Wednesday, February 10, 2016

The new idea for testing latest kites in the U.S. directly at your home spot.

Kitesurfers always seek to have de chance to give a try to the new materials freshly ‘baked’ by the most famous brands.
Normally this desire turn out to be difficult to fulfill since test days are pretty rare and they are organized by the major brands in few spots. The only way to try new materials is to wait for them to arrive in the local kite shop, hoping the owner considers to have a test kite. The only other option is to hope in some friend’s lack of jealousy for his own gear, who might let you give it a try.
David Pike contacted me few days ago with an interesting idea on how to overcome the new gear testing problems. 
The concept is pretty simple: create a concierge rental service, which can provide the desired kite, mailed directly to your house’s front door.
But let’s hear the description of the idea directly from David words:

So David, talk us about this new service for U.S. kitesufers.
“We provide kiteboarders with the opportunity to demo the latest model kites no matter where in the US they live. We've found that our customers fall into two categories:
- those travelling on vacation and not wanting to ship all their gear;
- those who are looking to buy a new kite but having trouble deciding which brand to go with.
We've been able to procure kites from all the top brands and are adding more each week.  We already include Cabrinha, North, Naish, Airush, Liquid Force, Slingshot, and Core amongst others”.

Demo a Kite

How did you have this interesting idea ?
“The genesis for the business came to me six months ago as I was looking to purchase a new 12m Freeride kite.  I wanted to try all these different brands but not having a shop near me, it wasn't possible.  Also, shops tend to only carry certain brands.  They might have North but not Core.  We have a more encompassing lineup of kites”.

I have some safety concerns: it might occur that some beginner, with no proper kiteboarding training, would want to ‘give it a try’ without buying a kite, turning this into a dangerous practice both for them and the others. Renting a kite with you would be definitely cheaper than buying one and these might lead to give some bad ideas to newbies which might think they don’t need a proper training. Did you consider this problem and how did you overcame it ?
“First, we only rent kites and bars i.e. an incomplete package. A kiteboarder would have to own a harness and board. As it's not cheap to purchase these two items, this screens out a majority of beginners. Second, we require renters to sign a liability waiver, assert they are at a certain skill level, and make sure they understand they are responsible for the repair costs of damaging a kite (not cheap). Lastly and most importantly, we talk with each customer immediately after they checkout. It's similar to an approval process. We want to see where they kiteboard, what level they are at (ensuring they can stay upwind, transition, ride toe-side, etc.), where they learned, and how long they've been kiting. We get a full sense of the renter's abilities before releasing the kite to them”. 

Demo a Kite website

Your service is now limited to U.S.: are you planning to expand it also in EU or somewhere else ?
“Yes, we are currently planning our expansion to Canada.  We are also in talks to partner with a firm to offer rentals in the EU”.

How long can each rental last in terms of duration?
“Rentals can last as long as they prefer.  If the kiteboarder wants to purchase the kite, we deduct the rental fees from the purchase price of the kite”.

You perform only kite rentals at the moment, do you think you’ll consider also kiteboards in the future ?
“Yes, we are actually talking now with several kiteboard manufacturers to offer their products on
The biggest issue we are trying to solve is the increased shipping fee for boards”.

What are your future goals ?
“We hope to continue to grow and eventually offer all brands and kites.  Additionally, we hope to add all kiteboarding gear so I rider can demo a whole package.”  

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Safety in Kitesurfing, a new creative approach from Gray Robinson and the Tarifa Freestyle Academy team.

Since one of the most important topic of this blog is kitesurfing safety, it's a big pleasure for me to host the following guest post about infographics on safety in kiteboarding, written by Gray Robinson of the Tarifa Freestyle Academy Team.

If there is ONE golden rule in Kitesurfing whether on the beach or on the water riding, it is who´s kite has priority in the position it is flying within the wind window.
The up-wind kitesurfer as seen in our infographics on Safety 101, his/her kite must move to a higher position withing the wind window, towards 12 oclock being the position of the kite directly over head.
Equally so for the down-wind kitesurfer his/her kite must move lower within the wind window respectfully, closer to 3 oclock or 9 oclock positions thus closer to the water. “This is critical to prevent kite collisions both on the water and on the beach”.
There is always the possibility for two kites to collide. As many of the famous kitesurfing locations or school teaching areas around the world are now getting very saturated with kites, it is more important than ever to know what to do when your kite collides with another.  Your first response should not be to yell, give the bird or argue but must be to let go of the bar which ultimately de-powers the kite, and second response is to release the saftey release system which disconnects the kite from the rider. (Dont forget everybody is out to have fun, it is not normally anybodys intention to crash into your kite, so if this does happen having a clear head is of the upmost importance, both for your saftey and the others and ultimately the harmony of the sport).
We rarely see in Kitesurfing anybody getting injured from two kites colliding, however it is paramount to release the bar first, and then release the safety system second when your kite collides with another, or anothers kite collides with you.
Most important reason being is kite can end up kite-looping through the power zone due to tangled lines most respectfully unequal tension on the steering lines causing the kite into what is also called a death loop. Thus a kite that is looping through the power zone out of control is surely most dangerous situation in the sport of kitesurfing, especially if the rider is on land.
Whats important to note is, once your safety system has been released, this problem should NOT arise. With your safety system released, even if the kite is still looping through the power zone, due to any reason (like un-equal steering line tension due to tangled lines), there will be very little or no power in the kite thus no danger.
With proper training you will be well aware of the two safety systems, the first is the chicken loop which can be seen in our Series 1: Safety 101 Infographics, please see to view. As there is also a secondary safety release system, that can be used if the rider is still in danger after releasing the main safety release. Thus releasing the safety leash which attaches from the bar to harness, dis-attaches the kite completely from the rider. (Which can be an expensive release, however if it is your life or a kite it will be a definate no brainer).
As detailed in our previous series of Saftey in Kitesurfing, fight or flight response is to tense up and pull in. An example would be if an attacker lunges for the victim, the victims first primal response is to tense up and pull in, as being ready to fight back, or (fight and flight response).
This response is counter productive in kitesurfing, and is actually the leading cause, of a potentially small accident turning into a larger accident.
When the rider pulls down on the bar, it sheets in or powers up the kite, obviously in an emergency situation this is not the response you would want to make.
Thus it is important to take lessons with a kitesurfing school that not only teaches using a highly progessive training methodology, but uses a safety first protocol. A good instructor will have 3 levels of defence in front of your safety.
This sums up our Series 2: On whom has the right of way in kitesurfing, and what to do if your kite collides with another. 

Please feel free to post any questions or concerns you may have in regards to Safety in Kitesurfing. In Tarifa in high season we see two or three kites collide together on average every 30 minutes. 

Thus it is definately a topic that deserves more discussion, that concerns all kiters whether beginner or pro as should be a call for action for more awareness on the beach and on the water.

The Tarifa Freestyle Academy team.

Gray Robinson

Credits: Kitesurfing School: Complete Guide in our series of Saftey First in Kitesurfing. TARIFA FREESTYLE ACADEMY