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KITE FAQ

Q: How do I get started kiteboarding?
A: Take a lesson (see below), or at LEAST get a good $32 training video AND a $120 trainer kite & then make sure your first full-size kite isn’t too big
(see below).
Explanation: It’s easiest if you gain kite skill before getting on a board.

Q: Is it hard to learn?
A: No.

E: It’s actually easier to learn than boardsailing (although you can’t get on the board right away), IF you get lots of kite practice before getting on a board.

Q: Is it hard to learn to ride back upwind to where I launched? Will I often have to swim back when I can’t launch the kite on the water?
A: No.

E: With sufficient kite practice first, & informed gear choices, you’ll probably never need to swim (especially since the wind blows you back to the beach here in Southern California), & you likely won’t have to walk upwind more than about a half dozen times.

Q: Is it dangerous?
A: Not as long as you exercise good judgment.

E: Just BE CAREFUL, get lessons, & use the right gear. A famous kiteboarder once put it very well: “It’s (only) as dangerous as you want to make it”. Like riding a bike: On a bike path with a helmet, your fine. Just don’t go the wrong way on a 1-way street at rush hour after dark in the rain with no helmet!

Q: Won’t I get cut by my lines? Wouldn’t somebody else get cut by my kite or lines?
A: Not as long as you exercise good judgment.

E: Just BE CAREFUL, & use the right gear & technique. With a proper safety release (supplied with any good kite), once you let go of the bar, the kite has nearly no power, so the lines are not under enough tension to cut.

Q: Do I need somebody to assist me launching & landing the kite or board?
A: No.

E: It helps (especially at first), but is no more necessary than help zipping your own wetsuit, or pulling a mast out of a sailboard rig.

Q: What if I let go of the bar? Won’t I lose the kite?
A: No.

E: With the right gear (any good kite) there is a leash attached to your body, which de-powers the kite.

Q: How much gear do I need to cover a broad range of conditions?
A: Very little.

E: With the right board & kite you can cover more than a 15 knot wind range. Your gear flies for free, since you can even fit 2 or 3 kites & boards in a bag marked “golf”. You get more light wind range (than a sailboard) by moving the kite around in the air to create more power, & because the wind is stronger higher up. You get more high wind range (than a sailboard) by raking the rig further to windward (flying the kite higher) without being limited by your body hitting the water.

Q: What size gear should I buy?
A: If you’re around 160-190 pounds, a standard modern inflatable around 11-13m* and a standard modern bi-directional board around 140cm or a directional board around 5.5’ is good from around 8 to 20 knots
(typical Southern California conditions).
E: *The size may seem big, but without even completely deflating it still packs up into a sailboard quiver bag, with plenty of room to spare. Go up one board AND kite size if you’re over 190 or riding at a lighter wind location (& go down if you’re under 160).

Q: What will it cost?
A: Top quality complete new gear packages range from around $1500 to $3000.

E: You’ll get a discount if you buy the board & kite together, half of lesson fees may apply, etc.

Q: Is the gear fragile?
A: No.

E: Unlike a sailboard sail, you can actually walk carefully barefoot on the kite (on sand, grass or carpet) without damaging it. Even the most “fragile” epoxy boards are as strong as sailboards, & are much more durable than surfboards.

Q: Do I need to get a 2-line kite first, even though I'll want a 4-line later? Do I have to learn on gear I’ll outgrow?
A: No.

E: If you get the right gear & instruction, you can learn on the same 4-line kite you'll end up keeping.

Q: What other equipment will I need?
A. Not much.

E. Wetsuit & harness. Options include board leash, helmet, eyewear, booties, gloves, PFD, boardbag, etc.

Q: Where can I take lessons?
A: Captain Kirk’s!

E: We teach at Long Beach, & at La Ventana, Baja. You can also get instruction in the Gorge, & Maui, but it’s actually harder to learn there because the smaller kites required in their stronger winds are more responsive to any poor control movements you may make.

Q: How much are lessons?
A: As little as $179 for the first 3 hour lesson, including gear [trainer kites and kiteboarding kites] IF you bring a couple of friends with you.

E: It’s best to take a 3-pack, because the first lesson is only on land, you’ll only be barely getting in the water by the end of the 2nd lesson, and it’s half price for the 3rd lesson (getting up on the board). E-mail us for a copy of the lesson program, complete with group discounts. 50% of the lesson fees apply towards the MSRP of a new kite/board package at the shop (except the super-inexpensive Royal kites, and Best Waroo & Bularoo kites).

Q: I’ve been told I need to use a trainer kite first, to learn, is that true?
A: No, but it helps a lot.

E: The new B2 flies more like a full-sized kite, so you learn more with it than with smaller traditional trainers. We provide one for your first lesson, but you’ll get much more benefit from your lessons if you have your own kite & video to use first (AND between the lessons too).

Q: Do I need to know how to surf, windsurf, or wakeboard first?
A: No.

E: Any will help a little (as will snowboarding, waterskiing, etc.), but the board skills required are minimal. It’s all in the kite, so normal multi-line kite-flying skills help a lot, which is why the trainer kite is so important.

Q: Does it take a long time to get good?
A: No.

E: After only about a dozen sessions you’ll likely be jumping.

Q: Do I need to be strong?
A: No.

E: It’s actually much better to use finesse instead of strength. As you practice with just the kite, you’ll gain this finesse, as well as strength (as your muscles build).

Q: Can I plane in lighter wind than a sailboard? Can I jump in lighter wind than a sailboard?
A: Yes.

E: Just like boardsailing, it depends on the size of your gear. However, a HUGE kiteboard is still under 6’, but you don’t really need a bigger board for a bigger, heavier kite (even a 20 meter!) since it’s always lifting up.

Q: Where can I go?
A: Nearly any beach.

E: In Southern California, Long Beach (Belmont Shore, Cat Beach) is the best, but if you live or work closer to another beach, you can go right there*. Strong wind (boardsailing) areas such as Cabrillo Beach, Lake Isabella (or even The Gorge) are often LESS desirable, since the wind can be very gusty, & the water is often crowded with boardsailors.

*Once you get good at staying upwind you can just body-drag upwind through the surf.

Q: What is the season for kiteboarding in SoCal?
A: Year-round.

E: At around 160-180 with a 15m+ kite & 179 bi-directional or 6’surf board, you can ride nearly as much in a normal winter as the summer.

Q: Where can I kite in warm water in the winter?
A: La Ventana, Baja.

E: In winter it’s the most consistently windy spot anywhere, including Maui.
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