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A surface water sport that combines the best aspects of wakeboarding, windsurfing, surfing and paragliding (with a touch of gymnastics), kitesurfing is an extreme sport rapidly growing in popularity. A growing number of people are flocking to the shores not for the sun but also for the wind.
If you want to harness the power of Mother Nature, and are not fazed by a slightly chilly trip to the beach during the months of December to February, then it might be time for you to experience this extreme water-sport. Contrary to common belief, you do not have to be extraordinarily fit or strong, and girls naturally make great kitesurfers because they’re lighter.
Unlike wakeboarding where you rely on a boat or another form of motor to give you the speed, kitesurfing is more independent. In the right conditions you can still pull all the same stunts as a wakeboarder but all you need is the wind. It’s fast emerging on the water-sport scene and building a reputation for addictive thrills, so be warned…you might get hooked!
The sport frequently falls into the ‘extreme’ category but the learning curve is simple to master, with beginner courses only lasting three days. Schools will be able to provide you with all the training equipment so you only need yourself, sunscreen and excitement. You’ll learn the essentially important safety aspects, how to set up correctly, how to launch, land and fly the kite safely, and how the wind window works.
The ‘bad’ news is that you can’t just go out, buy a kite and head to the beach to figure it out on your own. It is not a sport that you can teach yourself through trial and error so the supervision of a qualified kitesurfing instructor is required. Investing in a few lessons will be money well spent – you’ll not only be a more responsible kitesurfer, but you’ll also learn quicker. A one day course is approximately £100, private tuition £40 per hour, supervised equipment hire £20 per hour…while brand new gear will set you back around £1,500!
However, there are minimal additional costs – you don’t have to pay to fill your cylinder each time as you do with scuba-diving, nor do you have to splurge on a lift pass as you do with skiing. As with any other lifestyle sport, the large initial investment (if you do decide to buy your own kit) will bring you long term pleasure while keeping you fit and healthy at the same time.
Our Top Tips:
1. Buy and use a trainer kite, preferably with a bar, to improve your kite flying skills before you start surfing.
2. There is no substitute or shortcut for taking initial lessons with a qualified instructor – think of it as learning how to drive!
3. Committing is key if you want to learn and succeed in this sport.
4. Ask fellow kitesurfers about new locations so you can avoid hazards and kitesurfing exclusion zones.
5. Be patient – you must work with the wind and the elements can be unpredictable.
6. Kitesurfing Insurance is a must – injuries and damaged equipment can end up costing you more than you bargained for