The British Kitesports Association guides us through what kit to buy, where to learn and how to stay safe on the water
Where to learn?
Get lessons from a BKSA approved kitesurfing school
When you start out it’s really important to get some professional tuition from a qualified instructor.
Without the correct instruction, kitesurfing can be a dangerous sport, so by investing in some lessons you will learn the safe way to kitesurf and not have to deal with the consequences of trial and error.
You will get up and riding quicker with proper instruction and in the long run you will save time and money too as your instructor will be able to advise you on the right equipment to buy.
- BKSA qualified Instructors and the BKSA training scheme are renowned as among the best in the world
- Most people can be up and riding after a 3 day course
We currently have 32 BKSA approved Schools around the UK. These schools have to meet high standards to ensure that you get only the best kitesurfing instruction. To see an alphabetical list of all BKSA UK schools click HERE
What kit to buy?
Every good kitesurfing shop will have beginner packages for sale which will include: a board and a kite complete with bar and lines. Some will make up a package to include the wetsuit and harness as well. Usually there will be a choice of kite size to make allowances for your weight. Here are a few pointers to bear in mind: –
Top tips for buying a beginners kite
The best advice we can give is to speak to your local kitesurfing shop or instructor . They will be in a position to advise a kite that will be suitable for you based upon your size and experience. Here are some pointers below:
- Look for a kite from the year 2007 or later. This is because kite design has improved dramatically over the years and modern kites will make kitesurfing a much easier sport.
- Look for a kite between 9.0m and 14.0m depending on your size and weight
- Make sure it is of a mid aspect ratio: High aspect ratio kites are long thin kite. They are high performance kites designed for advanced riders. The lower the aspect ratio the shorter and fatter the kite gets. This makes the lower aspect kites more stable (less likely to fall out the sky), easier to relaunch and easier to fly. The potential height of jumps are decreased, but don’t be fooled even the lowest aspect kites will still be able to send you 30 foot up!!!
- Make sure you check with the person selling the kite that the bar and lines are in good condition
- Ensure that the kite comes with a good safety system so that you can ditch the power if the wind was to suddenly pick up or if you made an error in flying the kite.
- Bear in mind that you will quickly improve to the point where you may want another kite for stronger winds. Make sure your first kite size will fit sensibly in a ‘quiver’ of kites. For instance, if you buy a 12m to learn on, your next kite could be a 9m giving you a kite for stronger wind. However if you were to buy an 11m as a stronger wind kite there would not be much difference in the sizes and therefore not be much difference in the wind range you could handle. Try to ensure that you have at least 2 meters difference between kites and remember the bigger the kite the lighter the wind you need
Top tips for buying a board
Again, the best advise we can give is to go and speak to your local kitesurfing shop. They will be able to discuss your weight, experience and local conditions. They may even have some demo equipment so you can try before you buy. Try as many as you can to see which feels easier for you to get on with
If it is not convenient to visit a local shop, we suggest that you look for a board with the following information in mind:
- Look out for a twin tip. These are symmetrical so you don’t need to turn them around when you want to go the other way.
- Choose a medium size board that is somewhere between 135cm-145cm long. Anything bigger you will grow out of quickly and anything smaller you will find hard work and possibly demoralising to progress on. (The smaller the board the less buoyant it is and therefore the more power you need to get up and going.) You can use a medium size board up until when you are learning your first rotations.
- Make sure that it is of an easily manageable weight.
What follows is by no means a definitive list.
It is basic safety FAQ´s
Always get training at a BKSA recognisd school before doing any kitesports especially kitesurfing
What course should I do?
A two or three day kitesurf course depending on your flying kite skills and other sports you have done in the past such as wakeboarding, kitelandboarding
Observe kitesurfing / kitesports zones
Zones have probably been set up so you have somewhere to practice your sport with the agreement of the local landowners , please observe local regulations and if unsure please ask other riders, beach users or local officals
Check the Conditions and other factor such as Tides
Do you know what they are doing?
Do not go out in conditions you cannot handle
Check what sizes other riders are using
If you do not have the correct size do not go out
Always tell someone you are going out an when you will be back
Tell any new/ visiting riders about the launch/no launch zones
Because we all want to keep our access to the beaches and shores
Always wrap up your lines if you are not using or planing to launch your kite
Always make sure that you have your kite properly secure with enough ballast on it at all times
Do not ask or allow someone who is not familiar with kites to help you launch or land – give them some training on how to do it.
Members of the public have no idea of the power of the kite or the risk of entanglement .
Learn how to self launch and land
Because even if you usually fly with buddies, someday the weather will be perfect and you will want to self launch (same with landing especially in emergencies)
Ask some one knowledgeable to assist you.
Why? Because even if you want to self launch it´s a safer method.
Always wear a kite leash and that it depowers the kite you are using satisfactory
Test your quick relase before each session and it is clear from foreign objects
Don´t launch an underinflated or leaking kite as an underinflated kite is much more difficult to control.
Check your lines – VERY IMPORTANT
Check and double check your lines – if you are unsure ask someone else to check they have been attached correctly. If rigged incorrectly it will seriously affect control . Not only can your lines be tangled in obvious ways they can be “inside out” which is not obvious but which nonetheless makes the kite uncontrollable
Whilst Riding – Maintain a safety buffer zone between yourself and others users of the space you are riding in as they may not understand the sport
Always assume that a crashed kite will relaunch unexpectedly.
An amazing number of people have been absolutely amazed when their kite suddenly took off despite being tangled, inside out, partially inflated – so be aware at all times
If the kite appears hopelessly tangled or deflated never move towards it
If the kite takes off and you get tangled in the lines it could put you in a life threatening situation
If you need to pack up-
1. Use the reride safety system on your bar
2. Pull yourself to the kite while winding the uneven lines onto the bar
3. After deflating the kite keep clear of the bridal lines
If the kite has two lines attached it can generate power even if it is so tangled it can´t take off
Know your rights of way
We use the rules of the road taken from sailing
Someone has got to give way !
Protection – appropriate to the sport
Always wear the following taking into account where you are riding and your ability level
Whilst on Land
Long Sleeve – long legged trousers
Knee and Elbow pads
Whilst on Water
Wetsuit- This will keep you warm and extend your time on the water
Helmet- If things do go wrong this could save your life – especially on land
Bouancy Aid- Helps in the early stage – gives added floatation
Boots- Keep your feet warm and protect from underwater objects
Never ride out further than you can swim
Assume that today will be the day you get to swim in from the farthest point out you go as equipment failure while rare these days does happen