So you’ve heard about this awesome, not-so-new-anymore, sport that’s taking over the beaches and skies around the world called kitesurfing, or otherwise known as kiteboarding… and you’ve finally decided to see what the fuss is all about? Well, you’ve come to the right place!
But first let me just say this… kitesurfing is hands down one the most insane sports on this planet! I’ve tried many extreme sports and some not so extreme sports, and this is honestly the one I would choose to do every single day of my life. Now if only the wind would blow every day… well maybe in Cape Town… Anyway enough of that, you’re probably dying to know how to go about getting into kitesurfing.
Will I Be Able to Learn Kitesurfing
Well the good news is that anybody can learn to kitesurf. From the age of 10 through to 85, Boys, Girls, Men and Woman are all enjoying this thrilling sport! In fact, as long as you are mobile, you can learn to kitesurf. Contrary to common belief, you do not have to be extraordinarily fit or strong, and girls make great kitesurfers too btw. Naturally you will get super fit and strong if you kitesurf regularly, but this is not a requirement to learn. The bad news is that you can’t just go out and buy a kite, head to the beach and figure it out on your own…
Learn to Kitesurf the Responsible Way
Unlike many sports that you can teach yourself through trial and error, kitesurfing is a sport that requires the supervision of a qualified kitesurfing instructor. This is in the best interest of your own safety and the safety of other innocent beach goers and kiteboarders. Besides, do you really want to risk ripping that sexy new kite you just bought because you don’t know how to set it up correctly or launch and land it safely? Investing in a few lessons with a kiteboarding instructor will be money well spent, as you’ll not only become a safer more responsible kitesurfer, but you’ll also learn much quicker.
Some of the critical things you need to learn before you attempt to kitesurf on your own are:
- Safety, rules and regulations on and off the water
- Weather conditions and how the wind window works
- How to set up your kite correctly
- How to launch, land and fly the kite safely
More on this in upcoming articles…
What Do I Need to Get Started
All you need to get started initially is a few lessons with an IKO qualified kitesurfing instructor. You will find a list of recommended kiteboarding shops and a list of recommended kiteboarding schools or instructors on this website.
So head on over to either of those pages and contact your nearest IKO certified Kitesurfing School to ask them about their lessons. The school will provide you with all the training equipment you need, so you really just need to come with your baggies / bikini, sunscreen and loads of excitement.
Once you’ve completed the course, or you’re in the final stages of your lessons, you can consider buying your own gear. If you can afford it, I highly recommend buying your gear as early on in the course as possible, so that you can practise on your new equipment while still under the supervision of your instructor.
To get started with your own gear, you will need at least one kite (your local shop will advise you on the different types of kites and the best size for your weight and local conditions), a kiteboard and a harness. The bar, lines and pump come with your kite in most cases.
How Much Does it Cost
Well, the truth is kitesurfing isn’t the cheapest sport to take up, but trust me when I say this, it will be well worth the investment, and the best decision you will ever make… A brand new rig will set you back in the region of R 18 000 ($ 2 600) depending on the gear you choose. But you don’t need to buy brand new equipment to get started. Your local kitesurfing shop should be able to set you up with second hand gear that could cost you as little as R 7 000 ($ 800 in the USA). The beauty of this route is that you minimize your start up risk, and by the time you are ready to upgrade, you already know you are addicted to kitesurfing and the investment will be well worthwhile. Also, you will have a better understanding of what equipment will suit your needs best.
Wow, that’s Expensive!
Not really… I know the equipment might sound quite expensive at first glance, but let me put things into perspective for you. If you’ve ever taken up any other kind of lifestyle sport such as scuba diving, skiing, snowboarding, wakeboarding, sailing and even deep sea fishing or angling, you’ll know that this isn’t a lot of money to spend on something that’s going to bring you so much pleasure and keep you fit and healthy at the same time.
Here are some numbers to get you thinking:
- Scuba Diving will set you back roughly R 20 000+ for a full set of entry to midrange gear
- Snowboarding: roughly R 8 000 – R 20 000+ for entry level gear, but largely dependent on where you are in the world
- Deep Sea Fishing : R 10 000 – R 30 000 depending on your requirements
Now the real difference is that once you have the kiteboarding gear, you hardly have any other costs to go kitesurfing, apart from the petrol / Gas to get you to the beach and your sunscreen. In contrast, with scuba diving you still need to pay for your dives and cylinder fills each time you want to dive, and there may be extensive travel and accommodation costs involved if you don’t live near a great dive spot. With snowboarding, you will need to travel to a skiing region, pay over the top accommodation expenses and buy a not-so-cheap ski pass. And fishing? Well if you don’t own your own boat, then you have to pay for a fishing charter or hire a boat for the day. If you do own your own boat, then I’m sure I need not tell you what it costs to maintain that bad boy…
You see, not so bad after all? So do yourself a favour and book your first double lesson, and see if you like it, how much you love it! Your first double lesson will cost you roughly R 800, so you have nothing to lose, but R 800 perhaps… You won’t regret it.
In coming articles we will break the kitesurfing course down into its individual modules, which will give you a better idea of what to expect and we will also be bringing you plenty of gear reviews and helpful advice and tips about kitesurfing.
Also, if you’re curious about how kiteboarding started, who invented the first inflatable kite, and where the sport is headed in the future, check out at our history of kiteboarding article, and definitely watch the video.
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See you on the water!