Top Ten Beginner Mistakes in Kiteboarding:
Most beginners make the same mistakes during the learning process.
They either get stuck on one of these or they have a mentor or guide to help them through it. The best way to learn of in a lesson from a professional instructor, the next best way is to learn with some tips from a professional instructor. This issue we have brought you the list of the Top ten Beginner Mistakes in Kiteboarding, and their solutions. Provided by Professional kiteboarding instructor David Dorn
1. No Mental Preparation: the first step of kiteboarding starts with visualization. This is looking at a video or a magazine or watching other beginner kiters, so you have a visual reference of what to do, (and maybe of what not to do). This is a very important step. My favorite of these is to watch the beginner Video from Progression, 2.5 hours long. It gives a great overview of the sport and shows the different parts. Anyone thinking of learning should watch some if not all of this video before their first session. The IKO now also has a series of online videos that breaks down the learning steps into step by step skills.
2. Using the wrong gear: Most people know someone who kites, and maybe your buddy is brave enough to lend you his kite gear to learn with. But remember that his gear might be good for him, but it probably a good setup for someone who already knows how to ride. The best gear for a beginner to use is a “trainer kite”. The trainer kite is a small foil kite, that is relatively cheap and easy to fly. It is a great way to learn about the wind and get some experience, and develop your steering reflexes before crashing your buddy’s expensive kite 100 times.
3. Kite too big: Control should come before power. When learning kite control you do not need a lot of power. If your kite is too big it will be difficult to manage and it will be more than a little intimidating. It is better to go down a kite size or two, while you are mastering the first steps of piloting. Remember that the kite has a lot more potential power, than when it is simply flying in a stationery position. It is when you accidentally crash the kite that you might get to feel the full power of the kite, at the worst possible moment.
4. Lines too long: Lone lines make a kite harder to control, because the long lines act as shock absorbers, and they reduce the responsiveness of the kite. When you start steering a kite with long lines there is a time delay that is difficult to control. So using shorter lines while learning is a way to increase control through a better synchronized steering response. Another benefit of shorter lines is that it to reduce the kites overall power. This is a great advantage as it makes the rig easier to fly and less extreme when you make a mistake.
*You are not actually reducing the power of the kite, but you are limiting its potential power by making the wind window smaller. This takes the edge off the inevitable accidental over steering.
5. Bad conditions: beginners often fly in the wrong conditions. If it is way too windy, there is no point going out because you will get worked over, and may scare your self out of kiting all together. Also Strong winds make the kite fly faster, which means that there is very little response time, or no time to think. Experienced kiters have well developed reflexes and can react fast enough to cope with stronger winds. Also the kite’s power is much greater in strong winds, and so while that may sound fun, it also means that your wipeouts will be much worse too. The other extreme is also bad; too little wind. Maybe you live in a light wind location, or maybe you have to wait for your boyfriend/girlfriend to come off the water before you get your turn to ride the gear. But whatever the reason, kiting is light wind is hard. And if the wind is too light it doesn’t work at all. Beginner kiters need a nice steady medium strength wind to learn in. This will make all of the difference, and keep the motivation high and the chance of success high too.
6. Rushing into the water: “Whoa there cowboy, not so fast”. Take some time to learn to fly on land. Land flying or “ground school” is a right of passage for every kiter. On the land you can have your buddy help you launch, and you can have your feet planted on solid ground, which cuts down on all of the variables that swimming creates. There are some basic learning steps and some kite flying skills to learn before hitting the water. Instructors call this stage “first piloting”, and you gotta learn some kite control before hitting the water. Just make sure that the area is big enough so the kite wont hit anything or anyone. Also stay away from roads power lines, and wind shadows. Be careful whenever flying on the land because it hurts when you fall over. (Hopefully your buddy is an off duty kiteboard instructor and he can really help you out).
7. Trying the board too early: Once you are finally in the water, leave there board on the beach. Better yet leave it in the car, so you will not be tempted to use it. The next phase of learning is called the “body drag”, and the name itself it doesn’t sound very appealing, so I prefer to call it “body surfing”. This step is when you learn to fly the kite while “bodysurfing” through the water. Ideally you have a shallow lake with waist deep water, and you can cheat a little bit by standing and so you can walk a bit. Deeper water is much harder. Learn how to fly the kite and go across the wind comfortably before trying the use the board. While you are at it you should also learn how to relaunch the kite from the water, because this is a skill that is going to come in handy later.
8. Trying to waterstart too soon: Ok now you have mastered the body drags and you can fly one handed with your eyes closed. This is a skill you need because now you can take the board out with you in your spare hand. (Never use a kiteboard leash because they are dangerous). If you cannot fly the kite with one hand while holding the board in the other hand, than you are not ready for the board!
Now that you have the board in your hand, do a few runs using the board like a bodyboard or hand surfer. Hold the handle in your front hand and edge the board to help you go upwind. Then turn around and go the other way. Keep practicing until you can turn and go each way smoothly. Then you can put the board on your feet, but don’t try to stand up right away. Instead it is better to just drag along with you butt in the water. Keep doing this until you get the feel for the board and the kite working together.
9. Over steering the kite: Now that you are cruising around with your butt in the water and the board on your feet, you are ready to take it to the next level. The water-start. Don’t over do it! Most people get overexcited and whip the kite hard and fly over the board, superman style. Hold back, and bee cool about it, make small power strokes, and get the feel for the kite lifting you up. It is better to practice a powerstroke and fall back into the water. Do this 50 times, adding a little more power each time, and learn how much power you need to stand. This will give you more chances to try the waterstart, because every time you fly forward over the board it takes a really long time to reset.
10. Learning From Friends: learning is a stressful and frustrating experience, and it can be really hard n teh equipment. so unless you want to strain your relationships, and show your dark side to your buddy, you may be better ff getting a paid-for lesson from a school. also putting your friend’s kite up a tree or slamming it into the ground 100 times wont help your relationships ether. Simply get a lesson, and then come back to hang with your kiting buddies after you have mastered the basics. they will be glad you did.
Hopefully after following these simple tips, you have mastered the basics of kiteboarding up to doing your first waterstarts. Have fun and enjoy yourself.
It doesn’t matter how long it takes you to learn as long as you have fun while you are learning. Take your time and enjoy the learning process. Because you wont be a beginner forever.
Aloha and happy kiteboarding,