According to the British Kite Surfing Association (BKSA), the best way to get started with kitesurfing is to take a 2-3 day kite surfing course at a BKSA-approved school. The BKSA recommends that you be able to swim 200m in open water and a good level of physical fitness is required. The good news here is that you don’t have to have superhuman powers of strength because it’s all about technique.
Like all sports, there are risks involved but if you receive proper tuition to become aware of the hazards and talk to experienced kite surfers then the risks are minimized.
If you do take risks and go out in conditions that you can’t handle (too much wind) then obviously you are increasing the risk level.
It’s important to remain in full control of your kite at all times, and watch your lines, especially if there are other kite surfers out at the same location.
Learning to fly a two-line power kite before you take a course will help you learn significantly faster, though most people are standing by the end of the first day of a three-day course.
Within three months you can be a competent kite surfer and within six months to a year you may well be pulling off jumps of 10 – 15 feet.
You are looking at between £500 – 1000 for your start-up costs, though it’s nearer to the £500 mark if you buy some of your kit second-hand.
You will need:
An Inflatable kite. You need a kite between 9 – 14m depending on your body weight, but an instructor will be able to tell you which is most suited to you. Expect to pay between £200 – 400 for a used kite, with 5 line types costing the most. A top-of-the-range current model can cost up to £850 but this expenditure is not required until you have convinced yourself that this sport is for you. Initially, you will be able to use a kite provided by your instructor.
A kiteboard and leash. Board-wise you are looking for one between 130 – 150cm in length. The twin-tip wakeboard style is ideal as you can ride it in either direction. For those with a windsurfing or surfing background directional boards are great for speed and light wind conditions, however, the fact that they can only be ridden one way may well hamper your learning curve. Expect to pay around £250 for a second-hand board and between £300 – 500 for a new one.
A leash is also a pretty essential piece of kit enabling you to keep the board attached to you when you wipe out you must use a helmet if you use a leash. Approx £40.
Lines and control bar. Modern kites normally come complete with lines and bar so you don’t have to worry much about the lines. The line length is dependent on the size of the kite and wind conditions, though most kite surfers use 25m – 30m lines to give the most versatile range for starting, pointing (going upwind), and jumping. Whichever control device you use, make sure that it has a dependable safety release system, and a depower device. This system should be able to disable the kite completely even in the event that you become unconscious. Expect to pay between £100-250 for a control bar.
A harness. This performs the basic function of attaching you to your kite. There are two types of harnesses – the seat harness and the waist harness.
As a beginner, the best harness for you is the seat harness as this is less likely to ride up when the kite is in the zenith position (directly above your head) where the kite will probably spend most of its time as you learn. Around £70-£90.
A helmet. Pretty straightforward forward, and useful for protecting your noggin while racing across the water at speed. Expect to pay between £30 – 50.
A Wetsuit. This is the UK not Hawaii, you will need one. Your best bet is a winter suit (3/5mm) if you plan to kite surf all year round, though the summer suits are cheaper, and thinner and are guaranteed to give you hyperthermia if you wear one in the winter.
A winter wetsuit will cost you between £120 – 220, whereas a summer suit will set you back between £80 – 180.
Finally, I would like to reiterate that any BKSA accredited instructor will provide all the equipment you need and so the initial expenditure is limited to the cost of the lessons. If you do decide to continue with the sport you will then, after 3 to 5 lessons, have a much better idea of what to buy when you go shopping. My advice is that you should be prepared for this expenditure as ‘once bitten you are forever smitten!’