Can You Kitesurf in The Rain?


Kitesurfing is an activity that has been enjoyed by many people since the late ’90s. You can find kitesurfers at the beach, both for hobby and sport.  Kitesurfing involves using a large kite that resembles a parachute, a harness, a board, and wind. Kitesurfing usually occurring on sunny days, but is that the only time you can kitesurf?

You can kitesurf in the rain; however, you need to take precautions because rain often comes with unpredictable weather and wind. Increased wind speeds, driving rain, and potential storms can impact how safely you can kitesurf. Just like when jet skiing, rain will sting when it hits your face at speed.

In this article, you will learn about how to kitesurf in the rain, the dangers to watch out for as well as what to do if you get stuck in a storm while kitesurfing.

Kitesurfing in The Rain

You can easily kitesurf in the rain; however, the conditions could prove extremely challenging, even to the most seasoned kite surfers.  When Kitesurfing in the rain, you may encounter; rapidly changing weather, driving rain, clouds, and wind gusts. While it is important to recognize these challenges, it is also important to know how to handle them.

Rapidly Changing Weather

Typically, rainstorms are not isolated events and are usually a part of a larger storm system.  Because of this, you need to be highly aware of the changing weather patterns.  What may begin as a calm afternoon shower could quickly turn into a significant storm event.

If you decide to go Kitesurfing in a rainstorm, you must take time to look at the weather. Although the weather may seem like it is simply overcast, it can change quickly, which can cause a dangerous situation that leaves you stranded or injured. 

Driving Rain

A gentle rain may not be a big deal when you are kitesurfing; in fact, it can feel like small grains of sand pelting your skin. However, an increased wind speed and rain intensity can suddenly make it feel like little rocks are pelting you.  While this is not likely dangerous, it is uncomfortable.

Because the rain will drench your kite, you will likely notice a difference in the way you can control your movements in the rain.  Combine this with unpredictable wind gusts, and you could potentially have a recipe for disaster.

Cloud Changes

You have likely heard the adage, “keep your eye on the sky.” In Kitesurfing, this can be critical to your safety when kitesurfing in less-than-ideal conditions.  Clouds present in the sky are a strong indicator of impending weather, so you must understand what they mean.

Cumulus and Cumulonimbus clouds indicate that a storm is approaching.  You will often notice these clouds because they have the appearance of growing tall in the sky. If you see these clouds, you need to immediately get off the water because the weather is about to turn. Better yet, if you see these clouds, don’t go out at all. (Source: Science Learn)

Wind Gusts

The wind is a key component of Kitesurfing. However, if the wind is too strong, it can be problematic and even place you in danger if you do not know how to handle it.  High winds are even challenging for the most experienced kite surfers and require a higher skill level to maintain control.

Is a Gentle Rain Dangerous?

Perhaps you are preparing to go kite surfing in a gentle rainstorm that is common on a humid summer day. If you are certain the storm is short-lived and not the indicator of a changing weather pattern, you can safely go Kitesurfing. 

The only negative you may experience is getting more wet than normal and feeling a mild discomfort on your skin from the rain, hitting you at a higher speed.  If these things are not problematic for you, you can likely enjoy an afternoon of rainy Kitesurfing.

Best Sources for Weather Checking?

When you prepare to go Kitesurfing, you need to make sure you use the proper information sources to check the weather accurately.  Both beginners and seasoned kite surfers need to have weather awareness. It is critical that you not rely on one source.  It would be best to do your research to ensure you are going out in an ideal weather situation. There are many websites and apps to help track conditions in real-time. Here are a couple of them:

While these options will make it easier for you to gauge the weather you are preparing to go into, they cannot predict everything.  If you are uncertain about the weather or how to read the wind descriptions provided by each, it would be wise to see the advice of a knowledgeable kite surfer.

What Should I Do if I Get Stuck in a Storm?

If you find yourself stuck in stormy conditions, the first thing you need to do is try to get back to land as quickly as possible if you can do so safely.  If you are unable to get to shore, you may need to do the following things:

  • Move further away from the shore to get away from the storm.
  • Keep your kite as low as possible to avoid potential shock.
  • Try to avoid any hard objects.

As you can see, the options available when you get stuck in a storm are not desirable and would likely be challenging if not terrifying to a beginner kitesurfer.  Because of this, you need to try to avoid getting caught in a storm.

What is the Best Weather to Kite Surf?

Kite surfing in the rain is particularly challenging because of the possibility of rapidly changing weather conditions, so you may be wondering what the best weather to kite surf in is.  Ideally, the best weather to kite surf in would be a clear sky with a perfect breeze.  However picturesque this may be, it is not often the reality.

It is recommended that you choose to kitesurf on a cloudless day with a breeze between 15 and 20 knots. If the wind picks up beyond this speed, you could find yourself in trouble on the water. When the wind is maintained at this level, it is much easier to control your kite, which means you are less likely to find yourself in a dangerous situation.  While it may be boring for an expert, it is perfect for a novice.

Where is the Best Place to Kite Surf?

The unique thing about kite surfing is that you can participate in the activity anywhere with a body of water and wind.  However, not all locations are the same, especially when it comes to the risk of rain or difficult winds. The number one location to kitesurf is said to be Maui, HI.  The weather is consistent year-round with mild breezes and relatively predictable weather. (Source: Red Bull)

If traveling to an exotic location is not in your budget or schedule, you can also find conditions for any skill level in Cape Hatteras, NC., or the Columbia River Gorge in Oregon. It is important to know that Kitesurfing does not only need to occur along the coast of a major ocean. If you want to find something smaller, there are many freshwater locations available as well. (Source: 57 Hours)

What equipment do I need to kitesurf?

You’ll probably want to rent at first, especially if you are taking lessons. Your instructor may have some equipment ideas and recommendations. She may also work at a shop that sells good gear, and maybe even has some used gear in good condition that can save you a chunk of money.

For a full guide on what you’ll need once you’re hooked, head over to my Kitesurfer Equipment Buyer’s Guide: 14 Essentials post for a full rundown.

Final Thoughts

Kitesurfing is a hobby and sport enjoyed by people around the world.  While most people participate in Kitesurfing as a fun activity, there are also many thrill-seekers and competitive kite surfers.  You must know your skill level as well as the weather you are preparing to go Kitesurfing in.  Both things will keep you safe and healthy while you venture out. Be sure to check out How Hard is it to Kitesurf?

Featured image credit: Zach Dischner

Tim Conner, M.D.

Tim Conner, M.D. started boating in 1974. He has been involved in recreational boating continuously since then. Dr. Conner has been active in boating and watersports safety education for decades. He rode his first jet ski in 1997, and rejoined the personal watercraft arena in 2012 with a Sea-Doo GTX 155, followed by 2 supercharged SeaDoos. Scuba certification came in 1988, and he and the family have traveled the world snorkeling and scuba diving for decades. The family has recently taken up paddle boarding, with wakeboards and kitesurfing the next challenges for my adult kids. Click the photo for a lot more.

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