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.Lessons
There are several very qualified instructors within a few hours of Chicago.
Lino in Chicago, IKO Certified - 520-730-7076 firstname.lastname@example.org
Henry Lazerow - email@example.com
Bob Cook in Madison - firstname.lastname@example.org
- 608-273-1817. http://www.kiteridersllc.com
Amanda Weldy in Chicago and Lake Wawasee, IN - 773-322-5089http://www.LikeToKite.com Amanda@LikeToKite.com
Chris at Sharkless Boardsports in South Haven, MI- http://www.sharkless.com
Mackite in Grand Haven, MI - http://www.mackite.com
Roberto Villate - PASA Level III certified instructor based in Muskegon (June-Nov) and St. Pete FL (Dec-May). email@example.com
Great Lakes Kiteboarding in Tawas and E. St. Clair, MI - Brian LeFeve http://www.glkite.com
- 586 822 6511
Broneah in Traverse City, MI - http://www.broneah.com
If traveling for lessons I highly recommend Rocky Chatwell at www.rockyskiteworld.com
- 361-945-7722 email - firstname.lastname@example.org
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.Gear
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 KitersDo
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
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.