Kitesurfing is a fairly new sport that has developed over the past few years....... a very active sport, alot of fun but potentially dangerous. The sport is a cross between windsurfing, surfing, snowboarding, wakeboarding and flying a (rather large!) kite. It essentially involves being pulled by a power kite (between 4m2 and 20m2 surface area), across the water whilst riding a surfboard/wakeboard.

As with all new sports, it has to be said that It is advisable to take a series of lessons from a qualified instructor before starting (usually over a weekend). Mainly for this sport, because a novice kitesurfer can not only do serious damage to him/herself, but also to others, as a stray kite is thrown down the beach by the wind.

Kitesurfing
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Kitesurfing
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Equipment - what do you really need?

The Kite
Basic kite equipment required includes a power kite. The kite is controlled by a horizontal bar, which is used to 'steer' the kite. A safety cord enables the kite to fall in case of danger. On larger kites, the bar is attached to a waist or chest harness, similar to that used by windsurfers.

  • Naish and Wipika are the two main brands.
  • Sizes range from 4m2 to over 20m2, depending on the level of experience and wind conditions. A 5m2 to 7m2 kite in a Force 3 wind would be suitable for a beginner.
  • As the kites become larger, four lines are often used instead of two, to enable rapid de-powering (ie. helping you get out of trouble) of the kite.

   

The Board
A beginner's board looks like a small surfboard, with four footstraps. These boards are easier to get started but, if you use these 'directional' boards, you need to change sides when you wish to change direction (ie. you need to fall off and start over again to go the opposite direction). More advanced kitesurfers use a wakeboard style board, which is less buoyant, but can go in either direction without leaving the footstraps.

Other kit
Additionally, a wetsuit, helmet and gloves are advisable. Kitesurfing competitions in the UK now require a helmet as part of their entry criteria

And the cost of it all.........
Kitesurfing equipment is not cheap. New kites cost from approximately £600 to over £1000, second-hand ones start from £200. New boards cost from approx. £400 to £800, second-hand from £150. A proper helmet costs between £60 and £100. It may be worth sharing equipment between friends to split the cost.

Where to go?
Most kitesurfing take place just off the beach, particularly where there is an onshore breeze and shallow water. Popular Scottish kitesurfing locations include Tiree, Isle of Lewis, Troon, Nairn, Elie and Longniddry. Watergate Bay in Cornwall and Poole Harbour are two popular locations in England, each with schools on the beach. Tarifa, in Southern Spain, is the prime European kitesurfing location.

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