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Kitesurfing / Kiteboarding Intro
Kitesurfing or kiteboarding is a combination of the best elements of surfing, windsurfing, wakeboarding, and snowboarding. There is crossover from those sports so anyone good at those sports can pick up power kite sports fairly quick. But kite surfing is a bit different as you don’t need waves, a boat or an expensive lift ticket- only a few knots of wind. It is the perfect sport for those who enjoy the freedom of sailing and jumping without the huge cost.
Is a Power Kite the Same as a Kite Surfing, Snowkiting or Traction Kite?
Some people get a bit confused at first on the terminology. A power kite is is any large controllable kite designed to provide significant pull to the user. So all kitesurfing, landboarding, snowkiting, kite buggying kites are in the category of power kites. Kites that are not considered power kites would be stunt kites or those little one line kites you see on the beach.
Power kites can be flown anywhere, can fit your own specific personality and can be done by anyone from ages 7 to 70). So it’s easy to understand why kiteboarding is one of the fastest growing sports.
Where Can You Go Kiteboarding?
One of the greatest part of getting into power kites is the ability to do it almost anywhere. You can use a kite in all of these areas:
- Lakes, oceans, rivers (Kitesurfing Kites)
- Beaches, parks, grass, parking lots (Traction Kites)
- Large open flat areas (Kite Buggy Kites)
- Any snowy surface (Snowkites)
- Absolutely anywhere (Trainer Power Kites)
Maybe you live near the beach and have been seeing some of those crazy guys kitesurfing or landboarding. Or maybe you’ve been hitting the ski slopes and seeing crazy stunts folks are pulling while snowkiting.
Looks like fun, doesn’t it?
If you’re wanting to get in on the action of kite-based sports like kiteboarding, landboarding, kitesurfing, or snowkiting, there’s nothing holding you back.
But, there are smart ways and dangerous (aka – less than smart ways) to go about it. Getting good at kitesurfing or snowkiting, and learning how to do it safely, doesn’t happen by jumping on a board connected to a full-sized power kite and trying it out.
It happens through practice with a trainer kite.
What Are Trainer Kites?
Trainer kites are pretty much what the name implies – kites for beginner kiteboarders, whether their goal be kitesurfing, snowkiting, landboarding or otherwise.
They are much smaller, simpler and safer than power kites, and allow newbies to get a feel for the power of the wind and the basics of controlling the kite with its lines and control bar, while not having to worry about the dangers of power kiting.
Why Start with a Trainer Kite?
Your first time driving a car was probably not on a four-lane highway in the middle of rush-hour traffic.
Because it would have been extremely dangerous.
So why would you learn how to kitesurf or snowkite with a full sized, power kite that you are unforgivingly attached to via a board and harness? That is a recipe for disaster.
It only makes sense for anyone wanting to learn a kite-sport to start with a trainer kite. During your time with the trainer, you will learn how to launch, pilot, and land your kite. You will learn how the kite respond to your controls. You will learn how to find and use a variety of positions inside the wind window. You will learn how to increase your speed and how to reduce its power and slow down. You will learn how to “park” the kite on the edge of the wind window in the neutral zones.
In other words, using a trainer kite is all about learning how to properly handle the kite from start to finish without the risk of being attached to it.
Types of Trainer Kites
There are a wide variety of trainer kites for sale, so there is no one size fits all. It depends on the type of power kite sport you want to get into, as well as the type of power and air you want to learn how to control, not to mention your own personal size, weight, and of course budget.
The three main types:
- 2-line: the simplest, cheapest, and safest of the trainer kites, it provides easy set up and allows you to learn the basics, but you won’t be able to learn how to reverse launch or stall the kite.
- 3-line: still relatively simple and easy to set up but with the added ability to do reverse re-launches and an ability to kill the power. Naturally, they are a bit more expensive.
- 4-line: these provide the closest experience to a full power kite and are the most complex and consequently most dangerous. It flies very similarly to a full power kite and will require being hooked up to a harness, which adds to both cost and risk.
There are of course other details that add further variety, so be sure to do your homework to find one ideal for your long-term power kite goals.
How to Use a Trainer Kite
Alright, so now you know what a trainer kite is, why you need one, and a bit about types to choose from.
Once you’ve selected your ideal trainer kite, here are your next steps for getting started in your new hobby:
- Find a large, open area to fly. The more open and bigger, the better. The wind needs plenty of room to flow without being interrupted by trees or structures.
- Remove your trainer kite from its bag and lay it out on the ground. Make sure its bridle lines are facing upwards and that the trailing edge is facing the wind. You will need to temporarily weigh the kite down or have a friend hold it down so it doesn’t blow away.
- Unwind the kite lines from the bar as you walk into the wind.
- Walk between the lines from the bar back to the kite, inspecting for any potential twists or knots in the lines. Untangle and untwist the lines as needed.
- If there is a safety leash, attach it to the bar.
- Now, pull firmly on your bar. If wind is sufficient, your kite should launch.
- Spend time practicing steering, which is similar to that of a bicycle. If you pull left, the kite will turn to the left; if you pull to the right, it will go right. Wherever you guide the leading edge of the kite, that’s where it will go
Important things to remember:
- Crashes will happen (another reason to start with a cheaper trainer a full-sized power kite). Try to avoid crashing fully down wind, as the speed of the impact could blow seams.
- Wind is different from day to day – sometimes your kite will fly great, other times it may not, and it could have all to do with the wind and nothing to do with you
- Even with a trainer kite, 15-20 mph winds can create a lot of power. Small 3.5-meter kites still can pick up a 200-pound person and move them as far as 10 feet. Make sure you have plenty of space, stay alert, and remain in control.
- Just like learning to drive, you need to put in some hours of practice before you will fly your kite well. Plan to log at least 5 or so hours before getting proficient and remember that the upgrade to a full-size power kite and board will still give you plenty more to learn.
Get Yours Today
So now that you know what it’s all about and that there are affordable trainer kites to get you started, don’t wait. There are dozens of excellent trainer kites for sale, so be sure to review the best ones and purchase the ideal one for you!