Kites – “Bow kites are Best, C kites are Cool!”
eh? so what’s the difference?
When you look at a C kite in the sky it looks like a C. that’s how all kites used to look up until fairly recently.
They have constant pull but don’t depower very well – if you let the bar out they’ll still pull you hard. They’re good for tricks and they loop very well, but they don’t have much wind range.
Bow kites look ‘swept back’ when you look at them in the sky.
They have a massive amount of depower so if you ever get into trouble, just let go of the bar and the kite loses power and falls gently into the water. That’s very useful while you’re learning! They also have more range so you don’t need as many as you would C kites to cover the full range of wind conditions.
Basically you should learn with bow kites and then switch to C kites if you like them when you start to do tricks. There are a lot of ok C kites for sale cheap on ebay as people buy them, find it too hard to learn and then give up.
Don’t do it to yourself! Learn with a bow kite.
So what’s all this about Delta C kites?
This could be the answer! Delta C kites are shaped like a delta wing when they’re flat on the ground and have a C kite profile when in the sky. What does that mean? It means they have the depower of a bow kite and the quick turning of a C kite. All their power is concentrated in the bit of kite that catches the wind so they are very powerful for their size. It’s all sounding good so far!
And to make it more confusing, C kites are becoming more bow like, bows (or SLEs) becoming more C like and Deltas somewhere in between the two. What should you get? Well that’s where it’s useful to talk to your instructor before you buy. Talk to your local shop too, they will be able to suggest equipment that works well at your local spot.
Basically – bigger boards for bigger people, smaller boards for stronger winds.
The average man weighing about 75 kilos would have a board of about 132cm by 41cm, the average woman weighing about 60 kilos would have a board of about 128cm by 39cm. But is there such a thing as the ‘average’ man or woman? Not really – so again it’s best to ask your instructor or your local shop. Beginners boards are generally bigger whatever the size of rider – a good size to start at is 140cm by 42cm.
Do I need to buy a dedicated ‘beginners’ board? Not really, but you will progress more quickly if you get one that’s slightly bigger than your final size. Beginner’s boards are almost exactly the same shape as ‘light wind’ boards. It’s never a bad thing to have a light wind board with you – wind is always unpredictable and if it drops off you’ll still be out on your light wind board where others have to come in on their smaller boards. You’ll be happy and they won’t!!
Just be a little careful of the ‘bargains’ on ebay. There are still some older style boards out there – long and thick a bit like an old windsurfing board. They are easy to get up on for your first 5 waterstart attempts but then they get difficult as soon as you’re up with any regularity. And you won’t use one after your first week of practice.
Length vs width? A longer board will track straighter, so that helps riders who are in the first few days of practice after the course, and a wider board has more surface area so will be easier to get up on in light winds. If you want to blast fast in a straight line, get a longer/narrower board, if you like tricks, go shorter…
Use a seat harness while you’re learning and then as soon as you’re riding with regularity, swap to a waist harness. A seat harness pulls you up from the hips and forces your whole body into a good kitesurfing stance. A waist harness pulls from a little further up so you can end up kiting along sticking your bum way out back with the harness up under your armpits. Not a great stance!
If you really don’t get on with a seat then use a waist harness but remember to tighten it as much as you can and get used to periodically stopping in the water and pulling it back down.
You get what you pay for so don’t scrimp on the harness – it can make kitesurfing really comfortable or really uncomfortable.
It’s very important to protect your skin in hot sunny climates so get a good lycra top and it will last 3 years and be nice to wear all that time. Long sleeves are good and get it figure hugging whether you wear a wetsuit underneath or not.
Essential waterwear in cold climates! If you break your kite while out at sea you’ll be able to come back in but it may take an hour or more. You’ll be dangerously cold after that time if you’re not wearing something warm.
As usual you get what you pay for so if you’re going to kite a lot in cold water get a good suit from the start.
Wear in cold water to keep some feeling in your feet and wear in tropical climates if you’re going to be walking back up sharp beaches. If you kite near a reef remember reef=coral=sharp!
The sun is very strong in many of the beautiful sunny places that are great for learning kitesurfing. You’ll need sunglasses for the first day and maybe into the second day of the course, but on the third day they don’t help as you’re in the water too much. Spend at least 25quid and get some polarised ones – the cheap ones that are not polarised, break easily or have no strap at the back are worthless.
Only the best! Make sure you test your suncream out before using it for kitesurfing lessons – you’ll be outside for 4 hours and if your suncream doesn’t work well enough or isn’t waterproof you’ll get really tired and very red. Most kitesurfers use zinc sunblock as it’s the only one that doesn’t rub off when you touch your skin.
Buying the right equipment from ebay
(aka how to not get ripped off!!)
There’s a lot of older equipment for sale on ebay some at ridiculously cheap prices. It’s very tempting! But if you get the wrong equipment it will take forever to learn so you’ll probably give up (and sell it on ebay again) or worse you might seriously harm yourself or others.
Take your time and remember if it’s cheap it’s not worth much! As you get more experienced at kitesurfing you’ll find out what makes a good or a bad kite and you’ll work out what you like in a kite. Maybe you’ll then go out and buy up all the 2005 C kites and get a full quiver for 50quid! But if you do you’ll end up with arms of steel and be the master of crashes.
It’s a fact – newer kites are easier to use. Easier to turn, easier to depower, easier to pump up, easier to relaunch from the water. Get the best you can afford! 2009 kites are now so good that you may get away with a 1 kite quiver, whereas you’ll need 2 or 3 older ones to do the same job.
And how much time do you have? If you have a lot of time and no money then you’ll enjoy fixing older kites. If you work hard you’ll want to get up riding as quickly as possible – and that means newer kites.
It’s probably safest to only buy your kite from ebay once you know what you’re looking for, and for your first kite look for a good price on a new beginner’s package.
Budget 600-800 pounds for the kite with bar, 300-400 for the board, 70 pounds for the harness and the same on a wetsuit and you’re all set!