Before you go out you must check the wind and check your spot for dangers

Arguably the most important part of Kitesurfing is to decide IF you go Kitesurfing. 

When you arrive at your chosen Kitesurfing location, check the wind and the potential dangers in the area.

This is called a wind and site assessment. It takes only a few minutes and will save you a lot of time, effort, embarrassment, money and can even save your life. Make it a habit.

A successful wind and site assessment can be the difference between having a real life nightmare or scoring the best session of your life. If you do not understand the wind or know what the potential dangers of your location are then you are risking serious injury to yourself and others. You could also cause Kitesurfing to be banned in in an area if you do not follow any local rules or if you had an accident involving a member of the public and you do not have Kitesurfing insurance. 

Before you even pump up a kite its essential that you check the wind, the weather, the forecast, the tides, the location for potential dangers ie whats downwind of you, if you have the right gear and skill level.

A wind and site assessment at the beginning of every session is one of the compulsory rituals in Kitesurfing that everyone has to do.

So, what is the most important part of Kitesurfing? 

The Wind.

If it wasn’t for the wind there would be no Kitesurfing. 

Your ability to predict and assess the wind is your key to learning to Kitesurf safely and progressing as fast as possible.

When doing a wind and site check keep an eye on the clouds. Avoid stormy clouds as they can change the wind speed sending it to gale force winds in seconds, change the direction to offshore wind or kill the wind leaving you stranded. If in doubt dont go out. Its better to be on the shore wishing you were on the water than out to sea wishing you were on the shore.

It doesn’t matter how good you are at Kitesurfing if the wind isn’t right then your session will be difficult or even impossible. The better you are at making the right decisions based on the wind, the better your Kitesurfing experience will be. It’s that simple. 

You must know the answers to the following three questions.

  1. What is the wind strength?
  2. What is the wind direction?
  3. What is the weather forecast?

1. Check the Wind Strength

You must be sure of the actual wind speed at your location to be able to choose the right kite size. 

No matter how good you are, if you have the wrong size kite then you are going to struggle.  In light wind you will use a large kite and in strong winds you will use a small kite. Choosing a kite size that is too big for your weight and the wind strength can be dangerous as you may not be able to control the power. 

Choosing a kite that is too small can mean that your kite will be difficult to fly, difficult to relaunch and not provide you with enough power to pull you through the water. 

Choosing the right kite size will ensure a safer session, speed up your progression and make your whole experience much more enjoyable.

Most Kitesurfers, sailors and wind sport enthusiasts from around the world use Knots to measure the wind strength.  10 Knots = 11.5 Mph = 18.5 KPH

How do you find out the strength of the wind and choose the right kite? Look at the water!

As long as the wind is coming from the sea and there are no strange tidal effects then looking at the sea is the simplest and most reliable way of knowing the wind speed so you can make the best decision on what kite size you need to use. 

When choosing your kite size you must take into consideration your body weight. Lighter riders need smaller kites and bigger riders need bigger kites. 

The following wind strength to kite size guide is based on an average rider.

 1 – 8kts – The water surface is extremely calm and flat with maybe a few ripples. This is considered extreme light wind in Kitesurfing and large specialist kites are needed ranging from 12 to even 25 meters in size. Extreme light wind is not recommended for inexperienced Kitesurfer’s unless you are with an instructor in waist deep water and using specialist equipment. This is because relaunching your kite from the water in super light wind can be extremely difficult, even impossible and would mean a swim back to land or a rescue every time you crashed your kite. 

1-8kts should look similar to this

9 – 14kts – The water surface is moving. You will notice many small ripples and some white caps. White caps are also known as white horses or wavelets and they are tiny waves that show a flash of white on the water surface. White caps are a good sign that there is enough wind to Kitesurf. Generally, kites sized around 11–17 meters are used. 9-14kts is a great wind speed for learning to Kitesurf. Relaunching your kite from the water is easier with a good breeze. Large kites in light winds are slower, steadier, have more consistent power and are more forgiving which means it is easier to concentrate on your body position and board control .

9-14kts should look similar to this.

15 – 24kts and you will see more and more whitecaps on the water surface.  You will also see small waves breaking out to sea and not just on the shore. Generally kites around 8-10 meters are used and this is a great wind speed for Kitesurfing however it is getting strong so you need to be even more respectful  and cautious of the power. You can relaunch you kite more quickly with greater ease in these winds and more experienced riders are extremely happy.

15-24kts should look similar to this

 25kts – 40kts and above = SUPER STRONG WIND, the water surface is full of white caps and lots of large waves are breaking out to sea. This is when Kitesurfing becomes an extreme sport.  Extremely small kites are used around 4 – 7 meters. High winds like this are not recommended for learning to Kitesurf unless you are with an instructor who is experienced in teaching in high winds using specialist equipment. Relaunching in super strong wind is easy but can be much more dramatic. Small kites can also be more difficult to control because they are fast and require much more attention to fly. Crashes in strong wind are harder, equipment can get damaged more easily and serious accidents are more likely, especially when launching which is why extreme cation is recommended. 

Wind above 25kts can look similar to this.

If in doubt  don’t go out!

What other ways are there to find out the wind speed?

Looking at the state of the sea is the most reliable way to determine the speed of the wind but if you are unsure, you can use a combination of the following to help you decide what size kite to use.

Look at Seagulls

Seagulls hover without flapping their wings when the wind is above 18 – 20kts. This means 9 meter weather to most people.

This is what gulls look like when they are hovering.

Look at the sand on the beach.

Sand is blown across the beach when the wind is strong, usually above 25kts. For most people this means small kites. 

Look at the kites other Kitesurfers are using.

Most kite manufacturers print clearly on the side what the size of the kite is. If you see that most people are out on 6 or 7 meter kites and you only have an 11 meter then unless you are extremely heavy, you will be over powered and it will be unsafe. If you see people out on 11 and 12 meter kites and you only have a 9 then you will be underpowered unless you are extremely light. There is of course one drawback to this and that is the Kitesurfers already on the water may be on the wrong kite so use other Kitesurfers as one of many indicators as to what size kite to use.

Talk to other Kitesurfers and ask their advice

Most Kitesurfers are extremely friendly and will help you to decide if you have the correct equipment for the wind strength and your ability. 

Use an Anemometer 

If you use an electronic wind meter then make sure you take the reading from the water’s edge so you get an accurate wind reading. 

Great gadget to have and super cheap. Will help you decide what kite to put up and also confirm exactly what the wind is doing. On amazon for less that $20 click on image to see my pick…

Check a live wind report

 Live wind reports can only be used as a guide as the reading could be incorrect. This is because the location of the wind sensor could be located in an area that is shielded from the wind or in a place where the wind is accelerated.  It could even be a faulty sensor so don’t always believe what the internet says.  

My personal favourite app is Windfinder as it has everything I need in one place like 10 day weather overview, tide, maps, reports and so much more, click to go to site

Note: Flags and moving trees tell you it’s windy and can give you an idea of direction but don’t help you asses the wind speed.

Wind strength check made simple 

  1. Find out the strength of the wind to make the correct choice of Kite.
  2. Look at the sea, look at what kites are being used, look at an accurate current wind reading, ask other Kitesurfers if you are unsure.
  3. Avoid strong winds and stick to light winds while learning.

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