Is Kiteboarding Dangerous?
Kiteboarding — or kitesurfing — is an extreme sport, accompanied by the thrills and fitness benefits you would expect from spending time on the ocean controlling the wind. Any sport you partake in at the coast has health and psychological benefits, and kitesurfing is no different. It's fun, it gives you a thrill, connects you with nature and has a social aspect to it, too. Like all sports, there are elements of danger, but with a few lessons and a little common sense, you should be good to go.
We'll address some common concerns and misconceptions about kitesurfing, so you can go ahead and enjoy the sport with the tools you need to make the experience as exhilarating and safe as possible. With the right information and skills at your disposal, you can take away many of the dangers of kitesurfing and focus on having fun.
Can I Blow Away?
In theory, it makes sense to be concerned about blowing away. You think about the wind lifting you and your kite upward, at which point you have no control. However, the wind almost always moves laterally, so the quick answer is no, you won't get blown away. However, you do need a basic understanding of what we call the wind window.
The wind window can be likened to the top half of a clock but with a circular radius. It's the space in which your kite can fly and depends entirely on the length of your lines. In other words, the longer your line, the larger the radius of your wind window. The wind window is always on your downwind side.
Anything outside of this radius and your kite won't be able to stay in the air anymore. A basic understanding of the three wind window zones will help you kiteboard safely:
- The edge: Also known as the neutral zone, the edge is the farthest your kite can be away from you and is determined by the length of your kite lines. Your kite will produce very little power while in this zone.
- The soft zone: You'll find the soft zone just inside the radius of the neutral zone — it's where the kite starts to move and gradually produce power. Your kite is easy to control and steer in this zone, which is perfect while you're getting the hang of things.
- The power zone: In the power zone, around 12 'o clock with your back facing the wind, your kite will generate the most force. You'll go much faster. It would be best if you rarely used the power zone unless you're in light winds or an experienced kiteboarder performing tricks.
For a complete understanding of how to use the wind window, consider kiteboarding lessons. Knowledgeable professionals can guide you through the basics so you know exactly where to position your kite when launching, landing and steering your kite.
What if the Wind Changes Too Fast?
You need wind to kitesurf, but matching the conditions with your experience level and keeping an eye out for inclement weather is essential. You must be aware of the weather at all times, so consider learning to read a wind forecast and taking the appropriate precautions, including the following:
- Bring someone with you: If you're a beginner kiteboarder or just unsure, don't go out on the water alone. Whether you need them or not, it's invaluable to have someone with you who can help you to shore if the weather takes a turn for the worse.
- Learn how to read the wind forecast: Reading and understanding the wind forecast gives you valuable information about what to expect on the water and how long you can be out safely. Pay special attention to wind direction and strength so you can be as prepared as possible.
- Check the local weather forecasts: To be extra prepared, check more than one weather forecast. You can use different apps and cross-reference your insights for the best possible overview of what the day holds.
Before you set out for your first kitesurfing experience, it's best to have a basic understanding of how much wind you need in the first place. Generally, you'll about 12 mph to ride, but it depends on your weight and experience.
What if I Crash Into Someone?
You aren't likely to be alone in the water when kitesurfing, which means there is a possibility you could end up colliding with someone or getting your lines tangled with another kite surfer. You can minimize these chances by taking the following steps:
- Avoid the busy season: Lots of people out on the water means beginner riders have a higher chance of colliding with someone. Take some time to learn the ropes in the off-season until you're comfortable handling your lines.
- Stick to quiet areas: For the same reason, finding a wide, quiet beach to practice and staying far out in the beginner areas makes sense.
- Take lessons: Kiteboarding lessons will be invaluable when learning how to handle your equipment. After a few good-quality lessons with an expert, you'll have greater confidence and understanding of the risks.
- Bring a partner: An extra pair of hands is never bad when kiteboarding. A friend can help you with your lines when you launch, come back to shore or in the case of a collision.
Is Kiteboarding Too Hard on My Body?
Kiteboarding has a range of health and fitness benefits. You'll gain strength, improve your balance and coordination and get your heart pumping — which is excellent for heart health and cardiovascular fitness. It's more of a strength-based workout than an aerobic one, but you'll get a full-body workout and the added health benefits of being outdoors while you do it. As with any sport, there's a risk of overdoing it and sustaining an injury. Prepare your body using the following tips and tricks:
- Stretch first: Whatever exercise you do, it's always best to warm up with some gentle stretches. Pay particular attention to your core, back and shoulders, as you'll engage these muscle groups while on the water.
- Stay hydrated and eat well: Cramping is a common challenge when kiteboarding, especially in your calves and hamstrings. Make sure you hydrate before you set out and take regular breaks to top up. Nourish your body beforehand with healthy foods that help minimize cramps, like bananas and orange juice.
- Watch the wind: The stronger the wind, the more potent your workout, so if you're a beginner with limited endurance, try to build your fitness up slowly in less challenging wind conditions.
- Invest in sun protection: There's no denying a day out on the ocean leaves you exposed to the elements. You could get a nasty sunburn or even eye damage without adequate sun protection. Always protect your face from sun damage with a waterproof, high-SPF sunscreen and find the best kiteboarding glasses to protect your eyes.
Get the Hang of Kiteboarding Basics With Elite Watersports
Kiteboarding has potential risks, but having the know-how and taking the proper precautions can limit these dangers so you can focus on the health benefits and exhilaration of being out on the shining blue water, harnessing the wind. Always take a buddy with you and fuel your body correctly for exercise. Make the time for proper training and speak to an expert about having the right equipment for the job.
Elite Watersports is here to help you whether you're an experienced kiteboarder or want to hit the water for the first time. Our premium experience in all things watersports makes us the go-to experts in St. Petersburg, Tampa Bay and the surrounds. Let one of our expert instructors take you through the basics or help you elevate your skills. We will provide you with all the gear you need to get going. Please don't hesitate to contact us today for more information on how we can help you become a kitesurfing pro.