cabrinha Switchblade

There are a range of control bar options from Cabrinha, but I would keep it simple (and less expensive) and go for either the fixed length 1X Trimlite with Quickloop option or the slightly pricier Overdrive 1X with Trimlite and Quickloop which is adjustable in length so will be suitable for all sizes of kite.

The fixed length bar comes in 3 sizes, 44cm, 52cm and 60cm. the 52cm would be suitable for all the above kite sizes although the adjustable bar or additional 44cm bar would be more suited if you’re going for the smaller 7m kite.

Both bars have “above the bar” trim systems which means the trim strap is out of the way of the chicken loop and quick release, my preferred option.

There are currently a good selection of new Switchblades on eBay:

Browse on ebay

Slingshot RPM

Slingshot have always been renowned for top quality construction and materials, so whilst they come at a higher price than some competitors, they will take pretty much any amount of thrashing you’re likely to throw at them. so re-sale value is always good.

The RPM is a Hybrid Open C type kite, which means it has a lot of the direct feel qualities of a C kite but with the benefits, in terms of wind-range and de-power of a more bow profiled kite.

I’m currently using an 8m RPM and I find I’m powered up when my buddies are on bigger kites, but still in control when other kiters are heading back to change down a size.

The Open-C profile gives this kite a pretty fast turning speed so as a kite for beginners it means you need to be aware of what you’re doing with the control bar. But once you get used to that it’s great to know the kite will go exactly where you want to send it, and it makes it easy to work the kite to generate a bit more power in wind lulls.

The de-power is excellent. Let go of the bar and the kite drifts safely to the edge of the window and sits there till you want to power up again. And if it ends up in the drink, a tug on one side of the bar brings it to the edge ready to re-launch easily.

So, although a little less forgiving than a more bow-shaped kite, this kite will see you through from beginner to whatever advanced stages you want to head to.

Slingshot offer two fixed length bars, both of which come in either 17″, 20″ or 23″ lengths. The Compstick Sentinel has above the bar trim control, whilst the Guardian has it’s trim adjustment below the bar in the chicken loop system.

I personally prefer the Sentinel, with above the bar trim as it keeps it out of the way of the QR. I have used both and find the below the bar trim takes a bit more concentration to ensure you don’t fire the QR inadvertently when you’re trying to adjust the trim.

However, if you have a shorter reach then I can see how the Guardian, below the bar, system could be more user friendly.

The 20″ bar works with the mid-range kite sizes but if you go down to a 7m or smaller you’d be better with the shorter bar, and the 23″ bar would be more suited to 11m or bigger.

I’ve checked out the on-line market for new RPM’s and as is often the case with kitesurfing gear, the best selection is on Ebay:

Browse RPMs on ebay

Slingshot Compstick Sentinel

 

Slingshot RPM

 

 

 

 

Duotone (Formerly North) Evo.

North Kiting has been around since the beginning of time or at least, the only time that matters….the start of kitesurfing!

They re-branded the Kiting division in 2018 to “Duotone” although the kite design names have remained the same. So you can still pick up old stock North Evo’s or, obviously, second hand ones.

There have been the inevitable design tweaks that happen every year, but either brand name of the Evo is a great kite and anything up to 3 or 4 years old will be a good buy (subject to it’s condition of course..

The Evo is a hybrid bow, although erring on the C profile rather than a big open bow shape and is Delta shaped.

Renowned for it’s stability, ease of re-launch and great wind-range this kite will not restrict your progress to intermediate and advanced kiting and is a great all-rounder (as with all the kites featured here).

Duotone have 2 bars available:

The Trust Bar, which is a traditional fixed length bar, although there are “flip-flop” bar ends which lengthen or shorten the bar slightly. It has an easy to use, above the bar trim arrangement.

The Click-Bar. This is an innovation unique to Duotone in terms of trimming system.

Rather than the traditional arrangement of a trim strap and cleat, where you pull in or release the trim strap to shorten or lengthen the front lines, the Click-Bar has a switch on the bar end that you swivel to shorten the rear lines (increase power) or press to lengthen them (decrease power).

This makes it incredibly easy to adjust the trim on the move and takes away the problem that kiters with a smaller reach (shorter arms) sometimes have with above the bar systems. This comes at a price, but if you can stretch to the Click-Bar it’s worth it.

Just a word of warning if you’re buying second-hand – the early 2017 (North Click-Bar) versions had a tendency to wear out the lines where they feed into the internal winding system. Although an up-grade to plastic coated lines was made available, better to go for new or 2018 onward models.

Both bars come in M or S sizes. The M would be suitable in both bars for kites 8m and upwards, so if your smallest kite is going to be 7m then you should consider having 2 bars.

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with the traditional Trust Bar if you don’t want to pay out another £200 or so for the Click-Bar.

Duotone Clickbar

Duotone Evo

Link to ebay page

F-One Bandit

The F-One Bandit was the original Delta C kite and is now also in it’s 12th year of production. Each year comes with a different roman numeral number, so it’s easy to work out how old a second hand offering is.

The 2019 model is the Bandit XII, although the next model, already out now has been named the Bandit 2020 and F-One have brought out an alternative kite designed mainly for wave-riding, The Bandit S.

So if you’re going for the brand new model you should be looking at the 2020, not the S.

Although I’ve previously advised that a C kite is not suitable for beginners, this is a hybrid C, with a bridle and like the other C biased kites already featured, is more than suited to an ambitious beginner.

The Bandit is renowned for great wind range and you’ll often see Bandit owners fully powered on a 9m when everyone else is on 11 or 12m kites.

This power range comes from the deep Delta shaped canopy and bias towards C-shape. But don’t be put off by this.

As kites for beginners go this one has all the de-power, safety and ease of re-launch you need.

It sits easily through gusts and lulls and won’t give you any nasty surprises.

But when you get to the stage of wanting to boost big jumps and other tricks, it’s zippy turning speed and deep canopy offers years of fun and progression.

F-One’s bar offering is the Linxbar which comes in 2 main sizes, both adjustable, the 52/45cm and 45/38cm. There’s a 3rd size designed mainly for the S model a 42/35cm bar.

The bar is simple and functional, with above the bar de-power and all the features, like comfort and ease of safety and trim, that you’ll need.

A word of warning if you’re buying second-hand. Whilst the early Bandits were great kites, with all the flying  attributes of the newer models, they did have a tendency to turn through the lines in the water, causing problems trying to re-launch.

Enhanced design features on everything from the Bandit VII onwards have eliminated this problem, so stick to kites no older than about 5 years old – good advice anyway when buying any kite secondhand.

Browse new and used Bandits on ebay

F-One Bandit XII

 

Reviews and Independent Advice

The kitesurfing community loves to share it’s views and opinions and there are some great reviews available. Don’t always rely on the product descriptions given by manufacturers as they are all vying for a place in the market. That said, do follow their advice on the appropriate bar and lines to go with your chosen kite.

If you’re looking at second-hand kit on-line feel free to ask my opinion either via the comments box below or by emailing me at adrian@kitemadworld.com. Let me know what stage you’re at, what kind of budget you have and a bit about your size and weight and I’ll be happy to suggest some kites currently available on the second-hand market and pick some out that I believe would suit you.

Always happy to help!

Affiliate disclosure:   As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases, and, as the owner of this website I may also receive a small commission for any purchase you make as the result of clicking a link

About Us

How I Got Hooked (literally) On Kitesurfing

Back in 2002, as a fanatical windsurfer then, I went on a road trip through France and Spain to the European Mecca for wind sports, Tarifa, on the most southerly tip of Spain.

By that stage I was only interested in windsurfing on my tiny custom wave board, which needed force 5 minimum to get planing.

Unfortunately the usual Tarifa winds didn’t show up in enough force for me to get much windsurfing action.

But, while I was struggling to make any headway, I spotted kites in the distance blasting around the bay.

It was only the second time I’d seen anyone kitesurfing (the first time being a year earlier in Barbados), and decided it was time to look into it.

In the pre-internet days it was difficult to find anywhere that I could get to grips with the relatively new sport of kitesurfing. But a year later I discovered Torquay Kite School and had a weekend’s lessons as a birthday present.

So I had a weekend there  getting dragged round Torbay behind a kite, under the instruction of the “Kite Doctor” Andre Shorland.

It was too windy for him to let me and the other 2 learners loose on boards and it was all done from the back of his tiny RIB in deep water.

But that was it! That first experience of body dragging and being launched out of the water was enough.

To quote Andre -“Forget windsurfing  (they’re pole dancers), kitesurfing’s truly 3 dimensional!”.

On the last day of the weekend I got the credit card out and bought enough kit from Andre to carry on learning back at my home beaches. And in this sport you never stop learning!

I found a group doing it enthusiastically round North Wales, based around a shop called Turbulence (sadly now gone), and with their help, and guidance from people I just met at the beach, got up and running.

I’ve been kitesurfing ever since and experienced this great sport’s progression from a niche pastime pursued by a few enthusiastic loonies to something accessible to a growing number of water sports lovers.

Sharing the Experience

Kitesurfing has evolved massively and dynamically during the few years I’ve been enjoying it, encompassing a range of disciplines, and a huge choice of equipment.

Kitesurfing can be enjoyed now by anyone with a reasonable level of fitness, and progress can be made very quickly from a novice “newbie” to competent kiter or even sponsored professional within quite a short period.

The number of locations around the world with kite schools and kite friendly beaches is growing year-on-year and, as it becomes more visible, more people are having a go and taking up the sport each year.

I personally have benefited massively from being around some of the pioneers of the sport like Andre the Kite Doctor, the Jones Brothers from Turbulence and their semi and fully professional following of kiters.

But even more so I’ve learnt from the shared experience of my regular kite buddies and other people I’ve met when I’ve kited around our fantastic coastline in the UK and at some beautiful locations around the world.

It’s wonderful to see the sport I love being enjoyed by so many newcomers, but it can sometimes be daunting for someone new to know where to start.

There’s a lot of information out there and the range of kit on offer can be overwhelming. It’s very easy to blow a lot of money on gear that may be inappropriate for someone new to the sport. But the great thing is, you can get going on a very limited budget if you know what to look for.

That’s where Kite Mad World can help!

The Go To Place For Advice

At Kite Mad World we pull together advice on starting up in the sport, not just from me, I’m just an enthusiastic amateur, but from people with a wealth of experience, who’ve often learnt the hard way what the pitfalls are.

We also offer shared advice for the more experienced kiter on kit, locations, technique and everything else that goes with an ever-changing sport.

If you ever need a hand or have any questions, feel free to leave them below and I will be more than happy to help you out.

Finally….Surf’s up Dude, let’s get out there!

Adrian
kitemadworld.com

Kiteboarding for Beginners

If you’ve already seen kite boarders in action a lot of this will be obvious, but if you’ve only seen them at a distance, as I did the first time, it’ll give you enough of an insight to hopefully want to find out more and have a go.

Kiteboarding for beginners can be a bit mystifying and I often get asked what kitesurfing or kiteboarding is by people when I tell them what I do. So here I’ll describe the basics of what it is, how it evolved, and some of the different disciplines within the sport currently.

Kiteboarding Basics – What is Kiteboarding?

Many of us still call it “kitesurfing”, probably because the early pioneers of the sport mainly came from the windsurfing and surfing community on the West coast of France and the Hawaiian Islands.

However, “kiteboarding” is really a more accurate description of the sport, as you don’t need surf, it can be done on flat water, waves, snow, or on a land board.

But the essential ingredients are a large steerable kite, which is steered by the rider to generate forward or upward pull, and a board, which the rider stands on or is attached to.

Sounds pretty out of control?

Well it was in the early days, but it very quickly developed so that the kite can now be accurately steered and powered or de-powered by the rider, using the control bar, which steers and powers the kite by pulling left or right or backwards and forwards. A lot more of this is covered in more detail in other posts though.

The rider is normally (although not always) attached to the power lines of the kite via a harness worn round the waist. This takes most of the strain away from the rider’s arms, directing the pull of the kite down through the rider’s body to the board to create the forward or upward movement that looks (and feels) so impressive.

A Brief History of Kiteboarding

In the late 1970s two brothers, Bruno and Dominique Legaignoux, based on the Atlantic coast of France, began experimenting with kites as a means of propelling riders on surf-type boards.

In 1984 they patented the first kite with an inflatable leading edge to help keep its shape and to aid relaunching the kite from the water. They have continued to be involved in the development of the sport through their brand Wipika.

At the same time developers in the USA were experimenting with kites to pull a rider in a 3 wheel buggy.

The sport really started to develop in the late 1990s when it was embraced by professional windsurfers including Laird Hamilton and Robby Naish, from the windsurfing scene on Maui in the Hawaiian Islands.

These guys were really risking life and limb with out of control kites and none of the safety systems modern kites have, and I believe we owe them a real debt of gratitude for pushing the boundaries to create a sport we can all now enjoy.

Robby Naish pioneer

Robby Naish, Kitesurfing Pioneer.

 

Windsurfing companies Naish, Cabrinha, and Neil Pryde really started to drive the sport forward, experimenting with kite, board and control system designs.

At the same time, Bruno Legaignoux in France started marketing the first kite which has been the basis of most kite designs today, with a structure of inflated leading edge and struts and a bridle system of lines to control the shape and performance of the kite.

By 1998 the sport was starting to become available to the adventurous watersports enthusiast, and the first competitions were being held in Maui.

Early depower and safety release systems were starting to make kiteboarding less of a “hang on and hope for the best” affair!

And it was probably these innovations that helped kiteboarding to start becoming more mainstream and accessible to people like myself who had a day job and couldn’t afford weeks off work with broken or dislocated limbs!

That said, it can still be considered an “extreme” sport, although how extreme is very much in the hands of the rider.

Kiteboarding Styles

There have always been a range of “disciplines”, although that’s probably not a great word for something with so few boundaries! I’ll mention a few here, although this site is aimed mainly at the water-based varieties of kiting:

Wave Riding – As the title implies, this is the art of using the kite to propel the rider (and ideally his or her board too) out to the back of waves so that they can then ride the waves surfer-style.

It tends to involve a larger board that looks very similar to a traditional surf board, although smaller.

The kites used tend to be smaller than for other disciplines so that the rider can lose some of the power when he or she catches the wave and then powers up again to ride back over the wave and catch it again, or cruise around looking for the next one.

The larger board allows for a smaller kite as it is more buoyant and starts moving sooner than a smaller board. This relationship between board and kite size is pretty common throughout the different styles of kite boarding. Wave boards can be used with or without foot straps.

Riding-the-big-one

waveriding

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Twin-tip kiting – This is probably the most common type of kiteboarding today, although there are various styles and it also depends on location.

Areas that have predominantly good wave conditions will see a larger proportion of wave-riders.

A twin tip board is generally symmetrical and roughly rectangular in shape. It has straps or “bindings” (more on this in other posts) which keep the rider’s feet attached to the board.

These boards can be ridden in either direction, so the rider doesn’t have to move their feet around to go the opposite way.

There is a wide variety of different twin-tip designs with different lengths, widths, profile and “rocker” shapes (whether the board is flat or curves upwards slightly at the ends). Stiffness and/or flex also provide different performance characteristics.

There are a range of different twin-tip riding styles:

Free Riding – Pretty much as it implies, this involves a combination of different riding styles, from cruising around on flat water to catching waves, jumping and performing tricks, both on the water and in the air.

This is probably the style that could describe most recreational kiters, although often we’ll vary our style (and kit) depending on the location, conditions or the mood that takes us.    

free-riding

 

Wake-style – Adopts many of the skills from wakeboarding, where a boat or overhead line is used to pull the rider, except that the boat is replaced by a kite.

Boards tend to be smaller and the riders feet will be attached firmly to the board with bindings or fixed boots.

The emphasis is on fast, explosive low aerial tricks carried out on flat water. In recent years fixed obstacles, rails and ramps (“kickers”), have been introduced to spice up this style of riding.                                                                  wake-style-kitesurfer

Big air – Does this need me to explain!?

It’s all about big, bigger, and massive jumps. Height reached, distance covered and time in the air.

This style was sort of sidelined for a while and considered “old school” by the new kids on the block (am I showing my age and bias here?), but has had a resurgence with the development of electronic measuring devices that allow the rider to post their achievements on-line and share them with their wider kiting community.

An apt summary of the obsession with big air is in the mantra “Go big or go home”

 

Foil-boarding or “Foiling” – foil-boardingHas taken kiteboarding into a new dimension! Foil boards are slightly bigger than a twin-tip and smaller than a wave board, but under the board is a long fin or post with a horizontal wing, the hydrofoil.

Once sufficient forward speed is gained, the foil creates lift, very much like an aircraft wing and the board rises out of the water so that the rider is almost riding on air.

A great benefit of foiling is the greatly reduced drag, as the only things in contact with the water are the foil and very thin, aerodynamic post.

Foiling is a relatively recent innovation and suited more to advanced kiters, but when mastered allows the rider to achieve faster speeds in lighter winds, and is a completely different experience.

Where and How to Start Kiteboarding

So, if you knew nothing about kiteboarding before, apart from maybe keen curiosity, hopefully I’ve given you enough to be interested in having a go!

But where to start, and how?

DON’T be tempted to just go and buy some kit and teach yourself!

Firstly, kitesurfing for beginners is a very steep learning curve, once you master the basics, you can progress very quickly.

But, the basics are extremely important to get right – there’s a lot going on – firstly you need to master flying and controlling a kite that has the power to pull you at speeds of 20-60 knots!

Secondly you need to know what to do if it goes wrong. Even the most experienced kiters can get into trouble – after all, you’re harnessing the powers of wind, water and speed, and all can be unpredictable at times.

Thirdly, once you’ve mastered the kite, you need to learn how to control and steer the board and go where you want, rather than just being dragged off downwind!

None of these points is meant to scare or put you off having a go. BUT unlike other watersports it is vital to get lessons from a qualified instructor, who will use suitable equipment and teach you how to be safe.

Kiting is a potentially dangerous sport, particularly in the hands of somebody not equipped with the basic skills and awareness of the risks.

You wouldn’t do a parachute jump without being trained first! The same is true of kiteboarding.

The great news is that there are plenty of qualified instructors around most kiting locations, and they will all offer introductory “taster” lessons so that you can find out, with their expert guidance, what it’s all about and if it’s for you. All the kit will be provided (apart from a willing student – that’s where you fit in).

And it’s surprising how in just 3 or 4  lessons a complete beginner can be making their first tentative runs backwards and forwards.

At that point you’ll probably be hooked, as I was, and want to buy your first set of gear and go out and practice your new found skills and emulate the guys and girls you’ll see blasting around and throwing amazing tricks.

A fantastic way to progress really quickly if your partner/family/wallet will allow, is to combine a beach holiday with kiting lessons in any of the great kiting holiday destinations.

A week or two getting out most days in perfect conditions is the perfect way to move from absolute beginner to competent kiteboarder, well on their way to years of kiteboarding enjoyment (and obsession).

Interested? Okay – read on!

So now you have a little insight into what kiteboarding’s about, where it came from and where it might take you (and me) in the future.

in other articles I’ll take you through the nitty gritty of the sport – how the different elements work, how to find the right kit for you, at the right price, some of the terminology (and oh we kiters love our terminology!), and where to go to get started.

I hope you found this helpful but love to get feedback. So please leave any comments or questions below or feel free to email me on adrian@kitemadworld.com.

See you at the beach!

Adrian.

Learning How to Kiteboard

So, you’ve seen people kiteboarding at a beach, on holiday, TV or maybe YouTube. The fact you’re looking at sites like this is great! Research is good, it means you’ve got an idea what it’s all about before you take the plunge and start spending time and money.

But now you want to start learning how to kiteboard. There are basic steps that should be followed to get you safely to the point where you can go down to the beach with your own kit and start progressing

Get a Trainer Kite

This step isn’t strictly necessary but will mean that when you start investing in lessons you’ll already have an idea how a power kite works and the basics of steering a kite round the sky to generate pulling power. It’s also amazing fun!

A trainer or land kite is smaller than a water kite and a lot simpler (and cheaper). Generally speaking a good size range is somewhere between 2 to 4 square meters (a typical water kite will be between 6 and 14 square meters).

The size you choose will depend on your weight and the wind strength you’ll typically be using it in.

As an example, I weigh about 85 kilos and when I was starting I used a 2.5m kite. This had enough power in a reasonably strong breeze (15+ knots) to drag me along the beach on my backside – Fantastic fun, but  get a pair of tough and expendable trousers!

But joking aside, this is a great way to experience how a power kite can be used to propel you along.

You can miss this stage out but it just means that more of your first few lessons will be spent learning the basics of kite flying. And, at £30+ an hour for lessons, the cost of the trainer kite soon becomes a good investment.

It’s also good fun in the future and a good way to pass the time on the beach when it’s not quite windy enough to get out on the water.

If you feel a bit more adventurous you could use it in conjunction with a skateboard.

Trainer kite and skateboard

Get Some Board Time In

Again, not strictly necessary, especially if you’ve already had experience surfing, wakeboarding, snowboarding, skateboarding or windsurfing, and to be honest, I didn’t do it because I’d been windsurfing for years already.

But if you haven’t been on a board before and you have the opportunity to learn some basic board skills at a cable park or wakeboarding, this will set you up well for when you start having lessons.

The board skills involved in wakeboarding are very similar to those you’ll use in kiteboarding.

Combining a land board (basically a large skateboard with bigger wheels) with a trainer kite is an ideal way to get some groundwork in before you have lessons.

Get Lessons

I’ll say it again – Get Lessons!

This is the only safe way of learning to kiteboard.

There are many watersports activities where you can borrow some kit and just have a go. But kiteboarding is a potentially dangerous sport if you don’t know what you’re doing.

And no matter how much research you’ve done beforehand, or whether you’ve practiced with a trainer kite, you won’t be safe with a full size water kite until a qualified instructor tells you so.

A loose kite on it’s own can easily take out innocent by-standers. But if you’re attached to it and getting dragged down the beach towards obstacles such as rocks, trees, boats etc it ain’t going to end well!

There are a lot of elements to learn – understanding wind direction, setting up the kite and lines, safety systems, controlling the kite, self rescue, rules of the water, avoiding other water users. And that’s before you get going on a board.

A qualified instructor will take you through this step by step in a safe environment and with appropriate equipment.

Here in the UK we have the British Kitesurfing Association (BKSA) and the main international organisation is the International Kiteboarding Organisation (IKO). Both have a thorough accreditation process for instructors, including training skills, safety and first aid training.

Look out for these letters when you’re seeking out an instructor or kite school. There may be others in some countries but check it out first. Both the BKSA and IKO have great websites with a register of instructors and locations.

Most instructors or schools offer taster courses where you can get a feel for what it’s about without committing to a whole course of training.

The main focus of your initial lessons will be setting up the kite and lines, trimming it, the safety release systems on kites, kite launching and landing and how to steer the kite through the “wind window” to generate power or lose it.

You’ll also be taught how to re-launch the kite if it lands on the water, body-dragging – the art of using the kite to pull you through the water without a board, a crucial skill to enable you to retrieve your board when you get separated from it.

You’ll also learn how to pack down the lines in the water and use the kite to float you back to safety if things go wrong.

Once you’ve got the basic kite skills sorted out you’ll be ready to make your first attempts to get up on the board and making your first short runs. And importantly you’ll start learning how to direct the board and get upwind, so that you can get back to roughly where you started.

The first time you get up on the board and riding tentatively along, probably for 100 meters, will be one of the most satisfying feelings you’ve had and it’s worth persevering with. It’s surprising how, once you nail this bit, you’ll soon be progressing to longer runs, turning and going where you want to.

How many lessons it takes before you can safely go out on your own will depend on previous  experience, and your own ability to take on new concepts.

But patience is a virtue at this stage and will set you up well for the future. Probably the bare minimum to be reasonably safe is 6 hours of lessons, but it can be a lot more.

Take your instructor’s advice on whether you have reached a stage where you can go it alone and don’t be ashamed to go back for more lessons after you’ve had the chance to practice on your own.

safe hands

 

Buy Some Kit

Okay, so now you’ve had lessons. You’ve got the basics to a level where your instructor has advised that you can go and start progressing on your own.

Time to spend some money!

How much kit you need will change as you progress and decide whether you want to pursue a particular discipline, and depending on whether you want to get out in a wide range of wind strengths (trust me, once you’re hooked, you will – the first apps on my phone are wind forecasts and tide times).

The kit you’ll need is covered in another post, Kitesurfing Equipment for Beginners.

Get Advice!

Your instructor is a good place to start. They can advise you on what size kites are appropriate to your body weight and strength and what size board to get.

Find a Beach!

Once you’ve got some kit, find a beach where kiters hang out and get down there. Talk to the locals and tell them you’re a newbie, you’ll be surprised what a friendly bunch we are!

They’ll tell you what the local rules are, any restrictions on where you can kite, any hazards, and which wind directions and states of the tide are best for that location.

Most importantly, they’ll look out for you and help you with any techniques you need to master.

A great way to endear yourself to your new buddies is to offer to launch and land their kites, and they’ll do the same for you.

We’ve all been at the beach when someone turns up with “all the gear and no idea”, and we’ve all been that person ourselves once! But if you’re open and honest it will stand you in great stead.

If you turn up, say nothing, launch your kite and straight away get yourself in trouble, you’ll only attract at best ridicule or at worst a good kicking!

Practice, Practice, Practice!

Be patient. There’s a lot going on when you learn anything new and you might struggle with some of the new techniques.

If you’re struggling with anything in particular, like getting up on the board, riding upwind (typical problems we all went through), ask for advice, or consider another lesson.

But time on the water and perseverance will speed up your progress massively.

Don’t be hard on yourself. You know how to fly a big scary kite! That makes you a kiter, so be proud of yourself.

Board skills are like riding a bike, you’ll fall off a lot at first, and until you master riding upwind you’ll end up at “Bozo Beach” and have to walk back upwind, but once you have it your progress will sky rocket.

Smile!

Smile

Kiteboarding is so exhilarating that whatever else is going on in your life, you’ll forget it while you’re out on the water.

Smile, whoop whoop, holler!

I hope this has given you some helpful guidance on learning to kiteboard and how to go about getting started.

In other posts you’ll find advice on the kit you’ll need and ways to find it at the right price.

Feel free to leave a comment on this post or email me if you have any questions on adrian@kitemadworld.com.

Kitesurfing Equipment for Beginners

Kitesurfing equipment for beginners can seem daunting, there’s so much available both new and used. Buying the wrong kit can be an expensive and even dangerous mistake. So here we’ll look at the basic equipment you’ll need and how to go about finding the right gear at the right price for you.

By this stage you have hopefully read my post “Learning How to Kiteboard” and taken the first steps to becoming a fully fledged kiteboarding addict!

So you’ve had some lessons from a qualified instructor and have achieved a level where you can control a full size water kite and are reasonably competent with using the safety release systems and self rescue techniques.

You’re ready to buy some kit and get out and practice your new-found skills.

 

How Much Will it Cost?

I think it’s important to get this in perspective!

Kiteboarding isn’t a cheap sport to get into compared with some, but good kit can last you years and can also be sold on as you outgrow it and want to upgrade.

And once you’ve bought the gear there generally aren’t any expensive membership fees or annual costs. Compared with the cost of say golf club membership or powered watersports with boats or jet skis it’s very inexpensive after the initial outlay.

The wind and sea are free to everyone!

The answer is, with a realistic basic budget, It’s up to you and how deep your pockets are. Obviously, the more you can spend the better in terms of the quality and amount of equipment it will buy you.

But there’s a vibrant secondhand market for kiteboarding equipment and there’s some really good quality kit available if you know where to look, and what you’re looking for.

The main cost item is your kite, and one kite will only allow you to go out in winds within the range for that kite. But realistically, when you’re at the early stages you wouldn’t be advised to go out in very strong winds anyway as they can be gusty and unpredictable.

So one kite will get you going. 3 kites will cover most wind ranges, certainly for a beginner, and allow you to get more time on the water.

New or Used?

Clearly, if you can afford to buy new you’ll get better quality, problem free equipment, that comes with guarantees. And its always worth it if your budget will allow.

But kiteboarding is the fastest growing watersport today. A lot of people take it up on holiday, come home and buy new kit and then don’t really follow it through. A lot of that kit ends up on the secondhand market and represents a great bargain.

And really keen kiters will often replace their kit, especially kites, every year or two, placing really good quality used equipment on the secondhand market.

So good secondhand kites can be bought at very reasonable prices. But it’s important that the various parts of the kite and the lines and control bar that go with it, are in good condition. If this part of your kit fails it can be at best frustrating, and at worst dangerous.

So, if there’s one item that’s worth spending more of your budget on, this is it.

The sport has also become very marketing orientated. By this I mean that for a manufacturer to compete, they have to keep bringing out new innovations which, quite honestly, can be fairly minor in a lot of cases. An advanced kiter will notice this, but as a beginner you won’t.

So “last years model” can often be bought new at a big discount.

A good compromise if you’re on a limited budget is to allocate more of your budget to your main kite, the one you’ll be using the most.

As a beginner you’ll want to go out in fairly consistent medium breezes from about 10 knots to about 18 knots. So, once you know what size kite is right in these winds for your size and weight, that’s the one to spend the most on.

The kite or kites that you won’t use as often, typically bigger for light winds and smaller for strong winds can take up less of your budget. But most importantly they still need to be in good condition.

Boards can be bought secondhand at quite reasonable prices, and even if your first board has a bit of wear and tear already, it isn’t going to adversely affect your ability to get out on the water.

The Kit List

There are a number of items you’ll definitely need and some that are determined by where you’re going to be kiting and personal choice.

I’ll break it down bit by bit and give a very rough example of new and used price range. This is purely to give you a feel and is based on current exchange rates at time of writing.

Kite

(Complete with bar, lines and pump)

New prices for a typical mid range kite 11 Sq. m. £1000 – £1800 ($1270 – $2290)

Used prices for same size kite in good condition £450 – £1000 ($570 – $1270)

Board

(complete with fins, straps, grab-handle)

New twin tip,140cm x 42cm, suitable for a beginner £330 -£600 ($420 – $760)

Used, same size in good condition £180 – £300 ($230 – $380)

Harness

Waist harness £100 – £200 ($125 – $250)

Helmet

(Optional, but recommended for a beginner) £35 – £70 ($45 – $90)

Impact Vest

(optional, but recommended for a beginner) £40 – £100 ($50 – $125)

Wetsuit

(Lucky you if you’re somewhere warm!)

3 season full length suit £125 upwards ($160 upwards)

Please note that the kite and board sizes used here are only by way of example and aren’t necessarily what will be appropriate for you.

So in summary, and this is obviously very approximate, you could have enough kit within a budget of say £2000 ($2600), if you buy new, to be able to start your kiteboarding journey. Less if you buy some or all of your equipment secondhand.

Where to Buy

Firstly you need to determine what type and sizes of kites and boards are best for you. Advice on each item of equipment is covered in separate posts, but a good place to get advice is from your instructor. They know what size kites and board will be best for you based on your weight and ability to progress.

Another good source of information is the guys and girls at the beach. Ask them what they think about their own gear and whether it would suit a beginner.

If you can afford new kit and are lucky to have a kite shop you can go to, that’s great. The people who run and work in these businesses are almost always kite fanatics themselves and will give you great advice.

The only limitation might be that some only stock certain brands so it’s good to have an idea of what you’re looking for before being limited to what’s available at your local shop.

There are numerous on-line kiteboarding retailers, selling new and used equipment. So, if you know what you want it’s easy to source your equipment on-line.

There’s also nothing wrong with going direct to the manufacturer if you know what you want. And often they’ll have sales of last year’s models at good discounts.

If you’re buying second-hand it can be a bit more of a minefield. There’s a lot of kiteboarding gear on eBay, some good and some not, but it can be a good source if you’re careful.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions about what year the equipment (especially kites) is and what condition the kite and lines is in. A lot of kite and board manufacturers retain the same names for their products each year so it’s important to ask the year of manufacture.

Beware if there isn’t much description and plenty of photos.

Again, if you’re thinking of buying something on eBay, ask someone experienced what they think of your potential purchase. I’m always happy to advise you if you leave a question at the end of this or email me at adrian@kitemadworld.

There’s a lot of very old stuff, especially kites, on eBay and kites have evolved dramatically in recent years in terms of safety, stability and ease of use. But some older kites can be difficult for a beginner to use and potentially dangerous, so old and cheap is generally not a good way to go.

Time to Shop!

Okay, so now you’ve got an idea what sort of budget suits you. Time to look in more detail at the different items of equipment you’ll want. Here are direct links to other articles on this subject:

Kites

Boards

Harnesses

Affiliate disclosure:   As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases, and, as the owner of this website I may also receive a small commission for any purchase you make as the result of clicking a link

A Guide to Best Kites for Beginners

Your kite will most likely be the most expensive item of your kitesurfing kit, it is after all the power source!

So it’s important to know what you’re looking for when you’re about to splash out your hard-earned cash on your first kite.

So here I’ll take you through a guide to the best kites for beginners, what style of kite to look for, what to avoid and the various parts that go with the kite to make it work.

What Type of Kite?

Kite technology has come a long way in recent years, and most kites manufactured within the last 5 years will be good quality and reliable, as long as they aren’t damaged and have been looked after well.

But there are a number of different styles of kite available, all with different characteristics suited to different styles of riding and levels of skill.

You’ll hear terms used like “LEI (Leading Edge Inflatable)”, “SLE (Supported Leading Edge)”, “Foil-Kite”, “C-Kite”, “Bow-Kite”, “Hybrid”, “Delta”. And these all represent different types of kites with different characteristics of design and how they perform. So it’s worth looking briefly at what they mean and how they relate to what you should be looking for in your first kites.

Essentially the main characteristics you’re looking for in your first kites are:

Stability – By this we mean that the kite sits fairly easily where you want it to be and doesn’t flit around in the gusts or with the slightest twitch of the control bar. It gives you one less thing to have to think too much about if you know your kite isn’t going to mis-behave or drop out of the sky suddenly.

Wind range/ De-power  You want kites with a decent wind range of at least 10- 15 knots. This means you need less kites, but also that if the wind is gusty, picks up or drops off while you’re  out, you can still control and use the kite.

Ease of Re-launch – You want a kite that sits easily on the water when you crash it and is easy to re-launch. Most modern kites are pretty good at this apart from maybe C-kites. But do check the reviews that are available before you buy.

Easy to use safety system – This is more to do with the control bar than the kite, but most kites are bought with a control bar and lines. Again, most modern systems are good. You’re looking for a system that is easy to trigger but can also be easily re-set after triggering, so that you can set off again after using it.

In another article, Kitesurfing Kites for Beginners, I detail 4 kites that I know from experience are great for beginners and beyond.

What Does it all Mean?

Let’s take a look at the various categories of kite design and what differentiates them and, most importantly, which type will be most suited to you as a beginner:

Kite design can be broken into a couple of major categories, Leading Edge Inflatable (LEI) and Foil.

Foil Kites

Foil Kites do not have an inflatable structure, they’re made up of a series of tubes (cells) which inflate naturally from the air-flow as they move along. They are flexible in shape rather than rigid like a LEI, and very similar to the trainer kite you hopefully will have used.

Foil kites have a loyal following and have a number of advantages, including the fact they don’t have to be pumped up at the beginning of your session and in light winds their lower weight compared with LEI’s means they will fly more easily.

Their major disadvantage, especially in the hands of a beginner, is that when they land on water they can be difficult to re-launch as they flatten out on the surface and can easily get swamped.

They’re also less predictable than a rigid inflated kite. This can make them more difficult to

foil-kite

Foil Kite

control for a beginner.

They’re also about twice the price of LEI kites.

This is not to say you shouldn’t consider a foil kite at some point. But in my opinion, they’re not ideal for a novice.

For these reasons, this is all I’m going to say about foil kites.

LEI (Leading Edge Inflatable)

This category of kites make up easily over 90% of the kites you will see on the water and will be the main focus of our attention in this guide to best kites for beginners.

A LEI is essentially any kite that has an inflated structure of leading edge and struts. So it needs to be pumped up before you use it. The purpose of the inflated tubes which make up the leading edge and struts is two-fold –

Firstly to give the kite a fairly rigid shape so that it’s flight characteristics are reasonably constant.

Secondly, so that when the kite comes down on the water (which it will, whether you’re a beginner or advanced rider pushing your boundaries with new tricks), it floats and is easy to relaunch.

LEI Kite Types

C-Kite

The “C” in C-Kite refers to the shape of the kite in the air when viewed from the front, They have a distinctive c-curve shape, square wing tips, and, when laid out un-inflated on the ground, pretty much rectangular shape.

The C-Kite is the original LEI design and virtually all the early kites were C-Kites.

Very simplistic in design they have no bridle (more on this later) with the kite lines being attached directly to the four corners.

Generally 4-lined although sometimes equipped with a 5th “safety” line to help with re-launch and de-power when it all goes wrong.

Old boys like myself learned our kiting on C-Kites and have fond memories and probably a few old injuries to show for it!

The main characteristics of a C-Kite are all related to the lack of bridle and C-profile of the kite. Without going into a scientific analysis, this results in a very direct “feel” a bit like driving a go-cart compared to a family saloon.

They also turn very quickly around a central point, so in experienced hands can be directed or re-directed very quickly around the sky to generate more power. This also means that they can be “looped” very easily in a very small radius loop compared with other styles which turn in a much bigger arc.

You’re unlikely to want to loop your kite in your learning stages as this is quite an extreme maneuver which generates a sudden burst of power – a bit like hitting the rocket boosters!

C-kites are also more suited than other types to “unhooked” riding, where you detach the kite from your harness, taking all the pull via your arms. Again, a fairly advanced action, which you are unlikely to want to do at this stage.

Another major difference between C-kites and other types is the relative lack of de-power and, as a result, narrow wind range. This is a safety issue for you as a beginner, as you’ll want to be able to simply let go of the control bar and let the kite safely drift to the low power zone when you fall off.

So I hope you’ve gathered from this that C-kites are not what you should be looking for if you’re at the beginner stage.

C-kite

c-kite-profile

C Kite profile

 

 

 

 

 

Supported Leading Edge (SLE) Kites.

This is a term you’ll still hear used, but is rather outdated and was coined when kite designers first started experimenting with bridle systems.

It basically covers every type of kite that has a bridle system where, unlike a C-kite, the front power lines are attached to the kite via a system of lines which distribute the power and change the shape of the kite as you pull the control bar back (“sheet in”) or push it forward (“sheet out”) to increase or decrease the power.

It also changes the shape of the kite slightly as you pull left or right on the control bar to steer the kite.

Don’t worry if this sounds complicated. The kite designers have done all the work to make the bridle system do what it’s meant to.

The bridle is permanently attached to the kite so that all you need to do is make sure it isn’t tangled (very straightforward) and attach your front power lines to the fixed connection points (“pig-tails”).

The whole purpose of the bridle system is to make the kite easier to fly, control and de-power. The magic takes place without any input from the rider, apart from steering and sheeting the bar.

Every kite other than a true C-kite falls into this category, and as a beginner, I would advise you to buy a kite which has a bridle system. All the other kite types we’ll look at have a bridle system.

There’s a lot of marketing hype put out by kite manufacturers. Each new kite they design has to differentiate itself in some way from last year’s model. But essentially any of the following categories of kite will suit a beginner and also be suitable once they become more proficient.

Bow Kites

The “bow” refers to the shape of the kite when viewed in the air from the front. Imagine the gentle curve of a bow (as in bow and arrow) and that is the shape of a bow kite.

There are many variants in terms of the shape of the kite when un-inflated on the ground, but generally they’ll have a swept-back leading edge, fairly rounded wing tips and a slightly convex trailing edge.

All bow kites have a bridle system and will generally have 4 lines, although some will have a 5th line, which is mainly a safety feature to allow the kite to be totally de-powered (“flagged out”) if the safety release is triggered.

All of these features are designed to make the kite easy to fly and control and almost all kite schools will use this type of kite to teach on.

There is a trade-off between out-and-out power and maneuverability between C-kites and bow-kites, but that’s not a bad thing in your first kite. You’ll get a bigger wind range and the kite will be far more stable in gusty conditions.

The various features also mean the kite will have almost total de-power if you let go of the control bar and will be easier to re-launch from the water. Another factor is that the bridle system absorbs a lot of the pull from the kite so it will feel less aggressive than a C-kite.

These are all good things when you’re learning as there’s a lot going on at the same time, and knowing the kite is not likely to give you any nasty surprises is a definite advantage!

 

Bow-Kite

 

Hybrids

These combine features of both C-kite and bow-kite. So unlike a true C-kite there will be a bridle system. However, the kite will have more of the shape of a C-kite to give it some of the advantageous characteristics of a C-kite, such as pulling power and turn speed.

However, they will also incorporate many of the safety features of a bow-kite, such as wind range, de-power and ease of water re-launch.

There is a huge variety of hybrids on the market and they will usually be called “Hybrid C” or “Hybrid Bow”, which indicates which style they are closest to. You’ll also hear terms such as “Open C”, which usually indicates a strong bias towards C-kite characteristics.

A Hybrid Bow kite is not a bad compromise for a confident beginner who feels they may progress quickly to more advanced moves, but choose carefully and read plenty of reviews, looking out in particular for wind-range, de-power and water re-launch.

 

Hybrid-kite

Hybrid Kite

Delta Kites

These are a variant of the Hybrid Kite and are noticeable by their very swept-back leading edge and convex curved trailing edge, with tapered wing-tips. when laid out un-inflated on the ground they have a distinctive “D” shape.

These characteristics make them easier to re-launch from the water as the wing-tips have less tendency to catch in the water. They can also generally be used in lighter winds compared to the same sized kite in a different style, but this often comes with slightly less high wind ability.

Like other hybrids they can have a bias either way between bow and C-kites, so you’ll hear terms like “Delta C” or Delta Bow”, indicating which they are most similar to.

A lot of kite schools are using Delta Bow kites because of their ease of re-launch, and the right one can be a good choice for the ambitious beginner.

Just a word of warning though if you’re buying second-hand. Some of the earlier models had a tendency to “invert” in the water, which basically means they turn through the lines and can get tangled. So, if you are thinking of buying a second-hand delta kite, steer clear of any made earlier than about 2015.

Delta-kite

Delta Kite

Control bar and Lines.

The control bar is probably the most important part of your whole kite set-up. It connects you, via the kite lines to your kite and is the point where all the steering, powering/de-powering, trimming and safety systems take place.

It’s also the most complicated part of the whole kitesurfing set-up so don’t worry if the next few paragraphs sound a bit bewildering.

A big part of your first lesson will be understanding the control bar and what each part does, and what I’m doing here is just reminding you what makes up the control system.

Your steering lines are connected to the ends of the bar and to the rear corners of your kite.

The power lines are a more complicated matter and where there is more variety between different systems and kites.

But generally speaking, assuming a standard 4-line kite, the power lines are attached at the kite end to the bridle and at the other end will meet in a “v” shape at some point above the bar, depending on the set-up. They will be attached to a swivel mechanism and a power and safety line will be attached to this.

The power and safety lines run down to the bar and through a hole in the middle of it. They attach below the bar to the “chicken-loop”, which hooks onto your harness and is secured to it by the “chicken stick” (also lovingly and more commonly known as your “donkey dick”).

At some point either above the bar or below it is a trim system, usually a pair of lines or straps with a cleating mechanism. These allow you to change the length of the power line to increase or decrease the angle of attack of the kite, thus changing its minimum and maximum wind range.

The chicken loop mechanism also contains the primary safety release which, when pulled, releases the chicken loop and sends the kite to the ground or water in a completely de-powered state.

In the event that you use the primary release, you will still be attached to the de-powered kite by a safety leash which attaches to the safety line at one end and, at the other end, to your harness.

This leash also has a release mechanism (the secondary safety release) which, when pulled, completely detaches you from the kite and lines. This is clearly a last resort as it means your kite is free to blow away downwind.

The control bar, when the chicken loop is attached to your harness can be slid backwards and forwards along the power-line to increase or decrease the power in the kite.

 

kite-bar

The control bar is usually made from a combination of carbon reinforced plastic or fiberglass, sometimes with a steel core.

The power lines themselves are generally made of an extremely strong nylon material known as Dyneema and each will have a breaking strain of at least 350lbs. The stronger the better! the lines on the bars I currently use have 800lbs on the power lines and 500lbs on the steering lines.

My advice when you’re buying your first kites is to buy the bar and lines that come with the kite. That way you can’t go wrong.

Although most 4 line kites will work with most 4 line bars, this is not always the case. Bars also come in different lengths with longer bars being appropriate to bigger kites.

You won’t necessarily need a bar for each kite as one sized bar covers a range of kite sizes and a number of adjustable length bars are now available so that one bar fits all kite sizes.

If you’re buying new kites it’s straightforward, just buy the bar that goes with the kite.

Secondhand is more complicated. Make sure the kite comes with it’s appropriate bar and MOST IMPORTANTLY, make sure every part of the bar and lines system is in good condition. Examine and ask whether there are signs of wear anywhere, particularly in the lines. Any frays or knots where they shouldn’t be should set alarm bells ringing.

If you buy a kite that comes without the bar and lines, consider buying a new bar and lines to go along with it. This is the most important part of your kit by far and a broken line or snapped chicken loop will usually ruin your day.

If there’s one main cause of kitesurfing accidents it’s failure of the lines or control bar system, but a well maintained bar and carefully checked lines before you launch the kite will avoid this occurrence.

So in Summary

There’s a lot to consider when you’re buying your first kite. But again, put it in perspective. This is a fairly major purchase of a piece of equipment that is vital in an extreme sport. If you were buying a car or a parachute, you’d want the best your money can buy, so do plenty of research and take advice.

In another article “Kitesurfing Kites for Beginners” I’ve featured some kites that I know from experience will see you through from the point where you’ve had lessons and have grasped the basics of flying a kite, right through your intermediate progression and on to advanced kiter. Take a look.

And if you’d like any help or have any comments on this matter please feel free to leave a message below or email me at adrian@kitemadworld.com

Affiliate disclosure:   As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases, and, as the owner of this website I may also receive a small commission for any purchase you make as the result of clicking a link

Best Kiteboard for Beginners – What Features to Look For in Your First Kiteboard

Let’s take a look at some of the features of board design and what makes up the best kiteboard for beginners.

Board Type

Almost without exception, the board you’ll learn on will be a twin-tip.

So this is a generally rectangular board, usually (although not necessarily) symmetrical. There’ll be two small fins at each end, a pair of foot-straps and foot pads, and a grab handle in the middle.

Your feet stay in the foot straps whichever way you’re riding and it can be ridden to your left or right without having to move your feet.

Fixed boots can be used instead of foot straps, but this isn’t recommended for beginners as it makes getting to the water difficult and it’s a lot more difficult to get your feet out when you need to.

All twin tips should have these features although some riders will remove the grab handle. I must admit, I’ve never quite understood why, apart from for appearance.

There are then a number of different design features, which change the riding characteristics of the board.

Let’s have a look at these:

Size

Of course size matters!

Twin-tips come in lengths anything from about 120cms to 160cms. And widths vary from about 30cms to about 50 cms.

Generally you would choose a board based on length. The width usually goes automatically with whatever length of board you choose, although some board manufacturers offer a choice of widths with some boards.

As a beginner you’ll want a board toward the larger end of the scale, but the largest boards will really only be suitable during your early learning stage and will not be of much use after that.

The size you choose will depend on your size and weight, the wind and water conditions you are likely to be out in most. But it will also depend on whether you are willing to replace the board soon after you’ve mastered getting up on the board and riding in both directions.

A very large board makes it easier to get up in light winds and will plane very easily. (This is when the board starts moving at enough speed so that only a small part of the board is in contact with the water – imagine a power boat chugging along slowly, low in the water, compared with rising up on it’s rear end at speed).

However, a large board is more difficult to control in stronger winds and won’t turn as easily.

To give an example, a person weighing say 50kg could consider a board 135cms long to be a large board. They need less board surface area to get planing than a person weighing 90kg, who would find this board to be suited to most wind conditions.

I would tend to steer you toward a board which is slightly large but small enough to be suited to your progression stages. It could then be kept as a light wind board once you progress to a smaller board for stronger winds.

So the 50kg person might opt for a board say 128-134 cms long and the 90kg person for one 134-140cms.

The smaller end of the scale will make it slightly more difficult to get going in the very early stages but will mean the board is usable for a lot longer as you progress.

And if you were fairly confidently getting up and running during your lessons, the first board you buy could even be the one you continue using for years.

Be guided by the size of the board you used when you were having lessons. If you got up and running on this pretty easily after a few lessons, then you can probably buy one that’s 2-4cm shorter.

Profile/Outline

This is the shape of the board when looked at from above when it’s flat on the ground.

Board profiles vary from virtually rectangular to almost oval in shape with curved edges. The shape of the ends of the board need not bother you too much at this stage, but may be straight or have indents or “V”s cut in to aid their flow through the water.

The best kiteboard for a beginner in terms of profile will have fairly straight edges. This helps with early planing and keeping the board going in a straight line. But don’t be put off buying a board that has some curve in the edges, particularly if you’ll be riding in choppy waters. The curved edges help prevent the board from catching in small chop and allow you to ride through it better.

Some boards are slightly asymmetrical with a straighter back edge (heelside) and more curved front edge (toeside). This helps with edging the board into wind when riding normally, with your toes forward. The curved front edge helps with a move known as toe-side riding, where you flip the board round so that the kite is behind you and you’re leaning forward rather than backwards. This won’t be a disadvantage to you as a beginner but neither will it add anything to your early progression.

A dedicated light wind/beginners board

 

 

Rocker

This is the shape of the board when viewed from the side and is the curvature between the centre of the board and the tips.

A fairly flat rocker shape will help with early planing and allow you to get up in lighter winds. It will also help you to ride upwind, which is an essential skill you’ll need to master in the early days – it allows you to get back to where you started.

Boards with more pronounced rocker are suited to choppy or wave conditions so some compromise is worth considering if you’ll be riding in those conditions in your early days.

Flex

Boards can vary from being almost totally rigid to having a good degree of flex (bendiness). Take a board and stand it up on a tip, then push down and this will give you an idea as to the level of flex. A very stiff board has advantages when it comes to more advanced wakestyle tricks where an explosive “pop” off the water is good.

However, a degree of flex makes the board more forgiving and easier to ride in chop and on waves. It also makes it more comfortable to land from big jumps as the flex absorbs some of the impact on landing.

A lot of modern boards have “dynamic” flex where the flex gets greater towards the tips than at the middle. This is an excellent compromise between the ability to jump the board and comfort in chop and waves and on landing.

For years now I’ve been using a Nobile board with just such characteristics and have never felt limited by it.

So some flex is definitely an advantage in either a learner board or subsequent boards.

Nobile T5

My trusty all round board I’ve been using for about 10 years

 

A more modern, ladies version of the same board

 

Bottom Shape

This is the shape of the bottom surface of the board. It can be flat, channeled or have subtle concaves. Flat will help with early planing but some concave will help with speed across the water and jumping. Channels also help with speed and keeping the board going forwards in strong winds.

A flattish bottom shape is preferable in your first board.

Foot-straps and Pads

Often overlooked, but important. These are what keeps you attached to the board and your only (hopefully!) point of contact with it. So they need to feel snug and comfortable. If possible try out different makes before you buy. Most manufacturers also offer smaller sized pads and straps to suit female feet or youths/children.

Like most things in kiteboarding, straps and pads have come a long way and the best ones now feel like a comfy pair of shoes, with memory-foam pads and snug fitting straps. This all helps keep the board attached to your feet.

It’s not a deal-breaker if you’re looking at a second-hand board, as pads and straps can be bought as a separate item and are generally universal in fit, so will fit most boards. Do check this with the seller though as it’s not a given.

Think Forward

Once you’ve mastered the first stages of water-starting and are able to ride in both directions and upwind, you will progress very quickly, so it’s worth buying a board that will work when you start progressing to jumps and other tricks. You can get to that stage very quickly.

As with kites there are many board designs that will get you through your first early steps and then give you years of fun. Most kiters are recreational and will never get involved in competitions so some of the advanced features on the more expensive boards will be surplus to requirements. There are also some great boards available second-hand as they are very hard-wearing and don’t usually get damaged in the way kites and control-bars and lines can, so it’s quite normal for kiters to have a number of boards depending on the conditions or style of riding they feel like doing on a given day.

Another thing worth considering is that in lighter winds a bigger board will allow you to get going on a smaller kite and can be a less expensive option than having an extra big kite for light winds. So the bigger board you get for learning on is useful to keep hold of if you end up progressing to a smaller one.

I would steer you away from the mistake I made when I started and bought a huge 148cm door-sized board, which was great for getting up and moving easily on my first few sessions, but was pretty uncontrollable at any speed and needed to be replaced within a few weeks.

In another article ” Kiteboards for Beginners” I feature a number of boards that would be suitable.

I hope you’ve found this article helpful, and if you have any comments or questions, feel free to leave them below or email me at adrian@kitemadworld.com

Kitesurfing Harnesses – What’s the best type to buy as a beginner?

Your harness is possibly the most important part of your whole kitesurfing kit. It’s what keeps you connected to your kite and is the point where the power from the kite is transferred via your body to your board to drive you forward – or upward!

So, although it’s one of the least expensive of your 3 vital pieces of kit (kite, board, harness), it’s worth investing some time in choosing the right one. A well chosen harness can last you years, and it’s the bit that is most closely (very closely) in contact with your body. So it needs to be comfortable, functional and hard wearing.

Kitesurfing harnesses come in a variety of types so we’ll have a look at these and the various parts.

The Basics of a Kitesurfing Harness

The Main Parts of a Kitesurfing Harness

 

 

 

 

 

There are various types of harness available but they all have some basic features:

Main body of the harness – With one main exception (board shorts harness) all kitesurfing harnesses have a supportive structure that wraps around your waist or hips, with a good amount of support at the back. They are always padded on the inside for comfort and a snug fit.

Waist Belt – Most harnesses especially waist harnesses, have a wide belt in the structure which is tightened with velcro flaps, and often elasticated. The purpose is to form a snug fit around your waist or hips.

Attachment straps and tighteners – The webbing straps attached to the main structure of the harness that keep the main body of the harness tight and also the point at which the spreader bar is attached. The straps are often called “compression straps”.

Spreader Bar (or hook) – The hook located at the front of the harness to which you attach the loop at the bar end of your kite’s power lines (the chicken loop). It is the point where the force from the kite is transferred to the rest of the harness, and from there to your body. Generally made from stainless steel and with a bar behind it to spread the load – hence “spreader bar”.

Most manufacturers offer a range of spreader bars that can be bought as a separate option. They come in different spreader widths and there are now sliding hook options where the hook can move from left to right. This can be helpful during moves such as toe-side riding where your body is facing in a different direction to the pull of the kite. However, the standard sized spreader for a given harness size will normally be supplied as a default. Any other options can be added later.

 

Spreader Bar Pad This is a rigid padded piece of material which the spreader bar is attached to and basically stops the bar from digging into your body.

Leash attachment points – Small (about 3-4 cms diameter) D-rings on either side of the front of the harness. The safety leash is attached to either of these at one end and to the safety line on your kite at the other. If you fire the primary safety quick release on your chicken loop, this is what keeps you attached to the kite.

Safety leash – Not strictly part of the harness and usually supplied with your kite, or as a separate item. A length of line, usually slightly elasticated that keeps you attached to the kite when you fire the primary quick release (QR) on the chicken-loop. at each end will be a clip cleat. It prevents the kite from flying off downwind when you’re not attached via the chicken-loop or, if your riding unhooked, if you let go of the bar. The leash will also have at the harness end the secondary release. This is the last resort safety feature – usually a grab loop that you pull and which detaches the leash and releases you completely from the kite.

 

Rear Handle – Either a small handle or length of plastic encased line (a “handlepass strap”), attached to the back of the harness. It serves 2 functions:

Firstly to enable someone to grab you safely from behind if you’re getting dragged down the beach or through the water.

Secondly, in the case of the handlepass strap version, as an alternative point to which your safety leash can be attached. The main reason to do this is to allow the leash to move from one side of your body to the other during some rotational manoeuvers. (Don’t worry what this means at this point!).

Safety knife (or line cutter) – Most harnesses include a small closed knife, tucked tightly into a small pocket at the front of the harness. This is for if it all goes horribly wrong and you or another kiter end up with the lines wrapped around you or someone/something.

Types of Harness

There are 3 main types of kitesurfing harnesses:

Seat Harness

Seat harnesses are often favoured by kite schools and beginners as they sit lower than a waist harness, with the main body of the harness around the kiter’s hips. There’ll be a good amount of material at the back to provide lower back support.

The main difference between seat and waist harnesses is that the body of the harness to a greater or lesser degree will have some structure around the kiters backside and leg straps that keep the harness from riding up.

A couple of manufacturers also now offer a hybrid seat/waist harness, which is essentially a waist harness with removable seat part. This is a great idea for your first harness. The only compromise is that, of the hybrids currently available, the waist harness is at the lower end of the product range and therefore not quite as snug a fit if you end up using it purely as a waist harness.

Seat Harness

 

 

Hybrid Waist/Seat Harness

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Waist Harness

Waist harnesses are generally more minimalist than a seat harness and don’t have leg straps. They sit around the kiter’s waist/abdomen and will have a greater or lesser amount of support material at the back.

 

Board-Shorts Harnesses

These provide a much lower amount of support than either of the other types and are essentially a climbing harness concealed within a pair of board-shorts. There’s a very minimal amount of back support. Probably not the best choice for a beginner – but hey they look cool!

 

 

Best Kitesurfing Harness for a Beginner?

Really this comes down to personal preference. Seat Harnesses are often used by kite schools as they sit lower and so the hook, and therefor the point of pull is lower. This makes water-starting easier for a beginner. Another advantage is that they fit more snugly and don’t ride up, which can be a problem for beginners in particular as they’ll spend a fair amount of time with the kite high in the air at the “twelve o’clock” neutral position.

The main disadvantages of a seat harness are that they are a bit restrictive on leg movement, particularly on the beach or if you have to swim or body-drag to retrieve your board. They are also sometimes likened to a large diaper so part of the choice is down to your own self-image!

The advantages of the seat harness are mainly that they don’t ride up and that the point of pull is lower so it makes water-starting a bit easier in the early days. Also, because they sit lower, around the hips rather than the abdomen, they can be a more comfortable choice if you are, how shall I put it….fond of your beer and burgers!

Waist harnesses offer a greater degree of flexibility, with no restrictions on the legs or hips. They are slightly easier to put on and offer a greater amount of freedom of movement. There can be a tendency to ride up or move round slightly but this can be avoided largely by making sure you choose a well fitting size and tighten it properly. The better waist harnesses also have memory foam padding on the inside so that within a few  sessions they mould well to your body shape, which avoids the riding up and twisting issue.

A number of manufacturers now offer “hard-shell” waist harnesses that have a very rigid main body with memory foam on the inside. These, while a bit pricier, provide a great level of back support with reduced bulk and weight.

All this aside, I’m willing to bet that the first reason most people choose a waist harness is that they just look cooler!

Board-shorts harnesses are more like a seat harness in that the hook sits low. The main difference is that they have much less support. Probably best avoided for a beginner, but good for more advanced kiters looking for maximum freedom of movement.

How to Choose Your First Harness

You will have used a harness supplied during your lessons, so you’ll have a good idea based on that.

Price will come into it as well. You definitely get what you pay for with kitesurfing harnesses, so the more you can spend the better you’ll get.

The most important thing is to buy the right sized harness. If you have the luxury of a kite shop you can visit, try a few on. If not, pay close attention to the manufacturers size guide.

As a beginner you’ll want plenty of back support, so don’t go for the more minimalist harness available, these are more suited to advanced kiters who want to lay down some eye-watering tricks and want maximum freedom of movement.

But do think ahead, you’ll quickly progress from beginner to intermediate level and beyond, so choose a harness that you feel you’ll be happy with for at least a couple of years.

In my article “Best Harnesses for Beginners” I feature 6 different harnesses with varying price tags and type. Head over and take a look!

Windsurfing Harness Vs Kitesurfing Harness

It’s worth mentioning as quite a few kiters started off windsurfing or may even continue to do both.

A windsurfing harness will not work very well for kitesurfing. They are less supportive and the spreader bar is generally not as strong. Trust me, I’ve tried it!

However, a kitesurfing harness will work perfectly well for windsurfing.

Contact us for Advice

I hope you found this article helpful. Please feel free to leave any comments below or email me at adrian@kitemadworld.com if you need any further advice.

Affiliate disclosure:   As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases, and, as the owner of this website I may also receive a small commission for any purchase you make as the result of clicking a link