Monday, March 31, 2014

How to Choose the Best Kitesurfing Equipment (Part Four)

Part 4: Tips on Choosing the Best Gear Suitable For You: Harness and Kiteboard
Continued from previous post.

How to choose my kiteboarding harness?

There are two different families of a kitesurfing harness: the seat harness and the waist harness. Which one is the best for you? It depends on various factors, but basically it depends on you. The harness you are most comfortable with is your best choice.

Seat harness has the advantage to stay in position, especially when you are a beginner. In fact, when you start kitesurfing, you won’t have a perfectly correct kiteboarding position, and this harness will help a lot with that. It won’t get dragged by the kite up to your chest, hurting your ribs.

kitesurf kiteboard kitesurfing kiteboarding gear seat harness

Waist harness gives you much more freedom in your movements and it’s normally a bit lighter: it’s more appropriate for expert riders, who can kiteboard in a correct body position, and know how to keep the harness from sliding up their chest. Of course, waist harnesses also look better if your goal is to show off your kiteboarding skills.

kitesurf kiteboard kitesurfing kiteboarding gear  waist harness

However, keep in mind that a lot of my experienced kitesurfer friends still use a seat harness, because they find it more comfortable. Some other kitesurfers I know, even if less experienced, prefer the waist harness, because they think it’s cooler. So there are no strict rules in choosing it, also considering the average cost of a new harness: $100-200 USD on average. After kitesurfing for at least three or four years, you will know much better what your preference is.

How to choose my kiteboard?

As a beginner, you’ll mostly like to start with a twin tip, which is the easiest board to use, since it’s symmetrical and you can change your direction without having to turn the kiteboard and to switch your feet in the straps. If your interest in kiteboarding is to freestyle or wakestyle (jumps in different ways: big air or unhooked), then you should go for a good twin tip that will take you from beginner to intermediate, even up to advanced level. Just don’t go to extremes, and don’t buy kiteboards that are too small or too big: ask your instructor for the best size for you. If you are interested in surf or racing, you might just borrow a kiteboard from a friend, or buy a used cheap twin tip for the time you’re learning the basics. Buy a new one as soon as you get skilled enough. Those boards are normally chosen depending on the height and weight of the rider, and are a subject to the kind of waves you are planning to ride.

kitesurf kiteboard kitesurfing kiteboarding gear race boardkitesurf kiteboard board twin tipkitesurf kiteboard kitesurfing kiteboarding gear  wave board

Of course, these are just basic guidelines, and in my future posts I’ll get into more details about your kitesurfing gear: kites, harnesses and kiteboards.

If you have any doubts or questions, or would like to share your ideas and experience, please post your comment below! 

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Blog about kitesurf culture. In this post you can fin how to properly choose your kiteboard and harness
Kitesurf Kiteboarding Equipment Gear
Date published: 03/31/2014
Date Update: 04/18/2014

Sunday, March 30, 2014

How to Choose the Best Kitesurfing Equipment (Part Three)

Part 3: Tips on Choosing The Best Kiteboarding Gear for You:
 Skill Level, Brands, How Many Kites to Buy and Dealing with Used Kitesurfing Gear

So now you are completely prepared for tips and tricks on choosing the best type of gear that suits your particular needs.

Buying kiteboarding gear with no appropriate training will result in you having to deal with equipment that might not be exactly for you, so don’t hurry to make a decision. First, get lessons from a quality school and become an independent kiter. Failing to do so might turn out to be quite dangerous for you, for your brand new purchase and for other beachgoers. 

1. Can I choose the right type of kiteboarding equipment based on my skill level?

You can find appropriate equipment for your level of kitesurfing skills. If you are a beginner, you might want to choose kiteboarding gear that can bring you from beginner to intermediate level, without being too difficult for you to use. If you are a kiter with intermediate skills, you will seek to become more advanced and therefore should look for more technical kitesurfing equipment. Advice from an instructor and or a skilled kiter friend can be helpful, but watch out for those who are too focused on the brand they like, pretending it's the best: they’ll try to involve you in their fan club, and you might loose a chance to try different products.

2. Which type of kite should I choose if I am a beginner?

Modern power kites have evolved and reached great depower capabilities, which are very recommended for beginners. Of course, not all models have the same standards. So if you have finished your kitesurfing lessons recently and you aren't an expert, you’ll want to have a kite with the best depower capability such a Bow Kite, a Delta or a Hybrid kite, which guarantee full or at least high depower standards. C-shape kites have to be avoided if you are just starting, because even if the modern versions of this type have significantly increased their depower level, these kites are much more technical and less forgiving.

3How many kites should I buy?

This is a controversial question. Many brands state that having one kite only is perfectly enough, due to the incredible wind range they have, but I find it hard to believe that you can safely ride and have fun with the same kite with 13 knots as well as with 35 knots. So when buying your kitesurfing gear, I recommend to look for a set of at least a two kites. Choose the size depending on your weight, the type of a kite (a Bow kite has normally much more power than a C-kite of the same size) and wind conditions at your local spot. Most common combinations I encountered are: 7-8/11 m, 9/12 m, 10/14 m and so on.

4. What should I keep in mind when buying a used kitesurfing gear?

When buying a used kiteboarding equipment, I normally recommend to buy kites complete with their own bars: using different type of bar is not advisable for non-experienced kitesurfers, who will have difficulties in trimming the kite. Also, the safety systems on any bar are normally designed for their specific type of a kite, and might not be fully compatible with different brands or types. If you buy a used kite, it might happen that the bar will be “switched.” I suggest to avoid these, and to go for a complete kite-bar set, designed to work together by the manufacturer.

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Post On How to Choose the Best Kitesurfing Equipment (Part three)
Here you can find out how to choose a kiteboarding kite and distinguish between different types
Kitesurf Kiteboarding Equipment Gear
Date published: 03/30/2014
Date Update: 04/18/2014

Saturday, March 29, 2014

How to Choose the Best Kitesurfing Equipment (Part Two)

Part 2: When am I ready to buy my first kitesurfing gear?

kitesurf kiteboarding kitesurfing kiteboard

In Part 1 of our blog post on best kitesurfing gear choices, we talked about how long your gear will normally last.

When should you buy your first kiting equipment though? You are ready when you become an independent rider. Here’s how to know you are one:

·         You know how to control and pilot a kite
·         You are able to body drag upwind in any wind condition
·         You know what emergency systems of kites are and how they function
·         You are able to perfectly perform a self-rescue procedure

These are the minimum requirements before you can buy your first kiteboarding equipment, but if you have some more experience (such as being able to go consistently on a board and even to upwind), it’s even better, because you will have accumulated some kiting hours, and will have started to understand what kind of performance you prefer from a kite. 

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Post On How to Choose the Best Kitesurfing Equipment (Part Two)
Here you can learn what being an independent kiter means
Kitesurf Kiteboarding Equipment Gear
Date published: 03/29/2014
Date Update: 04/18/2014

Friday, March 28, 2014

How to Choose the Best Kitesurfing Equipment (Part One)

Part 1: How long will my kiteboarding gear last?

Kiteboarding is definitely not a cheap sport, at least in regards to buying a new gear. In fact, to start riding on the water involves investing some money (it’s not like buying a pair of sneakers if you want to start jogging). On the other hand, even if you are buying a used kiteboarding gear, you want it to work fine, to last the longest possible, and to allow you to improve your kitesurfing skills.

kitesurf gear shop kiteboards kites
The good news is that the latest kiteboarding equipment has been increasingly built to optimize durability and, by choosing the right kind, you will make your gear serve you at least for some years. In fact, I have noticed that in the past 3-4 years the changes in kite gear have been more cosmetic than substantial.

Of course, the manufacturers will tell you their newest kite or board has improved a lot compared to the last year’s, but even though there are some exceptions, the most noticeable changes are in the appearance of your kitesurfing gear. That does not mean that you will not notice any changes in performance and behavior of your kiteboarding equipment if you choose to update it, but it also won’t really get outdated after one year of life.

If you make correct purchasing choices, then three-year lifespan for your kitesurfing equipment is absolutely reasonable. If you use some minimum maintenance, you can lengthen your gear’s life even more (we’ll discuss this topic in another post, but it's enough to say I was still riding a 2009 kite until last season!).

So when is it appropriate to buy your first kitesurfing gear? It’s easy: when you become an independent rider! In our next post, we will talk about what being an independent rider means.

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Find out how to choose the Best Kitesurfing Equipment
Kitesurf Kiteboarding Equipment Gear
Date published: 03/28/2014
Date Update: 03/28/2014

Sunday, March 23, 2014

How To Overcome The Fear Of Kitesurfing

Long time ago, when I first saw a kite on the beach, it was love at a first sight. At a time I couldn't start learning immediately, because there was no kitesurfing school at that place, but when I got home from my vacation, I got glued to the computer screen, searching for kitesurfing information, images, videos, tips and tricks.

Years later, when I started teaching kitesurfing, I realized that many people share the desire to learn this fascinating sport, but not everybody feels they can do it for many different reasons. Another group of possible readers of this post are kitesurfers’ partners (girlfriends, wives, husbands, etc), who are normally pushed to try kiteboarding by their other half.

kiteboarding lesson
The fear of a kite’s power is directly connected to the lack of knowledge and practical ability to control a kite. It’s easy to understand that once you have something perfectly under your control, it does not scare you at all. The problem is how to reach that skill level, when you need to practice exactly what you are scared of.

Here are two main reasons why people have a fear of kitesurfing, and how to overcome it:

#1 PROBLEM: The fear of being pulled by an uncontrollable force because of lack of knowledge about how a kite works.

SOLUTION: Adopt a step-by-step learning approach, and try as many times as you need! You’ll eventually get it.

Throughout the years of teaching kitesurfing to students of varying ages, abilities and attitudes, I realized that everyone needs his own personal approach and time.

Here’s a step-by-step summary of learning any new sport:
    kitesurfing lesson
  • Choose a skilled instructor (a certified kitesurfing instructor in this case)
  •  Try to put what he says into practice
  • Fail
  • Have a feedback from your instructor
  • Try again and perhaps fail again
  • Repeat the routine of the last two steps, until you complete the exercise correctly, showing you learned a new skill
  • Automatize the action and perform the exercise with confidence so you can move on to the next step. You should become comfortable in applying what you have just learned. For example, in kitesurfing, you should repeat body drag as many times as you need to feel completely comfortable with a kite before trying to stand on a kiteboard.

The last point is fundamental to give us enough self-confidence to forget about our initial fear of kitesurfing. The best thing you can do throughout this process is to confide completely in your instructor by telling him or her what you are feeling when you perform a certain action and where you feel incapable of doing something. The more feedback you offer to your kiteboarding instructor, the more they’ll be able to guide you to reach your goal. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, as they are the best indications for your instructor to point you in the right direction.

Sometimes you might think you won’t be able to do what is asked from you, but it’s worth to try it, and most of the time you’ll be amazed by what you can accomplish!

So if your desire to learn kitesurfing is strong enough, you’ll eventually become so skilled that you’ll overcome your fear.

In the end the recipe is pretty simple: keep doing what scares you until it doesn’t anymore. Of course, you want to do it in the safest way possible: get a certified kitesurfing instructor, who will create a 99.99% safe environment for you to learn.

#2 PROBLEM: Hearing or reading about some kite crash

SOLUTION: Learn the safety rules and the right of way: you’ll be completely safe

The last reason that can scare you to try kitesurfing are news about kitesurfers crashing or getting injured that you might read or hear about.

kiteboarding crash

Let me start by clarifying that normally these guys are not beginners, but already advanced kiters, who underestimated the danger or didn’t follow the basic safety rules in kiteboarding. You can read about those basic safety tips here.

If a beginner has a kitesurfing accident, normally it’s a self-learner without a proper training, who had no idea of what they would face. But there’s nothing else to say here – the world is full of fools.

Therefore I can’t stress enough the importance of starting your kitesurfing lessons with a trusted expert instructor, who has the responsibility of putting you at ease and giving you all the time you personally need to learn. If your instructor doesn’t create that feeling of comfort and fun during the lesson, change them: you need to feel relaxed and focus on what you are trying to accomplish, not to please a person you are paying for your kitesurfing lessons. On the other hand, you take lessons to learn and you rely on an expert to guide you, so if he or she says you can make it, believe it, let go of your fear, and just do it.

Remember, you have to enjoy yourself during every moment of your kitesurfing learning process, that’s the best trick I know to make the fear fade away, giving space to lots of hours of enjoyment. Have fun!

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A post about the fear of kitesurfing and how to overcome it
Kitesurf Kiteboarding Equipment Gear
Date published: 03/23/2014
Date Update: 04/18/2014

Friday, March 21, 2014

How to Avoid Kitesurfing Gear Transportation Fees by Airlines

Your trip to a tropical paradise is booked, and you are excited about all the fun you will have kiting and relaxing... But then you realize you are not traveling alone… you have your kitesurfing gear with you! That also means high gear transportation fees – and who wants to deal with that?

During my years of kitesurfing trips around the world, I found some basic rules and tricks on how to transport my kite gear with minimum inconvenience and impact on the wallet, and I am glad to share them with you!

kite equipment transportation1. Know who you are dealing with! All airline companies have their own rates for carrying sports equipment, and a way to calculate them. For example, some just give you a maximum allowed luggage length and a maximum weight. Others calculate the sum of the dimension of the luggage, regardless of the weight, and so on. When you book your flight, you should always ask in advance how they deal with extra luggage, particularly kitesurfing gear.
In 2006, when kiteboarding was not well known yet by the airline companies, I managed to smuggle my kiteboard as a painting (taking off fins, bindings and the handle, I wrapped it into a paper box and declared it as an art piece), and was not charged anything. If I hadn’t used my trick, I would have ended up paying $200 USD, as for a surfboard.
Finding the right strategy to pack your kite gear is fundamental and will save you a lot of cash. Even if you didn’t ask at your travel agency about gear transportation rules or booked your ticket online, you can always open your airline’s website page and find the information on sports equipment fees.
Another example of how important it is to know how your airline company calculates gear transportation price, happened to me recently: an American airline charged me $18 USD/per kilogram of extra luggage, but allowed me to carry two suitcases 23 kilograms each for only $100 USD extra fee.

2. The old golf bag trick. Another old and tried trick to transport kiteboarding gear for lower fares has always been to disguise it as a golf bag. However, the airlines have been getting smarter, and the trick doesn’t work anymore on the routes common to kitesurfers. But if you fly to a less common kitesurfing destination, you might still be able to take advantage of this strategy. Last time I used it on a Morocco kitesurfing trip. My golf gear story was very believable since there are many golf courses in Agadir, and I spent $40 USD instead of $150. But my suggestion is not to buy a golf bag for your kitesurfing gear, unless you are quite sure it will work. Otherwise, you’ll waste your money twice. You are better off asking a friend if they have one he does not use to spare.

3. Consider transporting your kitesurfing equipment as a bicycle. The trick was used by a friend of mine with some local low-cost airlines, which were pretty strict and charged a lot for kiteboarding gear, but were very accommodating (translate: low cost) for bicycle transportation.

4. If you travel with friends or relatives who are not kitesurfers, ask them to share the luggage. Non- kitesurfers are like a gold mine of extra kilos that you can take off your luggage. Normally, guys (girls are usually a different story, if you know what I mean) who go to the tropics travel light, so if you are reaching the luggage weight limit your airline allows and risk paying a high fee, you can always ask your friends to carry your harness or bar in their suitcase. Last time I was transporting my kitesurfing gear, we ended up sharing the luggage with a friend right in front of the check-in counter – and it turned out to be a much better deal than paying for extra luggage.

5. A folding kitesurfing board. It’s been at least four years now that foldable kitesurfing boards have appeared on the market. The technology has improved a lot, and nowadays these boards are as resilient in performance as traditional kitesurfing boards. The only downside is the price, as they normally cost 40-50% more than the single piece ones.
folding kiteboardIf you are going to buy a second board, consider a folding one according to your kitesurfing needs: if you travel by plane at least once or twice a year, it might be a good deal for you, but if it’s less than, it’s not worth it. Also consider the fact that foldable kiteboards are kept together by screws, which you have to check frequently to see if they all are in place. So if this kind of board is your only kiteboard, keep in mind that it involves some extra maintenance.
Of course, always consider the weight, too: even if you have a folding kiteboard, still two kites and a board weigh a lot, and you might not get the expected savings.

6. Don’t underestimate the kite gear rentals. Renting a kiteboard in most popular kitesurfing spots is relatively inexpensive. Verify kite gear rental costs and availability in the destination you are traveling to, and you’ll fly with a much lighter luggage, which is always a good idea.

7. Last but not least…. always be nice to your airline check-in assistants! These people are there doing their job, and they aren’t usually willing to charge you more (unless they are having a bad day, of course). Being rude wouldn’t normally help you negotiate a discount … but a smile can go a long way.

I’m sure there’s a lot more to say about this topic, and I invite everyone to share their stories, tips and tricks! And I will leave my other trick ideas for the future posts. 

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Post about how to avoid Kitesurfing Gear Transportation Fees by Airlines
Here you can read about optimizing your luggage, to get the lowest airline fares possible: it's stupid to pay when we can avoid it!
Kitesurf Kiteboarding Airlines Fares
Date published: 04/18/2014
Last Update: 04/18/2014

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

8 Simple Tips to Safe Kiteboarding: Learn How to Prevent Accidents to You and Others

This is my first post on a brand new blog, and there is no better topic to start with than SAFETY.

I’ve been enjoying kitesurfing on the beautiful Caribbean waters of the Riviera Maya, Mexico, for the last four months. One day an article in a local newspaper caught my attention. It read: “Tourist Woman Injured by a Kitesurfer.”
I realized that the opinion expressed in the article was a common public reaction: it’s the kitesurfer’s fault and there is a lack of action from the authorities when accidents happen.

kitesurfing accident
I have been noticing the tendency: on busier beaches, kitesurfers have to share the space with the beachgoers, some accident happens, and as a result, exaggerated safety rules are being introduced or, even worse, kitsurfing becomes banned altogether.

As kitesurfers, we have the responsibility to practice our activity in the safest way possible, and to help other kiters to behave the same way, giving advice and indications, also about safety.

We can never forget the safety on the beach and in the water. We should understand that other beachgoers cannot understand the dynamics of a kite, so we can’t ask them to watch out for us while we are performing some trick: they have no idea where we or our kite might end up.  If you think about it, it’s not worth to ruin a good kite session for an accident that could be easily avoided by applying just some basic rules to protect the others and ourselves.

Here are my TIPS, but feel free to add your ideas and comments:

1. Know your own kiteboarding ability and stay with your limits, don’t risk anything that you don’t feel comfortable about.

2. If you are new to the sport, take lessons from a qualified instructor (preferably IKO) and start practicing by yourself only when they say you are an independent kitesurfer. It might look obvious, but I still meet a lot of people trying to kitesurf without a proper training, especially without the self-rescue techniques. You must know these techniques and a lot of instructors (mostly non-IKO) often avoid or forget to teach them.

3. Avoid any potential dangerous maneuver or trick on the beach (even easy ones, such as trying the kite power by
kite accident
moving it fast from side to side, simulating small jumps, etc., which I happen to see so often). This is where we take the biggest risk due to the presence of obstacles and other beachgoers. So launch your kite and go directly into the water, which is the safest place.

4. Before jumping in the water, stop a second and do the spot assessment: evaluate the risks and local rules. Always rely on the local kitesurfers, who are normally very friendly and happy to give their best advice. Don’t worry about asking. The locals are usually preoccupied that some newbie will ignore the basic spot rules and might cause an accident, making the worst happen: the ban of kiteboarding at that spot. Showing you are willing and eager to understand the local rules will also make them accept you and you will have new local kitesurfing friends.

5. Learn how to choose the appropriate gear, according to the wind and spot condition.

6. Learn the right way rules in the water: this will help you when kitesurfing in a crowded spot. It is very important to know how to behave in relation with other kiters, boats, powerboats, commercial vessels, etc. You can find these basic rules here.

7. Remember to consider the safe distance from other kitesurfers, obstacles, beach, boats or every other object or person around you when trying maneuvers or tricks. The safe distance is 2X the length of your kite’s lines downwind (around 50 meters) to your position OR 1X upwind.

8. Avoid collision at all costs! Follow the right way rules but not to the point of having a collision! Even if you have the right of the way, you must act prudently and with anticipation to avoid an accident. Some sailors, windsurfers or other kitesurfers might not know the rules, and you will have to adjust the situation. If you end up at a hospital, I don’t think it would matter to you that you had a right of the way.

Read here about  #1 way to injure yourself while kiteboarding and how to avoid it. 

Safe Kitesurfing, everyone!

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Post about how to avoid accidents while kiteboarding
Blog about kitesurf culture. Tips, tricks and advice for all kitesurfers: beginners, fans, advanced or just people who love the idea of kitesurfing. Insiders' experience and inspiration to all your kiteboarders. This is the first post of the blog and i dedicated it to general safety in kiteboarding
Kitesurf kiteboarding safety
Date published: 03/19/2014
Date Update: 04/18/2014