Kiteboarding Tips

Kiteboarding Tips and Technique

Learning to Kiteboard Simplified

Trainer Kite Exercise
First, what not to do, (or, how not to turn a kite)
To learn to kiteboard you have to unlearn some pretty embedded reflexes.
  1. How we all instinctively turn things is not the way to turn a kite, usually we will instinctively try to turn a kite like the steering wheel of a car
  2. Another instinctive move to avoid is to pull the kite to the left or the right with both hands
  3. Something else we tend to do instinctively is pull the bar in with both hands.

How to turn a kite:
  1. A kite moves by pulling on one line of the kite by means of the bar.
  2. To make a kite turn to the left you pull the left side of the bar and at the same time push the right side of the bar toward the kite.Opposite to make the kite go right. The arms are always moving in opposing directions, one hand pulling one hand pushing.
  3. Another trick to master is how subtle you have to be in your movements. It is really common at first to over steer the kite with too big a movement. So kiteboarding is an extreme sport, yes, but the trick is mastery of the subtleties.

Next: Where to position the kite:

Wind Window

What is the wind window?
Simplified, the wind window is the area of the sky where the kite is able to fly. It helps to first think of it as the face of a clock where 9 is on the land or water on your left 12 is straight over your head and 3 on the land or water on your right.

The kiter positions himself with his back to the wind, the area behind is called upwind, the area in front is called downwind.
To kite to the right you hold your kite on the right , to kite to the left you hold your kite on the left. The closer to 2:00 on the right and 10:00 on the left you hold your kite the more efficient it will be. So to get the most power out of your kite, ( in this simplified example) if you are traveling to the right you would aim to hold your kite at 2:00, to slow down you would slowly raise the kite to 1:00, to stop bring the kite slowly to 12:00.

I emphasize slowly here, because, for example, if you had your kite at 2:00 and were to suddenly bring your kite to 12:00, that is how you get a jump, which is something I don't recommend at this stage.

 For now ,you will be flying your trainer kite without being "hooked in",(later you will be hooked in by means of a loop and harness). You must first learn safety quick release functions before hooking in.There will be a thorough explanation on this later) For now, practice with the trainer kite without being hooked in. We do recommend adding a leash line to your kite if one is not provided. This strap attaches to you wrist and prevents the kite from flying away too far in the event you need to release it from your grip.

It is very important before you set up your trainer kite to assess the area you are planning to practice in.
First a BIG OPEN SPACE with no obstacles down wind or on either side of you.
Moderate wind, don't try to practice when the wind is above 25 mph, even in moderate winds a trainer kite could potentially pick you up and toss you into the air or towards objects that could hurt you , it is advisable to have a friend securely holding on to you as you launch your kite. Also if as soon as you feel a tug on the kite that could pull you over immediately release the bar. Once you have released your bar the kite will harmlessly fall to the ground.
Never launch the kite from directly downwind , always launch from the edge of the wind window, ie.. 9:00 or 3:00
No power lines!!!!! Never kite near power lines!!!!! If your kite does blow into a power line DO NOT touch any part of it ,call 911.
For your first launches, sit down with your back to the wind and the kite positioned downwind of you. Have your assistant bring the kite to the edge of the wind widow and create tension in the lines by walking away from you . When you are ready have your assistant release the kite.
Try to slowly bring the kite to 12:00 and balance it there with small movements Try to keep your arms relaxed and hands close to the center of the bar at first, this will minimize over turning the kite.
Once you feel comfortable hovering the kite at 12, try taking the kite to 2:00 and hover there for awhile, remember to move slowly between positions. You are working on control and finesse. Then slowly back to 12, then over to 10:00. Continue practicing until you fell comfortable moving the kite thru all the positions on the clock from 10:00 to 2:00.

Inflatable Kite Practice:Assisted Launch Of Your Kite

In normal conditions with a large and wide launch site, it is best to launch your kite towards the water using the following steps.
1. Rig you kite close to the waters edge.
2. Attach your safety leash.
3. Have your kiteboarding knowledgeable assistant hold your kite by the center of the leading edge on its side pointing into the wind. Never grab a random person on the beach to launch your kite.
4. Walk your bar 90º to your kite with slack in the lines. This will place your kite on the edge of the window.
5. Make sure you bar is the right side up and start to tension your lines.
6. If you have to adjust the angle of you and your kite to the wind to achieve 90º, you move, not the assistant.
7. Visually look down your lines for bridle/line tangles or knots, and make sure your lines are connected to the correct sides of the kite.
8. Just before giving the OK to your assistant, take one last glance around you for obstacles that may have appeared, i.e. bystanders, lifeguards etc.
9. When finally ready, give a clear “thumbs up” to your assistant for the launch, at which point your assistant should just let go of your kite.
10. Bring your kite up slowly and under control along the edge of the window. Always be ready to pull your quick release if there is a problem.

Assisted Landing Of Your Kite

1. When returning to the beach, give the universal sign of tapping your head with a flat hand to your knowledgeable assistant. Tapping your head means “Please catch my kite.”
2. Slowly lower your kite along the edge of the window to your assistant.
3. When your assistant catches your kite by the leading edge,start walking towards him or her, putting slack in your lines.
4. Walk to your assistant, take your kite, and secure it.
Launching and Landing Tips
* When at a narrow launch or a launch with many obstacles, launch your kite towards the beach with you on the shoreline, or if possible, in the water.
* When finding 90º to the wind, with your kite lines tensioned the trailing edge of your kite should be tight and not flapping. If it is flapping, you are too far downwind. If the kite is trying to knock your assistant over and he or she is having a hard time holding it in place, you are too far upwind.

* Always launch bow kites hooked in and adjust the power by sheeting out on the bar.

Getting Up on the Board

The quickest way to get up and riding on the board is to not rush the process. Trying to do too much too soon will actually slow you down. If it takes all your concentration just to keep the kite flying,
you are not ready. Get some more time with the kite, and in the long run you will progress more quickly.

Equipment and Preparation

Get a big board. It makes getting up and staying up much easier, and you can always use a big board for light wind no matter how good you get. Set your footstraps loose enough so that your foot slides in easily but not too far. You want your heels near the edge of your board so you can edge it properly. Wear a life vest. Impact vests just don’t have the flotation to keep your head above water. Good flotation lets you recline and relax in the water while getting your board on your feet.
Step 1: Get the board on your feet Keep the kite overhead with one hand on the control bar. With your other hand, put the board in front of you and hold one footstrap while you stick a foot in the other footstrap.
With one foot in the board you can control it enough to get the other foot in. With both feet in the straps and both hands back on the bar, you are through the hardest part.
Step 2: Keep the board in front of you as you drift with your kite overhead. Bend your knees a lot so you are close to your board and centered over it. If you start to get pulled around to one side, shift your
weight and angle the board to bring it back in front of you. If you get pulled around to where you are no longer facing the kite, immediately kick out of your board and roll over onto your belly so you are facing the kite again.
Step 3: Check how much power you need Move the kite to the edge of the window. Fly the kite very gently up and down along the edge. The kite will gently pull and lift you as you fly it up and down. This will tell you how much harder you will need to work the kite to get up on the board.
Step 4: Smoothly get up. Bend your knees as much as you can so your rear end stays centered in the middle of the board. Starting with the kite at or near overhead, dive it down through the window. As the kite pulls you up, put your weight on your front foot to point the board downwind. Once up, start to edge to control your speed.
Step 5: Keep going! Sweep the kite up and down as needed until you are up to speed. When you have enough power, park the kite – leave it in one position without flying it up and down. Then control your power
by pulling the bar in or letting it out, and control your speed by edging your board.

 Riding Upwind 

Start with a Smaller Kite and Bigger Board Look at what others are riding and try to go one kite size smaller with a larger board. This will help you to understand what is going on with the kite and board placement because your board won’t sink quickly and you won’t get dragged around to the point of exhaustion. With the larger kiteboard and smaller kite, practice your riding so that you can reach a point of consistent speed, i.e. not too slow and not too fast. This may require that you initially take a downwind direction to build up speed and then slowly change your path to a more upwind reach. Try not to slow down so that you stop completely as this will cause you to lose valuable upwind ground.

Look upwind:

Once you can ride at a consistent speed, it is time to work on your body positioning to go upwind. Look upwind and find an object on the horizon that is over your lead shoulder. As your head turns upwind, your shoulders will naturally follow. This will in turn start rotating your hips and direct the board upwind. It is critical that you are trying to steer the kiteboard upwind, not just edge the board upwind. Realize that you can direct the board upwind by rotating your hips and this is independent of edging or digging your heels into the board. A common mistake is to ride with too much power and try to edge upwind. Edging can cause you to lose kite power as you apply a braking or plowing motion with the board.

Open your body:

The next step is to drop your lead hand so you can really rotate your shoulders upwind. This helps to turn the kiteboard upwind, plus it is fun! Go ahead and drag a hand in the water. Be sure you move the other hand more to the center of the control bar to avoid losing control over the kite’s movements or accidentally steering it off course.

Kite Position:

Your kite should be positioned on the edge of the wind window about 45º-60º above the water. This helps to give you a bit of lift from the kite and you don’t need to edge too hard because you aren’t over powered and you have a slightly larger board.


Try bending your back leg so as to put your knee into the back of your lead leg’s knee. This movement will help control the amount of pressure on the board. A tiny bit more pressure on your lead leg will give a little more speed. A tiny bit more pressure on your back leg will slow you down. Practice makes perfect and you should slowly ease into more and more kite power. As you get comfortable riding upwind, you will be able to stay upwind in more powered conditions and will be ready to move towards a smaller board and larger kite.

Right of Way Rules

International Sailing ROW Rules Applied to Kiteboarding

1. Avoid collisions at all costs (if you can’t control the kite well enough to avoid collisions, avoid heavily trafficked areas).

2. If kiters converge and are on opposite tacks, the port tack kiteboard (kite on left side of wind window) must give way to starboard tack kiteboard (kite on right side of wind window). Starboard tack has ROW.

3. If kiters converge and are on the same tack, the upwind kiter must give way to the downwind kiter. Downwind (leeward) kiter has ROW.

4. Kiters passing (overtaking) must give way to kiters being passed. Kiter being passed has ROW.

5. Kiters returning to the beach must give way to kiters leaving beach. Kiter leaving the beach has ROW.

Generally Adopted Kiteboarding ROW Rules

6. Kiters must keep clear of others more restricted in their ability to maneuver. Kiters down in the water, surfers, canoe paddlers, windsurfers, fishermen, and swimmers have ROW.

7. If kiters converge and there is a risk of kites colliding, upwind rider flies kite as high as possible and downwind rider flies kite low.

8. Kiters heading out or jumping the wave must give way to kiters surfing the wave. Kiter on the wave has ROW (this rule is opposite of windsurfing ROW rule).

9. Kiters heading out have right of way over a kiters surfing a shorebreak wave but a prudent rider waits for the kiter on a wave close to shore to clear before going out. Kiter going out in shore break has ROW.

10. Kiters jumping must yield to all other kiters. Remember to keep a two line length 
downwind buffer zone to avoid putting others at risk.

Upwind body dragging

Self Rescue

Self Rescue, Roll up the lines


Turns and Transitions

First Jumps