Whether you are taking up kitesurfing as a new hobby or trying something new on vacation, from the shore it can seem quite difficult. You may be asking yourself, how hard is it to learn to kitesurf? Is it something that can be picked up right away or are you going to spend countless hours perfecting your new hobby?
Kitesurfing has a steep learning curve. It requires the combination of two skills, kite flying, and board riding, that you perform simultaneously. Depending on your learning capability, your coordination, and your balancing skills, it could take you a few days to a couple of weeks to perfect your kitesurfing ability.
What it really comes down to is setting yourself up to learn in a way that you will understand the mechanics behind kitesurfing. The rest of this article will go over the aspects of learning to kitesurf that can either slow or increase your learning time.
Factors That Make Kitesurfing Harder to Learn
While kitesurfing, you are mostly relying on wind speed, mild water conditions, good quality equipment, and your physical strength to keep you moving in the water.
Knowing when these conditions are just right will make it a lot easier for you to learn how to kitesurf, in general, and also for safety reasons.
Good Flying Conditions for Beginners
Weather conditions can be a large factor in how fast you learn to kitesurf, as well as for your overall safety. The perfect learning conditions for beginners would be a sunny, cloudless day with a side wind speed of 7–28 knots.
Although, flying at wind speeds less than 12 knots would require a larger kite and can be a bit more technical, making it harder for beginners to learn proper kite flying techniques.
Bad conditions to learn in would be dark, stormy days with rough, choppy waves with winds of over 30 knots. Keep in mind that when looking for a kitesurfing school or instructor, they will pay close attention to the weather and will postpone lessons until the weather is perfect.
Proper Kitesurfing Equipment for Beginners
It is very likely that you will be using the equipment from the kitesurfing school that you are learning from, but knowing what quality and condition that equipment should be in, and checking the equipment first thing before your lesson, will greatly affect how successful you are at learning how to kitesurf.
- The Kite should have no visible damage, and be the appropriate size of kite to match the current wind speed conditions. Your instructor should be able to provide you with the proper kite.
- The bar, your “steering wheel,” should have 4 to 5 lines attached to the kite, and should also have no visible damage.
- Next is a harness that attaches your body to the kite bar, helping you balance, and in turn, steer and control the kite much easier. A seat harness is a great option for beginners, instead of a waist harness. The seat harness helps lower the pulling point, making it easier to balance during water starts.
- A safety leash is an absolute must-have for anyone kitesurfing. It is simply a leash that keeps you attached to the kite in case you deploy the safety release or let go of your kite bar.
- Use a large kiteboard at the beginning of your kitesurfing lessons. With its increased buoyancy and size, it will give you an overall better balance. You will be able to master a larger board more quickly, enabling you to move down into lighter boards that require more balance and stability.
- Other necessary safety equipments to have are a helmet, water shoes, and a wet suit. Depending on the environment you are learning to kitesurf in, some of these items might not be necessary, but they greatly impact your practice time, making it easier to learn how to kitesurf. Clearly – always wear a helmet.
How to Find the Right Instructor or Kitesurfing School
Finding a quality instructor or kitesurfing school can also be a major factor in how easy you learn to kitesurf. There are many factors to take into consideration when choosing a kitesurfing school or instructor.
- Location of Lessons – Find a school or instructor that has access to at least 90 feet of unoccupied sandy beach space downwind from you, with little nearby hazards, like rocks, buildings, or people.
- The location should also have moderate and stable winds. This of course has to do mainly with geographical location and not the weather. Just know that it will be harder to learn in rougher conditions.
- Quality Lesson Plan – How many lessons are there? What are the main goals and targeted skills learned in each lesson? Is it clear they understand the skill-sets a new beginner must master? Are the lessons in the correct order to ensure successful kitesurfing ability?
- Experience Teaching – How long has the school or instructor been teaching? Read reviews from other students to verify expertise. Do they have any certifications or memberships to kitesurfing associations?
- Verify Kitesurfing Equipment – In what condition are the kites, boards, and harnesses in? Is all the equipment new or old? Are the quick release systems in good condition?
- Rescue, Boat, and Communications – Making sure that the school or instructor has access to adequate safety protocols while you are learning in the water are imperative to your safety.
- Business License and Insurance – Does the school have a business license? Or any student insurance that will help cover hospital and injury costs?
Whether you are learning to kitesurf on a vacation or close to home, researching the school or instructor, and making sure they meet these requirements is going to make a huge impact on how successful you are at learning how to kitesurf.
Now that you know what conditions and equipment you need to kitesurf, let’s get into the technical side of kitesurfing. Learning about the wind window and understanding how it works will greatly impact how quickly you learn.
Is It Hard to Learn How to Fly a Kitesurfing Kite?
How your brain interprets the relationship of your kite with the wind window will determine how difficult it is for you to pilot the kite. Your beginning lessons will be spent on the beach flying the kite and practicing with how the wind and kite relationship works.
You’ll quickly pick up the easy tilting of the bar left to right, performing the popular “figure-8” pattern. You will start to feel the power fluctuation as you move from one window zone to the next. Eventually you’ll learn how to do a kitesurfing beach start.
Where the learning can be a bit harder is incorporating the forward/backward, push/pull motion while also tilting the bar left to right, moving the kite through the wind window.
Putting this into practice can seem counter-intuitive and will require practice to not become overpowered by the kite. The next step will be learning some of the beginning to advanced kiteboard transitions.
How Fit Do I Need to Be to Kitesurf?
Since most of the power of the kite is attached to your waist, strong core muscles will serve you well in kitesurfing. As your kite pulls up on your harness, you must resist by pulling back with your core, keeping your body straight, and pushing your legs into the board and against the water.
However, you don’t need to be an incredible athlete to be able to kitesurf. Most healthy people have the core and leg strength to keep upright on the water while resisting the harness and pushing the board.
Is Kitesurfing Safe for Kids?
Determining if kitesurfing is safe for kids comes down to the environment and safety gear that they are learning with. With a well-qualified instructor and good conditions, kitesurfing can be very safe and enjoyed by the whole family.
The minimum weight requirement for many kitesurfing schools is at least 65lbs (30 kgs), reducing the chance of being swept off by a wind gust.
Learning to kitesurf when you are younger is a lot easier than learning when you are an adult. It’s just how our brains work. As an adult, we are reprogramming our brains to learn new skills. Whereas with kids, it’s a fresh start and they can often pick up skills faster.
Add in the fact that kids tend to be smaller and weigh less, which makes it easier for them to kitesurf in general.
Kitesurfing: Fun Exercise
How hard it is to kitesurf depends completely on how you learn. Making sure you are learning from a knowledgeable instructor, in good conditions with quality equipment will set you up to become a pro kite surfer in no time.