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Frequently Asked Questions about kitesurfing and kiteboarding.
Can anyone kitesurf?
Yes, if you are reasonably fit and you are keen enough to persist and learn.  Like skiing, technique is a lot more important that brute strength.

Is kitesurfing hard to learn?
No.  Around 5 lessons should get you going with basic skills and another 5 to 10 sessions should see you going upwind.  It can be difficult to schedule lessons though if the wind doesn't oblige.  Flying a trainer kite will accelerate you learning. Go for it!

How do you rate kitesurfing as a sport?
Very enjoyable and very addictive.  We think its as good as skiing powder.

Why kitesurf?
You experience the freedom of surfing without having to paddle out or wait for waves.  You can fly like a glider without a hard landing.  You get the speed of wakeboarding without needing a boat.  You can travel long distances powered only by the wind.  You can experience the thrill of carving and turning a board without travelling to the snow or risking gravel rash.

What is the difference between kitesurfing and kiteboarding?
There is really no difference.  The terms are used interchangeably.   However, some people may consider kitesurfing to be kiting in surf (wave riding).

Can you go upwind when kitesurfing?
Yes.  You fly the kite to the front of the wind window in your direction of travel (like reefing a mainsail in), edge your board to create a "keel", and steer with your feet to create a "rudder".  Kitesurfers are actually classified as sailing vessels.

Why can I go upwind in one direction but not the other? 
When learning, its normal to go upwind easily in one direction (your "natural stance") but struggle to go upwind in the other direction (your "un-natural stance".  Try getting your board speed and kite speed up first by going downwind slightly after your water start, then edge your board and bring your kite forward to go upwind.

What is the fastest sailing water sport in the world?
Kitesurfing was from 2010 to 2011.  The current fastest speed clocked by a kitesurfer today - the world record - is 55.65 knots, set by Rob Douglas in 2010.  In late 2012 Paul Larsen, an Australian based in Weymouth, broke the sailing world speed record in the Vestas Sail Rocket 2, a custom-made boat manufactured on the Isle of Wight. Larsen averaged 59.39 knots over 500m in his carbon fibre boat on a a bay on Namibia's Skeleton Coast for this feat.

Is it OK to use a board leash when I am learning?
No. If you get yanked hard the board will come at you hard and could easily knock you unconscious or injure you.  Learn to body drag upwind so you can retrieve your board if you lose it. 

Is it OK to use a board leash in big surf?
Yes, if you are an experienced rider and depending on your personal preference. Some kiters prefer not to use a board leash in surf, others do.  It is safer not to use a board leash. However, your board may be carried a long way in the surf if you come off it and you don't have a board leash.

Why do some kiters wear boardshorts over their wetsuits?
Its a fashion statement.  Personally, I think it looks a bit silly and is a waste of time.

Why don't people kitesurf in offshore winds?
You don't kite in offshore winds for two main reasons.  Firstly, if you crash your kite and can't relaunch it, you and/or your gear will get blown out to sea.  Secondly, wind coming off land is often lumpy and gusty which can make kitesurfing difficult or even dangerous.  The exception is when there is a boat handy to rescue you. 

Is it OK to kitesurf alone?
No. Generally, you should always aim to kitesurf with a buddy or at least with some other kiters on the beach or the water.  If things go pear shaped - which could be due to an equipment failure - its great to have some help.

Will my windsurfing or surfing skills help me learn kitesurfing?
Yes, a little.  Any board sports will help you with board control.  However, about 90% of the learning is handling the kite, so using a trainer kite can get your skills up quicker. 

How much does it cost to buy the gear?
You can buy a complete set of secondhand gear (board, kite + bar, harness), depending on condition, anywhere from A$600 to A$2000.  Price ranges for new gear are:  Kite: A$900 to A$2000, Board: A$750 to A$1300, Harness: A$120 to A$250.  Please note that if you are buying a second hand kite, make sure that the kite you are buying is less than 4 years old.  Every year there are improvements in the safety of kites - by buying a relatively recent kite you will keep yourself safe.  Never be tempted into buying a cheap old kite if you are a beginner - they are cheap for a reason and can be very dangerous.

How long does the gear last?
Your gear should last at least 3 to 5 years, barring major accidents such as kite tears.  A lot of kite tears can be repaired however.   You can patch small holes and tears yourself.

How do you stop from just getting blown out into the ocean ?  How can you steer ?
Firstly, you mostly kite with an onshore wind - so if anything goes wrong you will be blown back onto shore.  
Secondly, even though the wind is blowing in one direction, you are generally kiting at an angle to the wind.  For more information see going upwind.

So how is it that you can go at 45 degrees to the actual wind ?
Your kite catches the wind, and deflects the wind slightly towards you.  This causes a change in velocity for your kite (and consequently you) pulling you slightly in the direction of the wind.    If you are really keen and want to work out the physics - http://www.phys.unsw.edu.au/~jw/sailing.html.  Believe me - it just kind of works !

Does the kite sink?
No.  Most kitesurfers use leading edge inflatable kites. The leading edge spanning the length of the kite, and several struts spanning the width of the kite are inflated before launching.  If the kite falls into the water whilst kiting, it will nicely float on top of the water, enabling you to relaunch it.   Having said this, never attempt kitesurfing if you cannot swim.  As a beginner, you will spend a lot of time in the water, and basic swimming skills are necessary.

Do you get attacked by sharks ? 
No.  We have been doing this 8 years and never even seen a shark.  We have seen 1 whale, 6 dolphins, 5 turtles and 0 sharks.  Sharks exist, I'm sure they are around but a kiter does not generally spend a lot of time in the water - its mostly on the water.  I'm generally either too happy in perfect conditions, or thinking about the wind if it is blowing a gale, to even think about sharks.  My advice - don't worry about it, you are far more likely to die by beesting or lightning.

How does kitesurfing compare with windsurfing? 
Kitesurfing is a similar discipline to windsurfing, but the key differences are: kites are more dynamic than a sail, gear is much lighter and easier to carry and rig, techniques for riding and changing direction are quite different.  Windsurfing has been around longer so there are some very experienced people doing it, some of whom also kitesurf.    From a windsurfer: "Sometime you don't want to be on the most lit up machine you can get your hands on, or you prefer the simplicity and control of another. Some like the simplicity of a windsurf rig, and the years and years it takes to get good at it. The power is connected to the board and you try to control it. It doesn't run through you like how a kiter is connected between board and kite."  We sometimes do combined windsurfing and kitesurfing trips.  Bottom line is there is much more in common than there are differences, so its good to respect each other and help each other out.   

Do kitesurfers need to respect a lineup? 
Yes, definitely!  Lineups for a surfing break may combine kitesurfers, windsurfers and even surfers.  However, its best to kite well away from surfers.   If there is a lineup for the waves everyone needs to take their turn and respect others.

Do I need to be really strong to kitesurf?
No. But it does help to be fit.  With good technique, you can kitesurf without needing great strength.   However, you will burn approximately 900 calories (3,765 joules) per hour during an average kitesurfing session, and get an intense abs/arms/back and leg workout, so kitesurfing is a great way to get fit!

How can I tell if I am overpowered?
  • With the bar right out, your arms are fully stretched and the kite is still pulling you hard
  • If you fly the kite high (you shouldn't when overpowered) it lifts you off your edge or off the water
  • You can't reach the depower toggles
  • The kite canopy is luffing (flapping)
  • If you start the power stroke (dive the kite from 12), the kite moves quickly and yanks you too hard so that you lose control of your board and go over your toes. 
  • There are whitecaps everywhere (but if you have the right kite size you won't be overpowered).  
How can I tell if I am underpowered?
  • You can't generate enough power with full dive to get out of the water
  • When moving, forward motion stops (board) as you sine the kite up and you sink back into the water
  • When moving, sining the kite hard but you still go downwind. If you edge to go upwind you lose speed and sink back into the water.

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