a Blog About Adventure Travel for Kite-Surfing and Cycling with a Custom Built Van
From Van to Water: Kite Session Preparations
From Van to Water: Kite Session Preparations

From Van to Water: Kite Session Preparations

From Van to Water: Kite Session Preparations

How do you prepare for your kite sessions? Can you drive right out onto the beach and set-up directly from your vehicle? Or do you have to trek a half mile over loose sand with all of your gear to get to your favorite kite spot? What preparations, habits, and routines do you have that make for a better kite session?

A kite session is awesome when you are prepared. Developing a kite session preparation routine helps to make every session great. This blog post is all about how I get ready to kiteboard and what I do before I launch my kite.

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The Kite Spot

Of course all of the questions above depend on the nature and circumstances of your kite spot. Although being able to drive up close to a given kite spot has some perks for set-up, the harder to reach places can be less busy and just as beautiful.

For us it seems like we are always using our custom built van to travel long distances and explore new kite spots. As a result, we spend a lot of time learning the area and talking to local kiters before we get out onto the water.  

The kite spot you choose probably dictates how you prepare for your kite session and what is in your kite/board quiver [for example, if it is shallow water, you may not be bringing a foil].

Preparing to kite: Checking out the wind and water
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Kite Session Preparations

A big part of preparing for a kite session for me is mental. The very first thing I do before kiting is to walk the beach without any gear but with a wind meter in hand. I look for launch/landing spots clear of obstacles and beach walkers. Walking a little further down the beach to get away from shell collectors never hurts, since most serious kiteboarding accidents happen during launching and landing a kite. 

Before setting all of my kite gear up I also tend to wade into the water. This gives me an idea of what the current is doing and what the true water temperature is.

Kite Session Preparations
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My Ten Step Kite Session Prep

  1. Walk the beach
  2. Read the wind
  3. Put on a wetsuit and safety gear
  4. Wade into the water
  5. Lay out your gear
  6. Pump up the kite
  7. Walk out your lines
  8. Double check your lines
  9. Check my blood sugar and have a snack (for type-1 diabetics)
  10. Safely launch the kite with a kite friend

Take Your Time Kiteboarding

For me kiteboarding is about taking your time. Taking your time, also know as setting up your kite gear, figuring out what the wind is doing, relaxing, having fun hanging out on the beach and talking to other kiters, etc. Being the first one on the water is not always the best thing, sometimes you are the first one to find out that you picked the wrong kite size for the wind that day. Just take your time setting up and have a good kite session.

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My Kite Session Routines

The following routines and habits help me get out onto the water past any nerves and let the muscle memory take over. Once that happens the fun on the water can begin.

Use a wind meter!

  • Apps and forecasts are great, but choosing the correct kite size to ride with is a lot easier when you know what the wind is doing in real time. A wind meter is a good investment.

Take at least two kites and/or two boards!

  • If the wind or conditions change you can switch boards or kites pretty quickly.
  • This gives you a huge wind range to work with. If the wind really picks up you can switch from a foil board or surfboard to the twin-tip.

Always take a sand bag!

This helps keep your kite safely in place while you set up the lines. Your kite buddy doesn’t have to sit on the kite while you are getting the rest of your gear ready.

Wear safety gear.

  • Helmets are cool!!!
  • In addition to keeping you warm, wetsuits can help protect you from the elements and add extra flotation.
  • Life jackets and impact vests help in deep water relaunches or if you have to swim back to shore. They also add extra padding when trying new tricks and taking hard falls.
  • Protect your feet! Wear wetsuit booties.

Always double check your lines and bridle connections!

  • Normally, after pumping the kite up and using a sand bag to keep it in place, I set-up my lines downwind of the kite. I’m not into hot launches.
  • Usually if it is crowded or small launch spot, I prefer short lines. I use the standard 22M lines that come with the bar.

Double check your kite leash attachment and harness straps.

  • Use a short kite leash in the beginning that is in an easy to reach spot on your harness, preferably in the front.
  • Long kite leashes are great for unhooked free-style handle passes, but can get in the way if you always ride hooked in.
  • Never ride without a kite leash!

Don’t rush setting up your kite gear!

  • As mentioned earlier setting up your kite gear in haste can lead to bad results, unsafe kite launches and/or a shortened session.

The Kite Launch Itself

Before launching and landing a kite, explain to your kite launch buddy what you are going to do before you do it. Especially if they are a non-kiter. Communication often breaks down in loud windy environments. Learn and use the IKO hand-signals!

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Launch the kite towards the water if possible.

Keep the kite over the water while you are getting your board together, that way you are aimed toward a more forgiving and relatively soft surface (you know… WATER). A lot of this depends on the nature, conditions, and space available at your local kite spot and the willingness of your kite buddy to get wet.

Launching over land or towards land usually means more obstacles, beach goers, and hard surfaces to crash into if something bad happens like unexpected gusts or a sudden increase in wind.

Caution with 12 o’clock. Try to avoid simply keeping the kite at 12 o’clock for extended periods of time while on dry land for the same reasons. The natural tendency is to let the kite fly on autopilot at 12 o’clock, but the wind is often more turbulent closer to or near dry land. You want to avoid getting lofted up by a giant gust of wind on land.

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Kite with Good Judgment

Use good judgment out there and always refer to the IKO for best practices. Check out the International Kiteboarding Organization (IKO) online for more in depth tips. Also, sign-up for a kite lesson at your nearest kite school if you have never been kiteboarding and practice on an open beach with a trainer kite/or undersized inflatable kite to get a good feel for flying the kite.

Kite Dog!
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From Van to Water

Hopefully these kite preparations and routines help you on your next kite session. You can never predict what Mother Nature will throw at you, but you can be prepared and ready when the wind picks up.

Let me know what you think in the comments below. Thanks for reading. See you on the water! ~KiteBikeVan

Prepared for a great kitesurfing session
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Kite Session Secret Recipe

  • 3 Cups Good Kite Habits +
  • 2 Tablespoons Kite Gear Prep +
  • 1 Cup Stoke +
  • 100% Kite Safety

= GREAT KITE SESSIONS, just add water, over 15-knots of wind, and mix steadily for at least 1-hour.

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