Often, students continuously try to water start over and over again to no avail. I’ve seen independent learners take months to master the water start. The most common mistake in the water start is beginning from a slightly twisted position in the water. The board angle is often pointed too far upwind. If you feel like your edge is biting into the water once you feel the pull of the power stroke, chances are you aren’t lining your body up underneath the kite at 12. Here are the tips to get it in one day:
The kite needs to be at 12 o’clock when you put the board on. Once you are in the straps, lying on your back in the water with two hands on the bar, you need to make sure your shoulders and knees are lined up with the kite lines. The kite is directly above you. If you are twisted in the water, the water start won’t work. Don’t try to dive the kite until everything is lined up.
Think of the water start like a friend pulling you up off the couch. You need to press into your legs. Similarly, you are not dead weight during the water start, you need to exert force in your legs working with the power stroke to get you to standing. Most often that power stroke should go from 12 to 3. If you need more power, try 11:30 to 3.
It’s the front foot that needs to do most of the work when standing up. As soon as you feel the pull of the kite, press into your legs with more force in your front leg. Extend your front foot’s toes in the direction of travel.
If you don’t get up, DO NOT keep diving the kite over and over hoping to water start. Instead, reset. Return the kite slowly to 12 o’clock. Make sure your body is lined up. Go over the steps you are going to perform in your head. Take a breath and then try another power stroke.
In all the years I’ve been in the sport, I’ve seen many different types of instructors. Don’t be fooled by gawdy displays of gear ow showmanship on the water. Your instructor, first and foremost, needs to be a communicator. They need to have put a lot of thought into how to keep you safe and how to communicate a set of skills. Otherwise, you put yourself at risk of injury and at risk of wasting time and money. At the minimum, your instructor has to have the following:
1) Your instructor needs to have a way of retrieving you in the water should your kite go down. Boat, jetski, paddleboard, etc…
It’s sad, but most kiteboarding instructors teach off the beach. If you stay close, there’s no safety issue. If your kite goes down, you can swim it back or they can swim to you. But should you go 100 yards or more off the beach, it can be a safety issue. You may get blown further out and may be risking your safety. This type of instruction limits your ability to travel in the water with the kite since the emphasis is staying close – not on developing skills. Traveling with the kite is the point of kiteboarding. The beach instructor will want you to stay close so they don’t have to swim after you. Choose an instructor who has a way of retrieving you in the water and a system for doing it efficiently and safely.
2) Your instructor needs to be able to communicate with you when you are more than 50 yards away.
Ever watch a kiteboarding lesson where the instructor is yelling at the student? Most instructors do this. The fact is, if you are attached to a kite, it’s going to pull you away from your instructor as you are practicing a skill. You drift 3-4 miles an hour when the kite is in neutral, and much faster when the kite is powered up. What happens to the lesson once you travel beyond earshot of the instructor? Lesson over. You aren’t being adjusted for the mistakes you make, you might as well be out there on your own. Anything can happen. It’s now up to you, regardless of your skills, to return to the beach with no instruction – without hurting you or other people. I’ve seen instructors swimming in the water for 45 minutes after their students on windy days. At Boston Kite School we use radio helmets to communicate with you while the kite is pulling you. This not only means you will learn the sport faster, it means you will know your instructor will talk to you to help you return to the beach.
3) Your instructor needs to have a lesson plan – ask for it
Too many times students spend money on lessons only to be faced with a “whatever” style lesson. An instructor shows up with some gear and no real plan. Very little is learned without a lesson plan since there is no achievable list of skills. Good teaching requires an instructor to have a lesson plan based on measurable benchmarks. They need to breakdown each benchmark into mini-skills. They need to model each mini-skill. They need to observe you performing the mini-skill .They need to evaluate your performance of the mini-skill. Ask your instructor for a lesson plan before you sign up.
4) Your instructor needs to be insured
Stuff happens in kiteboarding. If you land your kite on someone in the water and they sue, do you want to be dragged into a lawsuit? Make sure your instructor is insured.
5) Your instructor needs to be certified by a recognized world or national organization such as PASA or IKO.
Not only that, your instructor needs to have their lesson plan approve by this organization. PASA and IKO exist to standardize methods of instruction, to ensure safety, and to protect access to the sport. Going through and passing a certification program means your instructor took the time to become a professional in the sport. They took the time to learn a system of teaching which has been proven to work.
Asking the tough questions of your instructor up front means you will save time, money, and be safer during your lesson.
So as much as we anticipate great success in our Water 2 classes, it doesn’t always happen. About half of our students arrive to Water 2 needing to retool their landing and launching, crosswind body dragging and upwind body dragging from the Water 1 class. As a result, most of their lesson time in Water 2 is spent drilling Water 1 skills. The ability to demonstrate a good upwind body drag is the best indicator of the ability to perform a controlled water start in the Water 2 class and to then extend the ride.
Sunday, the entire Water 2 class went through the progression from the upwind body drag, a board-on, a controlled water start to riding hundreds of yards. I asked the Water 2 class why they did so well. All 3 said they had simply practiced as much as possible in between lessons with their trainer kites. One of the students hadn’t flown a water kite for almost a year since his Water 1. But simply by flying his trainer kite in between lessons, he not only stood up, he rode a good 100 yards in one direction and back on Sunday. This is unusual for Water 2 and now he’s buying a kite and board from us and he’s ready to go out on his own.
It all starts from practicing with the trainer kite as much as possible.
-Please bring water shoes such as neoprene boots, reef runners, or something that is snug to protect your feet. We sell ’em or you can grab your own.Crocs, Tevas or flip-flops are not permitted. Please call or email first to ask for your size of neoprene boot.
-Also, please bring sunglasses with a strap around the back
Everything else we provide. We use new RRD kites and boards, Mystic harnesses and radio teaching helmets. The water in Massachusetts can get cold so you might want to rent one of our warm wetsuits for $10. We sell Seaspecs sunglasses as well. See you on the water!
1. Take The Basic Package:
This is the best sequence of lessons for a comprehensive understanding of kitesurfing. The package includes 6 hours of lessons: The Kite Skills class and one water class.
2. Go Buy A Kite:
Buy a medium sized kite or a kite and board package. We offer discounts on gear purchased through us. BE ADVISED, DON’T BUY ADVERTISED ‘BEGINNER PACKAGES’ ONLINE.
3. Join A Practice Group:
Boston Kite School keeps a database of students who want to kitesuurf together. This is a safe, free way to progress in the sport. At the end of your Basic Package we will assign you a skill rating from 1 to 4. You can then receive a list of other people at your skill level who want to practice. When you want a practice partner, just call someone from the list.
4.Take a kite surfing trip:
You learn faster when you have the opportunity to practice everyday in excellent conditions. During the winter months, Boston Kite School leads kitesurfing adventure trips to exotic locations throughout the Caribbean. These trips provide students with the opportunity to hone their skills in a supportive environment. Remove the hassle of sorting out gear, finding accommodations, figuring out where to kite – Boston Kite School handles the headache so you can enjoy the experience.