At the end of summer 2016 I decided to treat Phil to a weekend of kitesurfing lessons for his birthday. He had already brought a beginners set-up and had got used to the kite, but standing up on the board was another matter! After countless evenings at the beach falling over again and again (and again…), he finally gave into the idea of learning with the pros. So we packed up the camper and headed down to Camber Sands for a 2 day introductory lesson at The Kitesurf Centre. The lessons were great; we had four people in our group so had plenty of time with our instructor and went away feeling like we got an awful lot for our money! BUT there were a couple of things I wish I had known before we started…
5 Lessons from our kitesurfing lessons
1. Kitesurfing lessons are not like other lessons
Over the last few years we have tried horse-riding, beach buggying, paddle boarding and wind-surfing. And by the end of our lessons we could control the horse, glide down the beach, paddle down the river and stay up on the wind-surfing board. But kitesurfing lessons are not like other lessons. By the end of the two days our group had gone from 4 to 3, Phil had been dragged 10 metres down the beach and I had uncovered muscles I didn’t even know existed! Until you have tried it, it is difficult to really understand how complex kitesurfing is. You need to understand the wind, how to set up, how to control the kite, how to position your body and how to keep moving when you finally get up.
But don’t let it put you off – the feeling you get when finally manage to stand up for 3 seconds is amazing!
2. Those kites are stronger than they look!
On our first day, we headed down to the beach with what I thought were tiny kites (they were small power kites). We spent a bit of time setting them up and learning about the wind, then we were flying. What came as a shock was just how powerful those little kites were. They could effortless drag us through the sand, sliding along on our feet. And when we upgraded to the real thing (Leading Edge Inflatable Kites) the power upgrade was astounding! You can’t comprehend just how strong they are until you have one strapped to your body.
3. If you want to stand up then you need a two-day course
When we booked, we considered a single day course but decided to opt for the two-day course instead. And we are glad we did. With so much to learn about the kite, you really need two days to become confident enough to try the board too. It wasn’t till the afternoon of our second day that we actually took the board into the water and began to stand up.
4. You will need to take plenty of water and snacks
The days were full on; we were in bed by 8.30pm the first evening because we were so tuckered out! To keep you going through the day I would recommend taking a few snacks for a little energy boost every time you come out of the water. Some bitesize flapjacks or a few grapes are ideal. We also spent quite a bit of time on the first day on the beach in the sun, so we consumed quite a lot of water too!
5. Wear a rash vest under your wetsuit
On arrival, we donned our wetsuits and were ready to roll. What we didn’t really think about was the time spent in the classroom and on the beach before we got into the water. A few hours on the beach in a wetsuit in the sun was pretty toastie! Some people had worn a rash vest and had their wetsuits half off which was probably much more comfortable in the heat!
Remember these 5 things before you head off on your kitesurfing lessons and you are sure to have a great time. Anything we missed? Share your experiences in the comments box!