Kiteboarding 101: insider tips from a Master Instructor
The perfect place to start!
In a 2015 article for National Geographic’s Intelligent Travel, Avery Stonich describes it beautifully:
“Kitesurfing—harnessing the power of the wind to glide across the water and into the air on a board—is guaranteed to help your spirit soar. “[It] feels like what I imagine it must be like flying around heaven,” says Brendon Held, owner of inMotion Kitesurfing magazine.
When it comes to giving the sport a whirl, few places rival the Turks and Caicos. This dreamy collection of islands north of Hispaniola and east of Cuba dazzles with miles of warm, shallow turquoise water and sand so fine it feels like fairy dust.
Indeed, the Caribbean nation is “beautiful by nature,” as its license plates proclaim. Factor in locals who exude a relaxed, friendly vibe, and you have all the ingredients for a perfect tropical adventure.”
We recently sat with Chris Moore, co-owner of Kite Provo, Master Instructor and a professional kiter that’s traveled to over 18 countries in pursuit of his passion that started in 1990. Chris agreed to help us guide first-timers or reassure those who haven’t been on the board very often. Here’s what he had to say:
So Chris, be honest. Is kiteboarding difficult?
Not as hard as most people think. I’d say about 80% of the skills needed to learn to kiteboard reside in proper understanding of the ‘mechanics’ and then, preparation to put it all together. What surprises most people is how cerebral it is to learn to kiteboard. You’re doing many things at the same time so multitasking and concentrating on different things simultaneously is often the challenge. We’ve developed specific teaching methodology around this to allow our students to excel faster than average, without feeling overwhelmed.
Do I have to be in great shape?
It helps to be fit, but contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to be strong. Many have the misconception that you’re holding the power of the kite but in fact, when you’re taught how to do it correctly, the harness takes the power of the kite and you use your arms to “de-power” or decrease the power of the kite. You’re only getting pull when you desire to have the kite pull you. Surprisingly, it takes little strength to do this. We teach a lot of kids and start them as light at 80 lbs. We have to teach these kids to use the de-powering and outsmart the kite, not ‘out muscle’ it. This also applies to adults.
Kids as light as 80 lbs can learn to kite
Do I have to be a strong swimmer?
Our team teaches in waist deep waters and always with a side, onshore wind so you actually never have to swim. Swimming during a lesson is exhausting and complicates the entire process. I highly recommend learning in waist deep water and for this, Turks and Caicos is ideal. Once your skill set is strong and you feel confident about kiting out to deeper waters, strong swimming is an important asset to ensure safety.
Do I need balance?
Again, surprisingly, no. The kite really helps with this as it lifts and pulls you, enabling you to plane on the water and balance in a way that’s easier than with many other board sports. Surfing, for example, requires much more balancing.
Will I be out there all day?
As a Master Instructor, I’ve taught kiteboard to thousands and I’d say this depends on you and how you want to experience kiteboarding. Consult a PASA Certified kiteboarding instructor regarding options. As is the case in Turks and Caicos, many learn to kiteboard with family members and friends and it becomes an amazing bonding opportunity that’s also a lot of fun. If the instructor is properly trained in group dynamics—this is what I provide through training courses at www.pasakiteboarding.org —they create constant learning opportunities with frequent mental and physical breaks so you can create longer learning sessions in one day and actually accelerate your learning. Private lessons are suggested for those already past the beginner stage and are typically shorter lessons depending on your goals and abilities.
Is it safe?
Kiteboarding is safe if you’re with a certified and trained instructor. If you visit the aforementioned website www.pasakiteboarding.org you can view a list of all the instructors and schools that are certified and carry this mark of training. Kiting can become dangerous when you try to learn form friends or on your own. Kite Provo uses special teaching gear that allows you to have a smaller kite and much larger board, specifically engineered for lowering any impact during the learning process. We also use a skill progression step by step training plan so we don’t skip the fundamentals that are so important for kiting safety.
Can I learn in a week?
Yes, with a properly trained instructor and a good learning environment. Our instructors typically get people up and riding on their first day. I suggest a 10-12hr package if you want to become a self-sufficient kiteboarder.
Does it have to be really windy?
Not if your school has the proper equipment. Ask about the equipment when deciding on where to learn. A proper school will have a massive array of kite sizes and board sizes. This allows you to kiteboard in winds from 10-25mph with no real difference as we just change the kite and board size to adapt to your skill level and the current weather conditions.
Anything I need to bring from home (clothes, water shoes, etc)?
Yes, most people get chilly faster than they realize because they’re wet, in the wind and standing in waist deep water. Bringing or purchasing a neoprene top—there are amazing textiles our there now that offer windproof tops that don’t stay wet like old lycra rashguard technology—can make a real difference. These shirts are a great investment in your comfort and are lightweight and comfortable. Sunglasses with a retaining strap are highly recommended and you can spray them down with some rainex. Water shoes are a good idea and board shorts are a much better option for women than bikini bottoms.
Can I rent equipment to practice every day if I want to?
Sure! We want you to kite and we’re determined to make sure you have everything you need. Our company has a massive array of kiteboarding equipment available for rental. Just contact us in advance so we can arrange to meet your expectations.
Anything else I need to know?
Also, though Turks and Caicos is a fabulous spot for beginners, it also offers top notch kiting for experts. We can talk about that in another post 😉
Simon, Pina and Max.