Adventure seekers used to comb the world’s windiest beaches in search of perfect windsurfing conditions. These days, they’re choosing kites to get their fix.
KITEBOARDING IS A SPORT that uses a large kite to transfer an everyday thrill-seeker into a full-blown superhero, soaring through the air as high and far as the wind will allow. On any given day, lesson centers across the world are swamped with former windsurfers and board sport junkies eager to learn how to kiteboard.
Interested? This three-step guide should help you get started.
Even gifted athletes will benefit from lessons –you’ll progress quickly and safely with modern gear and professional instruction. Depending on where you live, this might be a good excuse to do some traveling.
One of the best spots for learning in the US is Cape Hatteras in North Carolina where you’ll find steady winds and shallow, calm water. But a quick search on the Internet will pull up schools all over the world, from Texas to Thailand.
The best way to get started is with a trainer kite and an instructional DVD. The trainer kite is a much smaller version of the kites you’ll use later and will hone your kite skills. An instructional DVD provides an opportunity to visualize the sport and give a preview of what you can expect to learn in your lessons.
Once you’ve taken lessons and are proficient in the sport, you’ll need to buy a bigger, inflatable kite. Those of us who are hooked on kiting have a quiver of at least three kites -small, medium and large- to increase our chances of having the appropriate size kite for the wind conditions.
Your next purchase is a board. Rather than picking up any old wakeboard, choose a modern kiteboard to cut through chop and ride upwind with ease.
You’ve taken lessons and you’ve bought gear – now it’s time to go home and put on a show.
The more you practice your kite skills the better off you’ll be.
Even if the wind is light, you can still fly your trainer kite on the beach and work up to the larger, inflatable kite as your skills improve. When the wind picks up, you’ll hit the water confident in your abilities.
Taking it one step further
Kiting is not exclusive to water. Consider kiting in the winter on large fields, frozen lakes and even mountainous terrain on skis or a snowboard. On land, use a landboard –a giant skateboard with off-road tires- or a three-wheeled buggy.
One of the best aspects of the sport is the kiteboard community. No matter where you choose to ride, you’ll find a friendly group of kiters of all ages and backgrounds who will help you launch or land your kite and chat on the beach after your session.
Have some tips for new kiteboarders? Share them in the comments section below!