Riding a Kite Surfboard

Sharpen your dryland skills by first flying a trainer kite.

Sharpen your dryland skills by first flying a trainer kite.

Kitesurfing, a sport sure to be on the adventurista's bucket list, wiggles its way into mainstream popularity. This alternative sports derives its roots from windsurfing and provides a fun outlet for surfer moms with little time for Mother Nature's nuances. A first glance at the pros makes it easy to think you can just rig up a kite and squeak in a quick session during nap time. But learning to kiteboard proficiently takes time, so approach it slowly. Soon you'll be rigged and ready to sail off, leaving dad and the kids frolicking on the beach.

Gear Selection

Unfortunately, you can't just raid your husband's gear and take to the water. Kites are sized specific for your weight. Do some research first to determine what size kite is best for your weight and the average wind speed you'll be riding in. For instance, if you weigh 125 pounds and are flying in roughly 17 mph winds, invest in a 7-meter kite. A 140-pound rider could bump it up to an 8-meter kite and a 110-pound rider can make do with a 6-meter kite. Next, decide on a harness type. Women usually prefer seat harnesses to waist harnesses. Seat harnesses allow you to use your full body weight as leverage, and they don't interfere with the bust line. Once you've done you research, head to the shop and enlist the help of a sales professional.


Seek out an empty beach or a grassy field void of trees. Unwrap your newly acquired gear and lay your trainer kite down on the ground with the bridal lines facing up and the trailing edge (edge of the kite that is sewn closed) facing upwind and away from you. Weight down your kite with small rocks or sand and unwind and untangle your lines by laying them out flat on the ground. Note the colored-coordinated attachments and secure your lines to the kite's bridal points with a slipknot. Fasten on your harness. Once rigged, attach your safety leash directly to your harness and pick up the control bar, making sure the red side is always on your left to prevent line tangle.

Dryland Flying

Now in the driver's seat, remove the weights from your kite, wait for a gust of wind and raise your control bar to lift the kite off the ground and overhead (brace yourself, you may get jerked as the kite moves through the power zone). The overhead kite is now in neutral and flies effortlessly above. Initiate a gentle tug by slowly steering your control bar as if you were steering a mountain bike. This push-pull movement allows your kite to dip into the power zone and then come back up to neutral. Practice this over and over. If you experience a big yank, drop the bar completely. This action inhibits the kite completely and is an important safety exercise that needs to become a staple for safety.

Body Dragging

When you've mastered dryland flying, inflate and rig your water kite, buckle into your harness, secure your life vest and take to the ocean. But before you hop up on your board you'll need to master bodydragging. First, start by launching your kite on land as you did with your trainer. With your kite in neutral, slowly walk into chest-deep water. Lean back and gently steer your kite into the power zone; this movement will propel your body though the water. Bring your kite back up to neutral to let off the gas. Keep practicing the bodydrag until you feel proficient, then strap on your board and use your skills to bring you to your feet. Lean back and enjoy the ride. And remember -- drop the control bar if you get into trouble.

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About the Author

Christina Shepherd McGuire writes articles about adventure sports, fashion, mothering and natural living. Since 2003, her work has appeared in "Action Outdoor and Bike Magazine," "Teton Family Magazine," "The Jackson Hole Snowboarder Magazine" and several online publications. McGuire holds a Bachelor of Arts in English literature.

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