For your own safety and the safety of others, taking lessons is essential when learning kitesurfing. The learning process is different depending on where you learn. In Squamish, we teach all of our lessons from boats allowing our students to fly the kite and get in the water on day one instead of learning land theory first. Here is what the progression looks like:
STEP 1: Watch our 1 hour instructional video
Before your lessons you will learn the basic theory of kite flying all the way through the entire progression to riding from our online instructional video. Studying the content before your lessons is a great way to jump start your progression as you already have some basic knowledge before getting on the water. This also saves valuable lesson time with your instructor on the water and allows you to be hands on the whole time without spending the whole lesson on theory. The video is great to watch between your lessons a you progress to help solidify what you learned on the water.
STEP 2: Learn basic kite piloting
You first lesson will be focused on kite piloting. For your safety, comfort and to maximize your progression, the kite will be initially attached to the boat while you learn to control it. You will learn to launch the kite off the water, how to hold the kite in one place, control the kite using one hand as well as how to move the kite to create power. You will also learn your emergency eject systems.
STEP 3: Practice power strokes (body dragging) in the water
Once you have mastered kite flying from the boat, you will get hooked into the kite and sent in the water. Once you are hooked into the kite you will feel the power of the kite as it pulls you through the water. You will gain a good understanding of how you can use kite movement to control power and the amount of power you need to pull yourself out of the water.
STEP 4: Water starts
After mastering the power stroke and the ability to control speed and power, you will move onto board starts. This is one of the most difficult stages in learning kiteboarding. All lessons are boat assisted meaning that your instructor will be right next to you through your entire progression giving you tips and tricks to help you get up and riding.
STEP 5: Riding upwind
Once you can get up on the board and ride a fair distance the next step is to ride upwind. This is important so you can begin and end your kite session in the same spot. Your instructor will guide you in changing your stance, kite and body position to help you make it upwind.
STEP 6: Upwind body dragging to retrieve your board
Upwind body dragging is one of the most important skills to have as a kiteboarder. When you fall down and lose your board, it will always be upwind of you (while your kite continues to pull you downwind). Mastering upwind body dragging takes some practice though there are some tips and tricks to help you body drag upwind as quickly and efficiently as possible. Upwind body dragging can be used not only to retrieve your board when you lose it but also to get yourself out of uncomfortable situations, for example: the wind is too light to ride- upwind body drag back to the beach, you are getting too close to an obstacle- upwind body drag with your board away from it, it is recommended as a beginner to body drag away from the beach before doing a water start so the water is not so shallow.
STEP 7: Learn to launch and land your kite from the beach
This step can be learned anytime after learning to pilot your kite, though the more experience you have with kite flying the easier and safer this step will be. In Squamish the best time to learn is when there is low tide offering a large sandy beach with plenty of space to practice. Otherwise you can learn to launch and land from the Spit.
STEP 8: Self rescue in the water
While learning kitesurfing you will will do a self rescue from the boat at the end of every lesson. By the time you are ready to kite on your own, you must perform a self rescue in the water. This is an essential skill that every kiteboarder must learn.
Once you have completed all these steps you are ready to ride alone. To recap, in order to be an independent rider you must be able to:
- Launch and land your kite safely on the beach
- Be able to ride up wind all the time
- Retrieve your board when you lose it (by upwind body dragging)
- Perform a self rescue alone in the water