← Home@vincelwt

[DRAFT] 🏄‍♂️ Kitesurfing

Written Oct 22, 2022.

Table of Contents


Kitesurfing (kiteboarding), is a water sport that combines elements of surfing, windsurfing, and paragliding. You use the wind to ride across the water and perform aerial tricks.

I've been kitesurfing for 10+ years now. There's nothing quite like the feeling. It's physically challenging and mentally.

The disciplines are varied.

It can be as much of this:

Than this:

And this:

The learning phase can be frustrating, but it's definitely worth it. Once you've mastered good kite control, you will enjoy the pure bliss and adrenaline of this incredible sport.

Progression with kitesurfing is infinite. When you think you've reached your limits, you've just unlocked the next phase.

We are still at a phase in the sport where every year, new tricks never been done before are landed.

The sea's only gifts are harsh blows and, occasionally, the chance to feel strong.

- Primo Levi

This handbook is a no-bullshit braindump of most of what I’ve learned in my 10 years of kiting.

It also contains a few of the good, bad and ugly stories that happened to me over the years.


Part of the reason I wrote this is every summer we see more and more people on the water. To the point that certain spots become nearly unpracticable for anything else than back and forths.

Many riders:

In truth I’ve been all that myself.

While I’ve been kiting for 10 years, my progression really stepped up in the last 3 years when I started setting objectives, traveling to new spots and forcing myself to push my limits.

Ready? Let’s start.

A good session in Brazil.

🐣 Beginners’ basics

👉 I won’t talk about very the basics as there is no way to skip the first practical lessons. You won't find mentions of waterstart, body drag, basic riding and going upwind steps.

Basic Vocabulary

Wind forecasts

Checking forecasts ensure that you are going out at the right time.

Windguru is the most common place to look for wind forecasts. It has everything you need.

The most important rows are "Wind speed" and "Wind gusts". The delta between them is basically the "gustiness" of the wind. The lowest the better.

“GFS-13”, “ICON 7”, etc.. at the bottom are the different forecasting models. The number is the precision (in km). Usually lower number means more precise, but not always. Some models are better than others for some spots.

The “Windguru rating” is a good quick-glance info. 3 stars means it’s pumping, I’ll usually take the 7m and 9m with me. 1 star is a bit shit, but kitable. 2 stars is good for 12 usually.

The wave period refers to the time that elapses between successive peaks of a wave. It's typically measured in seconds, and is an important factor in determining the size and shape of a wave.

In general, longer periods are associated with cleaner, more powerful waves, while shorter wave periods are associated with smaller, more choppy waves.

Wind maps can be useful to understand the wind patterns across a region. A good tool for that is Windy.

If available, always check webcams before going out.

White caps on water means there's usually at least 14 knots. The stronger the wind, the more white caps.

Webcams are often low rez. Here we can make out some white caps but not too much, meaning base wind is probably around ~14 knots.

Webcams are often low rez. Here we can make out some white caps but not too much, meaning base wind is probably around ~14 knots.

In some spots, forecasts can be very inaccurate. Sometimes they are accurate with some wind direction and not others.

The golden rule here: it's always better to see with your eyes.

Oh and, you don’t need an anemometer. Learn to sense the wind and gauge it's strength from trees movements, the sand, the ocean and asking other riders.


Things that make a spot great when you're beginning:

A great spot is one that offers a combination of safe and accessible launch and landing areas, consistent and predictable wind patterns, and a friendly and welcoming community.

If you never go in the ocean at the beginning, it’s going to be a surprise with you first meet a wave.

Overcrowded places suck in general, more people, more beginners, more danger. Good example: tarifa in summer.

Universal watersport rule: respect locals.

When you arrive in a new spot, be on the lookout for hazards:

Ideally ask local riders directly.


Golden rule: It’s not about the gear it’s about the rider. A shitty rider on a good kite is still a shitty rider. A good rider on a shitty kite will be annoyed, but he’ll still be good.

You don’t need to change gear every year if you take care of it. Lines should be changed every couple of years as they are more susceptible to wear.

My first kite lasted me 6 years with a couple repairs.

Reasons for selling your gear every year:

In terms of "features" or kite feeling, the truth is, year doesn’t matter much since 2014.

Less innovation more marketing. Except if you’re riding at a high level, you won’t feel the difference in the details.

What matters more is the quality of the materials, the shape of your kite and how you take care of it.

Choosing brands

Most kites come from the same 2-3 Chinese factories.

The quality and features difference is much less that what the kite makers' marketing departments want us to believe.

How you should select a brand:

👉 I personally love the feeling of the Fone Bandit kites, but had numerous quality issues with them over the years. If price wasn’t an issue I would buy only Duotone, as my Duotone gear never had issues.

Kite shapes

image not found


The bar consists of two parts: the control lines and the bar itself. The length of the bar can affect the handling of the kite.

In general, a short bar is better for performing tricks, as it allows for more control and precision over the kite. Shorter bar also give a more direct and immediate response from the kite, which results in faster turns.

On the other hand, a long bar can be better in strong winds, to have more leverage and control over the kite. A long bar can also provide a more comfortable and relaxed kitesurfing experience, as it allows the kitesurfer to keep a greater distance from the kite.

Some bars have adjustable ends so you can go from smaller to bigger.

I only have 1 bar for my whole quiver ()

With longer kite lines, you can generate more power and lift from the kite, which can allow to jump higher. On the other hand, with shorter lines, you have more control and precision over the kite, which can allow me for more precise maneuvers, faster turning speed and easier kiteloops.

It's often better/easier to get bar+kite from the same brand, but not necessary. Most brands today are compatible (you might only need to make a knot to adapt to the female/male ends).

There is two bar types: Y and V types. Today most are Vs.


The more volume & size, the easier it will be to go upwind or ride in low-wind, but the less you can manoeuvre.

Tanks (big volumes) boards will suck as soon as you improve. Not recommended.

Longer board = less manoeuvrability. If you only go in strong wind, a smaller board is better.

👉 I started kiting at young with a 127cm board (very small). As I’m mostly riding in 25+ knots winds, I kept that board for 6 years without issue and still love using it.

Things to look for when buying a kite second-hand

// 👉 Story about bandit lines and valves>


Today most wetsuits won’t last more than 3 years (if you know of a quality brand hit me up). The trick to making them last is to be extra gentle when taking them off, not apply pressure on the seams. This is the first things that break and then water gets it, and then you’re cold.

Getting discounts

Go shopping off-season or at the end of the year, when retailers are often looking to clear out older inventory. You'll be better able to negotiate.

Ask pro/sponsored/shop owners riders in your area for their previous years models (they change every year).

Best deals: find rich people cycling gear every year who don’t ride much (kites in good quality).

Don’t buy used gear from your kiteschool (yes they will try selling to you) as it will have gotten significant shocks and damage. Even if < 1 year old.

New fabrics SLS/Alula

→ TLDR they’re slightly better in the extremes of the wind range and turn faster. If you’re a beginner you won’t feel the difference.

Overpriced imho, don’t buy except if you’re rich or you can have a great deal. Wait a few years and prices will get lower.

image not found

Flying with gear

Clever Tricks to Fly with more Kitesurfing or Surfing Gear

Taking care of the gear

Taking good care of your gear will help it last longer.

General priority rules

IKO poster of the general riding rules

Unspoken rules

Safety and preventing injuries

Do a warm up routine before your sessions to prevent 90% of soft injuries. Especially the neck and the back.

👉 Once in La Guajira, Colombia, I stumbled upon a crazy good, flat spot and decided to rent a kite to hit it. I was so excited I didn't warm up and straight up jumped in the water. After a tough kiteloop reception, I felt a light snap in my neck and didn't stop immediately. Waking up from my ensuing nap, I discovered I couldn't rotate my head anymore without terrible pain. The worse my yet to come: the 3h ride back to the city on an old jeep with dead suspensions. No roads: straight up dirt carnage dangling your head like a wobble. Left me with a terrible torticolli for a few weeks.

Don’t wear boots (if you’re not hardcore wakestyling). You can get nasty injuries at your ankles & knees as when you crash your feets won’t leave the board. Ask any wakeboarder.

Never ever use a board leash, it’s very dangerous. You risk a board recoil. Nasty gnarly stuff. Even the reel leash stuff. Learn to body-drag effectively instead.

If you find yourself stranded at sea with your kite down:

If tangle lines with someone else, usually eject.

Have a line cutter in your harness for really fucked up line tanglements.

Spend time on the beach just flying the kite to improve your handling and intuition. Learn to feel your kite position in the bar.

Prevent kite stalling: run back to restore line tension. Don’t leave your kite at zenith.

Oh and, never make your friends/family try your kite if you’re not a teacher. High probability of injury.

😎 Intermediary

Learning to crash

First jumps

Basic transitions

Basic jump transition

Toeside transition

Backloop transition

Having fun in waves

Waves are frustrating at the beginning when you don’t know how to handle them. They might make you struggle to go upwind and lose your balance.

Once you master them, they become super fun. It adds a whole new dimension to the riding. It’s like a skatepark.

There are different ways to pass a wave:

If you’re caught into a wave:

If your kite fall and gets caught in a wave (itwill happen):

Courtesy rules

Improving posture

You can instantly tell from the posture of a rider what is general level and comfort is.

Things to work on to improve your posture:

👎 Bad posture😎 Good posture

😮‍💨 Going next-level

Progress can be long and frustrating. Don’t give up and keep training, the resulting freedom and sensations are 100 times worth it.

Self launching and landing:

Offshore riding and gusty winds

Common advice is that you avoid going out by off-shore wind.

That being said, I've had my best sessions with pumping 30knots offshore wind.

It crafts beautiful kickers on the waves and those are usually less crowded days.

Precautions to take:

“Feel good” tricks



  1. Do a soft pop off the water by carving a bit upwind
  2. Slowly steer your kite pas 12
  3. If you need more lift, steer faster
  4. Steer had for the downloop at the end of the slide

Backroll Kiteloop

Hand drag

Inverted frontroll

One of my personal favorite. The feeling of this one is so good I can't go on the water without a couple of those. Easily extendable with grabs and foot-offs, and aditional spins.

Board off

Tips to learning tricks


Downloops are essential in going high, to smoothen your landing.

How to downloop: Move your kite to 1pm, then as you start falling down pull your bar the other side to make it loop over you.


🚀 Joining the airforce

Okay we’re finally getting to the meat of the beef. Shit’s starting to get realll fun.

Going highhh

How to maximize height:

Tip: With offshore wind conditions, the best flat water will be the closest to the beach.

Common error: sending the kite further than 12, at 2 or 3. To get maximal vertical thrust, you want the kite at 12.


Kiteloops are intense. You are experiencing free fall and horizontal speed.

Golden rule of kiteloops: once you commit to a loop, go all the way. Starting a loop and aborting in the middle is fatal. I had 2 knockouts to learn that when I was younger and reckless. Knockouts are no joke.

Top players to follow for inspiration

Where to go from there

Well.. We’ve reached the current limits of my kiting, so I cannot really give you more tips. I will keep this updated as I learn more.

Now you can start combining the loops with the board off, inverted front rolls and other spins you’ve learned before. Or you might just feel like diving in another subdiscipline like wakestyling or strapless.