Basic kitesurfing

Dan Slater - 2014/9/24 (deleted broken links)


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 for Southern California kite boarding beach and weather information. Comments and suggestions are invited. (Click here for the main photo page)


    Equipment care

    Initial training
    Kite bar controls
    Kite inflation
    Control bar attachment
    Assisted launch
    Self launch
    Assisted landing
    Self landing
    Water start
    Crusing downwind
    Crash & burn
    Kite sheeting
    Low winds
    High winds
    Power and speed management
    Heelside turn
    Going upwind
    Toeside edge
    Open ocean and waves
    Cross country touring
Navigational rules


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 Kirk's, Southern California Kiteboarding, Kite connection, Kitemasters and Kites Etc. See the 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 manual) (local copy), a 2008 Slingshot Glide 149 twin tip board and a Da Kine Fusion seat harness. 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 Recon Co2 kite and a 19 meter Peter Lynn Venom ARC foil kite. Click here for more details about the older kites and how they compare to the Crossbow II. Go to James Douglass blog for an interactive kiteboarding calculator to help you select the right size kite and board for your weight and local winds.

Kites -- 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 relaunch.
4. It has good upwind performance.
5. The kite line connections are polarized to prevent incorrect attachment.

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.

Kite care:
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 freely.
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.

Boards -- There are a variety of board types. The twin tip style is by far the most common here.

Twin tip -- 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.

Wake board -- The wake style board is similar to the twin tip but with bindings rather than foot straps.

Mutant -- 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 -- 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).

Skim board -- Skim 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 for examples.

Hydrofoil -- This type of board has a hydrofoil below a wakeboard. Fast, goes upwind very well in light wind but difficult to learn. Carafino ( is one source for hydrofoils.

Board terminology:
Rocker -- front to rear bend of the board.
        - 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, faster board
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 = faster board
Rail curvature -- the edge of the board
       - More curved = better turning
       - Less curved = better edging and low wind performance
Fins --
       - 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 high winds

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.

Kite harness -- 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.

Board leash -- 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.

Safety helmet -- Particularily recommended during training or when using a board leash but always a good idea.

Impact vest -- Recommended during training, during stunts and when using a board leash.

Wet suit -- 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 late summer.

Life jacket -- Recommended in general for all water sports. Alternately a wet suit or impact vest can provide some flotation.

Sunglasses -- 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.

Equipment care:
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.

Web links -- An excellent source for general kite surfing info -- Weather information and kitesurfing forum (pay service) -- A good online introduction to kitesurfing -- Online kiteboarding magazine
Beginners guide -- From Kiteboarding magazine
Kiteboard handbook -- Australian kite academy
Kite manuals -- Numerous kite instruction manuals
Kite history -- "True" kiting history book by North
Kiting for surfers -- Brief video overview of kite surfing
Kiting self rescue -- Tampa Bay kiteboarding

For kite repair in Southern California, contact: John Fitz ( - (714) 329-0772, also look at


Beaudonnat, E., "Kiteboarding Vision", ISBN 99934-999-0-0, (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", (2004) -- A good overview of kiteboarding. Recommended.

Holzhall, J., "Kiteboarding's Simple Plan", ISBN 1-55395-081-X, (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..


"Zero to Hero" -- Real kiteboarding (2005) -- Very detailed basic kiteboarding instruction up to the water start. This is a good choice for basic training.
"Evolution" -- Real kiteboarding (2006) -- Water start through going upwind. This video is a good choice for basic and early intermediate level training.
"Joyride" -- Real kiteboarding (2007) -- Water start through going upwind. This video a good choice for intermediate level training.
"Surf riding" -- Real kiteboarding (2007) -- Wave riding. This video is a good choice for advanced level training.
"Tricks" -- Real kiteboarding (2007) -- Advanced kitesurfing tricks.

"The Complete Kiteboarding Guide"
-- (2004) -- 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.

"Boost II" -- (~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.

"Boosting" -- (~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.

"Secrets of Kiteboarding" -- (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.

"Kiteboarding 101" -- (~2002) -- This DVD with Shannon Best is for intermediate and advanced users. The video is 75 minutes long.
"Kiteboarding 201" -- (~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 directional board.
- Emergency release in the water is generally discouraged unless really needed.
- Hooked in riding is encouraged for most beginning water phases.
- Two line kites are not recommended for beginners and are generally obsolete.

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


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 weather 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, (714) 658-9662 and Rudy at, both are excellent and patient teachers who helped me learn kitesurfing. Other local instructors include Al Shuton and Bart Gaska, and  Bart Miller. Local shops providing training at Belmont Shores region include Captain Kirk's. I did not have any previous surfboard, wakeboard or similar board experience so I took two introductory wakeboarding lessons from the Cutting edge at 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 ( with lessons in San Diego Mission Bay and at Canyon Lake (gps = N33 40.83 W117 16.34 elevation=431 meters) near Riverside. Click here for photos at Canyon Lake. Another possible wakeboarding class is who provides wakeboard, waterski and surf lessons at Long Beach (310) 849-3390, (310) 251-7227, Also virtual snowboarding ( might be of some help.

Initial training

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.

Important safety tip: 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.

Kite inflation

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 reliable seal.

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 launch.

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.

Assisted launch

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 recommended instead.

Self launching

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 obstructions.
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 down wind.
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 learning.
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.

Assisted landing

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.

Self landing

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 obstructions.
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 landing.

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.

Water start

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 at 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 (, (619) 252-1551 or 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 not recommended).

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 downwind.

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.

Cruising downwind

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
                                 -- Make sure that the board is planing well before smoothly transitioning to a heelside edge.
                                 -- Insufficient speed is one of the most common problems at this point.
    b. Charging downwind toward the kite for too long, depowering it -- Fix by more rapidly transitioning to a heelside edge.
    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 submerged !

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 board recovery:

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 paddling.

Your ability to recover the board can potentially be improved by using a Go-Joe, an inflatable device made by Ocean Rodeo. I 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 board

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 relaunched.

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 you.

Kite sheeting

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 the kite.

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.

Low winds

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

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 wind.

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 window.
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 impossible.

High wind recommendations:

1. Use shorter lines.
2. A smaller 10 meter kite would be recommended for winds above 24 mph.
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 management

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 heelside edge.
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 water.
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 board.
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 control strap.
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 rocker.

Heelside turn

1. Like many other kiteboarding maneuvers, timing is very important.
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 is clear.
    b. Fly the kite across the zenith into the other direction.
    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

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 important.
    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 harder.
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 downwind.

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)
 Wind speed
 Wind speed
Beach conditions
 2008 Slingshot Glide TT
 2004 Underground 157 TT
<10 mph
<8.7 knots
Kite stall likely
Too little wind
Too little wind
10 mph
8.7 knots
Kite stall possible
Too little wind
12 mph
9.6 knots
 White caps starting to form
Marginal upwind
Marginal downwind
13 mph
11.3 knots
A few kites on the water
Some upwind
Downwind only
14 mph
12.2 knots

Easy to stay upwind
Marginal upwind
15 mph
13.0 knots
Many kites on the water
Easy to stay upwind
Can stay upwind
16 mph
13.9 knots

 Easy to stay upwind
Easy to stay upwind
18 mph
15.6 knots
Sand just starting to blow
Easy to stay upwind Easy to stay upwind
20 mph
 17.4 knots
Sand blowing
Easy to stay upwind
Easy to stay upwind
22 mph
19.1 knots

Easy to stay upwind
>25 mph
>21.7 knots
Very infrequent
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.

Toeside edge

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 your balance.
    - 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

Common problems:
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 foot pressure.

Toeside turn


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 body.
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 edge.

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 too weak


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 a lull.
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.

Navigational rules

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 rule summary):

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 this situation.

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 and Rudy from for many helpful discussions and tips. The SCKA ( organizes, supports and promote safe kitesurfing. Also thanks to Ron and Mike at Kite Surfari, Kirk, Tom and Tim from Captain Kirk's and the many friendly local kiteboarders.

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