Are you interested in learning how to kitesurf? Kiting is possible on snow or on water and allows you to explore waves, mountains, coastlines and nature by using the power of the wind. Here is all you need to know to become a kiter.
Is kiting for me?
Kiting is a great activity for everyone who loves to be out in nature, whether you are 7 or 70 years. You don’t need any skills to learn to kite, but it helps if you have basic skiing or snowboarding experience and like water and/or snow.
How fit do I need to be to kite?
Many people believe that kiting requires great fitness and strength, but understanding the technique is more important. If you are in shape to swim or ski, you will also be able to kite 🙂 The kite is connected to a waist- or seat harness and you use your arms to steer. You don’t use any strength, but understanding how the wind and the kite work together might take some time. It is almost like riding a bike: It is easy once you understand how it works, and the feeling is amazing!
Is kiting a dangerous and “extreme” sport?
Kiting is generally a safe sport, as long as you start with a kite course to learn about the equipment, the safety and to respect the weather. You can choose a peaceful way of kiting focusing on adventures, the social aspects and nature: Kiting in sunny weather and fresh powder in the winter – and along beautiful beaches during summer. Most kiters love to kite back and forth, to use the kite as a lift to reach mountain tops or to go on expeditions in the mountains or along the coast. Experienced kiters who like speed and adrenaline can take kiting to the next level by adding big jumps, rotations, high speeds and kiting in waves. Many kiting accidents are caused by the wrong use of equipment and misjudgements of weather and wind.
If you would like to learn how to kite, it is important to start with a beginner kite course. During such a kite course you will learn how to avoid dangerous situations and also how to handle them if they occur, for example if there is a sudden change in the weather or if the kite is not flying normally.
Is there only teenagers at kite courses and kite camps?
The average age at our courses and camps is 33 years. We have taught 7-year old children in company with their parents and teenagers. However, our typical visitor is a wide range of fun people between 20s- and 50s. Kiting is a social activity with a mix of wonderful people who share the same passion.
What equipment do I need to kite?
If you want to start snowkiting you need a kite, a harness and the same gear that you would use alpine skiing or snowboarding. Read our guide to learn more about choosing the right skis for snowkiting. Kiting on water also requires a kiteboard and a wetsuit if you are kiting in cold water. We also recommend using a helmet and an impact west.
What kite size should I buy?
Kite sizes range from 5 to 17 meters and the size is decided by the rider weight and the wind conditions. We recommend starting with a bigger kite (a 10 meter for girls and a 12 meter for guys) to kite on sunny days with constant wind. You need a smaller kite if you want to kite in strong winds and rough weather. Small kites are faster, and can be more challenging to control.
What is the price to start with kiting?
If you want to learn how to kite you usually only need one kite course, especially on snow. The price for a kite course is usually 250 – 400 euros. The wind is free, so you only need a kite, harness and a board to be ready to go. You can buy a complete used starter pack, including kite, board and harness to 1000-2000 euros. The kite schools provide the gear when you are taking lessons.
Do I need different kites on snow and water?
Most kiters use the same kite on snow and water, an inflatable “tube kite”. You need a pump to inflate the kite with air before each kite session. Some dedicated snowkiters use “foil kites”. They are lighter, air inflated and based on the design of a parafoil. There are also foil models that can be used on water.
What will I learn during the kite course?
If you want to learn how to kite, one weekend course is normally enough, especially on snow. We start Friday night with introduction and theory about kiting, equipment, safety, wind and weather. We spend Saturday and Sunday outside to learn the practical part of snowkiting. You learn to fly kites, and exercises to prepare you for kiting with skis or snowboard. You also learn starting and landing kites, turns, how to kite back and forward, safety and much more. We can assure that you will be addicted to the feeling of kiting when you are riding on your skis or snowboard among the beautiful mountains at Haukeliseter!
Kite courses on water starts on the beach with a small kite. Once you are confident with the kite you will learn to use its power to pull you in the water without the board. This is called “body dragging” and is a lot of fun! Next step is combining your kite flying skills with the board. A big board floats better and is easier to start with. This part can be frustrating in the beginning, especially when your board is floating one way and the kite is crashed into the water and pulls you in the opposite direction. But keep on trying! This is a part of the steps to become a kiter, and we promise that you will have full control (and lots of fun) after some practice 🙂
What wind is best for kiting?
The ideal conditions for kiting is constant and stable wind found at the open mountain plateaus or on the coast where the wind enters the beach from the open sea. The ideal conditions for average kiters is 15-20 knots. It is more difficult to steer the kite in light wind. Strong wind, 25 knots or more, is usually more gusty and unstable. You need experience and smaller kites to ride in these conditions.
We do not recommend kiting on fields or lakes in the lowlands. As a beginner you need to make sure to be in an open area when launching and steering the kite, to avoid crashing the kite (or yourself) into a tree or a rock in case of a sudden gust or any other unwanted movement of the kite.
Where is the best place to kite?
There are many fantastic kite places worldwide, and the best location depends on the month you plan to travel. Here is a kite calendar with our favourites:
September – December: Egypt and Brazil.
Learn to kite this winter! We have kite courses at Haukeliseter in Norway each weekend from January until May. Read more.
Or what about joining us in tropical Zanzibar? The season is coming up here as well!
Important words to learn kiting
Wind window – The 120-180 degree arc of the sky downwind of the rider in which the kite can be flown. To describe where the kite is in the wind window, we use the segments like a clock: Stand with your back to the wind, extend your arms out to both sides and imagine that your arms are the arms of a clock. Left hand straight out is 9 o ́clock while right arm will be pointed at 3 o ́clock. Directly above the head is 12 o ́clock.
Neutral zone – The outer edge of the wind window, from 9 to 3 o ́clock. In good winds, the kite can remain in stationary flight in this zone, producing little or no power. This is where we want to start and land the kite.
Power zone – The area in the sky where the kite generates the most pull. This is the area right in front of the rider where your kite catches the most wind.
Zenith – The location in the wind window directly over the kiter’s head (12 o’clock). This is the neutral position where kitesurfers can place the kite to stop moving or prior to movement.
Launching – To start the kite. We recommend an assisted launch, meaning that another rider helps you to hold the kite.
Leash – A safety leash connecting the kiter to the kite and used to keep the kite from flying away when the kite is released.
Harness – A belt that the kiter wears around the waist with a hook that connects the rider to the kite.
Tapping on the head – Sign to other kiter to ask for assistance to land the kite.
Control bar – A steering bar with four 20-27 meter long lines connected to the kite.
Safety line – The line that the rider connects the leash to. Allows you to deactivate the kite at any moment.
Chicken loop – Loop on the control bar that connects the kiter to the harness hook.
Donkey dick/Chicken finger – A hard rubber “finger” attached to the chicken loop that the rider feeds through the harness hook to prevent unhooking the kite.
Release – Safety system that allows the rider to release from the kite or the leash.
Self rescue – A technique where the rider uses a downed kite to assist swimming back to shore.
Unhooked – To describe that the rider is not connected to the harness but holding the full force of the kite with her arms.
Old school – High jumps, rotations and impressive maneuvers like taking the board off (and on again) in the air
Wake style – When the kiter practice the same tricks that they do in wakeboarding.
Backroll – A backwards 360 rotation – the rider rotates in the same direction as she is riding. The easiest rotation to begin with.
Frontroll – A frontwards 360 rotation.