Seven popular misconceptions about learning to kiteboard
By Diana Pond Klase
- It takes a lot of strength
I’m often asked, “Don’t you need really strong arms to kiteboard?” The answer to this is “No, not really”. You wear a harness, either around your waist or your hips, and the kite is connected to it. Your body weight absorbs most of the pull of the kite while your arms are used primarily for steering. Average upper body strength is all that’s required.
- You need prior surfing/windsurfing/watersports experience
While it’s important to be comfortable in the water it’s not necessary to have any more than normal swimming skills in order to learn. The most important ability is to be able to relax and follow your instructor’s directions.
- If you’ve windsurfed/wakeboarded/sailed/fill-in-the-blank you’ll automatically be able to kite
I’ve heard people with this outlook say things like, “I won’t need lessons, I _______ and it’s pretty much the same thing. I’ll pick it right up”. While it can be helpful to have developed these other abilities the sport of kiteboarding has its own unique skill-set, and safety considerations that don’t exist in and cannot be transferred from other watersports. Having mastered other sports may speed up your learning process but it doesn’t eliminate the need for instruction to safely learn how to kite.
- I’m too old
Only young and fit ‘extreme sports’ kind of people can do this. Age isn’t as important as desire to learn. I’ve taught students from ages 7 to 70 and believe me, the 70-year olds learned much faster than the 7 year old! (And by the way, we don’t recommend lessons for children below 9 years of age; they’ve generally not yet developed the maturity or attention span needed). So unless you’re severely out of shape, average fitness and ability are all that’s required no matter what your age.
- I’ll be up and riding on my first day
Normally, no, you will not. Because it can look so effortless when you’re watching an experienced rider many people think it’s very easy to do but actually there’s quite a bit of skill involved. And no two people advance at the same pace. Often our students, after their first day, are able to begin practicing with a board and may be getting up for short periods of time, but very few are riding off into the sunset just yet.
- It’s very dangerous
It can be. That’s why taking lessons are so important. A traction kite is an extremely powerful piece of equipment, and handled incorrectly it can cause a lot of damage to the pilot, or to others nearby. Proper instruction ensures a safe and enjoyable learning experience while teaching you to handle and control the gear without harm to yourself or others.
- It’s a very expensive sport
I don’t think so. Think about it: Unlike wakeboarding, kiting doesn’t require a powerboat. Unlike skiing or snowboarding, kiting doesn’t require lift tickets and season passes. Unlike golfing, kiting doesn’t require greens fees or country club dues. Unlike sky-diving… you get the point. Once you’ve learned and bought your gear the wind provides your power and the water is your playground. Gear can be bought new or used so the price range to get set up is quite flexible. Lessons are not cheap but they are very reasonable and the return on them can be life changing. I know they’ve definitely changed mine!
Diana Pond Klase, began kiteboarding in 2001 – internationally certified instructor since 2005
Call to schedule your lessons now: Aquasports Maui (808) 242-8015