Updated: Aug 30, 2019
Learning kitesurfing is somehow expensive for the average wallet and is mostly considered as an investment. In term of time, if you’re having a kitesurfing vacation theme, you want to ensure that the time spent will be worth it.
It’s usually better to stick with a school located in a non-crowded spot. A lot of businesses tend to swarm together. Finding several kite school at the same spot means that there will be many people on the water and probably many beginners, who will be at the same level or below you in their progression… you can imagine a collection of crash and injuries in between all the newbies.
Check the weather at the period you’re going. Some school remain open during the low season and you’ll maybe have some issue with the wind. If you book in advance, make sure that the booking is refundable if the conditions are not right. In general it’s OK to kite starting 10 knots… 15 to 20 knots (25-36km/h) is always the best, as during your learning curve, the kite will react well and be more responsive. Learning in too light wind is an issue as the control of the kite will be very technical.
Define clear objectives with your instructor. He or she will have a plan in mind for you, after seeing you practicing for only a few minutes with the kite. At the beginning of the session, have a chat with your instructor and set up a training plan. Review your objectives at the end of the session.
Don’t book for too long lessons. Being exposed to the elements and learning how to kite at the same time can be really exhausting. Kitesurf lessons are intense, particularly because you need to be focused all the time, listen to the advice of the instructor and put everything in practice. The lower your level of focus will be, the less you’ll learn. A session of 2-3 hours is more than enough!
Have some regular breaks. Your brain need to digest the new skills you’re learning. 5 -10 minutes break every hour is great. It allows you to rehydrate, discuss with the coach, look at the other people on the spot… Drop the kite, get a drink and process the data!
Learn in the morning, if your spot condition allows that. The brain is most likely to be more focus at 10 am than at 4pm…
Get private lessons. For sure the lessons in a group are cheaper, but your progression will be in line with the time spent with your kite instructor…. So 2 students, half of the progression… It is alright to get a duo lesson for the 1st or even the second lesson… after that, choose 1on1 tuition. With private lesson, the instructor will be near you all the time, correcting, explaining and motivating… 100% win!
The choice of your gear is important. Although you’ve got no knowledge about the gears yet… to make it simple, you should not be dragged by the kite, the kite shouldn’t be pulling too hard on the beach. Ask your instructor (if he/she is the same weight as you) what size he would personally kite with and remove 1-2 square meter if the lessons is about kite control. If the lesson is involving water start and riding, same size as the instructor would take. Don’t hesitate to ask for a change of kite during the lesson if you feel that you’ve not enough or too much power.
Don’t look forward to the board until you’re 100% confident with the kite. Introducing the board is a critical step in your learning sequence and having a poor kite handling skill when the board is introduced to you would lead to massive crash. If you’re not there yet, keep practicing your body dragging, power strokes, launch/relaunch, until you feel ready.
The board is an accessory!!! Don’t focus on it too much. Your kite is the most important element after you, so the board should be the least of your priority. If the instructor propose to use a leash for the board, run away from the school!
Respect the plan… There are many approach to kite learning. Although your instructor should more or less follow those steps (this will depend on the spot... but if you got all of this, your pretty much covered) :
Setup of the equipment (don’t let the beach boy do it… you need to learn!)
Vocabulary (pay attention, new words coming in)
Safety demonstration of the release on the beach
Theory, how the kite flies, how the wind work…
Analysis of the spot’s hazards
Adjust your harness
Learn to help launching and landing the kite, use the hand signals
Practice flying the kite in shallow water, far from other riders
Emergency release (somehow between #8 and #11… usually done at the end of a session)
Learn how to relaunch from the water
Body dragging and upwind body dragging
Power stroke, get power from your kite
A bit more upwind body dragging if necessary
Handling the board in the water, boardy-dragging (body drag with the board), board recovery
Going on the board
Water start and stop
Kitesurfing priorities (theory)
…… you just need practice from now on…
Learning how to body drag is one of the less cool part of all this, but it is super necessary, if you want to be independent quickly. Recovering your board by yourself will save you a lot of money on the long run. If it doesn’t work straight away, change the exercise and come back to it. It is necessary to have the upwind body dragging under control before to get on the board. Don’t listen to those telling you that a board leash is nice, don’t just think that you’ll be riding in pristine shallow water lagoons with onshore wind… Once you’ll be riding you’ll want it all the time and everywhere. Don’t let a little obstacle get in your way! Learn the body dragging upwind!
Being stressed / anxious. Indeed that’s not something that you can control easily, although it is important that you inform your coach about some stress. Having a panic attack or a nervous breakdown in the water, once you’re connected to the power lines of the kite is a good recipe for disaster. Indeed kitesurfing will bring you outside of your comfort zone at the beginning, since there’s not many other activity that you’ve done that can be similar and that you can rely on. Although, if you’re communicating well with your instructor, letting him know your feeling and impressions, he’ll be able to get you as close to confort as possible.
Poor physical condition. Your coach will see or if it’s not obvious, will discuss your physical abilities with you. Don’t hide a pain or a condition… your coach need to know.
Stay clear of substance abuse… in other terms, don’t come to your lesson while being super hangover or high (as a kite). You’ll be in for a cancelation of your lessons, mostly at your cost.
Get your gears: Buy sunglasses / rashguard and good sunblock... Those are usually available at your kiteschool, but they might be missing your size/color etc...
Instructors can be different, having their own ways, their own teaching methods… if something’s not right with an instructor, kindly ask the kite school manager if it’s possible to change… In general, we try to match the instructor and the student, in terms of weight and language…