What is Kitesurfing?
What is kitesurfing? Well a dictionary definition would probably list it as an is "a surface water sport that uses the wind to pull a rider through the water on a small kiteboard" but that's really missing the point. Kitesurfing is all about the rider using a kite and its force to direct them over the surface of the water using the same basic principle as sailing. The rider is attached to the kite via a harness that gives kitesurfing and control over the kites direction and speed. You can kitesurf on most open areas of water which can be deep or shallow, calm or rough and if possible with constant winds of between 8 and 50 knots.
To be able to kitesurf you will require certain skills. The first and probably most important is the ability to fly and control the kite, which is your main source of propulsion. Once the ability to fly the kite has been mastered the rider must then learn how to ride the board and use the kite to propel them across the water surface by flying the kite in the correct zone consistently to produce enough force to propel both rider and kiteboard.
Once the rider has become efficient at the basic they can attempt more complex manoeuvres such as jumps and tricks. Due to the nature of the sport and its associated freedom there is no limit to the scope of the manoeuvres and tricks that can be achieve.
It is worth pointing out that kitesurfing can be dangerous to both the kitesurfer and other users of the water and surrounding areas, with this in mind its essential that people interested in the sport first take professional lessons from a kitesurfing school.
Well first let look at the kite itself, its not one of those plastic and bamboo efforts you played with on the beach as a kid that for sure. In kitesurfing the kite is the means of propulsion, its the engine and needs to be able to grab wind. To achieve this the kite uses a framework to add rigidity, the framework is often made from inflatable tubes, solid battens or a double layer of cloth. This gives the kite a cell arrangement which helps maintain a fixed shape. Inflatable kites are more common as they are considered easy to re-launch after a crash into the water.
Most kites are controlled by bars which include a "depower" system which reduces the kites angle of attach to the wind, thus catching less wind and reducing power. Bars are also more suitable to one handed riding which gives the kite surfer more scope when performing tricks and jumps.
Connecting the bar to the kite is achieved by a system of lines manufactured from non-stretch materials. The amount of lines and complexity varies depending on kitesurfing the type of kite but normally there are 4 or 5 lines with a typical length of 23 meters.
Kitesurfing harnesses come in several forms, seats with leg loops, waist or vest. The harness attaches to the control bar and takes the majority of the strain applied via the kites pull off the riders arms.
There is a vast variety of kitesurfing boards on the market but the most popular are multi directional twin tip board symmetrical boards. Boards come with sandal type foot straps that attach the rider to the board, the rider can detach and attach these very easily. Kitesurfing boards are of a similar construction as snowboards with high compression cores and harder rails.
A safety hook knife is pretty much required equipment in our opinion, they can be used to cut entangled or snagged lines or release the kite if your safety harness fails. You need a helmet to protect your head from knock that can cause concussion, cuts and reduce the severity of impact injuries.