January 3, 2019 at 3:07 pm #3409
Beginners Guide to Beaches and Launches
Kitesurfing is a quickly growing extreme sport that is exhilarating to watch, and even more exhilarating to participate in. Every season, new kiters flock to the beaches around Boston and Cape Cod to try their hand at kiting in our pristine waters. When taking your first steps into this sport and this community, it is extremely important that you remember the risks that go hand-in-hand with the adrenaline rush of strapping a power kite to your body: the risks to you, to other kiters, and to bystanders. Above all else, please “think before you pump”.
This guide is not a list of places for beginners to kitesurf, rather it is an introduction to the things you should be careful about when choosing where and when to kite. Every kiter should have taken a beginner lesson package, and during that process you can get advice from instructors on what beach may be a good first choice once you are on your own. Here at MASSkiting we understand that each new year will bring new kiters, and we want to make sure that no one gets hurt and that all beaches remain open to kiting. Please read this guide and take heed to the advice it provides: you may find it saves you, someone else, or your favorite launch.
Self-Policing Our Beaches
A quick note before we begin: MASSkiting community members should all be actively involved in self-policing wherever they kite. We do this to ensure your safety, our safety, the safety of innocent bystanders, and to preserve our beach access. If you see something potentially dangerous, speak up. If you are a beginner and someone approaches you about a safety or regulation issue, please don’t be offended. Ask for help.
Getting a Lesson
The most important part about kitesurfing is being prepared. Lessons are mandatory to avoid accidents, and no kiter should launch a kite unsupervised until they have comfortably completed a full beginner kitesurfing package. The most important skills to learn have nothing to do with a board. Make sure your instructor has taught you how to properly set up a kite, launch a kite, self-rescue, body drag, and land a kite (both assisted and solo). By the time you are taking your first solo session, you should feel 100% comfortable with these actions.
Rule #1: No lesson, no kiting.
Picking a Beach
Choosing the right beach for the wind direction and your skill level often is the difference between a breakthrough session you’ll be stoked about for a week and going home frustrated or injured. Here are some helpful tips to make sure you pick the right beach!
Wind Direction: The wind should be blowing side-shore or side-onshore until you are comfortable staying upwind. Avoid beaches where the wind is onshore as it increases the risk to you and to people on the beach. Never kite in off-shore winds.
Space and Obstacles: You need at least a line length of beach space perpendicular to the wind direction. There should be no obstacles within three line lengths of your launch point, especially other people, power lines, and walls. If the beach is crowded with beachgoers, surrounded by power lines or a rock wall, or too small to lay out your lines, don’t kite.
Shore Break and Currents: A large, crushing shore break is going to make your first few sessions very frustrating. Try and find a beach with some protection from large chop. Low-tide often offers more favorable conditions, as the waves will limited in size. Avoid any beaches with a significant current: it will separate you and your board very quickly.
Water Depth: If you can find a beach to kite that has waist deep water, it will drastically decrease your learning curve.
Rule #2: Find the right beach for the wind and your skill level! Know when to stay on shore.
Once you are comfortable graduating from beginner lessons and you have found (what you think) is the right beach, the next most important thing is to communicate! The first thing you should do when you arrive at the beach is talk to the people kiting there. This communication gives you the opportunity to hear about the current conditions, any rules you might not know about, and potential hazards, and to let them know your skill level so they can give you an extra hand if needed (from advice, to a launch, to saving your board (or even you!)). There is no better way to make yourself accepted at the local beach. If you communicate up front people are more willing to help you, and less likely to send you packing or swimming.
Rule #3: Communicate with other kiters.
Launching Your Kite
Provided you had the lessons you should have had, launching your kite shouldn’t be too much of a problem. Most kiting accidents occur during launch, so make sure you are being careful! Provided you have done the major things listed above, here are some steps you can take to make sure your launch is done safely.
Stay Away: Setup in an area that is clear downwind of people and objects. If something goes wrong, make sure that there is nothing downwind that you can either hurt or be hurt by if you get dragged and/or need to eject.
Ask for Assistance: Once your lines are out and you are ready to launch, double check your lines then ask for a launch. Make sure you ask an experienced kiter for a launch, and explain your skill level prior to launch. Avoid the pitfall of asking a fellow beginner. By explaining your skill level, the kiter launching you will double check your lines and positioning before letting the kite go.
Triple Check: Make a final check before giving the thumbs up. Make sure your lines are not kooked. Make sure the chicken loop is not wrapped around the bar. Make sure your leash is attached. Take an extra second to ensure that nothing has moved downwind of you.
Line Tension: You should be comfortable launching your kite, but make sure that you have taken two or three steps upwind of the point you have tension in your rear lines. This will ensure the kite does not backstall. Botched launches often start with the kite too far to the edge of the window, where it falls back, rolls on the ground, then hot launches. Make sure you have enough tension to steer the kite.
Kite Position and Making Haste: Always keep your kite positioned toward the water and at the edge of the window, avoid parking it at 12 o’clock. Once you have launched, grab your board and move quickly towards the water. Don’t spend any more time than you need to on the beach.
Body Drag Out: Once you enter the water, immediately body drag away from the beach, ideally a line length away at minimum. Once you are away from the beach and potential dangers, you can setup to water start.
Rule #4: Make sure you have tripled checked everything before you launch, and move immediately away from the beach area once you do launch.
Follow the Rules
Whether on the beach, in the water, or in the parking lot, always follow the self-policing rules of the beach. In addition, follow rules regarding right-of-way with other kiters. Avoid boat channels. try and avoid keeping your kite at 12 o’clock as it blocks other kiters from getting around you as well as the fact you might get lofted.
Landing Your Kite
Signal for landing assistance before you approach the beach! Make sure another kiter is waiting for you to land when you reach the beach, and land your kite immediately. Once you bring the kite down and the lander has caught it, make sure you take a few quick steps towards them to release the tension on the lines! Immediately unhook and unleash and go make sure your kite is set down and sanded. Roll up your lines, even if you are going back out later, as it will prevent and accidents and save beach space.
Rule #5: Think before you act. Make sure there is someone waiting to land you before you approach the beach.
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