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How to pick a proper kiteboarding location

Best kiteboarding locations

 

Any kiteboarding location needs to offer these basic elements:

Steady, consistent winds.
Wide, open spaces.
Proper launching areas.
Any other extras (accommodation, nightlife, accessibility, local competitions, etc) come as a welcomed bonus.

One of the most important elements a good kiteboarding location must offer is favorable wind conditions. Some of the best kiteboarding locations have steady winds that blow all year long. The thing is that the wind conditions vary a lot from place to place. Even in the same place the wind conditions can vary considerably from time to time (from month to month and even from sunrise to sundown). It is crucial that you can properly asses the wind conditions.

Let’s start with the basics, let’s learn what types of winds are out there and how they are called:

Onshore winds - The wind that blows in towards the shore.
Offshore winds - The wind that blows away from shore.
Sideshore winds - The wind that blows parallel to the shoreline.
Side-onshore winds - The wind that blows parallel to the shoreline and towards the shore (basically a combination of onshore winds and sideshore winds).
Upwind - The direction from which the wind is blowing; into the wind. If you were to move upwind, you would have the wind in your face.
Downwind - The direction towards where the wind is blowing. If you were to move downwind, you would have the wind in your back.

Follow these simple guidelines and you should be able to properly asses if the wind conditions are suitable for kiteboarding or not:

From what direction is the wind blowing? You can determine from where the wind is blowing by looking at a flag (usually there are warning flags displayed), by looking at the vegetation, or by simply sticking out your hand and feeling the direction of the wind (a basic boy scout trick).

Take a look downwind and make sure that the area is clear of things such as rocks, boulders, walls, banks, cliffs, big holes in the sand, logs, dogs, humans, kiters, trees, fences, bushes, and so on. All of these are obstacles that will only get in the way of your kiteboarding fun. Also make sure that the downwind area is large enough to accommodate your needs (large enough for you to drop your kite or large enough to allow you to correct any mistakes that you have made).

Sideshore winds allow you to travel away from and back towards the beach, without fear of getting blown out to sea or back into the launching area. - An angle toward the beach less than 45 degrees can be a favorable wind direction because you can still travel away from and towards the beach. If you drop your kite and have to swim in, the wind will push you slowly toward the shore.

Onshore winds must be avoided because they will constantly push you towards the shore. You will surely end up back on dry land.

Offshore winds are not favorable either. If you get into a predicament or make a mistake (and you will, since you are a novice) you will not be blown back to land, the wind will carry you further out. Another inconvenient is the fact that offshore winds are quite unstable and you will find it hard to control the kite.

Never kiteboard in dangerous situations. In order to maintain a certain level of safety (that will ensure you do not end your day in tears), do the following:

Get the weather forecast for the day. If the weather is not favorable, stay at home.

Determine the speed of the wind and choose a kite size in accordance to that wind speed. You cannot expect to use the same kite in all wind speeds. Every kite is purposefully built to work best in a given wind range. This wind range varies from kite to kite (some work in a wide wind range while others work in a much more limited wind range).

Learn the emergency hand signals. They will come in handy when you want to communicate with other kiteboarders or when you are in a predicament and need assistance.

Learn self rescue techniques and know how to properly use them.

Keep in mind that most kiteboarding accidents do not occur on water, they occur on land. Over a flat area the wind will blow horizontally, but when it hits an obstacle it will change direction (similar to how water behaves – over an even surface it will flow smoothly, but when there is an obstacle underneath it, a disturbance occurs). This is exactly what happens when the wind hits the sand and if you are not careful the wind could pick you up and throw you around.