Information for New Kiters

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Information for New Kiters

Postby kwk » Fri Jun 23, 2006 9:26 am

Welcome to the sport of kiteboarding. This post is meant to give you suggestions on the proper way to get into the sport. Many of us who get into this sport are accomplished athletes in other sports such as snowboarding, skiing, windsurfing, etc. This stokes our egos and makes us think that we don't need to take lessons. While you may be able to pull off self training you are endangering yourself, everyone on the beach and your relationship with the kiting community. We are going to be very pissed if we lose access at a beach because you were too cheap or stubborn to take a lesson. That said, below are some tips that we hope you will follow that we believe will get you up and riding quickly and safely.


There are several very qualified instructors within a few hours of Chicago.

Lino in Chicago, IKO Certified - 520-730-7076 -
Henry Lazerow - -
Bob Cook in Madison - - 608-273-1817.

Amanda Weldy in Chicago and Lake Wawasee, IN - 773-322-5089

Chris at Sharkless Boardsports in South Haven, MI-

Mackite in Grand Haven, MI -

Roberto Villate - PASA Level III certified instructor based in Muskegon (June-Nov) and St. Pete FL (Dec-May). 847-477-2976

Great Lakes Kiteboarding in Tawas and E. St. Clair, MI - Brian LeFeve - 586 822 6511

Broneah in Traverse City, MI -

If traveling for lessons I highly recommend Rocky Chatwell at - 361-945-7722 email -
Rocky teaches in Corpus Christi, TX which has consistent winds and shallow water that is fantastic for learning. Rocky is a great instructor and super nice guy. He teaches on Epic kites and Brokite boards and his rates are very reasonable.

Please let me know if I missed anyone and I will add.

The other alternative to local lessons is to go to a kitesurfing destination like Hatteras, NC or Corpus Christi, TX. There are many to choose from but these two are the closest. Corpus is an excellent place to learn due to the warm, shallow, flat water and because you will get more time on the water due to the consistent winds. You will get riding faster if you take a long weekend and go to one of these locations where you can usually get in several days of riding in a row.

Where to Ride Locally

Once you have received some instruction you want to find a good wide open beach as you continue to build your skills. Inland lakes are typically a bad choice when first starting since the winds are typically gusty and the abundance of obstacles on the shoreline. Madison may be the exception to this but contact Bob Cook for advice before heading out. Beaches such at Zion, Waukegan, and Miller are usually very good choices because of their size and they are typically uncrowded. Check out the Where to Ride section of the website for information on each beach. Also get a good map of the shoreline so that you can see the orientation of each of the beaches so you can determine which wind direction will deliver side shore or side on conditions.

Conditions to Ride

There have been several posts from new kiters talking about going out on days where the wind is side off or offshore. That is a very bad idea. Before you go out you need to check the forecast and understand the wind direction and the orientation of the beach in which you want to ride. You are looking for side shore or side on conditions. For your first few sessions you should ride in winds in the 10 - 18kt range.


If you get into this sport you will most likely end up with multiple kites and multiple boards. I recommend that you talk to other kiters or to one of the shops listed under Lessons before buying gear. Basic rule of thumb is that your first board should be a larger board for your weight and your first kite smaller. The exact sizes depend largely on your weight so talk to someone for recommendations before you buy. Your gear choices can make a huge difference in safety and how long it takes you to learn.

Do's and Don'ts for New Kiters


Practice with a trainer kite before taking a lesson.

Take lessons, your life and our beach access is worth a couple hundred $$

Wear a kite leash that totally depowers the kite if you let go of the bar.

Wear a helmet. You will see many of us do not. We are idiots. If you really don't like helmets you should still buy one, wear it while you are learning or when you are kiting someplace with hard obstacles downwind.

Check your lines closely when you rig and make sure you are launching at the side of the wind window. I have seen several new kiters set up and start to launch their kite directly down wind. Understand the wind direction.

As a general rule launch your kite at the side of the window that will take you towards the water if something goes wrong.

Ask for advice and assistance from your fellow kiters. Everyone I have met in WI, IL and MI has been very willing to offer constructive advice and assistance.

Do Not

Kite on crowded beaches until you are an experienced kiter with excellent kite handling skills.

Ask non kiters to assist you in launching.

Ride in areas with hard objects downwind.

Ride in side off or offshore conditions.

Ride in winds over 18kts

Kite alone

Launch with beachgoers directly downwind.

Buy too big kite as your first kite.

Kite in extremely cold water.

Go way off shore. Keep your reaches short until you are able to consistently ride upwind.

I hope people find this helpful. Once again if anyone has anything to add let me know and I will update.
Last edited by kwk on Sun Dec 11, 2011 8:40 pm, edited 17 times in total.
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Postby V » Fri Jun 23, 2006 10:14 am

all good advice Keith from someone that just went through the learning process!

Maybe we'll see you this weekend buddy.
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Postby beach » Fri Jun 23, 2006 9:28 pm

Thanks, This is very helpful. Hope to join you all someday!

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Postby Steve Hal » Wed Jul 12, 2006 9:42 am

Can some one get Bob Cooks phone number
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Postby rhumbaflappy » Wed Jul 12, 2006 10:27 am

You can PM him from this site, just click the link to get his profile, then click the PM button:

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Postby kwk » Wed Jul 12, 2006 10:28 am

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Postby Bob » Fri May 04, 2007 11:32 pm


I can't believe you posted this so long ago and i never saw it until today. I must be blind...

Excellent, excellent info...

i hope you don't mind, as i added my web site to your original post.

Now if we could only get every new rider to follow your advice.

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Postby chakkuchan » Sat May 05, 2007 2:01 am

I"ll try :)
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Postby kwk » Mon May 07, 2007 10:58 am

No problem adding you website Bob.

Glad you found the info to be on target and useful.
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Postby josh@upwindsports » Thu Oct 25, 2007 3:26 am

Ha ha I'm reading this and saying did that did that did that.... I wish I had learned from someone rather videos and mags! The thing that head me back the most was crappy winds shoreline and wrong equipment
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Postby DiggerDog » Sat Mar 08, 2008 1:08 pm

So you mean I cant get a kite strap on some roller blades and fly down the interstate blindfolded? :shock:

It looks like some good advice to me I think Ill "talk to Bob"

Thanks for posting info for us greenhorns
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Postby 4w7s » Tue Oct 13, 2009 5:29 pm

Please note that the best way to reach me about lessons is by email or cel phone.

I am now taking reservations for lessons in Florida beginning Dec. 1st thru May 1st.

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Re: Information for New Kiters

Postby kwk » Sun Dec 11, 2011 8:51 pm

Just added Rocky Chatwell to the list of instructors. The Chicago area is fortunate to have many great instructors around the area but if you are thinking of traveling to warmer waters for your lessons please consider Rocky. He and his wife started Rocky's Kite World earlier this year and I have seen them teach and they do an excellent job. They are located in Corpus Christi, TX which has warm, shallow, flat water that is ideal for learning. Rocky has been kiting since he was 14 and has been the North American Freestyle Champion for the past 5 years.

If traveling to Corpus for lessons let me know if you need any advice on lodging, launches, etc. I live down here during the winter.
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Re: Information for New Kiters

Postby c0ldlimit » Wed Jun 27, 2012 12:20 pm

I was wondering if someone in the know could update the list of instructors in the Chicago area. It seems that the websites of some have gone down. I am brand new to the sport and would love to know if there are instructors in the area giving lessons.

Thanks in advance!
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Re: Information for New Kiters

Postby Marilys_kite » Sun Sep 16, 2012 4:21 pm

Hello coldlimit! :)

I am a level 2 IKO certified instructor and I am coming in Chicago in october. Are you still looking for lessons?

I am working in collaboration with 3ME Kite Sports with ozone kites.

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions :)

Hope to see you soon in the water!

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Re: Information for New Kiters

Postby DanShielding » Mon Jul 15, 2013 9:00 pm

Kitesurfing noob here. Just spent a week in Cabarete. Recieved professional instruction. Learned how to water start, ride in both directions, change direction, ride upwind. Of course I'm hooked for life.

Now I'm back in Chicago. I've been checking the upcoming Lake Michigan forecasts at...

and the current wind at... ... 87.048,8,1

As soon as I see sufficient winds or activity on the "Where to Ride Today" section, and it's someplace I can ride (not Montrose), I'm ready to go... just one problem. I need equipment! If I was in Madison, I'd just call Bob. But I'm thinking of heading toward Michigan or Waukegan depending on wind conditions. What would you guys suggest in terms of where I could get some local equipment with which to hone my skills? At this point I really don't know what type of kite I would prefer. Is there any way to try a variety of kites out first before buying in the Waukegan or lower Michigan regions?
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Re: Information for New Kiters

Postby IVO » Mon Jul 15, 2013 10:09 pm

Hello Dan and welcome to your "new life" :D

in Mi the closest would be Sharkless in South Heaven or Mac kite in GrandHaven.If you want my advice go with Bob,its not just buying gear,what separate Bob from others is he'll give you his best advice on gear which would be best fit to you even if you wont end up buying from him . I was in same position as you some years back and bough my first gear from him,many times after this I would just call him with random question on gear and kitesurfing in general,that foot you put in between doors will take you for very long time.

If you would need you call always send me pm,will be glad to help.

ahhh plug for Bob, but credit where credit is due,you did greate service to this community :!:
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Re: Information for New Kiters

Postby DanShielding » Tue Jul 16, 2013 1:01 am

Thanks IVO,
I just sent Bob an email. He set me up with winter kiteboarding lessons a few times in the past, so I'm glad to take your advice. Thank you!

Looks like the Sharkless website is down and Google maps says they've closed or relocated. I love South Haven. I'll be heading there as soon as I've got gear and favorable wind conditions. Great weekend getaway for Chicagoans and a national blueberry festival too! Damn, I'm gettin' hungry.
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Re: Information for New Kiters

Postby kumo42 » Sun May 11, 2014 4:31 pm

Thanks for the tips. Adrien Seguy is also a great instructor. Here is his link.
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