Ever wanted to walk on water? The closest we have come to defying gravity against the tides of the ocean is kitesurfing. With kitesurfing, you learn to ride waves and push yourself to the edge of extreme sports.
Kitesurfing, also known as Kiteboarding, is an extreme sport that combines aspects of both sailing and surfing. In this, the riders use a directional surfboard and a controllable sail-like kite which harnesses the power of the wind to propel the kiteboarder across the water. This sport thus attracts wave riding and wind speeding freaks alike.
At first glance, this extreme sport appears difficult but don’t you get discouraged – the reward lies in the challenge! Relenting yourself to the wind and the sea is a deeply enriching experience. Kitesurfing is very versatile; it allows you, the kitesurfer, the freedom to create riding styles according to your creative imagination.
India ranks among the best locations for kitesurfing owing to its long coastline, especially the east coast which receives strong and steady winds throughout the year. Every year, more and more people are becoming kitesurfing enthusiasts as kitesurfing slowly takes roots in India.
In the words of Carolina, a kitesurfer and author of KiteSirens, “Learning to kitesurf has been a bitter-sweet experience where I have discovered different aspects of myself, including character strengths and weaknesses that I had not recognized previously in my everyday life. Kiting is not just a sport, it’s a lifestyle”.
Course & Experience
India’s massive coastline and trade winds from all three sides of the peninsula offer a wide range of spots ideal for this sport.
The best place to find good and strong winds for Kitesurfing in India is on the east coast, more specifically between India and Sri Lanka.it is possible to practice kitesurfing in a lot of states like Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Goa, and Kerala.
Kitesurfing season varies from state to state
Goa and Maharashtra: September to May
Gujarat: October to February
Tamil Nadu: Summer season- April to September ; Winter season- December to March
You can learn kitesurfing and practice it in the following places in India
Goa- A pocket-sized paradise- hosts the highest numbers of adventure travelers for water sports in India. With pristine beaches and white water sea waves, Goa has consistent wind force post the rainy season. This makes it highly favorable for Kitesurfing and other water sports in Goa.
Goa has beaches which are well tuned for the sport with a few kite schools and a surf shop as well. Mondego Bay is a very nice location at Morjim beach which is good for land kiting as well. You may even head out to Arambol or Calangute to Kiteboard.
Strong and steady winds can be found along the island town of Rameshwaram throughout the year. This place is a well-kept secret and one of the best kitesurfing spots in India. This spot is just 30km from the bay of Kalpitiya in Sri Lanka- a very famous sport for kitesurfing.
It does not rain in Rameshwaram from June to September, thus skies are blue and water so clear that you wouldn’t know where the sky ends and the sea begins. It is the perfect place for newbies who want to try their hand at Kitesurfing and pro-amateurs who want to learn the advanced skills of maneuvering and jumps on a kite board. Check out the Courses and experience section for more details.
Sports & Events
The art of kitesurfing goes way back to the thirteenth century when kite sails were used by people for the propulsion of carts. The first man-lifting kite was developed in 1903 by aviation pioneer Samuel Cody who then succeeded in crossing the English Channel in a small collapsible canvas boat powered by a kite.
Kitesurfing as an extreme sport is very young. The sport really blew up during the 2000s with the first Kitesurfing event, which took place on Maui in Hawaii. Today kitesurfing has its own world championships every year. There were petitions filed worldwide to include kitesurfing in the Olympics which was acknowledged and there is a good chance that it will be included in the Paris 2024 Olympics.
One extremely important technique in kite surfing is learning to control the kite by the wind window. Kites fly within the wind window which has 3 zones- neutral, intermediate, and power zone.
Some of the common styles used in kitesurfing are freeride and freestyle- both of them essentially are free format and the rider can ride as they like, wave-riding which involves riding a big surf with a board, jumping which is an aerial trick and involves big air jumps, wakeskate also involves aerial tricks with a wakeboard, and speed racing which is for records and speed events. Most styles are used only for recreation. Competitions usually involve freestyle, course racing, and speed racing styles.
All you need is persistence and drive and you will make rapid progress and perfect the sport. After that, you can even enjoy the thrill of making jumps as high as 50-60 feet in the air. With the constant evolution and development of kitesurfing equipment and techniques, the future of kitesurfing as a competitive sport seems very bright.
England’s Aaron Hadlow and Gisela Pulido are the two most famous names in kitesurfing. Hadlow is a world champion and has won the Pro Kiteboard Rider’s Association (PKRA) competition five times. He most recently won the Redbull King of the Air competition in Cape Town South Africa in 2015 and 2016. Pulido is the youngest world champion and has won the World Champion title 10 times.
Competitions and Festivals
Kitesurfing has recently been approved as one of the 10 sailing sports in the Olympics and will make its debut in the Summer Olympic in Marseille at Paris 2024. It is quickly paving its way as a popular competitive sport.
Kitesurfing in India is still being recognized. The first Kitesurfing competition was organised by Red Bull Quila surf in Mandwa and Murud-Janjira. 40 kite surfers from across India took to the sea at Mandwa. Talks about more competitions to be organised in the coming years are on.
There are competitions being organised at local levels, but there is still a long way to go for this extreme sport.
The kitesurfing Armada festival in UK is Europe’s biggest kitesurfing event. It is a weekend of kitesurfing, live music, entertainment, family activities, fundraising, camping and more. Aaron Hadlow and Gisela Pulido are few of the pros who are seen riding in this festival.
When you practice kitesurfing in India or anwhere else your first commands to be followed are:
Proper instructor and training:
A good kitesurfing lesson will teach you all the basics and the precautionary measures. Also they will teach you how to handle the kite and other equipment. Take a few kitesurfing lessons with an IKO qualified kitesurfing instructor ( check the courses and experience page for more) or have an experienced person with you at the time of kitesurfing is a must. Learning to kitesurf itself is a very enjoyable activity.
Be well informed and cautious:
Analyze your spot of kitesurfing: the people on the spot, potential dangers for you and the others, your equipment, and the weather. Adapt the size of your kite depending on the wind, if the weather conditions are too strong, be humble and careful, you can try kitesurfing another day. Don’t go too far from the shore.
Always check the weather forecast and the wind speed in advance. It is the most crucial step in kitesurfing. Do not kite in offshore or cross-offshore winds unless you are experienced and have a boat back up.
Check your equipment
Maintain your gear and learn the proper way to use it. Learn how to use the bar controls, including safety releases, leash attachment points, and power/depower adjustment.
Be attentive to the others:
Be respectful of others on the beach and don’t compromise the safety of innocent beachgoers. If somebody seems to be in trouble, don’t hesitate to give them assistance.
Respect the environment:
Don’t throw your wastes on the spot. Don’t hesitate to pick up the litter, for the pleasure of riders and the environment. Respecting nature is the foremost principle of any extreme sport.
You have to be fit for Kitesurfing. Of course, you must have a decent physical condition because don’t forget that it is an extreme sport. There is a misconception that you need a lot of upper body street to do kitesurfing but that’s not true as most of the weight is distributed to your waist through a harness. Just need to be aware of your physical limits. You will need to be physically adapted to your intensity of practice.
Also, it’s essential to know how to swim. In case of any problem, being able to swim would help immensely.
Kitesurfing is one of the most convenient wind sports as the equipment is very easy to carry and it is relatively cheap.In order to practice Kitesurfing, you will need the following set of kitesurfing equipment:
The power kite aims to provide traction which allows you to move. Traction kites have a surface area between 32 sq. Ft. and 215 sq. Ft. (depending on the wind strength and of the rider’s weight). The technology of kitesurfing kites has come a long way.
There are two types of the kite:
Leading edge inflatable kites
Inflatable kites are the bread and butter of Kitesurfing.The leading edge and struts inflate to give a solid kite canopy and responsive flight. A kite with an inflatable plastic tube in the front edge which allows it to float once dropped in the water and give it its shape (the inflatable bladder must be inflated at the beginning of the session. It takes approximately 5 minutes). It’s the most popular type of power kite because of the easier relaunch and direct response.
It’s a kite with an air pocket and inlet valves to give the arc-shape to the kite. This kind of kite is considered inconvenient and thus rarely used.
These lines link the control bar to the kite. They measure between 10 and 30 meters. In general, there are four lines: two to control the steering of the kite, and two to transmit the traction of the kite.
It’s a composite bar attached to the kite via the lines. It is used by the rider to control his kite and in turn control his power, speed, and direction. Don’t worry about losing your bar as it is lighter than water and hence floats.
This piece of equipment goes around the waist and will have a hook in the front that the kite connects to. It transfers the energy to the kite to the waist and is very important for safety. An ill-fitting harness can be very dangerous and if not highly uncomfortable. The harness is of two types- seat and waist.
A board must be used to glide across the waters. It’s a board often with foot straps which allow you to fix your feet to it. Most boards used, especially when beginning, are called twin-tip boards. These also boards have straps that hold the feet firm to the board but for the safety of beginners, they are easily slipped in and out of to start or stop riding.
All these are essential, if you want to practice Kitesurfing safely they are highly recommended.
- SAFETY HOOK KNIFE
If you have a problem with your flying lines (ex: tangled lines), you must have something to cut it and release the kite. That’s the role of a safety knife- to cut the lines to help you in such situations.
We never know where your kite can carry you so it’s always safer to wear a helmet and protect your head in dangerous situations.
- PERSONAL FLOATATION DEVICE
A personal floatation device is helpful when in deep waters as you may get tired and risk sinking. A light life jacket is not a burden and will not hold you back in any way while potentially saving your life.