To kite surf is to use the power of the kite to catch a wave. You can cruise the wave on a surfboard – with or without straps. The kite is in the air, but it is not pulling you and when you have finished on the wave you can go back out to the line up without paddling and catch another one!
You can go out on the days when the waves are too messy for the surfers, and you don’t have to paddle to get into the biggest waves. Kite surf is awesome!!!
Spot location is crucial
In the beginning it is important to choose a spot with mellow, small waves. Have a look at magicseaweed.com to check the wave forecast. If possible try and go to a flat water spot with your kite and surfboard and get comfortable with your kite surf skills before heading out into the waves. Being able to jibe is a vital skill (unless you are in the waves on your twin tip)
It is possible to use a normal surfboard, but these are fragile as their expoxy glass coating is not made to withstand the pressure of being pulled by a kite and can easily damage. A surfboard specifically for kiting is made of more epoxy layers to handle a greater pressure. The kiteboards have inserts that give you the option to ride with or without straps.
It is a lot easier to find the balance on the board and to get out through the whitewater when you are riding with straps. However, if you are looking for the “real” surf feeling, strapless is definitely what you want to ride. And if you have the patience to try and fail in the beginning, you are most likely to go strapless from the start.
In the beginning you are going to loose the board a lot. The waves will bring the board all the way back to the beach if you are not wearing a leash. However, a leash attached to your board can be very dangerous if you wipe out and get the board thrown back towards your face, head or body. The IKO which is the governing body for kitesurfing is very clear about not using a leash under and circumstance, however in big waves, it is probably more vital to have one than not
Size on the board
Your weight and wind strength decide the size of your board. If the volume of your board is too big, it will be hard to turn fast and powerful and if it is light wind a smaller board will be more difficult to plane. It is important to demo a few boards if possible to find out which one is best suited for the conditions you are most likely to use.
A normal waist harness is fine for iding waves. Some of the more experienced wave riders way choose to change the normal hook for a more movable hook, that goes to the side when you want to ride toeside which allows you to turn into the wave without getting pulled to the opposite side by the kite and also will not pull your harness around your body as much.
Most of the kite producers have started to develop wave kites that have the characteristics that you are looking for when you are kitesurfing the waves:
- A responsive kite. You want the kite to react fast to allow fast turns into waves.
- A “drifter”: You want to be able to park the kite in the air, so it doesn´t pull you while surfing a wave
- A constant pull in the kite, so it takes you gently throughout your turns.
- An easy and quick relaunch. You definitely don´t want the kite to be smashed by those waves!
Here are a few tips to help you get through the whitewater:
- *Edge the board as much as you can upwind.
- Slow down the speed before you hit the whitewater.
- When approaching the white water, Pop your knees with your front knee first as you don’t want the board to go under the wave. You can also put the kite high to get a drag upwards.
While riding the wave
Once you are on the wave you want to use the power of the wave to surf it, not the pull of the kite. It can be complicated to get enough slack in the lines to surf the wave, and still keep the kite in the air. Lots of people experience that the kite falls into the water when the lines are slack. This depends on the direction of the wind. The optimal wind direction is sideshore. Onshore wind is the most difficult. Keep your kite below 45 degrees to avoid getting lifted off your board. Use the board to control the drag in the lines by turning on the wave. You can also use the kite to turn more aggressive. Remember that it is the kite that pulls you through the turns; so don’t turn the board before you feel the pull of the kite.