Kiteboarding Basics

Kiteboarding basics outlined to assist all beginners in understanding the sport they are about to experience.

70% Kite + 30% Wakeboarding = Kiteboarding.

The most important thing in kiteboarding is understanding the basic principles of nature; how to work with the wind and not against it.

The Wind is the driving force behind our sport and therefore the rider’s responsibility to understand the immense power behind this natural energy. This understanding will ensure a safe time on the water for yourself and everyone around you.

kiteboarding instructor in the water with student

Your Elite Instructor will provide all the critical information you’ll need to know during your lesson. Having a prior basic understanding, however, will benefit you; faster progression is likely. Check out the information below and if you think of any questions be sure to bring them to your lesson or call the shop!

Basic Wind Direction Terminology

Windward: The Upwind direction from a point of reference.

Leeward: The Downwind direction from a point of reference.

Gaining Ground: When a rider moves upwind from a point of reference.

Losing Ground: When a rider moved downwind from a point of reference.

Offshore: When the wind direction comes from the shore toward the water.

Side-shore: When the wind direction is parallel with the shore line.

Onshore: When the wind direction is blowing straight toward the shore line.

Side-Onshore and Side-Offshore: When the wind directions are other than the main directions.

Basic Nautical Terminology

All terms are as perceived by a rider facing forward/the front.

Port: The Left side of a vessel; indicated by the color Red.

Starboard: The Right side of a vessel; indicated by the color Green.

Port Tack: Used to describe the alignment of a vessel with the wind; Port Tack means, in kiteboarding terms, the rider’s left hand is forward.

Starboard Tack: Used to describe the alignment of a vessel with the wind; Starboard Tack means, in kiteboarding terms, the rider’s right hand, is pointed forward.

Facts on The Wind Window

Where the kite is flown is known as The Wind Window. The Wind Window is in the shape of a quartered sphere and is the length of your kite’s lines. The position of the kite within this Wind Window is equated to the position of numbers on a clock; 12 o’clock is the center-most point where your kite is directly overhead.

Wind Window Terminology

Wind Window Edge: The upwind edge which is the maximum distance your kite can be from you. The length of your kite lines determines this.

Soft Zone: The area directly below the Wind Window Edge. Within this area, the kite is highly controllable and easily steered, creating moderate power.

Power Zone: The deepest point of the Wind Window. From within this area, the highest speeds are captured through force directed downwind.

Getting to Know Your Kiteboarding Equipment

Your kiteboarding setup will consist of the following:

The Kite: A flying object, shaped similarly to a wing, powered by wind. The wind’s airflow hits the canopy of the kite, creating lift, which converts into forward motion.

kiteboarding wind diagram

Parts of The Kite

Canopy/Material: The fabric covering and connecting the structural elements of the kite.

Leading Edge: The forward-most edge; a large tubular-shaped bladder is housed within and is where air is pumped into to hold the shape of the kite while in use.

Trailing Edge: The back of the kite.

Inflate/Deflate Valve: A valve used to fill the Leading Edge’s bladder with air. This valve is also the source of deflating the kite once you’re ready to end your session.

Struts: Smaller air chambers that connect to the Leading Edge. Housed within the Struts are tubular-shaped bladders filled with air.

Pump Leash Connection Point: A loop near the Inflate/Deflate Valve in which you connect your Kite Pump to while Inflating your kite; this action may seem small, but it can be difference in keeping your kite near you while inflating or losing it down the beach.

Bridles/Pulleys: The line system that balances the kite while in the air.

Front- & Backline Attachments: The connection points for the flying lines.

The Bar System: This steering apparatus is made-up of a steering bar, lines, and safety system.

Components of the Bar System

Kite Lines: A system of different lines that connects the kite to the bar and rider.

Leader Lines: Left and Right connections from bar to the back lines.

Fifth Line: The line in the center that has multiple functions, as part of the safety system, trim, or as relaunch support.

Adjuster: Mechanism that allows rider to adjust lines to meet the “sweet spot” on the depower rope.

Depower Rope: Line in the center which the rider can move the bar up and down in order to adjust the angle of attack to execute the kite position desired.

Chicken Loop: Round hard plastic loop which the rider connects around their harness’ metal hook.

Quick Release: Connection point of safety system within the bar that separates the Kite Equipment from the rider if rider wishes to “eject” from their kite.

Chicken Stick/Donkey Dick: Hard plastic stick that is inserted through the metal harness hook which prevents unwanted separation of harness and chicken loop during rider’s session.

Safety Leash: The safety connection between rider and kite equipment. The ejection end connects to the harness and the other end connects to the metal loop within the chicken loop. they come with your bar click here

The Board: Positioned at the base of the rider, connecting the rider to the water’s surface, allowing forward motion thanks to the wind’s driving force. Referred to as a “Twin Tip” or “Bidirectional” board.

A board’s performance is based on its shape and characteristics.

Length: Long boards are ideal for beginners or low wind speed. Short boards are ideal for agility and strong wind conditions.

Width: Wide boards are ideal for light wind speeds. Narrow boards are ideal for choppy water and high wind speed.

Thickness: Thin boards are designed for light weight riders or specific flex zones. Thick boards are designed to be more buoyant and stable for heavy riders.

Rocker: The curve of the board when viewed from the side. The bigger the rocker, the more ideal the board is for comfortable riding. The board will not catch the waves as often during maneuvers while also being more controllable. Great for strong wind and choppy waters. Does not handle planning as well as a board with little rocker. Boards with Little rocker are fast and more precise for popping/boasting. Water does catch your board’s edge more often with little rocker.

Here is a link to different types of boards

Here is a link to different types of Kites

kiteboarding wind window diagram

Learn the window before your lesson by buying a trainer kite! click here