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Kitesurfing Myths

There were a number of myths in the early days of kitesurfing.  Some of them are still around presently.  It is wise to recognize and discourage the spread of such myths.


Jump over the roof and power line?
The kitesurfer was actually a safe distance away
Photo by Bill Barker

  1. Jibing a directional board is difficult
  2. I have used directional boards all my life (windsurfing boards, surf boards, skis, etc.), switching to a bidirectional board is awkward
  3. I don't have to wear a kite safety leash because I never ever let go of the bar
  4. If you are good enough ...
  5. Foils are not relauncheable
  6. Foils cannot be depowered effectively
  7. You need a short board for strong wind
  8. You need a large board for light wind
  9. A double surface kite (foil) is more efficient than a single surface kite (inflatable)
  10. One can only learn with a 2 line kite
  11. One should start with a low AR (low performance) kite and then progress to a high AR kite
  12. Aspect Ratio (AR) determines a kite performance
  13. It takes 2 person to launch or to land a kite
  14. Inflate your kite with helium and you can jump higher or go out in lighter wind
  15. Use a bigger kite and you can jump higher
  16. Kitesurfing is harder to learn than windsurfing
  17. You need to fly an inflatable to get better
  18. You need rocker on your board
  19. You need fins on your board
  20. Finless boards are harder to land after a jump
  21. Kitesurfing is a trick only sport
  22. One needs a directional board for wave riding
  23. Kiteskiing is not as cool as kitesnowboarding or kitesurfing
  24. Kitesnowboarding and kiteskiing are cold
  25. You need a snowboard longer/larger than your downhill snowboard for kitesnowboarding
  26. You can't use inflatable on snow
  27. All kites are similar
  28. Beginners need board leashes
  29. You need lots of beach space to launch and land the kite
  30. You don't need a safety leash for flat inflatables

 

Jibing a directional board is difficult

Learning how to jibe a directional board is very easy.  An accomplished kitesurfer should know how to jibe a directional board.  Directional boards are more versatile in wave and light wind conditions so knowing how to jibe a directional board is pretty convenience.  Furthermore, when the wind is so light that jumping is not an option, jibing is the only trick one can do.

I have used directional boards all my life (windsurfing boards, surf boards, skis, etc.), switching to a bidirectional board is awkward

Riding a bidirectional board in a fakey (reverse) direction is only slightly more awkward than riding a directional; however, getting used to it is very easy and natural.  An accomplished kitesurfer should know how to ride a bidirectional board.

I don't have to wear a kite safety leash because I never ever let go of the bar (Kenny Fernmanus)

Extreme wind gusts can come unpredictably at any moment to rip the bar out of your hand.  If this has never happened to you then you have not gone out in all conditions.

If you are good enough ... (Rick Iossi)

If you are good enough:

  • You can ride as close as you want to other water users and hard objects that  are closed by and downwind
  • You don't need to wear basic safety gear such as helmets, impact vests
  • Basically, if you are good enough, skill conquers all, including bad luck, no space and no time left to recover the situation, really!

No one is good enough to ignore those basic safety measurements.  Many kitesurfing professional and expert kitesurfers have had fatal accidents in the past.

Foils are not relauncheable

Foils can be relaunched easier and faster than most other types of kite.

Foils cannot be depowered effectively

Modern foils can be depowered as well as 4 line inflatable and have more ways to depower than inflatable.

You need a short board for strong wind

Even though a short board may be preferable, one can ride any type of board in strong wind (just use a matching kite size).

You need a large board for light wind

Even though a large board may be preferable, one can ride any board in light wind as long as one has a kite big and high performance enough.

A double surface kite (foil) is more efficient than a single surface kite (inflatable)

This is probably true in theory; however, in practice, a single skin inflatable is as efficient as any other kites.

One can only learn with a 2 line kite

While most trainer kites are 2 line foil, many have learned kitesurfing using small 4 line inflatable.

One should start with a low AR (low Aspect Ratio or performance) kite and then progress to a high AR kite (Pauric)

A slow reacting person should start with a low performance kite (normally low AR), but a fast reacting person can start with either types. 

An experienced trick kitesurfer may prefer a low AR kite and an experienced high jumping kitesurfer may prefer a high AR kite.

If your objective is to do trick kitesurfing then you probably never have to use a high AR kite; however if you want to go faster and jump higher then higher AR kites are what you need.

Aspect Ratio (AR) determines a kite performance

No.  There are many other factors.  Read http://kitesurfingschool.org/kite.htm if you have enough curiosity (warning: it is a "heavy duty" reading).

It takes 2 person to launch or to land a kite (Mel)

Even though it is more convenience to launch or to land a kite with 2 persons, launching and landing any type of kite can be done solo.

Inflate your kite with helium and you can jump higher or go out in lighter wind (George Sarris)

The volume of the inflatable tubes are insignificant relative to the weight of the kite.   Using helium or not should not have noticeable difference.  It may have some very small difference for very large kite; however, it' definitely not worth the effort nor the cost of helium.

Use a bigger kite and you can jump higher

A bigger kite will generate more power but at the same time will make it hard to edge properly for a very high jump.  So a bigger kite will generate more power but not necessarily make you jump higher.

Kitesurfing is harder to learn than windsurfing (Mel)

The learning curve of kitesurfing is steeper; however, learning kitesurfing is not necessary harder than windsurfing.  One can progress much faster in kitesurfing than windsurfing.

You need to fly an inflatable to get better

Inflatable kites are the dominant kites in kitesurfing so many good kitesurfers use them; however, some good kitesurfers, kitesnowboarders and kiteskiiers do use foils.

You need rocker on your kiteboard

While most production boards have rocker, you don't really need rocker on your board for kitesurfing.

You need fins on your kiteboard

While most production boards have fins, you don't need fins on your board for kitesurfing.

Finless boards are harder to land after a jump

Using the techniques described in http://www.kitesurfingschool.org/landing.htm you can land a finless board after a jump as easy as if not easier than a board with fin.

Furthermore, some wakeboard companies have recently introduced some finless boards which looks similar to snowboards or kiteboards:

Hyperlite Roam 2007

Kitesurfing is a trick only sport

Many kitesurf for different reasons.  Some likes light wind kitesurfing; some likes wave kitesurfing; some likes cruising; some likes very high jump; some likes smooth landing (same feeling as low attitude flying) and some likes doing tricks.  Doing tricks is popular but it is only one of the reasons that make kitesurfing attractive to people.

One needs a directional board for wave riding

Wave can be ridden using a bidirectional board as effectively as a directional board.  Directional board is the preferred board for wave but not the only type.

Kiteskiing is not as cool as kitesnowboarding or kitesurfing

Kiteskiing is very fast.  Some may not understand but it is very cool (and also scary) to go very fast.

Kitesnowboarding and kiteskiing are cold

Kitesnowboarding and kiteskiing are the warmest winter sports and probably warmer than kitesurfing in colder climate.

You need a snowboard longer/larger than your downhill snowboard for kitesnowboarding

You can use the same snowboard for downhill snowboarding and kitesnowboarding.   For jumping and tricks, you may want to use even a shorter snowboard (just use a bigger kite).

You can't use inflatable on snow

There is nothing wrong with inflatable on snow.  It's not too difficult to pump it up (especially with the one pump system) and with the help of fifth line relaunching is not a problem.  Furthermore, with the new Flat LEIs, relaunching on snow is both easier and safer than foils.  Many kitesnowboarders and kiteskiiers now prefer inflatable as it yields similar performance on snow as on water.

Flat LEI .vs. Classic LEI
Two inflatables on snow, a traditional and a flat LEI

All kites are similar

Kites are very complex aerodynamic devices.  Each kite has its own characteristics and is quite different from the others (even those of the same type).

Beginners need board leashes

Board leashes have been proven dangerous.  A beginner can learn body drag upwind faster than learning how to manage a board leash properly.  Furthermore, there are devices such as the Go Joe from Ocean Rodeo that makes board retrieval in the water even easier.

You need lots of beach space to launch and land the kite

You can launch an inflatable in shallow water using the drift launching method.  Furthermore, Kitelauncher has released a product call Turbo launcher to help launching the kite in water easier.

Even though not as convenience, it is normally safer to launch and land in shallow water.


Shallow water launching with assistance
Photo by Bill Barker

You don't need a safety leash for flat inflatables

Most flat inflatables can be fully depowered.  This means that you can hook into the chicken loop and simply drop the bar to depower the kite, not 100% but often to the point that the kite doesn't have enough power to loft or drag you around.

So is the chicken loop the safety leash?

No!  We have seen enough incidents in the past few months to convince us that a safety leash is essential even for flat kites, either a standard safety leash set up where the safety leash is connected to a flying line or a simpler set up where the safety leash is simply connected to the chicken loop line just above the chicken loop (not as safe as the standard set up)

 


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