The steps to learn to kite surf are not as hard as they may look. It takes most people between 10 and 20 hours of practice to be an independent kiteboarder, occasionally, an exceptionally motivated individual is able to go from ‘zero to hero’ in one day.
First you have to learn the proper kitesurfing terminology so that your instructor can communicate instructions to you clearly. This includes a few pieces of equipment and kite positions.
Kite – Used to harness the power of the wind and pull you across the water.
Harness – Attaches you to the kite.
Control Bar – Allows you to steer the kite and control the pull and power of the kite.
Board – The board that you stand on as you move across the water. Similar in size and shape to a wakeboard.
Bindings – The velcro straps that attach you to the board.
When kitesurfing you always stand with your back to the wind. If you are facing the same direction as the wind, the position of the kite from left to right is discussed in terms as if you are standing in the center of a large clock and the kite is near one of the numbers. Straight above your head is 12:00 and 90-degrees to your right is 3:00 and 90-degrees to the left is 9:00. T
hese three positions are positions of least pull with the kite. The most powerful possible position is when the kite is directly in front of you, the farther you move away from this position in any direction the less power the kite will have.
Controlling the kite
Before you learn to kite surf a valuable tool is a trainer kite. The trainer kite is a miniature kite that moves in a similar fashion to a full size kite, but is too small to pull you anywhere so you can learn the subtleties of kite control safely.
After the trainer kite lesson you’ll be attached to a full size kite by a harness. Your control over the kite comes in the form of a bar that you hold onto like a set of handlebars. This bar controls the direction of the kite, as well as the power. The ends of the bar are attached by strings to the corners of the kite and the bar pivots around the main cord that attaches your harness to the leading edge of the kite.
When you pull in on one side of the bar, the kite will turn in that direction. The bar also moves towards and away from you along the cord that attaches your harness to the leading edge. Pulling the bar all the way in will keep the kite at full power. If you let the bar all the way out, it will de-power the kite. This is a fail-safe for people who feel out of control. If you panic and let go of the bar and the kite completely de-powers.
First, you practice moving the through low-power positions. Then, when you’re ready you move the kite into a power position. You’ll move the kite through the power zone, and then back out do a low power zone, so the pull will only last a moment or two. This exercise teaches you where the power really is, and how it feels to be pulled.
The next step is just to get comfortable with a kite in the water. You will use the kites power to drag yourself through the water. You just move the kite in and out of power positions, pulling yourself along through the surf.
Now it’s time to strap on the board. To start you sit in the water with the board on, keeping the board near the surface of the water, just like starting on water skis or a wakeboard. Then you put the kite in the air, and move it into a power position. The pull of the kite should pull you up out of the water and, as you lean back, keeping the board’s edge in the water, you’ll start moving. And that’s it – you’re kitesurfing.