Kite surfing, also known as kite boarding is a fun and rapidly
growing sport. This page is notes that I compiled while learning
this sport in the Los Angeles area. Click here
California kite boarding beach and weather information. Comments
and suggestions are invited
for the main photo
Crash & burn
and speed management
Not much equipment is needed, at minimum just a kite, a board
and a harness. Safety equipment such as a helmet, an impact /
buoyancy vest and kite knife should be seriously considered. A
wet suit can make the experience more pleasurable when the water
gets cold. A basic new setup (kite, board and harness) costs
around $1200 to $2400. Used equipment is less expensive but the
newer kites are generally better and safer due to recent
technology advances. Additional kites and boards for different
wind conditions and riding styles can easily double the cost.
Instruction can also further increase the cost.
Local Southern California kiteboarding equipment and training
sources include Captain
, Kite connection
and Kites Etc
. See the SCKA.org
web site for a more
complete local retail store listing.
My current kiteboarding setup is largely a one kite, one board
quiver, a 2007 12 meter Cabrina
Crossbow II kite (instruction
) (local copy
), a 2008
149 twin tip board and a Da Kine Fusion seat
. This setup covers most of the low to moderate
winds typical of the Socal region. If I were to get a new kite,
it probably would be 14 m size to improve the low end a bit. I
also have a 2004 Underground
Wavetray WT-157 twin tip board that is suitable for stronger
winds and chop but I don't use it much. In the past I have flown
a 14 meter 2004 model Cabrina
Co2 kite and a 19 meter Peter
ARC foil kite. Click here
for more details about the older kites and how they compare to
the Crossbow II. Go to James
blog for an interactive kiteboarding calculator
to help you select the right size kite and board for your weight
and local winds.
-- Kites have
advanced technically quite a bit since the early days of kiting.
Important points include fast turning response, steady power,
wide wind range, water relaunchability and a good safety release
system. Moderate aspect ratio kites are good for beginners and
wave riding. High aspect ratio kites are better for big jumps.
There are now three common kite types; Leading Edge Inflatable
(LEI) C kite, LEI bow kites and foil (ram air) kites. LEI kites
from different vendors kites are similar in performance and
generally perform better than the older models. The bow kites
are very popular with a wide wind range and easy water
relauching. They are largely replacing the C kites. LEI kites
are much more common than foil kites but some of foil kites
continue to attract interest. The Peter Lynn Venom has good fast
turning characteristics, a bit slower than LEI kites. It does
not need pumping, has a very wide wind range, has positive
stability than minimizes relaunches and easily self lands. The Flysurfer
Speed III 19 and 21 m kites have an unsurpassed low end.
At this time, I am primarily using the 12 meter Cabrina Crossbow
II with a Slingshot Glide board. I have been quite happy with
this setup which is well suited for kiting in the LA area.
2007 Cabina 12 meter Crossbow advantages:
1. The Crossbow has a wide wind range, from about 10 to 24+ mph.
It probably would work in still higher winds but I have not
tried it in those conditions.
2. The kite turns relatively fast.
3. The kite is easy to self launch, self land and water
4. It has good upwind performance.
5. The kite line connections are polarized to prevent incorrect
2007 Cabrina 12 meter Crossbow disappointments:
1. The trim lines are hard to pull. The red and black trim balls
for the sheeting system should be different shapes so that they
can be adjusted without looking at them.
2. The tension clip for the emergency override easily falls off
and at minimum setting provides too much tension. Currently I
don't use this clip.
The sheeting system needs better human factors, i.e., the two
trim balls should be different shapes so you can tell which is
which by touch. The red ball sheets out (depowers) the kite, the
black ball sheets the kite in (increased power). 2. For my kite,
sheeting out caused the kite to depower to a point where the
kite falls from the sky when using the normal outside line
knots. I added two additional knots (knots 3 & 4) at 1 inch
increments on the outside lines. I usually tie onto knot 4 and
this works well.
1. Frequently check all kite lines for wear and replace any that
are excessively worn.
2. Always clean all pulleys before launching. Turn the pulley
wheel back and forth until all sand is removed and it turns
3. Always fully dry the kite before storage if you clean the
kite with fresh water. I don't wash the kite after using it in
the ocean. I just pack it.
-- There are a
variety of board types. The twin tip style is by far the most
-- Currently twin tip boards are by far the most
popular as they are relatively easy to learn, easy to turn and
good for stunts. These boards are symmetrical, have foot
straps and can be ridden in either direction without jybing.
The Slingshot Glide and Underground
Wavetray WT-157 twintips that I use are relatively long and
have a large flotation area. This makes it relatively easy to
plane and go in low wind typical of this area. The Slingshot
Glide is flat and wide, reducing the wind requirements by
about 3 mph relative to the Underground board.
-- The wake
style board is similar to the twin tip but with bindings
rather than foot straps.
-- Mutants are
unidirectional boards with limited bidirectional capabilities.
Jibing is generally required when turning although they can be
ridden backwards for some distance.. Mutants are conceptually
between twin tips and directional boards.
Directional boards are similar to surfboards and windsurfing
boards. The directionals are easier to water start and plane
and work well in weaker winds. These boards are more difficult
to turn because of the need for switching foot positions
during the turn (jibing).
boards are fairly new in the kiteboarding world. Skim boards
are short, wide and often have no fins or footstraps.
Advantages include very good low wind performance and low
cost. They are harder to learn than other boards. See Cabaldc.com
-- This type
of board has a hydrofoil below a wakeboard. Fast, goes upwind
very well in light wind but difficult to learn. Carafino (www.carafino.com
) is one
source for hydrofoils.
Rocker -- front to rear bend of
- More rocker = more
stability = better in chop and for wave riding, easier to
turn, better for tricks
- Less rocker = less
drag = faster board, better for smooth water, better for
planing in low winds, better for going upwind
Concave -- side to side curvature
- More concave = easier to
turn, better pop for jumping
- Less concave = less drag,
Flex -- stiffness of the board
- More flex = softer ride,
better for chop
- Less flex = less drag =
faster board, better for low wind
Rail stiffness -- the edge of the board
- Soft rail = smoother ride
- Stiff rail = less drag =
Rail curvature -- the edge of the board
- More curved = better turning
- Less curved = better edging
and low wind performance
- Large fins = more stable
- Small (or no) fins = better
low wind capability
Area -- board length times width
- More volume = more
flotation, easier to get on a plane, better for low winds
- Less volume = less size
& weight = easier to turn fast and do tricks, better for
Tip: Coat all screws with silicone grease to minimize
electrolytic corrosion and prevent seizing. Occasionally check
all screws for proper tightness.
Tip: Add a contact label with your name, phone and email in case
the board is lost. We have a printer at work that prints onto a
vinyl plastic sheet. The self adhesive label is placed under the
twin tip center handle.
-- The kite
harness is used to attach the kite to the rider. Three types are
common: waist, seat and integral as part of the swim suit. For
most people the seat harness is preferred.
-- The use
of a board leash is strongly discouraged. Board leashes can be
useful in vey limited circumstances, if there is a strong or
offshore current or you are a long way from shore. The important
downside of a board leash is that it can slingshot the board
into the kitesurfer so at minimum, additional protective gear,
including a helmet and impact vest are needed. One definitely
should not use a board leash if doing jumps or stunts. If used,
connect the board leash to the toeside edge or footstrap rather
than the heelside edge to avoid catching it in the water. I have
a reel type leash on my harness but I rarely use it on the
water, mainly when carrying a camera as body dragging gets more
complicated then. I mainly use it to tie down the board when it
is in the back of my pickup truck.
Particularily recommended during training or when using a board
leash but always a good idea.
Recommended during training, during stunts and when using a
-- A spring
suit or Lycra rash guard is fine for summer in Los Angeles but a
full suit is needed towards the winter. My winter suit is a Prolimit
5/3 steamer windsurfing suit. Unlike a regular surfing suit, the
entry zipper is in the front and easier to reach. Water
temperature varies from around 55F in the winter to 72F in the
Recommended in general for all water sports. Alternately a wet
suit or impact vest can provide some flotation.
-- For eye
protection, I use inexpensive UV / polarizing sunglasses made
for fishermen. These work well, retailing for about $5 at the
local sporting good store. They include a neck strap to prevent
them from getting lost during a crash, but at that price, it is
no big deal if they become lost or broken. Tip: Tie the neck
strap to the wet suit cord to prevent loss if you crash. Tip:
Coat the lens surfaces with Rainex to help remove water splashes
from the lenses while riding.
Kite -- Minimize UV exposure, do
not rinse in fresh water or mildew is likely to form. I just
roll my kite up at the beach and store it that way.
Board, harness, helmet, etc. -- Rinse in fresh water
Wetsuit -- Turn inside out, rinse in cold fresh water, air
dry, turn back to normal, hang on a wide plastic hanger or lay
flat. Do not leave wrinkled
Training is recommended in the beginning stages through the
water start. Although kitesurfing may look easy, there is a
significant learning curve. Recommended kite boarding training
material includes DVDs, books, magazines and training kites.
excellent source for general kite surfing info
information and kitesurfing forum (pay service)
-- A good online introduction to kitesurfing
Online kiteboarding magazine
-- From Kiteboarding magazine
-- Australian kite academy
-- Numerous kite instruction manuals
-- "True" kiting history book by North
Kiting for surfers
Brief video overview of kite surfing
-- Tampa Bay kiteboarding
For kite repair in Southern California, contact: John Fitz (firstname.lastname@example.org)
(714) 329-0772, also look at www.fixmykite.com
Beaudonnat, E., "Kiteboarding Vision", ISBN 99934-999-0-0, www.ikorg.com (2004) -- A
good overview of kiteboarding. Currently my first book choice
for a beginner, but the videos are generally more useful.
Boese, K., and Spreckels, C., "Kitesurfing, the Complete Guide",
ISBN 978-0-470-72791-1 (2007) -- A good intermediate /
advanced level book. This book mainly consists of two page
descriptions of various kiteboarding moves. Each move is
illustrated with a sequence photo set and some text
explanation. The photo quality is excellent although the text
explanations are a bit weak. Definitely recommended for
a more advanced rider who is interested in tricks.
Holzhall, J., "Secrets of Kiteboarding", Kiteboardcenter.com
(2004) -- A good overview of kiteboarding. Recommended.
Holzhall, J., "Kiteboarding's Simple Plan", ISBN
(2002) -- This was the first book about Kitesurfing. It has
been replaced by "Secrets of Kiteboarding" by the same author.
Magazines such as "Kiteboarding"
and "Kiteboarder magazine"
often have short instructional segments in addition to the
latest news and gear..
-- Real kiteboarding
(2005) -- Very detailed basic kiteboarding instruction up to the
water start. This is a good choice for basic training.
-- Real kiteboarding
(2006) -- Water start through going upwind. This video is a good
choice for basic and early intermediate level training.
-- Real kiteboarding
(2007) -- Water start through going upwind. This video a good
choice for intermediate level training.
(2007) -- Wave riding. This video is a good
choice for advanced level training.
-- Real kiteboarding
(2007) -- Advanced kitesurfing tricks.
"The Complete Kiteboarding Guide"
Almost 4 hours of video including 2.5 hours of instruction.
There are many long duration shots showing the instructional
topic at hand. There is some unique video shots filmed with a
kite mounted camera. This video uses only Naish kiteboarding
products. One interview with Naish's kite designer, Don Montague
is interesting. This video is highly recommended and quite good
for both basic and intermediate training.
(~2002 ) This well done video includes 2 hours of kiteboarding
training and several bonus features including how the video was
filmed. The instructional video is nicely filmed and edited but
is badly out of date for today's kiteboarding hardware.
(~2002) -- The continuation of Boost II for intermediate and
advanced users. This DVD is primarily a long list of
intermediate and advanced moves. It also has some nice wave
riding and hydrofoil board footage.
(2004) -- This DVD is the companion to John Holzhall's book
"Secrets of Kiteboarding". Although short, it includes useful
information, such as the importance of line lengths, not common
in other training material.
(~2002) -- This DVD with Shannon Best is for intermediate and
advanced users. The video is 75 minutes long.
(~2002) -- This DVD with Shannon Best is for advanced users.
For several years, the most useful training DVD was "Boost 2".
It still is an excellent video and fun to watch, but other
videos are now more up to date. Boost 2 was filmed several years
ago. Some changes are recommended:
- A twin tip is now the preferred beginner board rather than a
- Emergency release in the water is generally discouraged unless
- Hooked in riding is encouraged for most beginning water
- Two line kites are not recommended for beginners and are
My recommendation for basic / intermediate instruction at this
time is either the Real kiteboarding DVD set or the "The
Complete Kiteboarding Guide" DVD.
Most of the non training kitesurfing DVDs, particularily those
about the "kitesurfing lifestyle" are of poor quality, poor
taste and generally are not recommended.
A good selection of kitesurfing DVDs is available at www.sideoff.com
After watching DVDs, reading the books and flying a trainer
kite, the initial training should be with an instructor.
Beginner training in the Los Angeles area is generally at
Belmont Shores, just south of Los Angeles. The winds are usually
side onshore and the waves are small due to a breakwater and
offshore structures. The beach is large and sandy. Free
parking is available on the street and pay parking in the beach
parking lots. Most kitesurfing activity at Belmont is centered
near the Clairmont Street ramp (gps = N33 45.154 W118 08.111). (Google
satellite map view
) Beginner training, body dragging
and downwinding should be Southeast (downwind) of Clairmont boat
ramp because of smaller crowds and to avoid interfering with the
more advanced riders. There are stingrays in the water so
shuffle your feet to chase them away. Winds are often
unpredictable but are common throughout the Summer. The thermal
winds largely disappear during the daylight savings time,
October through March. Viewing the NOAA LA / Long
Beach harbor web pages
, subscribing to IKitesurf
forecasts or calling the local kitesurfing shops can help
determine if it is a good kitesurfing day.
Instructor training is highly recommended in the early phases
but it can be expensive at around $80 to $100+ per hr. Carter Thomas
658-9662 and Rudy at Kitewave.com, both are excellent and
patient teachers who helped me learn kitesurfing. Other local
instructors include Al Shuton and Bart Gaska, and Bart
. Local shops providing training at Belmont Shores
region include Captain
. I did not have any previous surfboard, wakeboard
or similar board experience so I took two introductory
wakeboarding lessons from the Cutting edge
Irvine Lake (gps = N33 46.449 W117 43.066, 763 ft). The two wake
board lessons helped considerably and were money well spent.
Once you can water start, formal instruction becomes less
important. Note: As of 2008, Cutting Edge is out of business, an
alternate is WCR wakeboarding school (wcrwakeboardschool.com
with lessons in San Diego Mission Bay and at Canyon Lake (gps =
N33 40.83 W117 16.34 elevation=431 meters) near Riverside. Click
for photos at Canyon Lake.
Another possible wakeboarding class is wakexperience.com
provides wakeboard, waterski and surf lessons at Long Beach
(310) 849-3390, (310) 251-7227, email@example.com
Also virtual snowboarding (www.virtualsnowoc.com
might be of some help.
First it is necessary to become very comfortable flying a
powerful traction kite before venturing into the water. The
usual sequence is to start with a small training kite and then
work up to full size kites on a large open sandy beach. This is
followed by body dragging in the water and then finally water
starting with a twin tip board. Learning kite boarding can take
significant time. The typical learning curve at Belmont Shores
with frequent practice sessions is to be able to water launch,
turn, go upwind, and maybe do some simple jumps by the end of
the first summer season. Prior surfing, wake boarding or snow
boarding experience can shorten this time.
While on land you should practice assisted launching, self
launching, assisted landing and positioning the kite at any
angle. You should then practice sining the kite (moving it
back and forth) to generate power. This is followed by
practicing the water start maneuver on land. You should practice
kite control until you are comfortable flying it without looking
at it much.
Kite bar controls
The kite owner's manual discusses the kite bar setup and
operation in detail. You should become very familiar with the
bar prior to use.
All of the control bar functions should be
systematically tried on land, at least in simulated form, prior
to water use. This should be done periodically to test the
safety mechanisms and refresh your memory. I tied the 4 kite
lines to a fence post to form a simple simulator and spent about
an hour systematically becoming familiar with the different
functions. Make sure that the bar is fully tensioned when
testing the emergency release systems. Control activation needs
to be second nature, most critically during an emergency.
Inflatable kite -- Unroll the kite downwind with the belly up.
Sand or a board is used to hold down the upwind end of the kite.
First, the secondary struts are firmly inflated. Then the pump
is then attached to the leading edge strut, both with the hose
and with a retaining line. Then the leading edge is pumped up.
Many modern inflatable kites now use a "one pump" design
requiring only that the single main strut connection needs to be
filled. At some point, when the leading edge starts to take
shape, the kite will try to rapidly turn 90 degrees to align
with the wind. The pump strap is used to keep the kite from
flying away. Continue pumping until the leading edge is firm.
Firm means that there are no wrinkles in the leading edge. The
correct bladder air pressure is usually around 5 to 6 psi. Then
flip the kite over, point it into the wind and put sand onto the
leading edge to keep the kite from flying away. The Cabrina
Crossbow II uses a one pump system so you only need to connect
the pump to the main bladder. I do recommend cleaning and then
moistening the screw on kite air fill connectors to provide a
Very important note for Cabrina kites !!!: -- The main strut
dump valve should be relatively loose until the main strut is
fully inflated. Then tighten it hard only after full inflation.
Tightening it prior to inflation will let the bladder twist,
potentially causing it to rupture. If it is not tightened hard
after inflation, the valve will leak, resulting in poor kite
performance and an inability to water relaunch.
The PL Venom kite -- Roll the kite out downwind. The end struts
are installed. Sand or a board is used to hold down the upwind
end of the kite. Set the internal control strap (inside the
deflation zipper) as desired. This strap controls the rigidity
of the kite. Half way is a good starting point. The downwind and
deflation zippers are closed and the upwind zipper is opened.
The kite will then inflate. Close the inflation zipper prior to
Control bar attachment
Inflatable kite -- There are a number of different ways to
attach the lines to the kite; from the front, the sides and the
rear. The rear downwind method as described is recommended as it
makes it easy to verify that your lines are correctly connected.
Unwind the lines directly down wind from the kite. The colored
side of the bar should be to the right when looking at the
upside down kite. Hook up the center leading edge lines first,
then the outer trailing edge lines. Make sure that you bring the
trailing edge lines over the leading edge lines. Double check
*everything* including the kite line condition, pulleys and
other moving parts after the attachment is complete. If your
kite has pulleys, make sure that you rotate them with the
rotation axis horizontal so that beach sand will fall out. The
Cabrina lines are polarized so the leading and trailing edge
lines can not be reversed. Line reversal will result in an out
of control kite so if your kite does not use polarized lines, it
is *essential* to verify that the center lines are correctly
attached to the leading edge.
PL Venom foil kite -- Unwind the lines directly upwind on the
trailing edge side of the kite. Connect the lines from the
closest to the kite to farthest, always putting the next line on
top. The leading edge downwind line is then velcroed to the
"launch assistant" near the downwind inflation zipper.
Inflatable kite -- Go to a launch position so the kite will be
near the edge of the wind window. Your assistant should lift the
inflatable kite using the front center of the leading edge
without grabbing any lines and orient it into the wind. Slowly
tension the lines and verify that everything is correct. As you
continue to tension the lines move down or up wind if the kite
is leaning up or down wind. When in the right position, signal
your assistant to release the kite and slowly fly it upward.
Problems: If the kite travels rearward and tumbles out of
control, you are too far downwind when launching the kite. If
the kite travels forward and up through the power zone with a
lot of power and speed you are too far upwind.
PL Venom kite -- It is easier to self launch so that is
Inflatable bow kite -- Go to the launch position and slowly pull
on the furthest away leading edge (outside) line to rotate the
kite to the launch position. Wait for the rear of the kite to
fill. As the kite starts to move, pull in on the closer leading
edge outside line (the top most line) to launch the kite.
For a smoother launch with more control, you can momentarily
park the kite on the ground by applying tension only on the rear
(center) lines. Then slowly launch the kite by slowly pulling in
the the main lines. All of this should be done slowly and
methodically. Tip: Practice parking the kite on the ground prior
to learning self launches and self landings.
1. Make sure that the down wind area is clear of spectators and
2. Assuming you have attached the lines from the downwind
position, start to rotate the kite by tensioning the rear
outside line while slowly walking toward the launch position.
This will rotate the kite while on the ground. Hold up the front
outside line to keep it from tangling with the other lines.
3. When at the launch position, release the tension on the rear
line while waiting for the kite to fill. Do not rush this step
as it takes a while for the kite to fill.
4. Now start pulling only on the top line (front outside line).
5. The kite should now start to launch without too much power.
You can further improve the launch smoothness by momentarily
parking the kite on the ground.
4. As it is lifting, move back down wind a bit to help rotate
the top of the kite to the vertical launch orientation. If you
don't do this step, the kite will settle back and start to slide
5. As the kite becomes vertical, apply tension to the center
lines to park the kite stably on the ground in launch
orientation. If you do not apply center line tension, the kite
will instantly launch. If you do this properly, the kite should
sit stably on the ground ready for launch. I recommend pausing
at this point with the kite on the ground, particularly while
6. Slowly fly the kite off the ground. The kite will not pull
hard if the launch is done properly.
Remember: Use the front center lines to land the kite and the
rear outside lines to launch the kite.
Inflatable bow kite in light winds (advanced) -- This only works
in light (~10 mph) winds. With the kite face down directly down
wind pull in on the two rear (center) lines. The kite will lift
off backwards and rapidly start to turn. Fly the kite up in the
direction that it started to turn in.
Inflatable C kite -- After the kite is setup and the bar is
attached; Turn the kite over until it is in an assisted launch
position. Make sure that there is no tension on any of the kite
control lines until you actually launch the kite. Fold over the
wing tip near the ground and place more than enough sand to hold
the kite in place. Push more sand up near the edge of the kite
area to block any wind from getting under the kite and
prematurely lifting it. Hook into the control bar, making sure
that the power is set to minimum (pull the red loop on the power
control strap). Slowly tension the lines and move laterally (up
or down wind) as needed to make the kite stand vertical without
any left right tilt. Continue to tension the lines until the
kite slowly lifts off.
PL Venom foil kite -- Make sure that the kite is properly
inflated and all three zippers are closed. Move to a position 45
degrees off the wind on the trailing edge side. Slowly tension
the top lines until the far wing tip lifts off. It may be
necessary to jerk the rear leading edge line to properly get the
kite tip into the wind. Steer the kite toward the edge of the
window to increase the inflation before moving the kite upward.
Inflatable kite -- Slowly lower the kite to the beach and have
your assistant grab the front center of the leading edge while
avoiding all kite lines. Your assistant should then place the
kite, leading edge down onto the beach, pointing into the wind.
Then add some sand to the leading edge to keep it solidly on the
ground. To pack up the kite, deflate the main bladder first,
then lay out flat, deflate the other bladders and roll up each
side to the center and fold in half.
PL Venom -- The assisted landing of a ram air foil kite is done
very differently than a C or bow kite. Your assistant should
grab the lower batton and walk toward you. Your assistant should
use then the batton to flag the kite downwind, onto the beach.
Fold over the batton and use some sand as a weight to keep the
kite solidly on the ground. It is important that the assistant
not use the more common inflatable kite landing technique of
grabbing the center of the leading edge.
Bow kite -- There are several ways to self land a bow kite. The
method listed here is suitable for an intermediate level kiter
in moderate non gusty winds:
1. Make sure that the down wind area is clear of spectators and
2. Slowly lower the bow kite toward the ground at the edge of
the wind window and park it on the ground. Move upwind as needed
to keep the kite from leaning backwards.
3. Release all tension on the rear lines by grabbing and slowly
pulling in on the front (center) lines. At this time there
should be no tension on the rear (outside) lines.
4. Pause for a moment at this point. You should be holding the
kite by the front (center) lines only. The kite should be
completely stable and resting on the ground.
5. Holding only the front (center) lines, slowly move along the
upwind side to the junction between the front (center) lines.
The kite will remain stable and parked on the ground.
6. Very rapidly (< 1 second) pull in the *top* front (center)
line by about 6 feet. Your right hand thumb should be pointing
forward and the lines should *not* be wrapped around any of your
fingers. This action will rotate the kite so that it is facing
directly into the wind and sitting on the ground. Absolutely *do
not* let go of the center lines while pulling in on the top
front center line or you risk having the kite power up.
7. If necessary, walk downwind and pull in on the closer
(upwind) front line to better position the kite if the kite is
not fully pointing directly into the wind after landing.
Tip: Practice parking the kite on the ground using only the
front lines, prior to learning this self landing method. A key
concept here is that the kite can not power up if held *only* by
the front lines with *no* rear line tension. Even if the kite
tumbles, it will not power up if the rear lines are not under
tension. It is very important
to always hold the
center lines until the kite is safely on the ground.
Remember: Use the front center lines to land the kite and the
rear outside lines to launch the kite.
Cabrina Crossbow II alternate method -- Connect a leash (safety
or board) to the ring on the upper front leading line. Steer the
kite down on the right side a few feet above the ground and then
completely release the bar. The kite will land with the leading
edge down and pointing directly into the wind.
Inflatable C-kite -- Self landing an inflatable kite in high
winds is quite difficult and takes considerable practice. First
practice in weak winds where self landing is easier.
Assisted landing is *very* strongly recommended in strong winds.
Inflatable C-kite method 1 -- Gently lower the kite toward the
ground. Then abruptly steer it up for about 10 feet and then
immediately steer it back to the ground. This causes a forward
rotation of the kite so it will land leading edge down.
Immediately pull in on the upwind kite line to point the kite
into the wind. When using a leash, this is by dropping the bar
while holding onto the leash. You should land on the side
opposite of the safety leash. Keep tension on the upper line
while walking to the kite. The most common problem is the kite
taking off through the power zone with considerable power, after
Inflatable C-kite method 2 -- Tie one of the leading edge center
lines to your harness or board leash and release the bar. After
the kite lands, walk up the leading edge line to the kite.
PL Venom -- Lower the kite to the edge of the wind window. Sheet
in to move the kite rearward and release the control bar so that
the safety line takes over. The lack of the rigid inflatable
leading edge will cause this kite to flag out and immediately
lose power. Walk up the depower line, grab the upwind batten and
place it on the beach with the kite flagging downwind. Fold over
the batton and use some sand as a weight to keep the kite
solidly on the ground.
The water start was the most difficult phase for me. Once you
learn how, it becomes very easy. You need to pretty much need to
get a dozen things right or you crash and burn. I did not have
any previous board experience so I took two introductory wakeboarding lessons
from the Cutting Edge
Irvine Lake. They had excellent instructors and this class was
very helpful. Once I got water starting under control, things
progressed well again. Note: 2008: Cutting Edge is now out of
business. An alternative is Greg at WCR Wake Board School (http://wcrwakeboardschool.com
(619) 252-1551 or firstname.lastname@example.org
He teaches at Canyon Lake near Lake Elsinore and at Mission Bay
in San Diego
Absolutely do not use a board leash when learning how to water
start. Walk out into the water to a waist or chest high depth.
At Belmont, hold the board to your right of you in your right
hand so you can lift the board over any waves. Don't let the
board get between you and a wave or it can strongly push or hit
you. Use your left hand to keep the kite at about the 1 o'clock
position. You can body drag out further if you want, using the
board as a rudder.
Set the kite power by adjusting the power control strap. Pulling
on the red (closest) handle reduces power. Set this according to
the wind conditions. The control bar should start to tension the
lines when at the midpoint position. I start to sheet the 12 m
Cabrina Crossbow II kite in when the wind is above 15 mph. For
the older 14 meter Recon Co2 I have found that sheeting fully in
for winds less than about 14 mph is about right. Sheet out about
half way or more when you just start to see sand blowing (about
19 mph) and sheet fully out if the wind picks up any more. This
all assumes that you are not using the Recon powerlock (use is
Put your feet into the board and line up the board parallel with
the kite in the neutral position. You should be in a crouched
position with the board close to you. Position the kite in the
neutral position and dive it toward the 2 o'clock position. If
the winds are light, back the kite up to the other side of the
neutral position (11 o'clock) prior to diving it. Let the kite
lift you out of the water and briefly point the board toward the
kite to get on a good plane. Most of the weight will initially
be on your back foot. Start to transfer your weight forward to
reduce board drag and, if needed, continue pumping the kite in a
sine wave pattern to obtain planing speed.
Important: Briefly point the board downwind toward the kite
until on a good plane. If you don't do this you will never get
on a plane. Do not pull yourself up using the bar, instead just
steer the kite.
Important: If the winds are light, back the kite up a bit to the
opposite side of the neutral position prior to the power stroke.
Once planing, you need to further accelerate to a speed where
you have sufficient apparent wind to properly maintain your
speed. A bit of momentary forward foot pressure helps you gain
speed by reducing board drag, but not too much or you will dig
the board nose in and crash. To maintain the plane, it is
necessary to gradually lean back and edge. Smoothly, but fairly
rapidly transition to a heelside edge by leaning back and
digging your heels in. At this point, with sufficient wind and
correct trim, you no longer need to sine the kite. If you don't
edge or edge too slowly, you end up charging toward the kite
which then no longer pulls effectively. The kite needs to move
toward the edge of the wind window. If you transition too
rapidly, you will not be able to maintain the power in the kite.
You will settle back into the water.
Rudy is teaching a student how to water start. The kite is in
the neutral position straight above. The board is parallel to
the kite. The board should be closer to her body.
View from the water: The board is parallel to the kite
directly above with your feet pulled in toward your body.
Dive the kite from neutral in
the direction of travel to start the water start process.
This photo is about a second later at which time you should
extend your forward leg as the the kite starts to pull you
up. Crouching down during the early phases of the water
start makes it easier for the kite to lift you out of the
water. At this point, the board is momentarily pointed
toward the kite to get onto a plane. Notice the small wake
starting to form to the right of the board. Continue to
further accelerate downwind until you are definitely planing
well and then transition to the board edge.
Common water start problems;
1. If the board is not at right angles to the wind prior to the
start you may spin out prior to or during the power stroke. You
can control the board orientation relative to the wind by
shifting the bar left or right to offset the center of pressure
relative to the board center of drag. For example, moving the
control bar toward the nose of the board will point the nose
2. It is necessary to briefly point the board toward the kite to
get on a good plane, prior to edging. If not, the result will be
no planing or worse, going over the board and crashing. Make
sure that the board is planing well before smoothly
transitioning to a heelside edge. This is the most common
problem that beginners seem to have and the main reason for
going over the board during a water start or for not being able
to go downwind.
3. Don't try to pull yourself up with the kite bar. The kite
power should be transferred to you through the harness, not by
the kite bar. Operate the kite bar by applying pressure, not by
pulling yourself up with it.
4. If the winds are light, back the kite somewhat to the
opposite side of the neutral position, prior to diving the kite.
In moderate (13+ mph) winds, you can dive the kite directly from
the neutral position. Not starting the kite far enough back to
develop sufficient power will result in insufficient power to
get on a plane. Pumping the kite though a few sine wave cycles
can still get you on a plane. Once planing, make sure that you
start edging and continue to accelerate to a speed with
sufficient apparent wind so sining the kite is no longer needed.
A common beginner mistake is to strongly sine the kite with the
kite going overhead and even behind the kiter.
5. It is important to set the power trim strap appropriately for
the wind conditions. With the Carbrina Crossbow II kite, I start
to sheet above 15 mph. With the older Cabrina Co2 you should be
fully sheeted in in light winds and fully sheeted out in strong
winds. This takes some experience to get right.
6. If you have problems accelerating to or maintaining planing
speed, you may not have momentarily pointed the board downwind,
have started to edge too soon, have to much rear foot pressure,
are sheeted out too much or the kite is too high in the wind
window. The rear foot pressure tilts the board back, causing
excessive board drag. Shift your weight further forward to
reduce board drag, but not too much or you will dig in the board
nose and crash. Always keep the kite forward of you. Make sure
that the kite does not go directly above or behind you as this
will rapidly bring you to a stop.
One of the most common beginner mistakes is to not go fast
enough to properly plane for fear of accelerating out of
control. If you mush to a stop after the water start you do not
have adequate planing speed or have brought the kite too far
rearward. It is imperative that you have sufficient speed before
edging and that you maintain this speed.
7. If you get a toeside edge, ie., go head first over the board
during a water start, you are not pointing the board at the kite
until you are planing, you have to much front foot pressure or
you have too much power.
8. More kite power is achieved by sheeting in (pulling back on
the control bar) during the downstrokes and sheeting out during
the upstrokes. The high angle of attack during the downstroke
pulls hard. The low angle of attack during the upstroke causes
the kite to fly more rapidly upward.
1. Look toward the horizon in the direction of travel.
2. Hips should be facing forward and shoulders straight.
3. Keep the kite fairly high in the wind window, around 45 to 60
degrees above the horizon..
4. Front leg should be straight and rear leg bent. Use your rear
leg for steering to increase edging during gusts and decrease
edging during lulls.
5. Once started, don't bring the kite up past neutral while
pumping the kite. This will produce a rearward force, causing
you to stop.
6. If you pearl, ie., go head first over the board your weight
is too far forward on the board.
7. Inability to stay on a plane. This is cause by:
a. Don't try to edge the board before planing
well with sufficient speed
transitioning to a heelside edge.
at this point.
b. Charging downwind toward the kite for too
long, depowering it -- Fix by more rapidly transitioning to a
c. A common problem is bringing the kite too
high or even rearward while sining. This will rapidly bring you
to a stop.
d Edging too hard -- Steer more downwind.
e. Insufficient wind -- Fly the kite up and
down in a sine wave pattern to increase kite speed and power,
change the kite trim, use a bigger kite and/or board.
f. Insufficient apparent wind -- You need to
be going faster so sining is no longer needed.
g. Too much rear pressure on the board -- The
board drag increases with increasing rear foot pressure.
h. Too much wind -- Decrease trim. Slow down.
Fly the kite high in the wind window to reduce speed.
-- Too much wind causes too much
upward lift to maintain an edge.
Crash & burn
I don't think that I have seen a sport that has more crash and
burn moments than kitesurfing. Just expect to spend some time
1. Don't jump or do other powered maneuvers while on land as a
crash there can be very unhealthy.
2. Wear a helmet and impact vest if you use a board leash. In
general, you should not use a board leash !
3. Curl your legs behind you when you crash. This will keep the
board from being pulled off your feet.
4. If you are underwater and getting dragged while hooked in to
the chicken loop, just release the kite bar. This way you will
not apply forces to the kite that will further accelerate it. As
soon as you can see the kite, you can steer it again to regain
control. With more experience you can sense the direction and
apply the correct forces to regain control of the kite. With
foil kites such as the Venom, it is even simpler; when you get
into trouble, just release the kite bar. The kite will
automatically head to the zenith.
5. If the kite luffs (stalls) due to a wind lull, poor landing,
etc., pull in sharply on the front (center) lines to regain
control. This is done by just directly grabbing the center lines
and pulling. The normal instinct is to pull in on the bar
instead but this will make the situation worse.
6. *** Be very careful not to become entangled in slack kite
lines. Always carry a kite knife to cut tangled lines and know
how to use it.
7. *** In general, if you are out of control during a crash, ***
release the bar ***. The kite power will rapidly disappear so
you can rapidly regain control.
Board leashes are a controversial subject in kitesurfing. Most
kiteboarders say never use a kite leash because of the risk of
the board slingshoting toward you at high speed. Others point
out that you don't want to lose your board while in strong
currents or while far offshore. You should not use a board leash
in surf, while doing aerobatics or when you are first learning
and frequently losing control of your kite. You may want to
consider the use a board leash if you are far offshore or in
strong currents. You should minimize the use of board leashes.
If you don't use a leash you will need to be able to recover
your board by body dragging upwind. There are two parts to the
1. You will need to find your board. I have had some problems
finding my dark colored boards which visually blend into the
ocean. I would recommend using brightly colored boards that can
be easily seen. You can get a higher vantage point by using the
kite to momentarily lift you up, but this will pull you further
downwind so minimize this.
2. You will need to body drag upwind to get to your board.
Slowly move the kite to about 30-40 degrees above the water and
use your forward arm like a rudder to steer you upwind. Keeping
the kite low will improve your speed while raising it a bit will
help to keep your face out of water. Speed is necessary to be
able to edge upwind. The kite should always be moved slowly to
prevent lifting you up which will take you further
downwind. Proper body position is important during the
body drag. You should be fully extended with you forward arm
pointing slightly upwind. Do not use any hand paddling or swim
strokes. Tack back and forth to stay near your board. *** By far
the most common problem is trying to point too far upwind. ***
Do not point higher upwind than you would normally kite. Look at
the kite orientation and your body should only be pointed
slightly upwind relative to the kite. Other common problems
include not keeping your body and arm straight and hand
Your ability to recover the board can potentially be improved by
using a Go-Joe
an inflatable device made by Ocean Rodeo
don't have any direct experience with this device but it seems
like a good idea. The Go-Joe attaches to your board and always
flips the board to an upright position after crashing. Upside
down boards have more water drag due to the bindings serving as
a sea anchor. The Go-Joe improves visibility so you can more
easily find the board in chop or waves and also serves as a
small sail which moves the board downwind faster.
Body dragging to recover a lost
Your forward arm should be extended to help steer you upwind.
Kite should be 30 - 40 degrees above the water with the back
hand near the center of the bar.
Approaching the board from upwind.
Ready to get back on the board
Relaunching a downed kite:
You can relaunch a kite floating in the water only if there is
sufficient wind. The Cabrina kite requires about 12+ mph winds
for water relaunch in typical Belmont Shores chop. Also realize
if your kite is wet, it will weigh more and will not have the
same performance as a dry kite. If the kite has crashed near the
waters edge at Belmont Shores, collected sand will further
reduce performance to the point where the kite can not be
Bow kites including the Cabrina Crossbow II:
Be very careful not to wrap any lines around you. Put the board
in front of you to help increase line tension. Assuming that the
kite is face down and directly downwind, pull on one of the rear
outside lines. The kite will slowly move toward the launch
position near the edge of the wind window. Wait for the kite to
fill and then the kite should then automatically relaunch.
Sideways - Allow the kite to drift to the edge of the wind
window, then launch normally.
Face down - Swim rapidly toward the kite to allow the kite to
roll onto the back. It is necessary for the lines to go slack to
allow the kite to roll back. Then pull on a rear (center) line
until the kite drifts toward the edge of the wind window, then
launch normally. Be very careful not to wrap any lines around
A kite is an airfoil. Kite sheeting or equivalently, setting the
angle of attack (AOA) is important to proper kite flying. The
AOA of two line kites can be only set on the ground. Four line
kites allow the angle of attack to be varied during flight. The
instantaneous kite AOA is a function of several terms:
1. The front and rear line lengths -- In a four line kite, this
can be varied during flight by pulling (sheeting in) on the
control bar or adjusting the power control strap.
2. The direction of the instantaneous apparent wind, relative to
Negative AOA (undersheeted) -- The kite has poor steering and is
generally unstable. The rear outside lines are completely slack.
You normally will not have a negative AOA during while riding.
But negative AOA is useful in self landing when the kite is on
the ground. Holding on the front lines only causes the negative
AOA. See the section on self landing for further details.
Low AOA (sheeted out) -- The kite is more responsive, flies
faster and further upwind, but with less power than when sheeted
in. Generally the kite should be sheeted out much of the time.
This helps when going upwind to get the kite closer to the edge
of the wind window. The kite can also be sheeted out during
upstrokes in a water start, to get the kite to fly faster.
High AOA (sheeted in) -- The kite flies slower and more
downwind, but with more power than when sheeted out. Sheeting in
during the downward power stroke during launch can help get on a
plane faster. The upstroke should be sheeted out though.
Sheeting in while jumping during the initial takeoff and final
landing phases can help to increase the initial boost off of the
water and to help soften the landing.
Oversheeted -- Beyond a specific angle of attack, the kite power
rapidly decreases. Signs of oversheeting include a very slow
response, rearward motion during turns. In more extreme cases,
the front lines become completely slack.
Stall / luffing -- Extreme oversheeting causes the laminar air
flow along the kite's upper surface to start to separate from
the airfoil and become turbulent. At this point, the kite
rapidly loses lift and will start to fly backwards and/or fall
out of the sky and crash (Hindenburg). Stalls frequently occur
in very weak winds. Stalls can also occur with incorrect
maneuvering during a jump or by overshooting the kite (slack
lines) while wave riding. Kite stall recovery: The normal reflex
when the kite starts to Hindenberg is to pull in on the bar but
this is exactly the wrong thing to do. Pulling in on the bar
will increase the AOA further agravating the stall. Instead grab
the front lines (the depower strap) and pull rapidly in to
reduce the AOA.
With my current equipment (12 meter Cabrina Crossbow II kite,
Slingshot Glide and Underground Wavetray 157 twintips and skill
level, winds between 10 and 24+ mph are rideable with 15-18 mph
being ideal. Winds below this level are common at Belmont Shores
in the spring and fall. Winds above 22 mph are relatively
uncommon in the summer but do occasionally occur in the winter
and spring. Lower winds generally need a larger kite, a larger
board or a board with less rocker.
High winds, above 24 mph, are not common at Belmont Shores. High
winds, which can gust to 30 mph or more, may occur during the
clearing phase of a winter storm or early in the season. High
winds also occur during Santa Ana wind conditions but these
winds are offshore and not recommended for kitesurfing. I went
out once with a 14 meter Cabrina Co2 kite and Wavetray 157 board
in fairly strong winds. Kiting became quite difficult as the
winds increased beyond 22 mph and I finally stopped. The lift
force that a kite can produce increases with the square of the
apparent wind velocity. A kite with an apparent wind of 20 mph
will have 4 times the pull as compared to a 10 mph apparent
1. Self landing a LEI kite becomes more difficult and dangerous.
2. Walking on the beach with the kite requires strength, even
with the kite fully sheeted out and fairly high in the wind
3. I had too much power, even with the kite fully sheeted out to
be able to stay on an edge. It was necessary to fly the kite
high to minimize speed so suitable edging for going upwind was
High wind recommendations:
1. Use shorter lines.
2. A smaller 10 meter kite would be recommended for winds above
3. A smaller board would help, but decreasing kite size, or at
least depower range is important to improve safety and to make
walking with the kite easier.
4. The Cabrina Crossbow II, PL Venom and many of the current bow
kites have a wider wind range and will depower more effectively
in high winds.
Power and speed
Once you are up and planing, the next step is to control your
speed. If you are too slow, you stop planing. Too fast and you
will lose control as the increasing apparent wind on the kite
causes the kite to accelerate with increasing speed. Speed is
controlled by the amount of edging, the travel direction, the
kite position and speed, and the kite power setting.
1. During a water start, make sure that you are on a good plane
with sufficient speed before smoothly transitioning to a
2. Steer more downwind.
3. Shift your weight more to the nose of the board to flatten it
out, but make sure that you don't dig the board nose into the
4. Increase the kite power by pulling in on the control bar,
engaging the Recon power loc or increase the AOA (sheet in) with
the upper control strap handle.
5. Pump the kite up and down to increase kite speed and power.
The speed increase will increase the apparent wind hopefully to
the point where you can then park the kite. Do not cross over
the neutral position as this will pull you backwards.
6. Use a larger kite, larger board or a flatter, lower rocker
7. Wait for more wind.
Note: When you are underpowered, you will be heading downwind.
As you start planing, the board drag decreases, the apparent
wind increases and you will accelerate. The kite speed
correspondingly increases, causing the kite power to further
increase, which further increases your speed. It is easy in this
manner to become completely overpowered, skimming across the
water, accelerating faster and finally crashing out of control.
Speed can be decreased in several controlled ways;
1. Let out on the control bar and/or pull down on the power
2. Slowly raise the kite toward the neutral zone but be careful.
If you raise the kite too rapidly, you will be lofted.
3. Lower the kite closer to the water and edge harder upwind.
Keep your front leg nearly straight, shift your weight back and
use your rear leg to press the board strongly outward to
increase the edging. Keeping the kite close to the water will
improve your ability to edge and position the kite in the lower
velocity air near the water surface.
4. More advanced: Steer toeside downwind to reduce line tension
and then edge hard upwind. This moves the kite to the edge of
the wind window and will drop your maximum speed to no faster
than the wind speed. Edging upwind will then further slow you
down. Jumping is another way to lose speed.
5. Use a smaller kite, smaller board or a board with more
1. Like many other kiteboarding maneuvers, timing is very
2. Initially you will come to a stop and settle into the water
when changing directions. Decrease this stopping time and
evenually you will transition into a smooth turn.
3. In many ways, the heelside turn has a similar feel to a water
start, except that you are already standing up. Also, initially
I found it very helpful to look at the board tip to make sure
that it was following the kite in the turn.
4. Important: Make sure to look where you are going, rather than
at the kite.
5. A heelside turn consists of:
a. Look behind you to make sure that the path
b. Fly the kite across the zenith into the
c. Push out the rear of the board to side
skid. Make sure that the board always remains centered between
you and the kite.
d. Point the board toward the kite and follow
it, then get back on a heel side edge. From this point it is
very similar to a water start.
Going upwind takes some time to learn. Sailing upwind is
initially difficult because you have to carefully balance your
speed, direction, kite position, kite sheeting, board edging
(angle, direction, front / rear pressure) and body position
against the gusting wind speed, wind direction, currents and
ocean chop. A bit too much power and because of increasing
apparent wind, you rapidly accelerate out of control and crash.
A bit too little power causes a continuously decreasing apparent
wind so you now more rapidly lose power and come to a stop.
Probably the most important points for maximum upwind travel are
to keep the kite low, the speed correct and edge hard.
1. Keep the kite fairly low (20 to 45 degrees above the horizon)
in light winds so you can get a good edge. In stronger winds,
raising the kite higher is ok. A higher kite with a good edge is
a prerequisite for jumping.
2. Force the kite to the edge of the window by slowing down and
edging upwind. A common problem is traveling too fast. Practice
going upwind at slower speeds.
3. Sheet out (depower) the kite if possible to shift the kite
further toward the upwind edge of the window. This is upwind of
where the kite will fly if sheeted in.
4. Look toward the direction where you want to go upwind. This
will help to properly rotate your body. The correct stance is
a. Point your hips forward and lean back with
a straight body. It may help to take your front hand off the bar
and use only your rear hand for kite control.
b. Put most of your weight on your rear foot
while keeping your forward leg nearly straight. If the winds are
light, shift your weight forward a bit.
5. If you can not get a good edge, you may have the kite too
high, you may be overpowered or going too fast.
6. Speed control is very important. The best upwinding is at a
relatively low speed.
a. Too fast and you go downwind because of
the apparent wind direction
- Causes: kite too high, pointed
too far downwind, insufficient edging, insufficient rear foot
pressure, kite too large.
b. Too slow and you stop planing due to an
insufficient apparent wind speed.
- Causes: insufficient speed
before turning upwind, pointed too far upwind, excessive edging,
kite too small
- Note: This is probably the
most common problem for beginners, make sure that you are
planing well, then add a bit more more speed before edging
7. In lower winds, transfer your weight more to the front of the
board to reduce drag and turn the board more upwind.
To go upwind: lean back, edge
and turn your body in the direction you are traveling. Your
speed is important; too slow or too fast and you will drift
Board configurations for
various wind speeds when using a 2007 Cabrina 12 m
Crossbow II kite and a rider weight of 75 kg (165 lbs)
starting to form
few kites on the water
to stay upwind
kites on the water
to stay upwind
to stay upwind
just starting to blow
to stay upwind
to stay upwind
to stay upwind
to stay upwind
to stay upwind
The lower wind limit is about 10 mph with lulls around 8
mph. This is the point where the Cabrina kite stalls and
tries to fall out of the sky. If the kite starts to fall,
grab the *front* (center) lines and rapidly pull to regain
control. This reduces the kite angle of attack to recover
from the kite stall. Don't pull in on the bar as this will
increase the angle of attack which makes the kite stall
faster which then slacks the lines, resulting in the the
kite falling out of control. The Slingshot Glide is a low
wind board that is useful at about 3 mph less than the
Underground board. I can just stay upwind with the Glide
around 12 mph and the Underground at 15 mph. The glide is
flat (low rocker), stiff, small fins and wide. With higher
wind speeds and increasing chop, the Slingshot ride is
rougher than the Underground. The Glide is currently my main
board. The Glide provides excellent upwind capability with
the ability to point high into the wind above 14 or 15 mph.
I can pretty much follow the Belmont shoreline upwind in 15+
mph winds with the 12m Crossbow II kite and Slingshot Glide.
You can transition to a toeside edge by a turn, sliding the
board around or a small jump. To learn to ride toeside:
1. First just practice short toeside edging by turning downwind,
particularily on a swell.
2. Toeside transition
- Raise the kite to 12 o'clock while
following the kite. Keeping the kite high will help you keep
- Dive the kite in the direction you are
traveling to build up speed. Keeping your body low will help you
maintain your balance.
- Keep the speed relatively high.
- Make sure you edge hard to keep adequate
kite line tension
1. Crashing: Insufficient rear foot pressure results in the
board nose digging into the water.
2. Lines going slack with the kite then falling: Insufficient
edging, charging the kite, insufficient speed, too much rear
Jump by edging strongly with the kite fairly high in the window,
turn slightly upwind, release the edge and redirect the kite
rearward. Pulling in on the control bar during the intial boost
phase will help increase the lofting. After lofting, redirect
the kite forward and land facing directly downwind with the
board nose up and bent legs. Pull in on the control bar just
before landing to soften the landing. Timing is very important.
Initially I found it useful to count out the Salsa dance timing:
kite rearward 1, 2, 3 pause, kite forward 5, 6, 7, pause. After
landing, rapidly turn back onto a heel side edge.
1. Get powered up in a heelside edge with the kite fairly high
up (60-70 degrees from horizontal). If you don't start with the
kite fairly high in the wind window, you will jump long and low
with a likely crash.
2. You need good pop and to get that you need speed. Start to
edge hard with the kite high. Then rapidly turn further upwind
and release your edge by pulling back on your front foot. This
works fine on flat water but you can get better pop from a good
upward section of chop. This is called progressive edging.
3. Rapidly redirect the kite rearward and you will start to
loft. Hold the edge until you feel the kite lifting you up. This
should be about 3 seconds.
4. Once the lofting has started, curl you legs close to your
5. Use your forward hand to redirect the kite forward and hold
the kite above you until you start to decend. If you do not
redirect the kite forward it will stall and fall out of the sky.
This should be 3 seconds.
6. By this time, you will be traveling straight downwind.
7. Setup for a straight downwind landing with your knees bent to
serve as a shock absorber and the nose high to make sure you
don't dig the nose into the water.
8. Continue to pull on your forward hand to move the kite
downward in the direction of travel. The kite will stall and
drop if you don't do this.
9. After touchdown, rapidly turn to get back onto a heelside
Start by doing small jumps first, also practice progressive
edging (poping) without sending the kite. Then increasing the
size of the jump as you get more experience.
Common jumping problems:
1. If the kite stalls (Hindenburgs or drops out of the sky), you
did not redirect the kite fast enough and far enough forward for
a proper landing.
2. If you are mainly going horizontally downwind during the jump
you started with the kite too low and/or did not redirect the
kite far enough backwards.
3. If you spin out of control, you started the kite at too low
of an angle.
4. If you are turned sideways at landing, you left the water
with a turn rate present. Edge more upwind just prior to launch
and curl your legs.
5. Jumps are weak and low: Insufficient speed and edging, winds
Open ocean and waves
Although Belmont Shores is well shielded from ocean waves by the
Long Beach harbor breakwater, many of the other LA area beaches
are not. Getting out into the open ocean through the shore break
requires additional skills.
1. Do not ever allow the lines to go slack which will result in
dropping the kite into the waves. The force of the waves can
completely destroy the kite.
2. Make sure that you have plenty of power to be able to
maneuver in the surf.
3. Time the wave sets to find lulls. Then get out rapidly during
4. Edge less in the white water so you don't skip out. The white
water density is lower due to entrapped air bubbles.
5. Fly the kite high and pop over the smaller waves using a
progressive edge. This is sort of like jumping without sending
the kite rearward.
6. Make sure that you are proficient at transitions, jumping,
toeside riding and rapid relaunching of a downed kite.
Cross country touring
You can travel long distances by kitesurfing. A few kitesurfers
have traveled over 100 miles. Using GPS tracking, my typical
speed is around 12-18 mph, resulting in 25+ miles travel in a
typical 2 hour session.
The upper orange track on this
map shows a round trip from Seal Beach to the Belmont Shores
pier and back in a little over an hour. The total distance
traveled was 14 miles as measured by the GPS. The PL Venom
19m kite with the Underground 157 TT board combination has a
fairly wide wind range to better handle unexpected wind
changes. The GPS is a Garmin 305 Forerunner, a small wrist
watch sized waterproof unit. The starting point was at Seal
Beach so the initial travel Northwest would be upwind. If
the wind were to start to disappear you can fairly rapidly
return downwind to the starting point. Quite a bit of upwind
tacking is needed to clear the Jetty. Once at Belmont, I
continued further upwind toward the Belmont pier and then
returned downwind to the starting point. The lower yellow
track is another ride at Sunset Beach.
1. Do the upwind part of the trip first.
2. Look for stable winds so the winds don't shut down
unexpectedly. Rapid wind shut downs have been fairly common
in the Belmont / Seal / Sunset area.
3. The ocean becomes quite choppy out past the jetty, both
because of reduced breakwater shielding and more importantly
from nearby rapidly moving speed boats and other ships.
Expect some significant chop.
Most lifeguards consider kitesurfing to be equivalent to
windsurfing so read the local windsurfing rules if no separate
kitesurfing rules exist. Furthermore, beach access rules and
regulations often change so check with the lifeguards and local
kiteboarders before setting up. Generally all others have the
right of way over kite surfers. Remember, if it is an air
breathing carbon based life form, it probably has complete right
of way over you under all circumstances. From talking to
lifeguards, it appears that beach restrictions and closings are
likely to increase over time as a few careless kiteboarders ruin
it for everyone else. A kitesurfer is considered a vessel in
maritime law. As such the following rules apply (SCKA
Right hand forward while riding is Starboard Tack and generally
has right-of-way. Left hand forward is Port Tack.
A kiteboarder leaving the shore has right of way over a
kiteboarder returning to shore.
When two kiteboarders converge in a way that may lead to a
collision, the kiteboarder on port tack must give way to the
kiteboarder on starboard tack. Starboard tack has right of
way in this situation.
When two kiteboarders converge, and they are on the same tack,
the kiteboarder most upwind must give way to the kiteboarder
most downwind. The leeward kiteboarder has right of way in
When two kiteboarders converge in a way that may lead to the
kites colliding, the upwind kiteboarder must fly their kite as
high as possible, and the downwind kiteboarder must fly their
kite as low as possible.
A kiteboarder must give way to anyone they are overtaking.
The kiteboarder being overtaken has the right of way, and is
responsible for maintaining course while being overtaken.
Always give right of way to anyone who enters the 200' safety
zone downwind of you.
Acknowledgements: Special thanks to the local instructors Carter Thomas
for many helpful discussions and tips. The SCKA
supports and promote safe kitesurfing. Also thanks to Ron and
Mike at Kite Surfari, Kirk, Tom and Tim from Captain Kirk's
many friendly local kiteboarders.
> LA outdoors
Copyright 2014 by Dan Slater
All rights reserved.