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Skills for becoming an independent kiteboarder

Jun 17, 2009

Author: Rick Iossi

What should you learn during professional instruction before you go out on your own and continue to carefully build experience? You would do well to find a program that properly addresses the following:

Knowledge development
1. How kites, boards and gear work.
2. Insight into the wind, wind window and influences on kite performance and power.
3. What to look for in good launch, riding and landing areas.
4. Safety buffers and the importance of maintaining them.
5. Environment planning and monitoring. What causes unstable weather and its associated hazards, how to predict it, and what to watch out for.
6. Minimum kiteboarder physical capabilities, such as swimming, fitness, warm-up and cooldown procedures.
7. Kiting rules of the road, kiting responsibilities and protecting access to kite.
8. Gear selection (kite, line, board, wetsuit/drysuit) or predicted conditions and safety gear (helmets, impact vests, gloves, knives, signaling devices).
9. Standard voice and hand signals (launch, landing, rescue).
10. Hazards, emergency scenarios, avoidance and management.
11. What skills to work on following the initial training, tips for achieving them and
precautions.

Skill development
1. Gear setup and put-away, pre-flighting, basic preventative maintenance.
2. Launching and landing. Launch angle selection for conditions.
3. Capable stable kite flight under a variety of conditions both unhooked and hooked in.
4. Ability to vary and maintain constant kite power through kite positioning and sinusoiding.
5. Kite safety in simulated emergencies, including an overview of current safety systems.
6. Harness and trim-strap use.
7. Solo and assisted launching and landing.
8. Body-dragging upwind with and without a board from point to point.
9. Self-rescue techniques , including using the kite as a sail to return to shore and securing the kite and lines and swimming into shore.
10. Ability to relaunch from the water.
11. Beachstarting and rudiments of waterstarting on a board.
12. Tips on how to ride upwind.

Some of this information may be conveyed while working with the instructor on the beach or in the water, during lectures, or in handouts. If your instructor doesn’t cover all this information, you would do well to research these topics on your own.

Rick Iossi founded the Florida Kiteboarding Association and several other groups for safe kiteboarding access. He is an engineer and a PASA instructor.

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