My New Hobby: Harnessing the Wind and Riding a Wakeboard

by Mike on August 14, 2015

One of the things I wanted to do while I’m traveling the world is learn a new skill.  I didn’t know exactly what that would entail, but I figured I would eventually come across it.  Learning a new language would have been an easy first choice so I was hesitant to learn a new language and cross off the “learn new skill” from the list.

Kite boarding in Zanzibar

Kite boarding in Zanzibar

When I spent the better part of a month in Fiji, I discovered kite boarding and took a week long lesson from an Australian bloke running a resort in the town of Rakiraki located in the Northeast corner of Fiji.  When I mentioned kite boarding to a few folks, they asked: “what is kiteboarding?”

WHAT IS KITE BOARDING?

Kite boarding is essentially wakeboarding but instead of having a motor boat pulling you, you’re using the wind harnessed from a kite to pull you along.  Needless to say, the ability to fly a kite is essential to kite boarding.  I’d say it makes up 70% of the skill required to kite board.  The rest is comprised of wakeboarding skills in the way of board control.

Preparing to kite board in Zanzibar

Preparing to kite board in Zanzibar

Setting up to kite board in Zanzibar

Setting up to kite board in Zanzibar

Since wind is required, locations with consistent wind rather than gusty wind with little surf make for prime locations for beginners. I was very fortunate I learned in flat-water surface with an experienced instructor.  With that said, not all beach destinations are conducive to kite boarding.  If you want to learn, do a little research to see if there’s a certified kite boarding instructor operating there.

HOW TO QUICKLY PICK UP THE SKILL

Flying the kite is the most challenging part and requires instruction.  Wake boarding on the other hand can be picked up fairly quickly except that it cost money either in the form of owning a boat or hiring all the personnel and equipment.

When I was in Mauritius, the resort I stayed at offered wake boarding or water skiing as a complimentary water activity between 10am to 1pm.  Guess, what I did all morning?

Wake Boarding in Mauritius

Wake Boarding in Mauritius

Board control is important because if you can pick up the skill of standing up on a wakeboard when a boat is pulling you, this can definitely translate to kite boarding.  Except in kite boarding, the pull is generated from the kite and it all comes down to flying the kite.

THE EQUIPMENT REQUIRED

Kite – The size depends on wind conditions and weight of the person.  Typically a kite boarding has two kites to accommodate a range of wind conditions. The most common configuration is to have a 7-meter and a 9-meter kite.

10 meter star kite

My 10 meter kite

Board – The size and type depend on the skill level.  A beginner would have a larger twin-tip board to make it easier to stand up on and to ride up wind.

Harness – This is the piece of equipment that is worn around your waist and where the kite attaches.

Wetsuit – This is needed in colder waters.  I used one part of the week when I was learning in Fiji.

Bar – This is where the lines of the kite attaches to and angle on the bar steers the kite.

MORE PRACTICE TIME

I recently bought two kites(7m and a 9m) and all the equipment needed to kite board.  I have a trip planned to Cape Town, South Africa, specifically Langebaan to spend about 4 weeks there to get some riding time in. Langebaan is a popular location to kite surf because the surf is flatter and the wind is consistent making it ideal for beginners.

I think with the lessons I took in Fiji and the practice time I had in Zanzibar I just need my own equipment and practice what I’ve learned.

As my Australian instructor would say: “fly the kite.”  That’s all there is to it.

Related posts:

Kite Surfing in the Dominican Republic

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