As a beginner kitesurfer, the first few times kitesurfing on your own can be a challenging experience – especially when going kitesurfing on a beach you’ve never been before. Maybe the wind comes from a different direction, it’s much stronger than you know from your lessons, it’s very busy… What to do?!
We’ve all been there, so first of all: no worries! You can follow these simple steps when walking onto an unfamiliar kite beach, just to make sure you get out kitesurfing without any problems.
- It’s a good day to ride
The first thing you want to check if there are other kiters out on the water. If there are no people kiting, there is most probably a good reason for this; maybe the wind is not good, it’s forbidden, there’s something about the local conditions you don’t know. Check with another kiter to see if it’s actually possible to kite today. You can take this opportunity to ask them about local insights – currents, wind behaviour, beginner / advanced kite zones, etc.
- Where is the wind coming from?
Once you know if conditions allow you to go out, the most important thing is to make sure you know where the wind is coming from and where your wind window of today is. Having problems establishing where the wind is coming from? Check the position of all the kites on the beach, see if there is any flags indicating the wind direction, or if there are no clear visual indicators on the beach simply throw some sand in the air. This knowledge will allow you to setup your kite safely, prepares you to launch your kite in the right position, and tells you where you will be going once you’re out kitesurfing.
- Claim your space
You of course want to make sure that you choose the right kite for the day. Check what other kitesurfers are using, and make sure your kite is not a few sizes bigger or smaller than theirs. On a busy beach, it’s recommended you put out your lines first – with this you “claim your space” on the beach. Once you have your kite and your lines set up and you’re not yet ready to launch, make sure to roll up your lines so you allow some space for other kiters!
- Ready to go
When you’re ready to kite, check if there is enough space to launch your kite. If you’re not entirely sure what to do to safely launch your kite, ASK SOMEONE! Other kiters will have no problem making sure you launch the right way – launching a kite can be very tricky and if you do it wrong, very dangerous so make sure you have no doubts! A simple trick to avoid big problems is to take your bar, walk to your kite and turn left or right depending on the space around you. When you have your back against the wind and stretch your arms out to your sides, your kite needs to be in the same line or behind them, if not, you’re launching in the power zone which is a no-go. Take this image as a reference:
- Right of way
During your classes, because you were learning, other kiters were supposed to give you your space and you’re not yet introduced to the traffic rules of kitesurfing. But they do exist! Check out these rules for who has right of way on the water:
- Having the right of way means you pass another kiter on the upwind side
- If you’re kitesurfing to the right (with your right hand forward), you have right of way
- If you’re kitesurfing to the left (left hand forward) the other kiter has right of way
- Kiters entering the water for the first time have right of way
- Non-kiters (sailing boats for example) have right of way
- Kiters in a wave have right of way
- If you pass on the upwind side, your kite needs to go up
- If you pass on the downwind side, your kite needs to go down