- What is kitesurfing,
kite surfing kiteskiing, kiteboarding or flysurfing?
- How does it work and how did it all start?
- Is kitesurfing safe?
- Can a kitesurfer go upwind?
- How does a kitesurfer go upwind?
- Can I kitesurf in very light wind?
- Can I kitesurf in very strong wind?
- Can I relaunch the kite from the
- What equipment do I need to kitesurf?
- What types of kite can I use?
- What types of kite control device
can I use?
- What types of board can I use?
- Can I use the kite to pull me on
snow or ice?
- Can I use the kite to pull me on land?
- Can I use the kite with a boat?
- Do I need an assistance to
launch or land the kite?
- Who are selling kitesurfing equipment?
- How much does it cost?
- I don't have $1500! How can
I get into this sport?
- Where can I buy used kitesurfing
- How hard is it to learn how to
- How can I learn to kitesurf?
- What is the wind window?
- What is the typical wind range of a
- Can a kitesurf kite
reef automatically as a windsurfing sail?
- How does a kitesurfer
control the power of a kite?
- How many kites do I need?
- What line length should I use?
- What line strength should I use?
- Should I choose a control bar or
- How do I change direction on
a bidirectional kiteboard?
- How do I change direction on
a directional kiteboard?
- Is it
easier to jibe or to go from heel-down to toe-down position on a
- Should I
choose a bidirectional or directional kiteboard?
- Should I choose bindings or
- How many kiteboards do I need?
- How big a kiteboard should I choose?
- How big a kite should I choose?
- What is a safety release
- How does a safety
release system work?
- Why do I need a
safety release system?
I build my own kiteboard or convert an old surf or windsurfing board to a kiteboard?
- How many fins should I have on my
- Can I build my own kite?
- I am a windsurfer, why
should I learn kitesurfing?
- I am a windsurfer, is it hard to
- How fast is a kiteboard
compared to a sailboard?
- Can I use my
wakeboarding, snowboarding or water-ski skills?
- Can I
do tricks in kiteboarding as in wakeboarding?
I kitesurf where people are windsurfing, water-skiing, jetskiing, or whatever?
many kitesurfers can kitesurf in a space that can normally accommodate 100 windsurfers?
- I'm a kite buggier, is
kitesurfing much different?
- How fast is a kiteboard compared
to a buggy?
- Do I have to be the athletic type?
- Is there a discussion
group on the net for kitesurfing?
- I am convinced now so how do I start?
What is kitesurfing,
kite surfing, kiteskiing, kiteboarding or flysurfing?
Photo by Steve Slaby
Kitesurfing, kite surfing, kiteboarding or flysurfing (if you speak French), is a new exciting water
sport for the new millennium. Kitesurfing is a very, very young sport. In
1998, there were probably only a couple dozens kitesurfers in the world
(there was a "world cup" back then in Hawaii but some of the winners were
starting learning kiting a few weeks/months before the "world cup"). The
population of kitesurfers has been growing rapidly to around 150,000 to 200,000 kitesurfers
world wide by the end of 2006. The idea behind kitesurfing is very
simple. A kitesurfer stands on a board with foot straps or bindings and use the power of a
large controllable kite to propel him and the board across the water. This simplicity also
makes kitesurfing challenging. Your body is the only connection between the kite and the
board and you have to control them both at the same time: piloting the kite on the sky and
steering the board on the water.
How does it work and how did it all start?
Kites originated in China thousands of years ago (two kite masters Kungshu P'an and Mo
Zi flew kites as early as 478 BC) and have managed to remain unchanged until the modern
time, when multiple line controllable kites were introduced by George Pocock in
1826. For the first time in history, instead of letting the wind fly the kite, a multiple
line controllable kite flyer can actually pilot the kite on the sky. Click http://www.asahi-net.or.jp/~et3m-tkkw/history-table.html
for a chronological table of kite history and http://www.asahi-net.or.jp/~et3m-tkkw/history.html
for a bibliography related to history of kites.
When flying across the sky, a kite generates lift like an
airplane wing. Since lift is proportional to the size of a kite, some kite flyers realized
that if you make a kite big enough it would generate enough power to propel a vehicle on
land, snow, ice or water. This type of kite is called traction kite. Certain forms
of traction kite has been used by many pioneers such as George Pocock in the past, but it
only became popular in the early 1990's and its popularity has made traction kite flying
more a sport than just a recreational activity. While a windsurfing sail is
dependent on the wind to generate power, a kite is only dependent on the wind to fly. When
a kite is flying across the sky, it creates its own wind (apparent wind) which is faster
and therefore produces much more power than the actual wind can provide. Since lift is
proportional to the square of the wind velocity, if the apparent wind of the kite is twice
that of the actual wind you will get four times as much power from the kite. This simple
fact is not easy to appreciate until you actually fly a traction kite. Numerous first-time
traction kite flyers have been injured in the past for misjudging such power.
As soon as traction kite was introduced, a number of kite flyers
started thinking of using kites to replace conventional sails in water sports such as
windsurfing. To make this popular, you need a kite that can be launched directly from the
water. After years of research, a number of water relauncheable kites were introduced:
Wipika inflatable kite (introduced by the Legaignoux brothers in the 80's), Kite Ski frame
kite (introduced by Bill & Cory Roeseler in the 80's) and in late 1990's FOne
closed cell foil
kite (Raphael Salles), Concept Air closed cell foil kite (Michel Montmigny and Benoit Tremblay), Arc
(Peter Lynn). While the
fundamental technologies are different and the degrees of relauncheability vary, these
kites share the same characteristic that allows a kite flyer to launch them from the water
after a fall. There are also a number of other pioneer kitesurfers with their
passion and devotion has helped to make the sport feasible and spread
rapidly in the early days: Laird
Hamilton, Manu Bertin, Laurent Ness (Axelair), Robby Naish (Naish Kites), Don Montague
(Kiteboat.com), Flash (Marcus) Austin, Dave Culps (Kiteship.com), Stefano
Rosso (Yahoo Kitesurf group), Hung Vu (KitesurfingSchool.org) and more. Thanks to all
those pioneers, a new sport named kitesurfing was christened and destined to be the most
exciting sport for the new millenium.
Is kitesurfing safe?
There have been a few known fatal accidents while
kitesurfing so for kitesurfing or
any other disciplines of power kiting, safety has to be taken seriously. Make sure you follow the safety guidelines at http://www.KitesurfingSchool.org/safety.htm
and always use a safety release system.
Can a kitesurfer go upwind?
Yes. With proper equipment and skill, a kitesurfer can easily go upwind.
However, all beginners are likely to go downwind. Check a pioneer beginner's log at http://www.KitesurfingSchool.org/kitesurfinglog.htm
to see how long it would take for a beginner to learn to go upwind.
How does a kitesurfer go upwind?
To go upwind on a free sail system such as a windsurfer, the sailor move the sail
backward to move the center of force behind the center of resistance of the board, fins
On a kitesurfing system, a kitesurfer holds the kite in his hands and his feet transfer
the pull of the kite to the board; therefore the center of force is normally between his
two feet. The kitesurfer can move this center of force slightly by transferring his
weight to his front foot or his back foot. To go upwind on a kitesurfing system the
kitesurfer has to move both the center of force and the center of resistance:
- Move the center of force backward by transferring his weight more to the back
- More important, move the center of resistance forward by pressing the windward edge to put the board
from 15 to 45 degrees to the water.
So to go upwind on a kiteboard simply "ride" on its
Can I kitesurf in very light wind?
Yes. You can cruise in wind as low as 5 knots with the equipment currently
available on the market (large kite and large directional kiteboard). For jumping you may
need around 7-8 knots.
Can I kitesurf in very strong
Yes. You can kitesurf in very strong wind over 40 knots with equipment currently
available on the market. At the kitesurfing competition in Leucate, France, 1999, a
number of kitesurfers could maintain control in 50 knot gusts.
However, kitesurfing in 30+ knots is very dangerous so make sure you have
the skill to do so.
Nathan in 40+ knots using a 5m Grunt
(The water here is only waist deep)
Can I relaunch the kite from
Yes. You can relaunch the kite from the water after a fall. The degree of
relauncheability may vary depending on the type of kite you are using.
What equipment do I need to
To kitesurf you need:
- A kitesurf kite (with a certain degree of water relauncheability),
- A kiteboard,
- A kite control device,
- Accessories (safety release system, harness, life jacket, wet suit, helmet,
water shoe, etc.).
What types of kite can I use?
There are a number of kites on the market for
kitesurfing. All of them has a certain degrees of water relauncheability. There are mainly
three types of kitesurfing kites:
- Inflatable kites
- Flat Inflatable kites (Bow kites)
- Framed single skin kites
- Ram air foil kites
Inflatable kites normally have an inflatable leading
edge and 5 or more inflatable battens to give it a permanent "crescent moon"
shape (this type of kite is also called an inflatable or Leading Edge Inflatable
or LEI). They are very dependable
to relaunch except for certain conditions such as in very light wind (less
than 6-7 knots). The Legaignoux brothers, the original
founders of Wipika are the inventor of the inflatable kites and has licensed the
technology to many other manufacturers. All inflatable manufacturers continue to develop and market
their own version of the kite. The patent was filed in 1984 so it has been expired. Due to the permanent "intrusive" shape of the
kite (to facilitate water relaunching), the kite is always "powered up" even on
the water. One needs a good working safety release system when using this kite.
There are generally two types of inflatable kite, 2 line and
4 line inflatables. The advantages of 2 line inflatable kites are ease
of use and stability. The advantage of 4 line inflatable kites
are higher performance and better power control (by changing the Angle Of Attack or AOA of
the kite). Most modern inflatable kites are 4 line kites.
Due to many good characteristics, excellent wind range, ease
of jump and wide range of choices, inflatable kites have more or less
dominated the kitesurfing market and start making major in-road to the
kitesnowboarding, kiteskiing market with the introduction of the 5th line to
facilitate relaunching on snow.
Flat Inflatable Kites (Bow Kites)
Classic LEI profile .vs. Flat LEI profile
(Yarga .vs. Bularoo)
After the expiry of the original inflatable patent, the
Legaignoux brothers again worked on a new design consisting of a bridle on
the leading edge (discussed first on the Kitesurf Group) and a flat bow
profile (with a concave trailing edge).
Since the first successful introduction of the Legaignoux'
Bow kites, many other designers have also introduced their own version of
the flat Inflatable. All flat inflatable kites have a simple bridle on
the leading edge but the trailing edge can be concave (bow kites) or flat or
A more detail discussion of the flat inflatable kites can be found at
Flat LEI Kites
The major advantages of a flat inflatable over the standard
inflatable kites are:
Flat inflatable kites can be fully depowered
Flat inflatable kites have larger wind range
Flat inflatable kites can relaunch easier
With such advantages, flat inflatable kites have
replaced the standard inflatable kites as the dominant kitesurfing kite in
Framed Single Skin Kites
Frame single skin kites normally have a leading edge
made of fibre glass or graphite, one main batten in the center and a number of thin
battens along the chord to give the kites the permanent shape. Similarly to windsurfing,
it will take quite a bit of practice to learn how to water launch a 2 line framed single
skin kite (with the help of a 2 line reel bar). Once one gets the hang of it, these kites
are probably the most dependable kites for water relaunching. The only time one may not be
able to relaunch these kites is when the wind is light (less than 8-10 knots). KiteSki is
the inventor of the relauncheable 2 line framed single skin kite system. KiteSki used to
have Banshee manufactured the kites. Both KiteSki and Banshee developed and market their
own version of the kites (which could be very different). After a fall, a framed single skin kite stays flat
on the water; therefore, a safety release system may not be needed. However, it is wise to
have a safety release system to easily retrieve the kite and the control bar (the kite and
the control bar may fly a fairly long distance down wind before landing on the water).
For some reasons, framed single kites are becoming
less and less popular among the kitesurfers and rarely one see any kitesurfer using framed
single skin kites for kitesurfing anymore.
Ram Air Foil Kites
Ram air foil kites have no rigid structure. The
shape of the kite is formed while flying. These kites have shapes that are very close to
airplane wings and therefore, probably are the most aerodynamic kites. Ram air foil kites
have been on the market for a long time and have been used by many buggiers. In the early
days of kitesurfing, Concept Air and F-One released the first water relauncheable ram air
foil kites, the Concept Air EX's Wave and the FOne ATK kites. These kites normally have a
limited number of air intakes and a valve system to prevent the air to escape after a
fall. Due to this characteristics, these types of kite are also called closed cell foil
kites. According to a number of kitesurfers, once one knows how to water launch these
kites, they should be very dependable (especially in moderate to strong wind). As closed
cell foil kites retain their shape after a fall, one should have a safety release system
when using these kites.
Concept Air is the first company introducing
the a foil kite incorporating a system allowing the kitesurfer to control the power of
the kite by pulling on the third line to change the shape of the kite (therefore changing
the camber/projected surface of the kite). Since then, many other
companies (ConceptAir, Flysurfer, Boom Vector, Ozone, etc.) have introduced
foils with systems that use AOA to control the power of the kite similar to
Peter Lynn has also introduced a new type of foil
kite called the Arc. The Arc is mainly a closed cell ram air foil kite with the
sled shape of an inflatable. Similar to a 4 line inflatable, an Arc kite can also be depowered by pulling on its front lines to change the angle of attack of the kite.
What types of kite
control device can I use?
Modern kitesurfers use a control bar with a center power trim line
(chicken loop line) to control the kite and its power by changing its Angle
of Attack (AOA)
What types of board can I use?
You can use a surfboard-like kiteboard (with foot straps) or a wakeboard-like kiteboard
(with foot straps or bindings), a pair of water-ski-like skis (with bindings) or anything
in between to kitesurf.
Generally, kiteboards are classified in to two groups: directional and bidirectional
- Directional boards have a distinct "head" (bow) and "tail"
(stern). A directional board always travel "head first". To change
direction on a directional board you have to jibe (to turn the "head" of the
board in the reverse direction).
- Bidirectional boards have no distinct "head" nor "tail". Both
"tips" of the boards are identical. A bidirectional board is
called twintip (longer and narrower bidirectional board) or a wakeboard (shorter and wider
bidirectional board, similar shape as a wakeboard). A bidirectional board can
travel in both direction. To change direction on a bidirectional board, you simply
Most modern kitesurfers use a bidirectional board (or twintip) due to
its ease of jibing and more control when jumping. Directional boards
are only used in special cases (very light wind, wave, etc.)
Can I use the kite to
pull me on snow or ice?
Yes. You can use your kite in the winter with your skis on snow or on ice.
for more information on kiteskiing on snow and ice.
You can also use a snowboard with your kite. Kitesnowboarding is very similar to
kitesurfing (especial in more than 1' of powder snow).
for more information on kitesnowboarding on snow.
The picture above shows all the "boards" you can use with your kite.
From left to right:
- Short skis for use in pure ice or tricks
- Medium skis for all conditions
- Long racing skis for speed
- A bidirectional board
- A small directional board
- A larger directional board for light wind
Furthermore, you can use other winter toys:
- Telemark skis
Can I use the kite to pull me
Yes. You can use your kite with a buggy (normally 3 wheels) on
2 wheel buggy
Buggies are traditional kite vehicles on land; however, the newer generation of land
kiters start to use skateboard-like board for land kiting for more challenges. On
parking lot pavement, they use standard skate board and on grass or
they use bigger boards with larger wheels (sometimes called a mountain board).
Paul and the Grass Shopper Mountain Board
Can I use the kite with a boat?
Yes. You can use your kite to pull a boat.
by Peter Lynn)
You can kitesail with almost any boat, using the single person KiteCat
(photo above) or any larger boat (canoe, kayak, sail boats, etc.).
Normally you need one kitesailor
controlling the kite and another steering the boat. More information
regarding kiteboating can be found at
Do I need an
assistance to launch or land the kite?
You normally do not need any assistance to launch or land your kite unless you are in a
crowded and busy beach with considerable shore break. Different kites have different
launching, landing and water relaunching techniques. Your vendor should be able to
provide you with the appropriate instructions. Check http://www.kitesurfingschool.org/howto.htm#1.
Kite Piloting for information on launching and landing some of the most popular types
Who are selling kitesurfing
You can find a list of most kitesurfing vendors at http://www.KitesurfingSchool.org/kitesurfinglinks.htm#Commercial
How much does it cost?
A kitesurf board normally costs between $500 to $700 and a kitesurf kite normally costs
between $700 to $1200 including lines and bar. A larger kite may cost more and
smaller kite may cost less
I don't have $1500!
How can I get into this sport?
You can buy used kitesurfing equipment. You can also make
your own kite and convert
your old surfboard in to a kiteboard. You can also build a kiteboard out of
wood. Check http://www.kitesurfingschool.org/board.htm
and the boardbuilding group at
http://groups.yahoo.com/boardbuilding for information on how to build
Where can I buy used
You can buy used kitesurfing equipment at
Furthermore, kiters normally post used equipment for sales at various kitesurfing groups
and forums at
How hard is it to learn how
Learning how to kitesurf is actually easier and takes less time than learning how to
windsurf. However, the learning curve is much steeper. For example, one of
the first kitesurfing moves you need to learn is water starting, which is a rather
advanced technique in windsurfing.
How can I learn to kitesurf?
You should learn kitesurfing from a reputable local kitesurfing school. If none
is available in your area, you may want to travel to learn kitesurfing.
to see a list of kitesurfing schools in the world. If you have to learn kitesurfing
all by yourself, at least see some instructional video and/or take a look at the
Kitesurfing School web site at http://www.KitesurfingSchool.org.
What is the wind window?
The wind window is the area where a kite can fly. For all its practical
purposes, the wind window is basically the area you can see with your eyes (85 degrees to
the left, 85 degrees to the right, 85 degrees upward) when you are facing straight down
What is the typical wind
range of a kite?
Different kites have different wind ranges. Normally, the range between the
lowest wind and the highest wind of a modern kitesurfing kite is about double the wind speed (the highest
wind is twice as much as the lowest wind). Some kite may have a wider wind range
(especially the new flat inflatable kites) and some may have a narrower wind range.
Can a kitesurf
kite reef automatically like a windsurfing sail?
None of the current kitesurf kite has an automatic reefing system.
However, a kite with some pulley system on the bridle that
changes the attachment points as the COP of the kite changes may produce
similar "smoothness" as a modern windsurfing sail.
On the other hand, due to the tremendous power requirement during
jumping, automatic reefing may not be a good thing for kiters.
How does a
kitesurfer control the power of a kite?
A kitesurfer controls the power of the kite using the bar and the trim
line (chicken loop line) to change the kite's AOA (therefore changing its
projected surface). The kitesurfer can also control the power of the kite
the speed control method as described at http://www.KitesurfingSchool.org/howto.htm#2.
Kite Power Controlling.
How many kites do I need?
The number of kites you need is dependent on the conditions at your local beach.
Ideally, you should have 3 kites: a light wind kite (5 to 15 knots), a moderate wind
kite (10 to 20 knots), a high wind kite (15 to 30 knots). For an
typical kiter, this means a quiver consisting of 18m, 12m and 8m inflatables.
Most kitersurfers doesn't go out in wind less than 12 knots and therefore
can be satisfied with only 2 kites. For such kiters, this means a
quiver consisting of a 16m and a 10m inflatables.
What line length should I use?
The right line length to use is dependent on the kite size and the condition.
Given the same kite size, use longer lines for less wind and shorter lines for more
The standard line length is 23 - 25m. In high wind, you may want to use shorter line length for more control of the kite; however,
don't go shorter than 15m as you will loose much of the "jumpability"
of the kite.
What line strength should I use?
For inflatable kites, you should use line strength at least 2.5 times
your weight. For example, if you weight 200 lb., use at least 500 lb. lines.
If you use a 4 line foil kite, the main lines should be around 2.5 times your weight
and the brake lines could be around your weight. For example, if you are 200 lb., the main
lines should be at least 500 lb. and the brake lines should be at least 200 lb.
Modern kites normally sold with lines and bar so you normally don't have
to worry much about lines and bar.
Should I choose a control
bar or handles?
Modern kitesurfers choose control bars over handles for ease of
operation while jumping. Almost everyone now uses control bar
except for some kiteskiers using old foils.
How do I change
direction on a bidirectional kiteboard?
Kitesurfers never change feet when they change direction on a
bidirectional kiteboard. They simply go from a heel-down to toe-down
position when jibing or simply reverse the direction.
How do I change
direction on a directional kiteboard?
Kitesurfers change feet similar to windsurfing when they change direction (jibe) on a
Some kiters prefer to go heel-down in one direction and toe-down in the
other direction especially for tiny directional boards.
it easier to jibe or to go from heel-down to toe-down position on a
If you are a water skier, wakeboarder or snowboarder, to go from heel-down to toe-down
is easier. If you are a windsurfer, to jibe is easier.
In any case, one should learn how to do both. To change direction by jibing or by
going from heel-down to toe-down should be the fundamental kitesurfing techniques
on a directional board that one
Should I choose a bidirectional or directional kiteboard?
Most modern kitesurfer choose a 2-strap bidirectional board due to its
ease of jibing and more control when jumping.
For some special cases, some may want a 2-strap or 3-strap directional board (very
light wind, wave, etc.).
Should I choose bindings or
Use foot-straps unless you want binding for whatever reason.
Bindings attach your feet firmly to the board, therefore provide more precise control
and "feel" of the board. However, they could be clumsy and very hard to
get in or out when you are on the water.
Modern kitesurfers prefer foot straps for ease of entry/exit and
also for certain advanced tricks where you take 1 or both of your feet off your board while
in the air (it looks very cool!)
How many kiteboards do I need?
Normally you need only one kiteboard (normally a bidirectional board
shorter than your height). If you live in a
light wind area (5 to 15 knots) with some super high wind days (20 to 30+ knots), you may
want to consider having 2 board: a larger one for regular days and a smaller one for super
high wind days.
How big a kiteboard should I
If you live in a high wind area (15+ knot most of the time) you should choose a
bidirectional kiteboard around 40cm shorter than your height. If you live in a light wind area (5 to 15 knots most of the
time), you should choose a larger kiteboard (10cm shorter than your height for bidirectional board
or 30cm longer than your height for directional).
If you ride in waves, use a directional board from 5' to 6'1" depending
on your height.
How big a kite should I choose?
For inflatable, the most popular size is 12 m2 flat surface.
The equivalent flat inflatable kite is a 10 m2.
Different kite types have different aerodynamics and therefore there is almost no
correlation between the sizes among them. From experiences, for foil to inflatable comparison, use the approximated
(i.e., a 8 m2 flat area foil is somewhat equivalent to a 12 m2 flat area inflatable).
Same kite types are somewhat similar aerodynamically and their powers are proportional
to their sizes (a 10 m2 kite deliver twice as much as power as a 5 m2 kite of the same
type). Furthermore, kite size and rider weight are proportional (you should use a
kite 1/2 the size of the same type of kite someone twice your weight
uses in the same
What is a safety
A safety release system is a system that allows the kitesurfer to disable the
The flat inflatable is the kite with the best safety system.
By simply letting go of the bar, a flat inflatable kite is fully depowered.
For whatever reason, should the kite is not completely depowered, the
kitesurfer can activate the main safety system to completely disable the kite.
How does a safety release system work?
For inflatable, the safety release system makes one line (either
one of the front line or back line for a 4 line inflatable) about 1 kite span longer
than the other lines (applicable to both 2 line or 4 line inflatable) to disable the kite
when you stop holding the control bar. For foil, the safety release system
pull on the brake lines to collapse the kite and have it gently landing backward.
Both of the systems have a safety leash attaching to your harness or wrist to allow
you to retrieve the control bar.
Normally you cannot disable your kite while hooking in and have to
activate the safety release system to detach your harness from the control
exception here is the flat inflatable kites. With flat inflatables,
you can hook in
all the time and simply let go of the bar to fully depower the kite.
For whatever reason, should the kite is not completely depowered, the
kitesurfer can further activate the main safety system to disable the kite.
for more info and other safety release systems.
Why do I need a
safety release system?
You need a safety release system because:
- If you drop the control bar, your kite may continue flying and injure someone or damage
- You may loose your kite
- You may have a long way to swim to shore and may become shark bait.
- You may become a paraglider by hanging on to your kite in very strong wind.
Furthermore, you may want to use a kite which can be fully depowered by
simply dropping the control bar because:
- You may not have time to activate your safety system while
the kite is pulling you into a hard obstacle.
- You may be unconscious while the kite is pulling you into a hard
I build my own kiteboard or convert an old surf or windsurf board to a kiteboard?
Yes. You can build your own directional kiteboard or convert an old surf or
windsurf board to a kite board. Your directional kiteboard should be
from 5' to 6'10". As a general rule-of-thumb, the front foot straps should
be placed just behind the center of the board. The back foot strap should be
your-shoulder-width (or slightly larger) behind your front straps.
Many has built their bidirectional boards from wood very
inexpensively. Check http://www.kitesurfingschool.org/board.htm
and the boardbuilding group at http://groups.yahoo.com/boardbuilding
for more information.
A beautiful home made board from Diego Fonda in Italy
How many fins should I have
on my board?
Kiteboard can have from 1, 2, 3, 4 or even 6 fins. The fins are mainly used for
directional control. While the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th fin may help to go upwind some
what, it is the upwind rail of the board that act as the main fin for going upwind.
More fins will definitely slow the board down. Most bidirectional kiteboard has
If you use a bidirectional board, you may want to ride it finless once you are used to
edging. Check http://www.kitesurfingschool.org/finless.htm
for information on riding finless.
Can I build my own kite?
Yes. You can build your own kite. Check the Kite Making
section of the Kitesurfing School web site at
for more information on how to build kites.
I am a windsurfer,
why should I learn kitesurfing?
Kitesurfing is complementary to windsurfing and
you should learn kitesurfing especially if you are already a windsurfer.
Furthermore, if you live in colder climate, you may want to get in to kitesnowboarding or
kiteskiing in the winter to complement you windsurfing in the summer.
While windsurfing in less-than-15 knots is generally
"windsuffering", kitesurfing in less-than-15 knots generates a lot of fun (some
kitesurfers can go out in wind starting from 5 knots and some kitesurfers can even jump in
wind starting from 8-10 knots). While windsurfers normally need 6' wave and 20
knots of wind to gain any decent altitude, some kitesurfers can gain higher altitude in 10
knots in flat water.
Photo by Steve Slaby
On the other hand, in 30+ knots, currently, windsurfers can go
faster (especially on a beam reach or an up-wind run) while kitesurfing in high wind can
be much more dangerous than windsurfing. Besides, being able to both windsurf and
kitesurf offer you more perspectives of the conditions at your local beach.
I am a windsurfer, is it
hard to convert?
As a windsurfer, you already know how to have good balance on a board and know the
"way of the wind". It should be easier for a windsurfer to learn
kitesurfing than for an ordinary person. However, the learning curve is still pretty
steep as you need more balancing act in kitesurfing not to mention doing that while
controlling a nervous kite which tends to pull you out of your board. Once you get
pass the beginner stage, you can progress faster in kitesurfing than in windsurfing.
How fast is a
kiteboard compared to a sailboard?
Given the same condition and top-of-the-line equipment, a kiteboard is faster than a
sailboard on a downwind run and slower than a sailboard on an upwind run. A
kiteboard is ridden fairly flat almost as flat as a sailboard on a downwind run and its
smaller size makes it goes faster. A kiteboard is normally ridden 30 to 45 degrees
edging to the water on an upwind run and this edging make it less efficient and slower
than a sailboard.
Furthermore, in light to moderate wind, a kitesurfer can fly the
kite to generate more power during lulls. Thus a kitesurfer can go faster than a
windsurfer in light and moderate wind conditions. In very strong wind (more than
knots), the dynamic "feature" of the kite makes it less efficient than a
windsurfing sail. Thus a windsurfer can go faster than a kitesurfer in
Can I use
my wakeboarding, snowboarding or water-ski skills?
Yes. Controlling a kiteboard is very much like controlling a wakeboard, a
snowboard or a mono-water-ski.
Can I do
tricks in kiteboarding as in wakeboarding?
Yes you can. Furthermore, the tricks are normally more challenging
as you have to do them at twice the altitude and controlling the kite at the
One foot off trick
Photo by Steve Slaby
I kitesurf where people are windsurfing, water-skiing, jetskiing, or whatever?
You can probably kitesurf in crowded water but it is dangerous. Try
to get way upwind or downwind of the crowd.as soon as you can.
It is much safer to kitesurf in un-crowded places especially if you
are a beginner.
many kitesurfers can kitesurf in a space that can normally accommodate 100 windsurfers?
A kitesurfer can use lines up to 50 m in length and normally flies the kite in the
forward half portion of the wind window. This means a kitesurfer would need a space up to
50 m in width and 50 m in length. As the normal "clearing" distance between two
windsurfers is around 5 - 6 m. This would allow only 10 kitesurfers to kitesurf in a space
that can normally accommodate 100 windsurfers.
If all the kitesurfers follow the same rule and try to fly the kites at the same
diagonal angle (with 15 degree margin for flying error as proposed in http://www.KitesurfingSchool.org/rules.htm)
then the minimum clearing distance required is only 15 m. This would allow up to 40
kitesurfers to share the space that normally can accommodate 100 windsurfers.
In practice, it's safer to kitesurf way upwind or downwind from the
I'm a kite buggier,
is kitesurfing much different?
Yes. Your kite skills will give you a big advantage in keeping the kite out of the
water and controlling the kite power, but riding a board is a whole new thing. It requires
a lot more practice than buggying. Don't expect to be able to go upwind on your first try
as you did in buggying. Give it at least 10 hours of practice time to be able to ride
upwind, and more than that to be able to stay upwind. More if you have never done any kind
of board sports before (snowboarding, wakeboarding, etc). You also need a
lot more wind to kitesurf than to buggy (about twice as much wind).
How fast is a kiteboard
compared to a buggy?
It's certainly a lot easier to go fast in a buggy, and buggying top speeds are
currently higher than kitesurfing top speeds. The biggest difference is in light winds
when you may not be able to consistently plane the board. Don't sell your buggy if you
live where the winds are usually 8 knots or less. However, kitesurfing is more challenging
and exciting: the greater power from a bigger kite, the undulating, enchanting surface of
the water, the leaning of your body way back over the water, the jumps, etc.
Do I have to be the athletic type?
Not really, at least not to kitesurf casually. Since you should normally use a harness,
your body weight is more of a factor in how much kite power you can handle than your
strength. You should be strong enough to unhook the kite from your harness when you need
to, though (do a lot of pull up). Kitesurfing is not very aerobic - you don't quickly run
out of breath like you do when running. The kite does most of the work. Muscle fatigue can
wear you out, but as your skills improve it becomes less strenuous.
Is there a
discussion group on the net for kitesurfing?
Yes. There are a number of discussion groups on the
net. Stefano Rosso has set up the original Kitesurfing discussion group on the net
since June 1998 and since then it has been the most popular email and
web-based kitesurfing discussion
group. You can find more information about this group by going to
http://sports.groups.yahoo.com/group/kitesurf/. There are also a number of more recent discussion groups and forums, click http://www.KitesurfingSchool.org/mlist.htm
for the list of all known kitesurfing groups and forums
I am convinced now so how do I
It is wise to take lesson at a local reputable
school. Check http://www.KitesurfingSchool.org/schools.htm
for a list of kitesurfing schools near you. It is also wise to review the HowTo and
the Tips section of the Kitesurfing School web site at http://www.KitesurfingSchool.org/howto.htm