Kite surfing a.k.a. kite boarding a.k.a. kiting – you’ve probably seen it, or maybe you’ve even done it.
It’s one of the most exhilarating water sports there is!
It is, on one hand, an excellent workout, and on the other hand, it is a way to become one with the elements of nature, that is not just fun to do, but spectacular to watch.
Not surprisingly, it isn’t just something you can show up on the beach one day and “do”. First of all, you’ll need the right equipment.
You will need a surf board (actually, a kite board), a kite, and a harness, and don’t forget that plane ticket to Puerto Vallarta Mexico on the Pacific Ocean (or wherever your heart tells you to go).
Oh, and f.y.i., kite surfing ain’t cheap.
Speaking of Mexico, the Mexican getaway town (a getaway hotspot for gringos a.k.a. white people) of Bucerias is just a few miles north of the Puerto Vallarta airport, still in Banderas Bay.
The currents and winds here in May, are the best in the world for the sport of kite surfing, and temps are hot, so it will feel great out on the water in the wind.
Here’s a quick video showing kite surfing in that very spot. Looks good to us!
This strip of beach from Puerto Vallarta north to Punta de Mita with Bucerias in the middle, is known as Riviere Nayarit, and the International Wind Festival is held May 20 – May 22 right in Bucerias.
World class wind surfers compete on the Bucerias beach.
Whether you are participating in the Festival as a racer, or just enjoying the sport from the beach, it is always good to know what’s going on – even just a little.
Understanding the ins and outs of kite surfing will, of course, increase one’s appreciation for the sport.
Here’s a little peek at what the Wind Festival looks like.
Two aspects of kite surfing you should get to know are downwind kiting, and upwind kiting.
If this means little to you at the moment, here is some info on downwind kiting and upwind kiting to hopefully get you acquainted with these concepts.
Let us start with upwind kite surfing…
First of all, what is upwind kiting?
When learning to kite surf, it is said that going upwind is the way to start. This means you are going against the wind, not with it.
The basic considerations here are the position of the kite, the position of your body, and then the position of the board.
Upwind Kiting Tips
With the kite, it should be at 45 degrees from your position, so it’s nice and high. Then, your body should be leaning away from the kite, so that you don’t end up taking a nosedive.
With your body, you should have your back leg bent, and your front leg relatively straight. For your feet, having a bit more pressure on your heel is a good idea as well, as opposed to your toe.
Follow these basic tips, and you shouldn’t have any problem with upwind kite surfing.
Also remember, that like any form of exercise, if something feels wrong, it probably is, and you probably shouldn’t be doing it.
It’s not hard to strain a muscle if you are learning to kite surf, especially if you are starting off with the wrong form.
When you get up on your board, you will not be going upwind right away. You will want to gain a bit of speed going downwind, before going crosswind, and then making your way upwind.
If you start by going downwind, you will end up having to do the “walk of shame”, whereby you end up walking back up the beach with all your gear in tow to where you began, after being dragged far down the beach.
Here’s an example of the ol’ walk of shame.
If you want to learn how to avoid this walk of shame, so you can kite surf happily, here’s a quick video talking about tips on how to do upwind kitesurfing properly.
Here’s a video that can help understand kite surfing as well in terms of which way you’re directing yourself to go.
This is called “tacking”.
Tacking is simply changing your direction while surfing, and, when it comes to kitesurfing, it is an important skill so you don’t lose ground and get sent downwind, if that isn’t your intention.
Kite Surfing – What To Watch Out For
Speed is everything. If the wind is too strong, you will have to know how to slow yourself down, and if the wind is too light, you will have to know how to speed yourself up.
Therefore, your direction at first, won’t be too straight. It might take some time to build up speed and momentum to go the way you want to go. That’s perfectly ok.
On a twin tipped board, you will be riding on the edge, probably at a 45 degree angle or more.
Learn how to steer the board with your balance, angles, and feet. Don’t let the wind drag you down the beach. You are in charge!
Keep your kite low. The higher it is, your direction will be more vertical, and you will need lots of skill to move upwind.
Lowering that 45 degrees will make moving upwind easier. Of course the wind speed makes a big difference too.
Body Position and Stance
The best stance for traveling up wind is a) arms outstretched b) head and shoulders pointed in the direction you want to go c) bum and hips in towards the bar, and try not to bend your legs too much (pelvic tilt) d) front leg straight, and back leg bent for steering into the wind.
What Is Downwind Kite Surfing?
Downwind kite surfing is considered more of an intermediate way to surf, as it requires a different understanding of kiteboarding altogether.
Want to check out some awesome downwind kitesurfing? Here is a video which will give you a taste of it.
That’s right, the skills and board are a bit different for those that are surfing upwind. It is easier to surf upwind with your kite, so maybe get some instruction on this direction.
If you see a storm approaching, the down wind direction will get you to the beach a lot quicker.
It is difficult to “edge” the board and create pull and speed when down winding, so if you are not good at this, you will slow down and your kite will fall from the sky.
Try pulling the bar in. This should keep your speed up.
Keep your kite turning and bring it back across the wind window.
So once you’re up and weaving back and forth along the shoreline of the beach, and feeling pretty good about your ride, you might want to try a few tricks.
Maybe a jump but first investigate riding “toeside”. Do you have great core muscles and perfect balance?
Along with understanding what “finesse” is, and the slant of the board,, and the position of your toes, and even how to hold the bar, you are travelling pretty fast.
This will take time to master.
Experiment with the weight on the back foot, and the pressure on the board from the front toes.
I think it is time to introduce you to another great kite surfing beach. Let’s travel to Capetown, South Africa. These kite surfers found the perfect beach.
They have the perfect bodies. And the camera angles are also perfect. Enjoy and fly safely!!
Upwind on a Twin Tip Board
This video does a great job explaining some of the basics …