These are all the tips we have included in this handbook.
Buy and use a trainer kite, preferably with a bar, to improve your kite flying skills before you start kiting.
Take at least 5 lessons with a qualified kitesurfing instructor. There is no safe substitute for this. Learning from friends or by yourself is likely to compromise your and other's safety. Remember how you learnt to drive.
Join your local Kiteboarding Association. Your local Kiteboarding Association runs kiteboarding events, including social ones, liaises with local governments to retain access to kiting locations, and may also offer you 3rd party insurance.
CAUTION: Do not learn to fly a full size kitesurfing kite on a beach or any other land - this is the most dangerous place to fly your kite. If you are a novice, take lessons and head out into the water at a safe location to learn.
Ask other kiters about any new location you start kiting at so you can avoid any hazards and kitesurfing exclusion zones, some of which might not be obvious.
Practice using your safety releases when it is safe to do so.
Check the weather forecast and avoid storms and strong weather changes. A lot of kiters have been injured when wind speeds dramatically increase and they get lofted or dragged somewhere unpleasant, or even fatal.
Don't jump in shallow water. It looks cool on the beach, and you know you can land it, but if you don’t you can easily break your ankle, leg or neck.
Wear a helmet when you are learning. I still wear my surf helmet as it keeps my sunglasses secure on my head and it has protected me from a few nasty bumps.
We don't recommend going out in wind greater than 40 knots.
You should not go out in wind speeds above 25 knots until you have have logged at least 30 sessions (30 hours on the water).
Complete your pre-flight safety check before heading out
Always use a quick release on anything you connect too
Practice using your safety systems - you need to use them instinctively
Never exceed manufacturers specifications - particularly the wind range for your kite size
Don't exceed your limitations - come in before you get too tired. Accidents and mistakes happen when you are fatigued.
Use your judgement. If in doubt don't go out, or don't do it.
Don't ever assume you have right of way or insist on taking it - the other kitesurfer or vessel may know that or may not be looking.
If two kites collide and the lines get tangled, throw your bar and release your safety immediately. Two tangled kites have twice the power and no control. Under power, kite lines will abrade and cut each other. If both kiters release their kites they are likely to separate themselves.
CAUTION: Kitesurfing storm fronts is for strong intermediate or advanced riders only. It is definitely not for beginners.
Kite lines can cause serious injuries if they wrap around any part of you and get powered up by the kite. Keep clear of the lines during self rescue, paying particular attention to your legs if you are swimming after the kite.
Do not fly your kite at 12 O'Clock when on the beach. A strong gust of wind with the kite in this position could result in you being lofted into the air and carried some distance, with a high risk of impact with something solid. Injuries and deaths have resulted from this.
CAUTION: Do not kite in offshore or cross-offshore winds unless you are experienced and have a boat backup.
CAUTION: Kitesurfers are classified as sailing vessels in many countries and must adhere to all applicable rules and regulations. Regulations can differ between countries, and between states within a country, so check local regulations when kitesurfing at a new location.
Always use a safety leash
WARNING: If you connect your safety leash to the wrong part of your line/control system it may not function correctly and could cause lofting or catastrophic equipment failure which could result in injury. The information on this page is provided for guidance only and may not be appropriate for your kite/line/bar system.
WARNING: If in doubt about where to connect your safety leash to your kite/line system seek expert assistance.
CAUTION: If strong tension comes on the IDS line suddenly the IDS velcro strap system can release by itself, fully releasing the kite. You can grasp the IDS velcro strap system with one hand if the main safety release is deployed to prevent this happening.
Some riders prefer to attach the safety leash to the ring on the Cabrinha IDS line (landing line) so that the kite will remain on the safety leash when the main safety release and the IDS velcro strap system are deployed.
CAUTION: Do NOT use your safety leash to tow in another kiter. If they let go of the leash will under tow the elastic will recoil and fling the metal clip towards you, possibly causing and injury. Instruct someone you are towing in to hold the handle on the back of your harness.
Research carefully the best kite, board and harness for your style of kiting and buy new or good second hand equipment. Don’t save money by buying an old kite that is difficult or dangerous to fly. Make safety your first priority.
Read the manual that comes with your kite so you thoroughly understand its controls and characteristics.
The power and characteristics of kites can vary between manufacturers and models. For example, some have a greater depower range than others, and therefore can have a larger safe wind range. Read your kite manual carefully and follow the manufacturer's recommendation on wind range.
WARNING: Don't buy or attempt to use second hand gear that you know little or nothing about, or is older than 4 years. For example, some older models of kites did not have 100% depower and can be very dangerous - or even fatal - to use when learning.
Select the right kite size for the wind and your body weight.
UV light will damage and weaken kite fabric. Don't leave it on the beach in the sun for long periods when you are not using it.
Attach a small cord loop on your depower adjustment (if it is above the bar) so that you will know instantly which it is, and to make it easier to reach.
Always use the bar and lines that are specific for your kite. Get replacement lines specific for your model and year of kite. Different line lengths could change your kite control characteristics dangerously.
Read your kite owners manual very carefully to learn how to use the bar controls, including safety releases, leash attachment points and power/depower adjustment
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.
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.
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.
Use a smaller board in higher winds for more control, and a larger board in lighter winds for better planing.
Write your name and telephone number on your board. If you lose it, it may be returned to you by someone who finds it.
Use a board bag. It will protect you board from damage in cars, and prevents water and sand from the board getting inside your car.
Kitesurfing PFDs provide good protecting from impacts when you start doing jumps, in addition to providing some helpful flotation. They can also provide additional warmth in cooler conditions.
Check your local state and/or country regulations on use of PFDs, and when buying one, check it complies with relevant standards.
Try a harness out before you buy it if you have the option. Some kitesurfing shops may have a rope you can hook onto and lean back to assess the comfort and fit of the harness.
A latch system on the harness is easier to operate than threading straps through buckles, but wash it out in fresh water after every session to avoid rust.
You can attach a harness pouch to the webbing on your harness, and use it to store small items of gear such as a GPS, mobile phone or waterproof money container.
If you get water accumulating inside the wetsuit around your calves you can punch drain holes using a sharp nail from the inside the wetsuit just above the bottom of the legs to let water out.
GPS units that are described as "waterproof" may let some water in and be destroyed . It is best to put your GPS in waterproof pouch, which you can then put in the front pocket of a buoyancy vest, or in an waterproof arm pouch or harness accessory pouch.
Check helmet impact rating and impact standards before you buy one.
When packing your kite on coarse sand - pull the kite wingtips together so the kite is folded in half, then roll up the kite with both wingtips together. This prevents sand getting inside the kite, that can work its way into seams and cause wear and tear.
When applying a patch to your kite, first swab the area to patch with alcohol (such as methylated spirits) to clean it. Trim off corners of the patch so they are rounded. Carefully peel of the backing then firmly push on the patch. Apply one a patch on both the inside and the outside of the fabric.
Be careful to keep sand out of your larks-head knots when attaching your lines to the kite. Any sand in the knot will abrade inside the leader loops and reduce their service life.
If screws on your board keep working loose, use some medium strength Locktite to secure them.
Look after your fellow kiters. Our sport is friendly and pleasant. Assisting kiters in need and helping each other out will keep everyone safe and having a nice time. Its great to get assistance when you need it in return.
Respect other beach and water users, and follow local rules and regulations. The future of our sport hinges on keeping good relations with beach goers, other water craft and local residents and authorities. You must never crash your kite on a crowded beach, or on anybody or anything else. If in doubt, choose a quieter more suitable location. Incidents and accidents at kitesurfing locations could result in kitesurfing being banned.
Learn and understand right of way rules, clearance rules, kiting zones and no go zones.
A kite flown out of the Wind Window will stall and is likely to fall out of the sky.
If your kite is about to stall, you can reach up and pull on the front lines to keep it flying.
Use your depower adjustment to reduce the power in the kite when self launching in stronger winds. You can repower it once it is flying if necessary.
Fly the kite, fly the kite, fly the kite! (a quote from Bruce Exton). If you crash, concentrate first on flying your kite.
Practice riding a directional board on flat water before you venture into big surf. Directional boards handle and turn quite differently to twin tips. You tend to be more "on the water" rather than carving deeply into it as you do with thinner twin tips. You use both the rail and the fins for turning. Master toe-side riding.
Take spare fins if you are going overseas to remote locations.
Keep your kite at about 45 degrees with the kite as depowered as much as possible while walking along a beach - this will keep you safe if there are gusty conditions about. Having your kite high will leave you prone to wind gusts picking you up and landing you in places you don't want to be - roads, trees, backyards.
Try to keep the kite over water rather than over the beach - if the wind drops the kite will land safely rather than on people or in palm trees.
A straight stance with hips forewards help you go upwind. Avoid crouching with both knees bent.
WARNING: Self landing and self launching a kite are advanced skills that are best learnt under instruction
Avoid self landing wherever possible and particularly in strong and gusty winds. Seek and assisted landing from a fellow kiter whenever possible.
WARNING: If something goes wrong while self launching, quickly deploy your safety release then secure the kite.
CAUTION: Riding unhooked is an advanced skill for experienced kiters.
Practice upwind body dragging BEFORE you need it. It is harder to do in lighter winds, so practice makes perfect.
To generate maximum power for doing a water start in lighter winds, fly your kite first a short distance in the opposite direction, then bring it back in your direction of when diving it through the power zone. For example, if you are doing a water start for a right (starboard) tack, first fly your kite to 11 O'Clock (left quadrant) then bring it to 12 O'Clock, then dive it into the right quadrant of the wind window.
If your kite lands on the water or the beach with its trailing edge down and the wind is light you can do a hot launch by pulling on the front lines. The kite will fly straight up. Do not attempt this in strong winds.
CAUTION: Only kitesurfers with advanced skills should attempt to rescue others. If a less experienced kitesurfer attempts a rescue and gets their own kite lines tangled, then two people require rescuing.
CAUTION: Retrieving a kite is more difficult and dangerous than retrieving a board. Be careful to avoid getting tangled in the kite lines.
If you lose your board after a stack and are having trouble finding it, pull on some power to get lifted out of the water then have a look around for it. If you are looking for a buddy's lost board, do a jump to have a look around from above. Its much easier to spot a board with a bit of height.
WARNING: Jumping can be dangerous. Only jump when you have a clear safety zone 50m downwind and 30m upwind. Never jump in shallow water.
To jump you may have to focus on “unlearning” the reflex you have developed to depower the kite when cresting swells.
After some "hang time" keep the kite turning in your direction of travel otherwise you will swing right under it and it will stall and lose power, and may crash.
Start will smaller jumps and build up to bigger ones.
Once you have mastered jumping, you can combine a jump with a transition to an opposite tack.
When going out through surf, keep kite low down over the waves. It will tend to pull you out and through them if you get caught in white water.
If in doubt, fly the kite out (over the waves).
Pop your knees up to the height of the white water you are about to cross.
If a big crest is coming, turn away to reduce impact, then turn back out after it has broken.
If big broken water coming - jump of the board completely and do a "bomb shape" to reduce flailing.
Slow down for broken waves - if you hit them too fast you can launch - if you have no straps you will come are off the board.
When going out and a good wave presents, you can turn the kite then turn board to get on wave.
If in big surf off the board, duck dive under the wave, dip the kite down (kite out behind the wave). While under, pull on bar to bring the kite back up.
When riding toeside, take the rear foot out and bring it behind the front foot to go upwind better.
Turn the kite, turn the board.
Don't try and catch waves that break a long way out with no wall.
Select waves a long way out and ride them all the way in.
Use a low kite position to avoid getting lifted off your board.
Keep your kite below 45 degrees to avoid getting lifted off your board.
If you crash your kite in surf, re-launch your kite immediately or release it completely. If in doubt, lose the kite. If your kite is caught by waves and you are attached to the bar, the tension in the lines can easily rip it.
Keep your kite well clear of others. Kites are big and intimidating to many other beach users. Do not fly your kite low over other people on the beach or in the water. Overflying pedestrians, roads and other people's property is one the biggest causes of complaints against kitesurfers.
Use designated areas for rigging and landing kites.
Use designated access lanes only for leaving and returning to the shore.
As a general rule kiters are expected to remain 50 meters from a beach.
Don't drop in on (or snake) other kiters waves.
Keep well clear of any surfers or windsurfers.
Watch out for any swimmers offshore - they can be very hard to see in a swell or chop.
Help other kiters launch and land their kites, or if they end up in danger or distress.
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.
When travelling, make sure you pack screwdrivers and allen keys in your hold luggage - they are likely to be confiscated if you attempt to carry them onto the plane.