Learning to Kite Surf
The ultimate in exhilaration!
Kite Surfing in Barbados is big; people come to the island from countries worldwide, for the ideal conditions for this thrilling water sport.
It is essential to get professional instruction as this can be a hazardous sport, and a novice shouldn’t go out unsupervised. So at Totally Barbados, we have taken to the water and found out how to Kite Surf like a professional.
You need about three lessons before you are competent enough to go out alone. Each class is 2-3 hours long and costs $190 US for the three lessons.
We met up with Steve Campbell from Red Eye Kite Surfing, teaching water sports in Barbados for the last 12 years.
You need to arrive with a good pair of shorts/baggies that won’t come off as you can expect to be dragged around in the sea by your kite, a rash vest, and plenty of sunblocks – this is an ideal sport for getting burned as the sun reflects off the ocean!
The first thing Steve needs to know is that you can swim. Secondly, he gets a feel for your previous experience, such as flying a kite, and if you have done any wakeboarding.
The first part of the lesson is on the beach, where you will learn how to fly the training kite; it is a small foil kite about 5sq meters. Steve tells you how the kite works by explaining the wind window, which gives you traction in the kite. This wind powers your kite when you are on the water. You will then learn how to fly a kite in a figure of eight. Once you have mastered flying the training kite, you will progress to the 8-meter inflatable sea kite.
More time to practice flying a kite on the beach, and then you will learn about quick releases and emergency pulls to get you unhooked from your equipment when you crash – which you will – often!
You will finally get wet – moving into the water with your kite; you will now learn to master flying a kite using the exact figure of 8 that you learned on the beach.
Your instructor will go in first, and you will hold his harness and experience this method. Then you will swap places, and your instructor will keep you while you try out the wind on the sea. You will also learn about wind directions, which are imperative for your safety.
The next section of the lesson is all about ‘body dragging’ – this enables you to master controlling your kite; the wind will catch your kite. You will throw it around in the sea, lifting up and then crashing down, which gives you an incredible thrill and makes you aware of the dangers and how to avoid them.
Now it is time to introduce the board, so you are shown how to assemble your equipment and connect the kite and board. Again you will watch a demonstration in the water; this is a much softer landing when you fall over!
Now, you are finally ready to go out alone – well, the instructor is watching you closely. You will go about 10 meters and then crash! Everyone can expect this to happen – it is the norm, and you are only about 30 meters from the beach, so not too far to be rescued.
The remainder of this lesson deals with trying to get further than 10 meters, your second lesson is where you start to get the hang of it, and by your third lesson, you are a competent kitesurfer!
Kite Surfing is different from surfing or windsurfing as both of these sports can be taught in one lesson, and then it takes years to get good and reach the ultimate exhilaration. In contrast, Kite Surfing takes longer to learn, but you get to an exhilaration level quickly, usually by your third lesson!
For more information, call Red Eye at (246) 262-KITE.