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