If you’ve been wondering how one could possibly get into kitesurfing as a rookie without the gear or the know-how, here’s the ‘how-to’ guide you’ve been searching for.
Photography by Claude Callenaere
Back in 2000 when I watched the first kitesurfers appear along the Perth coastline, my first reaction was ‘what a weird sport.’ What could be so good about being dragged across the water by something that looks like a parachute and be at the complete mercy of the howling seabreeze? Oddly enough, when a friend asked me soon after if I was keen to join him for lessons I leapt at the chance.
Since then not only do I think it’s the best sport in the world, it’s also been a fantastic way to experience the ocean and the power of the wind. The added benefit is that I’ve grown to appreciate living in Perth – one of the windiest cities in the world.
If you’ve always wanted to give kitesurfing a go but don’t know where to start, here’s what you need to know:
Do I need lessons?
Oh yeah! Even if your friend can pull of huge airs and death defying freestyle tricks, get lessons. Do a bit of research first and make sure it’s from an accredited kitesurfing school.
This will ensure that you learn the safety systems and rules to keep you and others safe on and off the water. You’ll also learn about the wind, how to relaunch the kite if it drops in the water (happens all the time) how to self-rescue when you can’t get the kite back up (happens too) and learn to be an independent kiter.
What skills do I need?
In the beginning, the only skill you need is to learn to fly the kite. Everything else, including board skills comes second. Coming to grasp with how the kite behaves and flying the kite without looking up are the most important skills when you first learn. Other skills such as wakeboarding, windsurfing, surfing and kite flying will accelerate your learning curve.
Can girls do it?
Definitely. Even better than the boys if you ask me (which you didn’t) and you don’t need to be super strong either. A dash of courage, perseverance and feeling confident in the water will see you through.
Is it dangerous?
Kitesurfing like many other things can be dangerous if you don’t respect it. Advanced technology in kite design in recent years has made it a lot safer than what it was fifteen years ago, but things can and do still go wrong. That’s why it’s so important that you get the right lessons so that you will know how to react in these situations or avoid them altogether.
Once you’ve mastered the basics and learnt to go upwind you’ll want to challenge yourself to the next level. The good thing about kitesurfing is that you can progress in several ways. You can get into freestyle, that’s where the jumps and unhooked tricks come in, hit the waves with a directional surfboard and surf kite, ride a foil (the latest thing) or get into racing – with the extra benefit that it’s soon to be an Olympic sport.