The Basics of Kitesurfing
Beaches have always been a popular holiday destination. Some people take a dip in the waters, while some just relax over the sand. Some hop in a boat and go for a ride, while some strap their boards on and play with the tide.
Apart from these basic go-to activities, the one other activity that’s rapidly getting popular is kitesurfing.
For a sport that has just recently garnered attention, around 1999, the kitesurfing market is already estimated at around ＄250 million annually.
So today, let’s find out some basics about kitesurfing.
What is Kitesurfing?
Anyone going to the beach won’t be a stranger to surfing. If you haven’t done it yet, you have definitely seen others surf. Kitesurfing is no different. All you do is hold on to a kite while surfing. Well, not exactly.
According to the Oxford dictionary, kitesurfing is the sport or pastime of riding on a modified surfboard while holding on to a specially designed kite, using the wind for propulsion. In simple terms, you stand up on a surfboard while a large kite pulls you forward.
The reason why kitesurfing is so popular is its accessibility. Apart from being convenient, it is much less expensive than other water sports. And the best thing, anyone can do it. Yes, you can do it too!
What Equipment Do You Need to Kitesurf?
Kitesurfing isn’t something that you can take up right away. Before you even start training for it, you need to gather the equipment needed for it.
The very first thing you need is a kite. (That was no rocket science, right?) Next, you will need a board, lines, kite control devices, and other minor little things. Niash and Airrush have ruled the kitesurfing market so far. And you will most probably find yourself buying from them too.
Let’s go over the equipment one by one.
Generally, any kite large enough to pull you forward can be used. But when you ask a professional, they will give you a list of factors to be considered while selecting a kite.
¬ The ease with which a kite can be relaunched into the air.
¬ It’s ability to handle jumps.
¬ The level of controls it gives over its powers.
Based on the kind of kite you want, there are four basic options to choose from:
Inflatable Kites- They have a permanent crescent moon type shape which will help you to relaunch immediately. But it also has the power to drag you along with it. So these kinds of kites should generally not be preferred while training.
Flat Inflatable Kites (Bow kites)- They are a version of the inflatable kites having a flat bow on the leading edge. The flat bow helps the kite to be easily powered down. And that means you will be getting dragged somewhere else much less often.
Framed Skin Kites- These are the ones with either a graphite or a fiberglass leading edge. They have a rigid construction which makes it tough to launch in the air. You need to have a sufficient amount of practice to master this kite.
Ram Air Foil Kites- These are the most aerodynamic kites and the best ones to look at too. They have no structure or shape. Once in the air, they allow the air to shape them, thus getting the most out of it.
The kite may pull you forward, but it’s the board that will help you stand. Though there are instances of kite surfers going without a board, having a board is always preferable. Here are the two basic types of boards for kitesurfing:
1. Bi-directional Board. These kind of boards are ideal for doing jumps and tricks. Also known as twin-tip boards, they are very thin in construction. You can get them between ＄400 to ＄1000.
Directional Board. These are the boards designed for speed. They are great for going fast even in gentle wind conditions. They may get difficult to control under high winds, but if you’re skillful, you can easily do some tricks with them.
The lines used for kitesurfing are generally made of spectra or kevlar. When you are still training, it is advised to use two lines on your kite. And once you master the sport, you can switch to using four or five lines. Generally, the size of your kite and the wind conditions will govern the length of your lines.
• Kite Control Device
This is the most essential thing you should have. This is the thing that helps you maneuver where you want. With inflatable kites, control bars are used generally. While with foil kites, handles are most common.
Apart from direct control, you also need to have brake lines. They help you to slow down your kite or stop it as and when needed.
And before heading out, make sure your control device has a highly reliable safety release feature. You will find it handy when you’re getting dragged on by your kite.
• Other miscellaneous things
Other than the things mentioned above, you will need to be equipped with a harness, wetsuit, water boots, life jacket, and a helmet.
Now that you know all the things you need for kitesurfing, let’s get to know the popular destinations where you can do it.
5 Popular Kitesurfing Destinations in the United States:
• Outer Banks, North Carolina.
If you are looking for some classic and remote beaches, then this is the place for you. With perfect waves and flat-water, you will have an experience of your life kitesurfing in Outer Banks.
• Maui, Hawaii.
Though a bit far, Maui has consistent winds and waves. Add to that the volcanic hikes and kitesurfing at Maui becomes a very pleasurable experience.
• Florida Keys, Florida.
If you aren’t the one for crowds, Florida Keys offers you some nice secluded beaches to enjoy the sport. However, be wary of the sharks when you’re there.
• Columbia River Gorge, Oregon.
The strong and reliable winds add to the natural beauty of Oregon. If you don’t mind a little crowd, this can be a perfect place for you to kitesurf.
• Oahu, Hawaii.
Just like Maui, this can be a little expensive and far. But if you want to witness a great surfing culture, then Oahu would be the place for you.
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