IKO Kite surf tips
One of the best ways to learn kitsurfing is to take a course as with an instructor that is trained at an IKO instructor course.
Tip #1 Do not use a board leash to connect yourself to your board, especially not a surfboard leash. Surfboard leashes tend to build a large amount of energy in their elasticity and will propel a board at you when you crash. A helmet and impact vest do not provide adequate protection in this event as your spine at your neck is totally exposed and being damaged could leave you paralyzed. A simple metre long non-stretch leash can be used to connect your board after you have crashed to keep the board close to you whilst you are trying to re-launch your kite or self rescue. Once the kite is out of the water, disconnect the board again from your leash before you start riding. CAUTION : If you ride a foil or SLE (bow) style kite which launches within the power area of the wind window, do not use any leash as a kite which launches in the power area can still fling a board even on a non elastic short leash. “C” kites usually only launch from neutral and as such pose a much lesser risk. If it is really windy, think twice or better still, use no leash at all and learn to body drag upwind competently in all conditions. (Thanks ‘slave)
Tip #2 The “Pro” Re-Launch method can be used to avoid the use of leashes altogether. When your IKO kite is down, take your board off your feet (assuming it’s still on your feet) and when ready to start the re-launch swimming at the kite, throw the board as far as you can towards the kite (but not into the lines). This will give you a few metres of swimming (generally enough to roll the kite on it’s back) by the time you reach the board. Then simply hold onto the board and pull on the bar to send the kite to the edge of the wind window and launch.
Tip #3 Rolling the kite on it’s back for water start can be made easier by swimming a little to one side of the wind window before you start your swim at the kite. You need to swim fast enough to create some slack to roll the kite on its back. As the kite will pivot on its leading edge you need to give at least the radius of the semi circle of the kite in distance to enable it to roll, plus a bit extra to allow for drift of the kite. By grabbing the center lines above the trim strap and hauling hard behind you, this will give you a head start in the swim race, then swim really fast for a few second straight at the kite.
Tip #4 Body dragging upwind tends to be difficult to many people, but is the one skill which can be learned in 10 minutes of instruction which will save lost boards and flailing around looking like shark bait. Keep the kite steady at 45 degrees above water, steer with your back hand on the bar and use the front hand as a rudder. Position your body as a keel, be stiff and rigid as a keel would be (especially your legs). The best tip is to bend forwards with your chest to reduce “body rocker line” this will make the world of difference to you and maybe save your board.
Tip #5 Regaining control when you get too much speed. Most beginners immediately raise their kite to Zenith in order to kill off some speed when they get going too fast. This seems like the right choice but in fact it is the opposite. By bringing your thailand kite up over head, you reduce your ability to set a good deep edge on the board which is how you should control speed. By bringing your kite a bit lower than 45 degrees and planting your bum into the crest of the next piece of chop you will allow a good edge and wash off a heap of speed, sending your kite forward to the edge of the wind window and giving you time to compose yourself. A quick “S” carve downwind and in the opposite direction is a more radical way of blowing off speed, and can make it look like you are throwing up a big spray rather than trying to slow down. It’s all about looking good! :-)
Tip #6 Roll your lines away when you come in to the beach for a break. Leaving lines laying across the beach is purely “Bad Form”. It creates the possibility of tangles, not to mention gets in the way of everyone else as they try and lay their lines out to launch. It only takes a minute and all the other kiters at your local spot will really appreciate it. Do yourself and everyone else a big favour and roll your lines up and place the bar on your kite.
Tip #7 Buying a 2nd Hand Kite can be confusing when you know little about the sport. A good tip is to buy nothing over 2 years old as the safety systems and quick releases weren’t really up-to-spec at that stage of the game. Also kites tend to stretch or “bag out” after a season or two which slows them down and makes them less efficient. They still work, but aren’t the same as something more modern. Check for scratches on the leading edge bladder and also for “crinkle” marks running parallel, within 6 inches to the trailing edge between the wingtip strut and the next one in from the wingtip strut (T3 and T2). This indicates “flogging in the wind” on the beach and significantly reduces tear strength. Look for wear behind the canopy between the Leading Edge. Sand collects and wears the canopy. Check pigtails for wear at the knot attach point to the kite tabs. Also look for patches in the forward 1/3rd of the canopy, make sure they have been stitched as well as glued. Buy a well known brand as resale will be better than something more obscure and obscure models and brands tend to be difficult to get replacement bladders. And finally check for scuffing on the ends of the wingtips and ends of struts, it will give you an idea of whether the kite has been respected or not by it’s owner.