Basics

Page at a glance

A good understanding of and experience with basic kitesurfing skills is essential to maximise your enjoyment and safety.
You've had your lessons and have a good understanding of the basics.  The learning curve is about to become steep - you have to put those lessons into practice and keep yourself (and others) safe in a whole range of conditions.


Choose the conditions carefully

Wind strength
As a beginner, try and choose conditions under 20 knots - typically 15 to 20 knots is the sweet spot.  Consistent sea breezes are preferable too - 15 to 20 knots in front of a storm front can be a very difficult proposition as gusts can be very hard to handle.  Ideally, look for a warm seabreeze on a day that has no chance of rain or storms.  For more details see Weather.

Wind direction

As a beginner, you want wind that is blowing cross onshore.  This guarantees that if anything goes wrong - whether that be equipment failure or your kite falling out of the sky, you will end up back on the shore.   Be aware where which direction a cross-onshore winds will blow you if you end up in the drink.  Make sure that whatever is in that direction can be negotiated with a kite in the water.  You don't want to get blown into moored boats, swimmers, piers or rock walls if you are swimming with a jellyfished kite.   

Never go out in offshore conditions.  For more details see Wind directions.

Location
It is best to go somewhere where there are other kiters to help you launch and land.  Preferably a wide beach with enough room to botch a launch or land, that is free of people.  As above, check that down wind is a kite safe area - as you will most probably end up there.

Use a combination key safe that locks onto the outside of your car (e.g. towing ring or towbar) to store your car key while out on the water.  Cars are broken into when left, particularly if you stash a key somewhere insecure, or leave a key in your kitebag on the beach.  There is also a "Hitchsafe" model that fits inside a standard towbar fitting.

Setting up the kite

Unroll your kite, lay it on its back and pump it up.  Keep the kite tethered down to ensure it does not blow off once it has some air in it.  Most modern kites have a connection system between the pump and the kite.

     
Attaching pump leash and pumping up kite

If you are using one hand to secure the kite, be careful while pumping as it is easy to break pumps when pumping with one hand.

Once the kite is pumped hard, place it with the leading edge (the blown up spar that spans the length of the kite) face down into the sand.  You should have your kite aligned with the oncoming wind - ie. if you stand at the spot where you pumped up the kite, the wind should be coming from directly behind you.  It should look like this.

Kite leading edge down into wind

It is common for beginners to under-inflate their kites.  This will affect the kite's flying characteristics and may result in it folding over if you crash it.  Pump your kite up hard.  Seek advice from nearby kiters on this.

Lay out the lines - upwind

  • Ensuring you are in front of the leading edge, locate the ends of your lines.  
  • Crouch down and carefully place these ends onto the sand.  Try and make sure they do not blow around too much, this will tangle your lines and make your life a misery.  
  • Walk backwards from the front of your kite in the direction of the wind, laying out the lines as you go.
  • Make sure you unloop the lines from the bar the reverse way you wound them on to prevent them getting twisted. 
Once you have laid out all the lines, place your bar on the sand and place it into a position so that you are ready to go.  
  • Make sure the left side of bar (coloured side) is on the left.
  • The chicken loop should be upwind of the bar, the safety lines must be clear.  

Step downwind of your bar, and pick up the four lines into your hands.  The configuration should be:
  • Right hand - right hand front line, right hand rear line (right leg in between)
  • Left hand - left hand front line, left hand rear line (left leg in between)
Kite line layout        

Walk towards your kite with your two hands in front of you, using your body to untangle the lines.

 

When you get to the kite, lay the lines out on the sand from left to right in sequence.

For information on different methods of rigging lines see Line rigging comparison

See Line management for more information about managing lines.

While it is good to know all three methods to rig lines, it is best to use one regularly and develop a fixed routine to eliminate errors.

Connecting the lines

Attach the lines to the kite, ensuring that you follow the colour coding.

Use the same routine for connecting the lines to avoid crossing them.  Crossed lines can result in you completely losing control of the kite on launch, which can be very dangerous.

Setting up for launch

If there are other kiters around and you are not sure that you have setup correctly, ask a kiter to check your setup.  Most kiters will be happy to help - everyone has been in this situation before and it is better for everyone if people are playing safe.

Try and get an assisted launch wherever possible - having a kiter launch your kite is much safer than trying to self launch.  

In terms of preference
  1. Assisted launch by a kiter
  2. Self launch
  3. Assisted launch by a non-kiter (not recommended: this can create a world of pain, if you must do this, demonstrate to them how it should be done first)
When you are getting an assisted launch, the person launching should pick up the kite in the centre of the leading edge and flip it on its back and take it to the position for launching. 

Launching

  • The launcher moves to the edge of the wind window and "feeds the kite up" so that it fills with wind.
  • Check your lines and ensure they are not tangled in any way.   If they are tangled, signal to the launcher to place your kite back down. 
  • There is no easy way to untangle the lines safely, it is best to disconnect your lines and start again (disconnect, walk through from the bar to the kite, reconnect).
  • Check that your safety is attached.
  • Give the signal to launch (thumbs up).
  • The launcher releases your kite gently. They should NOT throw it up.
  • You then steer your kite slowly up the edge of the wind window to reduce its power, but avoid bring it completely overhead when on the beach.
Assistant about to launch kite

Kiting

Try and focus on gaining at least one of the core skills listed in progressions each session.

The first key one is staying upwind.  Be aware that you first need a little speed before you can make any headway upwind.  Sometimes, you may have to come off the wind a little to generate speed before tacking hard to go upwind.

Landing

Get an assisted landing wherever possible.

As per launching, the preferences are:
  1. Assisted landing by a kiter
  2. Self landing
  3. Assisted landing by a non-kiter (not recommended)
Once you have landed, secure the kite by ensuring it is in the right position, weighted down (sand or board) and disconnect from the lines.

Moving kites

If you need to carry a kite some distance or move it on the beach, you can grab it by the leading edge bladder while it is inverted.  The wind will keep it aloft, and there is very little pressure as the kite is essentially in neutral position with no tension on the back lines.

Moving kite - holding it Moving kite - flipping it 
Carrying the kite, and flipping it

Moving kite - putting it down Moving kite - on the beach
Placing the kite on the beach - leading edge into the wind


Subpages (1): Line management