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Buying Your First Kite

Jun 16, 2009

Author: Shane Thompson

In general, kites are more safe today than even three years ago. All kite designs have multiple safety features to kill the kite’s pull and the ability to spill more power by simply pushing the bar away from your body. It’s important, however, to know your kite’s usable wind range and to respect the power that the kite is capable of generating. Safety systems need to be studied and checked on a regular basis, and beginners need to take lessons from qualified instructors or schools and have them go over the kites specific safety systems.

Trainer Kite :Before you get your first full sized traction kite, you should invest in a small 1-3 m2 trainer kite. Since kite flying is a huge part of the sport, kite practice is important. They help you tune your kite skills before ever getting on the water. This ultimately saves your more expensive traction kites from learning-phase damage. Kite practice makes you a safer kite flyer. The more time you spend flying a trainer kite, the more valuable your time on the water will be—and the sooner you will be up and riding.



What size of kite should I get?
You need to consider several things when choosing kite size: the wind conditions, your weight and skill level, the kite’s usable wind range, and the size and style of board you’re learning on. Remember that wind conditions will vary from area to area and from season to season, so consider the time frame you’re trying to learn in and the conditions you will encounter. For example, many locations have more wind in the spring than in the summer. So if you’re buying to ride in the spring, consider a smaller kite than if you were going to learn in the summer. Kites in general are getting more powerful and efficient, most notably in the 9 to 12 m2 sizes. Larger kites have excellent range and can be held into winds through which you can easily ride smaller kites. Riding with an overpowered kite, however, can hinder development of proper kite and board control. Skills are more efficiently developed when riding slightly underpowered to perfectly powered. Using a smaller kite and bigger board will get you to the end goal of becoming a proficient rider faster than getting pulled around by too big of a kite and never sheeting in or bringing the kite into the full power zone. Go for the long-term goal of developing skills rather than thinking you’re a hero because you can stay upwind while overpowered.

Do kites really change that much from year to year?

Kite design and performance development have come at a rapid pace, and improvements are made each year. Some years there are huge advancements; other years fine-tuning of these advancements occurs. The biggest advancement in the past three years has been the range and depower of kites. The bridled SLE, bow designs and the hybrid kite almost doubled the usable wind range of a given size. Safety was improved because power and lift could be more effectively reduced by pushing the bar away from the body. Water relaunch was also improved with certain designs. Since then, three generations of so-called “total depower” kites have evolved. In that time, the steering, control, stability and bar pressure have been enhanced on these kites in varying degrees.

How can I maximize my money while building a quiver?
There are two key strategies to save money while building your quiver. The first thing is to do your research and discover the best gear suited to your particular situation. This can include testing gear, researching gear on the Internet, talking to friends and consulting with professionals at your local shop. With today’s technology you are close to being covered for all conditions with two boards and two kites. The second is to build a good relationship with a kite shop. Bring the staff coffee and donuts on the day of purchase, share your stoke of the sport and get to know them. When you’re ready to purchase, get as much gear as you can in one day. The more you buy at once, the better chance you’ll have of saving money off the total package.

Gear Reviews
For beginners and intermediates who wish to conquer the basics and beyond, every company out there has something for you. The SBC Kiteboard Test Team has some top picks for the first time, and progressing rider.
The 2009 kites tested have improved stability across the board and this means less tendency to back stall, fall from the sky or become turbulent and twitchy in gusty situations. All of the kites tested also have better water relaunch capability than ever before.

>>>SBC Kiteboard Kite Tests

>>>2009 SBC Kiteboard Buyer's Guide

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