A VERY YOUNG SPORT
Kitesurfing, kite surfing, kiteboarding or flysurfing (if you speak French), is a new exciting water sport for the new millennium. In 1998, there were probably only a couple dozens kitesurfers in the world (there was a "world cup" back then in Hawaii but some of the winners were starting learning kiting a few weeks/months before the "world cup"). The population of kitesurfers has been growing rapidly to around 150,000 to 200,000 kitesurfers world wide by the end of 2006. The idea behind kitesurfing is very simple. A kitesurfer stands on a board with foot straps or bindings and use the power of a large controllable kite to propel him and the board across the water. This simplicity also makes kitesurfing challenging. Your body is the only connection between the kite and the board and you have to control them both at the same time: piloting the kite on the sky and steering the board on the water.
How does it work and how did it all start?
Kites originated in China thousands of years ago (two kite masters Kungshu P'an and Mo Zi flew kites as early as 478 BC) and have managed to remain unchanged until the modern time, when multiple line controllable kites were introduced by George Pocock in 1826. For the first time in history, instead of letting the wind fly the kite, a multiple line controllable kite flyer can actually pilot the kite on the sky.
When flying across the sky, a kite generates lift like an airplane wing. Since lift is proportional to the size of a kite, some kite flyers realized that if you make a kite big enough it would generate enough power to propel a vehicle on land, snow, ice or water. This type of kite is called traction kite. Certain forms of traction kite has been used by many pioneers such as George Pocock in the past, but it only became popular in the early 1990's and its popularity has made traction kite flying more a sport than just a recreational activity. While a windsurfing sail is dependent on the wind to generate power, a kite is only dependent on the wind to fly. When a kite is flying across the sky, it creates its own wind (apparent wind) which is faster and therefore produces much more power than the actual wind can provide. Since lift is proportional to the square of the wind velocity, if the apparent wind of the kite is twice that of the actual wind you will get four times as much power from the kite. This simple fact is not easy to appreciate until you actually fly a traction kite. Numerous first-time traction kite flyers have been injured in the past for misjudging such power.
As soon as traction kite was introduced, a number of kite flyers started thinking of using kites to replace conventional sails in water sports such as windsurfing. After years of research, a number of water relauncheable kites were introduced: Wipika inflatable kite (introduced by the Legaignoux brothers in the 80's), Kite Ski frame kite (introduced by Bill & Cory Roeseler in the 80's) and in late 1990's FOne closed cell foil kite (Raphael Salles), Concept Air closed cell foil kite (Michel Montmigny and Benoit Tremblay), Arc (Peter Lynn). While the fundamental technologies are different and the degrees of relauncheability vary, these kites share the same characteristic that allows a kite flyer to launch them from the water after a fall. There are also a number of other pioneer kitesurfers with their passion and devotion has helped to make the sport feasible and spread rapidly in the early days: Laird Hamilton, Manu Bertin, Laurent Ness (Axelair), Robby Naish (Naish Kites), Don Montague (Kiteboat.com), Flash (Marcus) Austin, Dave Culps (Kiteship.com), Stefano Rosso (Yahoo Kitesurf group), Hung Vu (KitesurfingSchool.org) and more. Thanks to all those pioneers, a new sport named kitesurfing was christened and destined to be the most exciting sport for the new millenium.
LEARN TO KITESURF
LEARN TO KITESURF
Kitesurfing is a sport that requires a fair amount of instruction to get going, yet the great thing about it is that once you do have the hang of it, how to control your kite, and have your technique down, the progression is really fast! This slightly contrast with windsurfing, as although you can be up on the windsurf board within half an hour, the more advanced moves take a lot more practice and are generally harder.
Duration of the instruction
The vast majority of people begin kitesurfing with either a 6 or 9 hour course. Courses are held in both groups and as private instruction. No doubt you will progress much quicker with private, but it is more expensive. If you were to take a group class, you can expect to be up on the board and riding after around 9 or 10 hours. It is at this point when the progression really begins to speed up, and by putting in a few days of solo practice you will be have the time of your life. A Kitesurf holiday is perfect if you want to learn intensively and be confidently kiting as quick as possible. However you do have to choose the correct destination to support your learning. If you choose a choppy destination, crowded waters, and use a center with old equipment and unprofessional instructors you can wave good bye to be kiting at the end of your week. However, in contrast a destination with flat water, shallow areas, and a professional center, you are giving yourself the very best chance at succeeding.
How to learn
The very first thing with learning is to have a go with a small kite, and get the feel for how it turns and feels. The next stage is learning how to set up a regular kite, but with shorter lines, and your instructor will assist you with flying it hooked into your harness. You will be taught how to launch it and land it, and practice this as it's very important to learn to launch and land safely.
Once you are feeling comfortable with the kite your instructor will take you 'body dragging' this is where you use the kite but no board and use it to drag you through the water in different directions, and learn how to use your body to go up wind, which is crucial for when you fall off your board, that you can use your body to go up wind to retrieve it. The first few times your instructor will take the kite and you hold on to him, this is so you can see exactly how to do it. If after a few times you feel comfortable, you switch roles with the instructor and he holds on to you, and you control the kite. Throughout this process you will also be taught how to re launch your kite from the water. If you feel comfortable after a few runs of you controlling the kite, you can go out on your own and your instructor will assess you and get your body dragging up to spec, as it is really important for retrieving your board.
Once you feel confident body dragging your instructor will introduce a board, and first of all teach you how to use it when body dragging, to increase your ability to go up wind to get in to a safe spot to water start on your board. After body dragging with a board, your instructor will show you on land how to get up on the board, the position you need to have your kite in, and your stance. For your first few runs your instructor will accompany you, this is where shallow water really helps as it means your instructor can be with you every step of the way. It is from this stage that you just need practice practice and practice, to get yourself water starting every time and each time staying up on the board for longer and longer. Being able to water start and stay up for a few second is where you should hope to be at the end of a 9 hour group lesson, and usually in less time with private instruction, but as previously mentioned the time this takes varies due to lots of factors.
Once up and riding the next thing to do is learn to go up wind, but before that hours of solo practice need to be put in, and then it is time to re introduce an instructor for an hour or so to teach you how to use your body and board to kite up wind, which is the stage you need to be at to hire equipment from most centers, unless you have been taking lessons with them, because they will then not have to keep an eye out to ensure you have not drifted too far down wind. It should also be noted that when you are solo practicing, most centers have beach boys who you can hire for a few hours to keep an eye out for you, and take your kite back up wind if you have drifted too far down.
Please note that the above lesson plan is based of private tuition, and will vary accordingly in a group lesson!
Below is the IKO (International Kitesurfing Organisation) lesson plan, which is followed by their instructors, which are the vast majority of instructors which work for the centers we recommend. If the instructors are not IKO qualified they will have a qualification just like it, for example the British version BKSA (British Kite Surfing Association) so you can relax about safety as our main priority is that you learn in safety and therefore we will only recommend you a center with professionally trained instructors.
Kiteboarder Level 1 on land (2-4 hours)
* Know safe wind directions and conditions for kiting
* Know hazards on a spot
* Set up a trainer kite
* Know the use of safety systems
* Have basic flying skills with trainer kite
* Launch and land the trainer kite with an assistant
* Twist and untwist the lines while flying the kite
* Walk and change directions while flying the kite
* Know the wind window
* Set-up a 4/5 line kite with a full de-power system
* Pre-flight check of equipment and settings
* In flight check of equipment and settings
* Understand and use the international communication signals
* Launch and land the kite to an assistant and as an assistant (4/5-line de-power kite)
* Control the kite hooked into the harness
* Understand the de-power system and can use the safety systems
* Advanced flying skills with the de-power kite
* Show full control of de-power systems in flight
* Pull quick release and activate leash
* Recover the bar and kite
* Self land
Kiteboarder Level 2 in the water (6-8 hours)
* Enter and exit the water independently and safely while controlling the kite
* Water re-launch the kite
* First body drag downwind
* Maintain correct kite position in the wind window
* Change direction to the left and right while body dragging
* Recover the kite and bar in the water
* Upwind body drag to recover board
* Upwind body drag holding the board with one hand
* Enter and exit at the same point while upwind body dragging
* Know the power stroke for a water start
* Know the safety rules and theory for water start
* Can put the board on the feet and maintain the correct position for water start
* Water starts in both directions and ride a short distance
* Come to a controlled stop
* Understand weather forecast, tidal- and wind effects
* Determine the wind strength, direction and quality
* Know the right of way rules
* Know equipment set up and choice according to the weather conditions
Group Skiing Holidays
At Planet we have 15 years experience in organising Private Group trips. These Group Ski Holidays may be Hotel or Chalet holidays and may be 6 or more adults. Your itinerary may be one that we have operated many times before or it may be tailored to your group's specific skiing requirements. Group bookings are then handled by the same holiday consultant from initial enquiry until your return home.
Our Group Ski Holiday prices will be the very best available and always take account of groups qualifying FREE place or FREE Lift passes.
To take the hassle out of organising your group our procedures are as flexible as they can be. For instance where possible there is no need to worry about changing names and details up until an agreed period prior to departure. Similarly while we prefer to have one point of contact we're also happy to receive direct contact from individual group members, for instance when it comes to making payment.
To help us understand your group ski holiday needs we need to find out a few important things. With this information, we can quickly narrow the search down to a few options.
What is our holiday budget?
What dates do we want to travel?
What qualification and experience level of diver do I have in your group?
Are there any non-skiers in the group?
What type of accommodation do we want to stay in? e.g Hotel or Chalet holidays
Who in the group will require lift passes, equipment hire or instruction?
If we are including flights which is your local airport?
NB: In order to ensure that all payments receive full financial protection through out ATOL and TTA licenses all payments must be made directly to Planet by the individual rather than being pooled by one individual. We are happy to discuss the implication for your group if you prefer an alternative method.
Family Skiing Holidays
A family skiing holiday is an amazing way to spend time with your loved ones. At Planet Ski Holidays we can advise and help organise Family Skiing Holidays for all types of family. Whether everyone is skiing or boarding or you have a mix of skiers and non-skiers, toddlers, a family with members taking instruction or a skiing family with older kids.
In our Hotel descriptions look out for our 'For the Family' sections detailing some of the facilities or services intended to be family friendly including:
Family Friendly Room Options
Many of our recommended have interconnecting rooms where two similar rooms have a door between them that can be unlocked to link the rooms without the need to cross through public corridors. Some hotels have larger rooms with extra beds or suits with at least one separate bedroom and living room. Some may even include a small kitchenette.
Resorts and Hotels with Kids Clubs
For families with children too young to ski all day Planet Ski Holidays brings you a selection of family friendly hotels with inclusive kids clubs and crèches. These Resorts and Hotels arrange professionally staffed programmes of fun and educational programs allowing your littlest kids to enjoy their holidays and you to relax whether skiing or simply chilling out.
In some regions and hotels experienced childcare teams supervise evening care and activities for all children in the crèche. Due to best practice and for health and safety reasons we do not offer or pre-book in room babysitting or the use of baby listening devices and children should be supervised at all times, never being left in rooms unsupervised.
Most of our hotels have buffet restaurants where you are able to choose from a selection of great tasting, healthy, and fresh local produce. In many where meals are plated there will be a child's menu and portion sizes.
Free or Discounted Child Places
The way we price our holidays will take account of free or discounted child places that we have agreed with our recommended hotels, ski lift operators and ski schools.
For a family ski holiday we would highly recommend destinations which offer activities other than just skiing from ice skating to Spa Facilities, to name just two.
Perhaps the ultimate powder skiing and snowboarding adventure must be a Heli-Ski or heli-boarding holiday. Soar off in a helicopter to ski or ride untouched slopes on remote mountain ranges, far out of reach of lift reliant resort skiiers. The first vertical will take your breath away. Hovering over mountain peaks you gain access to untracked snow. Escorted by qualified mountain guides who show you the ideal route to follow and where to make those first tracks.
Heli skiing uses helicopters to gain access to backcountry skiing rather than a network of chairlifts. Away from manicured pistes this is true off piste terrain. Contrary to many skiiers' preconception most heli skiing is on regular gradient slopes. The attraction is the opportunity to find untouched snow with only your party to ski it!
Heli-skiing is not the exclusive preserve of seasoned freeriders with multiple extreme video appearance to their name. To enjoy heli skiing descents you only need to be a strong piste skier.
A multi-night stay in a dedicated Heli-Ski Lodge is the ultimate heli-ski experience. Few places have the wilderness areas to allow a heli-ski operation to find truly remote spots. One exception is skiing in Canada, the birthplace of Heli skiing.
Day Heli-Skiing is available from many of our recommended resorts. Groups are combined based on ability.
Day Heli-Skiing and Heli-Boarding is available in
St Moritz, Switzerland
With improvements in technology some claim that a cat-skiing and cat-boarding experience can now rival heli-skiing in terms of both the quality and quantity of skiing it provides.
Cat skiing is available as a day skiing experience, usually located to your ski resort, or a remote, multi-night stay based out in a wilderness lodge.
Short Break Skiing Holidays
Fantastic short break ski holidays to maximise you ski time for the minimum time away. Whether its a Ski Weekend you are after or mid-week skiing Planet Ski Holiday's will have a flexible tailormade holiday in an Austrian & Swiss ski resort that will fit your needs.
If you are organising a large group ski holiday we can help with that too.
We will organise it all for you. Your short break ski holiday will include private transfers and flights on days and at times to best suit your requirements.
Cross Country Skiing Holidays
The holidays and most of the holiday descriptions you'll find in this Planet Ski Holidays programme are geared towards Alpine Skiing and Snowboarding.
Cross-country skiing is a great alternative to downhill skiing and can also be mixed in with the odd morning or day getting out those skinny skis to get away from the ski lifts into the peace of the alpine winter countryside.
Cross-country skiing is available in many of our resorts in both Europe and North America. Please take a look at our description of the available snowsports of give our ski holiday consultants a call
Learn to Ski Holidays
At Planet we can arrange both small group or private learn to ski or snowboard instruction. We work with only the very best ski schools whether that be a local branch of the National Ski School or a small independent.
Teams of experienced certified ski instructors or snowboard instructors teach and coach to the highest standards selected for their levels of service and their patience! Instructors assess your ability and confidence levels introducing you to appropriate skills that will form a solid basis for your future skiing enjoyment.
Your instructor will not only introduce you to the secrets of skiing or snowboarding but also guide you to the resort's most beautiful spots. The most important consideration when learning to ski or snowboard is safety, but running a close second is having fun.
Not all Ski Resorts are equal when it comes to Learning to Ski or Learning to Snowboard. Beginner friendly ski resorts not only offer beginner slopes and easy 'green' runs to aid progression. Beginner friendly ski resorts not only have professional ski schools with instructors who speak your language. Beginner friendly ski resorts not only have reliable snow conditions when you intend to travel. Beginner friendly ski resorts also offer easy flight access from your local airport, appropriate styles of accommodation and fun non-ski activities and apres-ski. After all this is your holiday!
Off Piste Skiing Holidays
Off Piste Skiing is about getting off the groomed and marked ski runs, known in France as pistes, and experiencing some backcountry freeride skiing or boarding.
Just about every ski resort that we feature offers off-piste
skiing of some kind. The Swiss resort of Verbier
has more than it's fair share of off-piste
runs, like Stairway to Heaven. Switzerland's Jungfrau
Ski Region and Grindelwald
has some classic off-piste
including the White Hare from the base of the Eiger
. In Lech
, in the Alberg
region of Austria, ski the stunning terrain of the 'White Circle' ski tour. Back country skiing in Whistler
alone is impressive but then there is also Canadian Heli-skiing
and less well known Cat-Skiing
Whether you are looking for a big ski area or just starting and looking for advanced instruction, or a ski clinic, we will have a holiday to meet your needs.