What Skills are Needed for Kitesurfing?
Kitesurfing is a complex yet rewarding sport that is sure to be enjoyed by all who give it a try. Whether you’re a pro at surfing already and want to challenge yourself with something different or you are completely new to the wonderful world of water sports and are excited to get started, there are certain things you can learn ahead of your first lesson so as to be as prepared as possible. We already have created A Beginner’s Guide to Kitesurfing, but you can also explore the various skills that kitesurfing requires and how you can practise ahead of your lesson. We’ve looked into just some of the core skill sets that are utilised regularly while kitesurfing.
A basic level of physical fitness is required to learn kitesurfing, so that you can engage muscles whilst out on the water for long periods of time, without experiencing fatigue. That’s not to say engaging in this sport requires a body shape or mass that is similar to a professional athlete, particularly as you’re likely to increase your levels of fitness with every session. There’s a common misconception that can be very off-putting for those looking to start the sport, that all kite surfers have larger than life biceps when this simply is not the case. In fact, the pull of the kite goes through your harness, so it is your core that is experiencing the real work out. It’s a good idea to protect yourself in the case of an emergency by ensuring you can swim and tread water for as long as might be required depending on your location.
There’s a big crossover in the skills developed in board sports, including balance, which means you can practice more accessible, land-based skills before you hit the open water. Dig out your old skateboard and go for regular rides in and around your neighbourhood, familiarising yourself with how to manipulate the direction of the travel whilst maintaining your centre of gravity. Surfing, snowboarding, skateboarding and wakeboarding are all good sports to practice ahead of learning to kitesurf, the latter of which being the most comparable. Balance is something that you need from the moment you first come into contact with kitesurfing equipment, right through to when you perform the tricks, jumps and spins like a pro.
Learning to kitesurf is no easy feat, and a can-do attitude is essential for success. Those with a tendency to give up when things get tough may find out sooner rather than later, as bails are all part of the learning process. Experiencing the undesirable consequences of your actions is one of the only sure-fire ways to stop you repeating the mistake in the future, and this really is character-building when it comes to shaping you as a kitesurfer. As with most sports, you’re likely to have good and bad days out on the water, but it is the grit of trying time and time again after bails, falls and crashes that will ultimately decide who can push their limits to become a talented and impressive kitesurfer.
The water-based nature of kitesurfing means that being comfortable in water that is out of your depth is of utmost importance. This could be a few more visits to the local leisure centre in the run-up to your lessons or a visit to where you will be learning and checking that you are comfortable with the conditions there. The overall aim of kitesurfing is for the rider to maintain in an upright position and there are various measures in place to reduce the likelihood of you ending up in the water. That said, part of the fun of kitesurfing is that it is unpredictable and external factors including weather conditions and others using watercraft means that bailing can be unavoidable. As with most things, it’s important to prepare for all scenarios so you can be ready for whatever the next session throws at you.
The practice of actually flying the kite whilst out on the water isn’t as straight forward as you might expect, so it is a good idea to familiarise yourself with various kite-flying techniques with the use of a trainer kite on land. A trainer kite is between two and three metres long and is the ideal way to better understand the wind window and the power zone, both of which are essential concepts that will be used whilst kitesurfing. Don’t underestimate the power these kites can have and avoid use when the winds are particularly strong, as even this modestly-sized kite can garner enough power to lift you off the ground. A trainer kite is well worth the money you’ll save on lesson times and it can be used for mountain boarding, snow kiting or leant to family and friends to keep them entertained whilst you are out on the water.
Reading the Conditions
Being able to read the weather, movement of the ocean, direction of the wind and how these various factors can have an effect on one another will play a major role in someone learning and progressing whilst kitesurfing. Wind direction can affect the tidal currents and knowing exactly what to do in various circumstances will help you to get yourself out of undesirable situations that might otherwise end in disaster.
That concludes our guide to just some of the skills required to learn and develop in kitesurfing. We hope this has given you some kind of idea on what to work on ahead of your first lesson, or how you might better your skills out on the water if you are already and experienced kitesurfer. If you’re looking to buy a kitesurfing kite, or any other kind of equipment, don’t hesitate to browse our fantastic range of kites, boards, wetsuits and accessories today!