FAQ General questions and answers

The curious kitesurf beginner always has many unanswered questions! Here are some of the more general points that may satisfy your needs. However feel free to contact me to answer all of your questions! Remember: "There are no stupid questions, only stupid answers."

First-Time Questions

Yes, if you are reasonably fit and you are keen enough to persist and learn. Like skiing, technique is a lot more important that brute strength.
No. Around 5 lessons should get you going with basic skills and another 5 to 10 sessions should see you going upwind. It can be difficult to schedule lessons though if the wind doesn't oblige. Flying a trainer kite will accelerate you learning. Go for it!
Very enjoyable and very addictive. We think its as good as skiing powder.
You experience the freedom of surfing without having to paddle out or wait for waves. You can fly like a glider without a hard landing. You get the speed of wakeboarding without needing a boat. You can travel long distances powered only by the wind. You can experience the thrill of carving and turning a board without travelling to the snow or risking gravel rash.
There is really no difference. The terms are used interchangeably. However, some people may consider kitesurfing to be kiting in surf (wave riding).
Yes. You fly the kite to the front of the wind window in your direction of travel (like reefing a mainsail in), edge your board to create a "keel", and steer with your feet to create a "rudder". Kitesurfers are actually classified as sailing vessels.
No. Generally, you should always aim to kitesurf with a buddy or at least with some other kiters on the beach or the water. If things go pear shaped - which could be due to an equipment failure - its great to have some help.
Yes, a little. Any board sports will help you with board control. However, about 90% of the learning is handling the kite, so using a trainer kite can get your skills up quicker.
No. Most kitesurfers use leading edge inflatable kites. The leading edge spanning the length of the kite, and several struts spanning the width of the kite are inflated before launching. If the kite falls into the water whilst kiting, it will nicely float on top of the water, enabling you to relaunch it. Having said this, never attempt kitesurfing if you cannot swim. As a beginner, you will spend a lot of time in the water, and basic swimming skills are necessary.
Kitesurfing is a similar discipline to windsurfing, but the key differences are: kites are more dynamic than a sail, gear is much lighter and easier to carry and rig, techniques for riding and changing direction are quite different. Windsurfing has been around longer so there are some very experienced people doing it, some of whom also kitesurf. From a windsurfer: "Sometime you don't want to be on the most lit up machine you can get your hands on, or you prefer the simplicity and control of another. Some like the simplicity of a windsurf rig, and the years and years it takes to get good at it. The power is connected to the board and you try to control it. It doesn't run through you like how a kiter is connected between board and kite." We sometimes do combined windsurfing and kitesurfing trips. Bottom line is there is much more in common than there are differences, so its good to respect each other and help each other out.
No. But it does help to be fit. With good technique, you can kitesurf without needing great strength. However, you will burn approximately 900 calories (3,765 joules) per hour during an average kitesurfing session, and get an intense abs/arms/back and leg workout, so kitesurfing is a great way to get fit!

Technical Questions

When learning, its normal to go upwind easily in one direction (your "natural stance") but struggle to go upwind in the other direction (your "un-natural stance". Try getting your board speed and kite speed up first by going downwind slightly after your water start, then edge your board and bring your kite forward to go upwind.
No. If you get yanked hard the board will come at you hard and could easily knock you unconscious or injure you. Learn to body drag upwind so you can retrieve your board if you lose it.
You don't kite in offshore winds for two main reasons. Firstly, if you crash your kite and can't relaunch it, you and/or your gear will get blown out to sea. Secondly, wind coming off land is often lumpy and gusty which can make kitesurfing difficult or even dangerous. The exception is when there is a boat handy to rescue you.
You can buy a complete set of secondhand gear (board, kite + bar, harness), depending on condition, anywhere from 600EUR to 2000EUR (it can definitely get more expensive than 2000EUR but usually when you start off getting the best gear doesn't help). Price ranges for new gear are: Kite: 900EUR to 2000EUR, Board: 750EUR to 1300EUR, Harness: 120EUR to 250EUR. Please note that if you are buying a second hand kite, make sure that the kite you are buying is less than 4 years old. Every year there are improvements in the safety of kites - by buying a relatively recent kite you will keep yourself safe. Never be tempted into buying a cheap old kite if you are a beginner - they are cheap for a reason and can be very dangerous.
Your gear should last at least 3 to 5 years, barring major accidents such as kite tears. A lot of kite tears can be repaired however. You can patch small holes and tears yourself.
Firstly, you mostly kite with an onshore wind - so if anything goes wrong you will be blown back onto shore. Secondly, even though the wind is blowing in one direction, you are generally kiting at an angle (usually more or less perpendicular) to the wind.
Your kite catches the wind, and deflects the wind slightly towards you. This causes a change in velocity for your kite (and consequently you) pulling you slightly in the direction of the wind. If you are really keen and want to work out the physics - http://www.phys.unsw.edu.au/~jw/sailing.html. Believe me - it just kind of works !
With the bar right out, your arms are fully stretched and the kite is still pulling you hard If you fly the kite high (you shouldn't when overpowered) it lifts you off your edge or off the water You can't reach the depower toggles The kite canopy is luffing (flapping) If you start the power stroke (dive the kite from 12), the kite moves quickly and yanks you too hard so that you lose control of your board and go over your toes. There are whitecaps everywhere (but if you have the right kite size you won't be overpowered).
You can't generate enough power with full dive to get out of the water When moving, forward motion stops (board) as you sine the kite up and you sink back into the water When moving, sining the kite hard but you still go downwind. If you edge to go upwind you lose speed and sink back into the water.