Tips for Kiteboarding in Winter - That Might Save Your Life!

With winter storm fronts beginning to brew off both coasts of Australia, we were reminded of an exceptional piece written by one of Australia’s longest practicing, and most knowledgable instructors, Darren Marshall from AKS. This revised how-to is based on his original article which can be found here, complete with forum comments attesting to its truthful nature!

Tips for kiteboarding in winter, that might just save your life.

1: Cold Wind has more power than hot wind.
Without getting into the nitty gritty, cold air is more dense than hot air, and so it delivers more power to your kite for a given wind strength. 25 Knots in summer, you can probably get away with your 12m. 25 knots in winter might require an 8m.

2: Frontal Winds are GUSTY.
Expect wind strength to be 50% more than the average wind, and expect that strength to vary significantly. While the wind might stay strong for several days at a time, be on the lookout for squalls and storms, these can easily double the wind strength, or even turn the wind around 180 degrees to blow from the other way! You can tell one is approaching by the dark, low cloud upwind of where you’re kiting, usually with a solid line of rain below.

3: Land your kite early.
If you see a front/squall approaching, head into the beach before it gets to you. Not ‘one last run’, make this your final approach to the beach. If you have left it too late, drop your kite onto the water and hit your safety while close to the beach.

4: Beware of sloping terrain.
Ever watched a paraglider soaring along the beach? Your kite can easily turn you into one, with a strong squall and the right wind angle. If the terrain slopes up from the beach, then be wary of flying the kite at zenith.

5: Always use a leash, and never ride on suicide.
In winds like you’ll experience in Winter, not many kiters can unhook, so why ride on suicide? Make sure you set your leash up so it’s connected as the manufacturer intended, and if you think you should be hitting your quick release – it’s time to hit it. Don’t be afraid of a little tangle, it’s better than a little drowning!

6: Know your limits.
Sometimes it’s best to watch the action from the beach. If it’s your first season, be very wary of heading out in Winter. Talk to the locals, see what they’re riding, and if you’re not 100% confident – don’t launch.

7: Inspect your equipment.
Strong winds put extra strain on equipment, so before you launch, give it all a good check over. Pay particular attention to lines, pulleys, bridles and little tears in your kites canopy. All of which can turn ugly in a heartbeat.


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