Learning to Kiteboard

paullearningSome of the questions often asked about kiteboarding are,  How do I learn to kiteboard? Why do I need to take lessons? Why can’t I just start doing it? Can I learn on the lakes? Kiteboarding is not that simple and can be difficult to learn if you don’t understand the kite, the power zone, how to get up on the board, how to ride, ride upwind and more. So with all that and more, why would you not take lessons?

I started kiteboarding in 1999-2000 after seeing it on the beach while I was on vacation. I had never seen the sport before, nor anyone I knew had ever heard of kiteboarding at that time. There where no kite shops or lessons available and I lived near Austin, TX  about 3 hours from the beach. Location matters in learning this sport. I learned without lessons to ride and jump at Canyon Lake, TX  with gusty winds, sketchy launch sites and deep water. When my wife wanted to start learning to kiteboard, I did not want her to go through the pain and struggle I experienced, so she went to the first kiteboarding clinic offered in Corpus Christi, TX.  I learned so much by watching her lesson that I improved my riding that day and my wife was also up and riding before the weekend was over. It had taken me almost 2 years to go upwind at Canyon Lake however my wife learned quickly at the coast using the tips and tricks that personal lessons and instructors offered.

Kiteboarding equipment and safety gear have improved tremendously and so has the  learning curve. Although the sport and gear have advanced , the beginning kiteboarder can greatly benefit from lessons and working with an instructor. I wish I had taken kiteboarding lessons  and in my experience, riding on the lakes was at times, fun and exciting, however learning on the lakes was very difficult and, at times, dangerous. I agree with Gregory from ESD (Extreme Sports Dallas) “learn where you intend to most frequently kite”.

Below are the questions most asked when beginning to kiteboard and answered by kiteboarding instructors across the state. Sara Murphy 361-779-5510,  Tom Masterson 361kite.com 361-742-7966,  Gregory@esd extremesportsdalls.com 214-494-9356,  Jamie Ellwood Third Coast Kitesurfing 361-563-4640 and Brent Reagan Prokitesurf 361-883-1473.

How should I learn?

 My buddy who kites: Kiteboarding can be a very extreme sport, so it is imperative to learn from a legitimate school/lesson center because Safety is so important in this sport. The newer gear has so many advanced safety features compared to years ago, but a true legitimate school will have up-to-date gear and they will focus on safety as part of the teaching before just throwing you into the water with a huge power source attached to you.  A buddy may be a good kiteboarder, but it does not mean he will be as detailed and cautious with you as a Certified Instructor, and it’s very likely he will not ensure you truly grasp every detail of safety and technique. He doesn’t want to sit there with you for 5 hours; he wants to go ride! And definitely, please don’t teach yourself. Brent Reagan.

I strongly recommend taking a lesson from a certified and professional instructor or school. The reason for this is because certified instructors have completed a certification course on how to teach students the sport safely. Certified instructors also teach with a safe and effective lesson plan in place. This means if a student takes a class with one certified school they can finish learning with another school and pick up right where they left off.  Jamie Ellwood.

We do recommend that beginning students get at least 3 to 5 hours of instruction time before they go off on their own, most students take between 5 to 10 hours before they could be considered an independent beginner, while they may not have “mastered” kiteboarding, they can control the kite, can launch/land safely and work their skills independent of supervision. Tom Masterson.

From an instructor: This is the best way to learn, instructors work hard to get you going as fast and safe as possible, each student is different and learns in their own way. Sara Murphy.

or on my own: This is not recommended. Learning to kiteboard is dangerous for you and others. You will not learn faster and you will destroy your gear. If you do have an accident,  you are responsible for any damage you cause. Kitesurfing Texas.

Where should I go to learn?

The coast or the lakes: If possible, learn where you intend to most frequently kite. Coastal breezes tend to be steadier and shallow bays tend to provide less chop, but neither do much to prepare you for gusty inland conditions and deep water lakes. Gregory@esd. 

Some students can’t make the trip all the way to the coast due to time constraints and/or cost. That being said, learning can be achieved on lakes with boat support. Jamie Ellwood.

We recommend learning in the most consistent and safest conditions possible, which will allow for quick progression, lakes and smaller bodies of water are not ideal for learning, and students will need special skill sets to be able to kite safely, such as deep water rescue, and  body drag, etc. Tom Masterson.

There are many areas where a lake is your only even semi-local option (like DFW area) and so it can be worth it to learn there because it will be your local spot. This just means a possibly slower learning curve. If you can make it to the coast, though, your learning environment is more ideal which simply means you will learn much more much faster without the extra hassles to watch out for.Brent Reagan .

What should I expect to learn from my first lesson?

Definitely most Certified Instructors whether IKO or PASA will start with a “ground school” type session that then progresses into the water. The ground school section is intended to ensure you know how to fly a trainer kite and can control it with power. Plus you will understand many basics like where is the wind window, proper landing and launching direction and technique, proper rigging and walking your lines (and general kite setup), how to operate all the safety systems on the kite, and the basics of what will happen in the water. Some first lessons end there. Others are a bit longer and will then proceed to the water without the board where you learn to fly the large inflatable kites. This gives you real experience with the greater power of the large kites so that you can learn about depowering the kite, body-dragging, water relaunch, self-rescue techniques, and getting the initial power-strokes to get started. Brent Reagan.

Depends on if it’s a land or water lesson, or a combination of both, you should learn set up, basic launching and landing, and basic wind & safety knowledge, you should also be able to work the safety system on land, and in a demonstration on the water , after learning the Kite control skills you move to putting the board and kite together, most people at the end of a three hour lesson with us are usually getting their first starts or their very first short rides. Tom Masterson.

Lessons speed your progression, immeasurably increase your safety and save many hours of frustration, but unless you take a lot of lessons, you’ll still need to get lots of board time to master riding upwind and eventually jumping. Gregory@esd.

The first lesson is typically three hours.  We concentrate on land with a trainer kite learning the wind window and safely launching and landing the kite. Next, we move into the water with an inflatable kite. During the second hour we concentrate on relaunching the kite, body dragging, and utilizing the safety systems of the kite. The third hour we add the board and work on body position and riding. All of these times are approximate depending on the students experience and natural ability. Jamie Ellwood.

How long will it take to learn?

Depends on your experience, time and resources really, it’s all about getting consistent water time, and getting a solid foundation to start off from. Tom Masterson.

Typically, at our school, we get students to the board and starting to ride within three hours. That being said, everyone learns at a different pace. Jamie Ellwood.

You should expect it to vary from person to person. Someone who has many hours of kite flying experience plus board skills from skateboarding, snowboarding, wakeboarding, surfing, etc. will obviously pick it up much faster than someone who has never done board sports and only flown a trainer kite for a small amount of time. In our experience, it takes an average of typically 5-6 hours of instruction to actually be riding to a point you can practice on your own (maybe with supervision). Brent Reagan.

All the fundamentals can usually be taught in as little as 6 hours – but the time required to ride upwind and eventually begin jumping varies greatly from student to student. Gregory@esd.

2-3 lessons is average. It also depends on conditions and gear and if you love it, you will make time for it. Sara Murphy.

What can I do to learn faster?

You can fly a small trainer kite on land and/or try one of the many cable parks here in Texas to learn some basic board skills. Tom Masterson.

Formal lessons are the single best thing you can do to flatten the learning curve and speed your progression. Gregory@esd.

Flying a trainer kite before the lesson helps tremendously. Practicing before the lesson enables the student to move faster to the board instead of having to learn how to fly a kite during the lesson.  Jamie Ellwood.

TAKE A LESSON WITH A CERTIFIED LESSON CENTER. You will learn exponentially faster getting a true lesson with a certified instructor from a legitimate school or lesson center because they will make sure you understand the gear and safety and know how to judge the wind and your riding capabilities before letting you loose. Brent Reagan.

What gear will I need to start kiting?

I recommend buying a trainer kite before the lesson to practice with. Water shoes or surf booties are also recommended. All other equipment is provided during the lesson. Jamie Ellwood.

We recommend that you don’t buy actual kiteboarding gear for the water prior to a lesson, as it’s very possible to get the wrong gear when you don’t know enough about it yet. It is highly recommended, however, to spend time with a trainer kite before a lesson, so whether you buy one or can borrow or rent one, you should fly a trainer first. Brent Reagan.

Most schools provide gear and I’d recommend not buying anything at all until you’ve at least taken a ground school to make sure kiteboarding is right for you. Gregory@esd.

We provide new and modern gear for all the lessons, we do recommend water shoes to protect your feet as you’re walking around. Tom Masterson.

You won’t need any equipment we have all the gear, only booties, sunblock, sun glasses and water. Sara Murphy.

How much do lessons cost?

Prices range from $300 on average for 3 hours to $750 depending on location and amount of support needed. Kitesurfing Texas recommends taking kiteboarding lessons and riding with a safety system for your kite to help in the event of an accident to you or someone else.


Kite boarders hope to keep jumping at Lake Ray Hubbard

As Bayside develops, water sports enthusiasts seek to preserve water access..

With his kite board and Lake Ray Hubbard’s winds, Fredric Jagu loves jumping higher than a small building and seeing reactions of patrons dining at Bass Pro Shop.

“We wave at the people at the restaurant,” said the Frenchman, who now lives in Richardson after moving to Texas three years ago.

“It’s nature. It’s what we love.”

– Fredric Jagu, a kite boarder from Richardson


Jagu looked like he had just come from the lake when he showed up wearing shorts over his wetsuit earlier this week at City Hall extolling the benefits of the being on the water.

“There’s no smell of gas,” he said. “It’s nature. It’s what we love.”

He was joined by several other water sports enthusiasts, many wearing yellow T-shirts with the message “Sail Rowlett: On the Water. On the Move.” The shirts are for sale on the website for the 1,200-member Texas Kiteboarding Association under the heading “Help Save Dalrock.”


Tommy Johnson, of Grapevine, explained how with Rowlett’s pending acquisition of the former Elgin B. Robertson Park and the transfer of the 257 acres to Donahue Development Corp., association members are worried about losing access to a prime launching and safe landing spot.

“You guys have a world-class launch right here,” he told city planners. “It happens to be the only launch in Dallas where we kite boarders can kite the prevailing southeast to southwest winds.”

Kite boarders have been setting up and launching from the southernmost tip of the property since 2000 and windsurfers have been using that location since 1994, he said.



But with the Bayside development set to go up during the next seven to 10 years, developer Kent Donahue’s plans call for placing a spectacular resort on that highly visible location.

“You are trying to create something with a major presence on that western side of the lake that really has some lights and activity and draws people into the development,” explained Mark Bowers, planner and landscape architect with Kimley-Horn and Associates Inc. in Dallas.

The look there will depend on the needs and brand of the resort developer, he said, while noting that Donahue is intrigued by the possibilities of The Crystal Lagoon in the San Alfonso del Mar resort in Chile.

Located between hotels and a seaside beach, the lagoon, filled with 66 million gallons of crystal clear seawater and billed as the world’s largest swimming pool by dailymail.com, is so large people can sail boats in it.

With the city of Dallas preferring to limit access to a lake relied on for drinking water, such an approach here could offer opportunities to provide activities on the water without being in the lake, Bowers said.

The Bayside development plan includes areas for parks and other public spaces. A road along the southwestern edge of the lake would include bike and hike lanes as well as open space to the lake. Those trails would have the potential to connect to other parts of the city, such as Lakeside Park.

Large park areas, surrounded by mixed-use buildings, are planned for the more commercial areas on both sides of Interstate 30.

The kite boarders are hoping the plan can also include public beach at the ideal launch spot and no buildings upwind from there.

“We don’t need much in order to continue doing what we’ve been doing,” Johnson said.

The presence of the kite boarders there would benefit the development by continuing to create visual interest and activity there even during the cooler months, the kite boarders said.

“Although we sail all year, the best wind is in the fall, winter and the spring,” Robert Cummings, of Garland, said.

Johnson asked Donahue, “Can I go ahead and get a commitment from you to work with us on this?”

“I can’t commit to anything until we own the property,” Donahue responded.

So Johnson asked, “Will you commit to talking to us?”

“Yes,” Donahue said, he could commit to that.

Follow William Taylor on twitter @Rowlett_News

A big thank you to our Dallas Ambassadors and kiteboarders who made this happen on behalf of all kiteboarders..Jennifer Friday, Tommy Johnson and Matt Bayazitoglu.

Texas Talent

Kitesurfing Texas would like to take this time to introduce 3 Texas Talent kiteboarding stars to the kiting community.  Jennifer Friday of Dallas, TX.,  Matt Bayazitoglulowwinners of Dallas, TX., and Joe Megeed of Houston, TX.  These local riders represented the Texas kiting community at the Lord of the Wind contest in Baja. For starting to kite in 2011 and being her first event, Jennifer Friday rocked the competition by taking 1st in Big Air, 2nd in Course Racing, 3rd in Slalom Racing.  Jennifer was crowned Lady of the Wind with a 1st place overall win. Up side down2jennStarting to kite in 2011 and being the only foil boarder in his area, Matt Bayazitoglu took 5th in course Racing and 6th in Freestyle. The veteran kiter in the trio, Joe Megeed, started kiting  in 2002 on 2 line kites.  Taking a break for family and work, mattbJoe returned to kiting and took 8th in Course Racing in Baja.  Jennifer, Matt and Joe took a break from the cold and went to Baja for vacation where they happened upon the event and entered the Lord of the Wind competition,  for fun.   They represented and displayed the strength that Texas is known for.   These Texas kiters overcame seasoned pros and young guns and claimed the podium for themselves, the kiting community and Texas. joemegeed Let’s all give them a well deserved shout out for their accomplishments and representing Texas and the kiting community.  Well done and Congratulations Jennifer, Matt and Joe!

Why Rockport is Banned to Kitesurfers.

Why is Rockport beach and ski basin at Rockport, Tx Banned to Kitesurfing? After meeting with the authorities in charge of the Rockport beach and park, I am sadden to say that Rockport beachrockport 004 and park is BANNED to KITEBOARDING indefinitely from spring break until 1 week after Labor Day. Why? the main reason is kiteboarders not following the sports established rules and guidelines and here are the incidents recorded by the park officials. 1. Kiteboarders using the swimmers (children) as a slalom course. 2. Kiteboarders not weighing down kites and allowing them to become airborne and crash into families. (this happened more than once) 3. Kiteboarder releasing kite onto the highway crashing into a motorcyclist causing him to crash and be injured. 4. Kiteboarders crashing kites in the Federal Bird Sanctuary and then going into the Sanctuary to retrieve the kites. (happened more than once) 5. Kiteboarder losing control of kite and releasing kite into the power lines taking out power to Rockport for hours. (kiteboarder was such an ass that he has been given a criminal trespass) Here is the good part the Park Officials tried to be proactive and educate the kiteboarders to follow basic safety rules and most of them did, however a few of them cussed the Officials and continued to “do as we please”. The word Arrogant was used many times when referencing  kiteboarders. The Park Officials say only a few kiteboarders caused all kiteboarders to be BANNED. So if you go kiteboarding at Rockport beach or ski basin during the BAN then you will be asked to leave and given a criminal trespass. Signs are made and will be posted. Why is kiteboarding BANNED at Rockport because we as kiters did nothing and said nothing to stop and educate a few bad kiters. To those kiters that caused this to happen I wish you would just leave this state and never come back.

Crashing your kite to progress


If you’re not crashing, you’re not trying hard enough!


Ok we all know the object of the game is to have fun while keeping the kite in the sky. We also know that crashing isn’t always ideal as it can harm the kite, harm people or potentially put yourself in danger. BUT there are a lot of negatives too if you hold yourself back and focus too much on not crashing (it doesn’t always end bad!)… here’s a few positives that actually come from crashing:

 Crashing in light wind

-It’s been said before that the way to become a better kiter is to purposely go out in light wind and learn finesse in your kite control. The difference in the way you fly the kite crucially becomes the difference between crashing and keeping the kite in the sky. Try it on land and on the water and see if you can keep the kite up 1st then head out on the water with your body positioned for maximum efficiency. Check out our other post on Light Wind Technique to read how.

-Get to know when your kite is about to fall, stall or ‘hindenburg’ for a quick recovery. You’ll crash it a lot before you are experienced and in tune enough to anticipate what’s happening and rectify the situation.

-Know when the wind drops too low so that you should decide to get off the water. Prevent yourself from being stuck out to sea unnecessarily.


 Crashing learning to body drag

Perfecting your kite control before you get up and riding will help you massively in the long run, and then when you do crash whilst riding, you’ll be a lot better at board recovery and relaunching too.

Crashing and re-launching

Practising techniques of relaunching is always a good thing to do. Sometimes your kite can fall on it’s back requiring a different method of re-launch (often by ‘hot launching’ pulling the centre lines). Sometimes your kite may invert itself and it’s always good to know how to rectify the situation as you may not always have the chance to fix the lines back on land. Try practising relaunching and flying an inverted kite, or maybe even unhooking and uninverting the lines whilst still in the water (one of the most useful skills I have needed to learn myself!)

The 'Heron', coined by Ivan Acosta-Rubio ;-)

Crashing trying new tricks

You are unlikely to land a trick the 1st time you try it, and that’s not a bad thing as practise makes perfect. Find what you want to try via our instructional videos, watch, learn and GO FOR IT! If you commit properly you’ll either land it, or crash it, but through crashing you’ll be able to easily assess the mistakes you are making via our common mistakes video chapters. Those people that really want to progress are always crashing their kites (including the pros). My friend Ivan (see video above) often crashes as he’s always trying new moves, but in doing so he’s progressing so much faster than other kiters, and manages to have a laugh at himself along the way.

Have a read of how fear will hold you back and how to not be afraid of crashing.

crash 2 cut

Failure is in fact key to progression as very rightly pointed out by Rob in his previous blog post. In fact there was a point not too long ago that I seemed to end every session out in Cape Town’s surf pulling my safety and ‘self rescuing’ back to shore. I admit I was frustrated, but I laughed and kept at it and learnt how to manage those bad boy waves soon enough becoming ultimately a better kiter for it!

Remember to always leave enough space when trying new things, and attempt them in at least waist deep water to be safe. It’s not necessarily ‘crash n burn’, but more ‘crash and learn’!


50/50 Rule

What is the 50/50 Rule?


Swimming in a wetsuit is hard to do without a PFD.


A wetsuit or drysuit is a must for cold water riding.


A PFD or personal flotation device is strongly recommended during winter riding.

This is the rule the KST Association developed for it’s members as a guideline for kiteboarding during the winter time or stormy conditions. The first 50 is the temperature of the water, the second 50 is the chance of thunderstorms or lightning. We the KST Association developed this rule from experience and discovered that in 50 degree water kiteboarding can be miserable with your eyes crying and nose running plus it’s hard to move or even swim in a wetsuit or drysuit and any skin not covered stings. Storm and frontal kiting can be fun with strong wind and big waves but lightning is no joke it can kill from miles away without being cloudy or even seeing it. So use this 50/50 rule as a guide and remember to be prepared for the conditions you are going to kite in.  Lastly many people kite alone even I do from time to time but winter is not the time to do that so use the buddy system. Below are a bunch of facts about surviving in cold water and hypothermia.

How quickly a person becomes hypothermic depends on a variety of factors, including personality, behavior, physical condition, clothing, and environmental factors. Everyone reacts differently to the cold, even under the same conditions. Generally, children lose body heat more quickly than adults and thin people lose body heat faster than overweight people.

Survival depends to some extent on…

  • Individual Differences: swimming ability, body size and build, cold tolerance, shivering response, body fat, alcohol levels
  • Behavioral Response: psychological makeup, will to live, activity, posture
  • Technological Factors: clothing, flotation aides

How long can a person survive in cold water?

Water Temperature Expected Time Before Exhaustion or Unconsciousness Expected Time of Survival
(°F) (°C)
32.5° 0.3° < 15 minutes 45 minutes
32.5–40° 0.3–4.4° 15 – 30 minutes 30 – 90 minutes
40–50° 3.3–10° 30 – 60 minutes 1 – 3 hours
50–60° 10–15.6° 1 – 2 hours 1 – 6 hours
60–70° 15.6–21.1° 2 – 7 hours 2 – 40 hours
70–80° 21.1–26.7° 3 – 12 hours 3 hours – indefinite
> 80° > 26.7° Indefinite Indefinite

Improving Chances of Survival in Cold Water

In cold water, conserving body heat is essential for survival and for increasing your chances of being rescued. The rate at which a body cools varies with body size, age, gender, water and air temperature, waves, wind, water currents, and other factors.

Different situations affect survival time for an average-sized, lightly clothed adult in 50° F (10° C) water:

Situation & Equipment Predicted Survival Time in 50° F Water
Without flotation device
Drown proofing 1.5 hours
Treading Water 2 hours
With personal flotation device (e.g. vest or collar-type PFD)
Swimming 2 hours
Holding Still 2.7 hours
H.E.L.P. position 4 hours
Huddling with others 4 hours
With hypothermia prevention equipment
Insulated flotation jacket (float coat) 3 – 9 hours
Survival Suit indefinite


Dead Bird Buggy Bash in Galveston Texas

Dead Bird Buggy Bash in Galveston Texas

About the Dead Bird Buggy Bash
The Dead Bird Buggy Bash – DBBB – is a casual, no-schedule, no-races kite buggy regatta held each November over the Thanksgiving holiday in Galveston Texas. Started as an annual holiday retreat for local kite buggy riders, this growing event follows no criteria or format other than to enjoy kite buggying with friends new and old and promote kite traction in a friendly and safe environment. Buggy pilots, landborders, kitesurfers, sport kiters and traditional kite enthusiasts are all welcome. Be sure to attend the potluck dinner on the beach Thanksgiving day.

Event Dates for 2014
DBBB Pre Event – November 23 – 24
Texas BBQ Dinner – November T/A
DBBB Main Event – November 25 – 30
Thanksgiving Pot Luck Dinner – November 28

Registration is free! Be sure to register online before the event and make your hotel reservations early.

2014 South Padre Island KiteXpo Nov 14-16 @ SPI Kite Ranch

2014 South Padre Island KiteXpo Nov 14-16 @ SPI Kite Ranch
Postby chilidip » September 6th, 2014, 3:17 pm


Nov 14:
Demo hours: 11a-4p (must sign demo waiver, provide cc info in case of negligent use or loss of gear)
Registration: 9:30a-2:30p, look for the registration tent and Tkb flags
Downwinder at 4p, see registration for details (subject to change according to weather)
Friday night meet/greet and raffle will be at Harpoon’s Surf Bar and Grill. Best fish tacos in town, $1.50 domestic drafts and $3 Stella Artois

Nov 15:
Demo hours: 11a-4p (must sign demo waiver, provide cc info in case of negligent use or loss of gear)
Registration: 9:30a-2:30p, look for the registration tent and Tkb flags
Downwinder at 4p, see registration for details (subject to change according to weather)
Beach bonfire, BBQ and raffle after the downwinder, live band in the works!

Nov 16:
Demo hours: 11a-4p (must sign demo waiver, provide cc info in case of negligent use or loss of gear)
Registration: 9:30a-2p, look for the registration tent and Tkb flags