Top Tips For What NOT To Do As A Kiteboarder.
We’ve all been there, we’ve all done the “walk of shame” or the “swim of misery” back to shore. Sometimes, those days happen even to the best, most experienced riders. Those are the days we try to avoid, and with any luck (and of course skill) your bad experiences are few. To ensure your experiences while kiteboarding is all positive, we’ve outlined some “Top Tips” for what NOT to do as a kiteboarder, in no particular order.
Tip #1 – BE INFORMED
If you’re new to the kite spot you’re about to ride at, make sure you take the time, prior to your session, to get informed! Ask the local kite shop or school for advice on the riding conditions at their top launch areas. They will be able to warn you of any rules and regulations you need to be aware of, like swim zones, as well as any ‘danger zones’ or obstacles notorious for that spot.
Tip #2 – BE KNOWN
If you’re kiting at a new, unknown spot and are among an entirely new group of kiters, be sure to introduce yourself. Take an extra couple of minutes prior to your session to make yourself known to the locals. Chances are, that community is pleased to meet you and will now keep an eye on you while riding in case any assistance is needed. If you do need to be rescued, that’s totally OK, but it will be better for all parties involved if you have already introduced yourself to the local kiters. Don’t be that newbie no one knows who is needing to be rescued within the first ten minutes of your session.
Tip #3 – WALK OUT YOUR LINES
Whether you’re a new rider or someone who has been kiteboarding for years, walk out your lines! Safety is key during kiteboarding, especially during launching, as the beaches (or grassy areas) are often filled with obstacles and pedestrians. When setting up your kite, make sure your lines are correctly attached and free from any debris or tangles. Double check before you ask someone to assist in launching you. Perhaps you were pumped to get out on the water to enjoy the beautiful wind and you hurriedly rigged your lines to your kite and didn’t double check it was done correctly. Someone goes to launch you and your lines are crossed, now your kite is going to loop and take you with it. SLAM! You’ve just been dragged and dropped down the beach in front of everyone to see. Hopefully you’re not physically hurt (which could have easily happened) but you’re definitely hurting in the pride department. This could have easily been avoided by double checking your lines and walking them out, from bar to kite, before you’ve asked for a launch.
Tip #4 – KEEP IT LOOSE
We know you’re excited to get out on the water, but remember, you’re not out there yet and the launch process is still happening. When launching your kite, be sure to keep a loose grasp on the bar until the launcher has turned the kite over and is in the ready position. Once both you and the launcher are ready for a successful launch, lean toward the bar to keep it sheeted out, DO NOT PULL on it. If you’re pulling on the bar, you are making it difficult for the person launching you. As long as you are standing in the correct location for a launch (back to the wind), stay with your training and be patient, let the wind do it’s job.
Tip #5 – LET IT GO
(Now that you have the Frozen song in your head) You’ve volunteered to launch a kite for your fellow kiteboarder, thank you! Now, be sure to do it correctly so that you’ve helped them with a successful launch instead of hindered them. When launching for someone, it’s important to hold the kite still and allow the kiter to do all the moving until everything is positioned perfectly. Once you’ve received the universal signal for “ok, let go”, from the kiter, simply LET GO. Do not push or throw the kite into the air; if the kiter is correctly positioned, the wind and bar pressure will do all the work.
Tip #6 – KEEP COOL, BRO
As mentioned in the previous tip, there are universal signals used during kiteboarding. Be sure you use them correctly when you need assistance from someone. The universal signal for communicating with the person launching your kite is the thumbs up. This signals the launcher that you’re ready for them to let go of your kite. Similarly, the universal signal for communicating the desire to land your kite is the action of tapping the top of your head with your flat hand a few times in a row. Be sure to make eye contact with the person you’re signaling so that all parties are aware you’re coming in and needing assistance landing. So, in summary, keep it cool, bro! No need to make crazy faces, hand gestures, or scream and shout in an attempt to highlight that you need someone’s help. These actions merely confuse the people around you and may give the wrong impression. Stick to the basic, easy signals everyone knows.
Tip #7 – WATCH WHERE YOU’RE GRABBING
If you’re doing someone a solid and landing their kite, be sure you are positioned correctly and prepared to grab the kite in the appropriate spot. When handling a kite, the only area to grab is the center of the kite along the leading edge. While holding the kite from the center of the leading edge, you have full control. You can now turn the kite upside down and move it to a safe resting area on the beach. If you were to grab the kite by the trailing edge, far wing tip, or by the bridles, you’re putting yourself and the rider attached in danger, as well as potentially damaging the kite. If you’re new to kiting and someone asks you to land them, don’t ignore them and pretend you didn’t see they signaled you. Instead, simply position yourself under the kite and prepare to grab the center of the leading edge, with both hands. If you’re still not sure what to do from there, just stand still and continue to hold the kite; the rider will walk toward you and can advise you where they want you to flip the kite (or they will take it from you).
Tip #8 – RELIEVE THE PRESSURE
Someone is helping you land your kite and you’ve successfully lowered it into their hands, now help them out. Walk toward the kite and relieve the pressure on the kite. If you walk toward the kite, the lander can now easily maneuver the kite and flip it around to gently place it on the ground. If you’re still pulling on the bar after the lander has grabbed the kite, you’re only causing a struggle for them and creating the potential for them to lose control and let go of the kite. If they let go of the kite while you’re unprepared, that kite is going to zoom back into the wind window and drag you down the beach. If this happens, it’s not the lander’s fault, it is yours, you have all the control until you relieve the pressure between bar and kite.
Tip #9 – DON’T FORGET YOUR BOARD
You’ve successfully launched your kite and you’re ready to go ride. Grabbing your board and maneuvering your kite while on the way out to the water takes a little finesse. To help ease this step, do yourself a favor and set your board on the edge of the water, prior to launching your kite, so that you have very little traveling to do to get to the water. Once you’re ready to grab your board, bend your knees and kneel to reach it. Keep pressure on bar or drop the kite lower into the wind window as not to lose power and control of the kite.
Tip #10 – GO THE DISTANCE
If you’re launching from the beach during an onshore breeze, take the time to walk yourself out a safe distance from the beach before you jump onto your board. If you’re doing a water start without giving yourself distance between the beach and deeper water, your fins will likely stick in the sand and the bottom of the board may suction cup down. If you’ve powered up your kite to start riding but you’re without a mobile board, you will be propelled forward and out of your board straps. Face Plant City!! Do yourself a favor and either walk or body surf out into deeper water to ensure a beautiful, error-less water start.
These tips are helpful in that, not only do they ensure your safety, they also ensure your cool-level and pride stays intact. Don’t be the next kiter to go viral on KookSlams; take your time, remember your training, and enjoy yourself. This is a sport all about passion and feeling free, make sure an avoidable bad experience doesn’t come in the way of that! Enjoy and stay safe out there!