Lessons - Let People Know About Them

Lessons - Let People Know About Them

Postby BellinghamKite » Sat Apr 26, 2008 9:48 am

This is the time of year when people begin thinking about getting on the water, and usually a few new faces pop up on the beach that I haven't seen. Usually when I see a new face I will try to make contact and find out a little bit about the person and their background. Often I find that people have not had any experience with kiteboarding or even a trainer kite, and they are getting ready to figure it all out on their own. Many of these people bought their used, or from an online store, and have had no guidance in how to setup, launch, and most important...the safety systems.

In the past years I have seen the following situations unfold this time of year...

1. Attempting to hot launch a 20m C-kite Unhooked about 100ft upwind of a forest, while standing next to a child flying a single line kite.

2. Hot launching a kite, getting picked up off the ground, sliding along the ground for about 50 feet, then crashing the kite on the ground 20ft away from a playground with children present.... all without engaging a safety system.

3. Setting up the kite with the power lines (center) on the steering attachment, and steering lines connected to the power line(center) attachment

4. Severely underinflated kites, to the point the kite was instable

5. Kites so oversheeted, it would not fly... just crash backwards...

6. Not wearing a wetsuit when going out into cold water to go body dragging..

Please do your part and try to help these people from hurting themselves or others. Some people no matter what will not be open to the idea of taking lessons, but others will listen. I tell people that it is kind of like hang gliding or flight lessons, you might be able to figure it out on your own, but chances are bad things will happen in the process without instruction (huring yourself, hurting others, hurting your kite)... (The certification program that Zack and I went through to become instructors takes 5 days and is run by the Professional Air Sports Association (PASA) that also certifies paragliders http://www.pasakiteboarding.org)

I can tell people about lessons, but I can only reach the people I see. Also, it is harder for me to convince people lessons are a good idea since I teach lessons, and they may just think I am trying to get their money.

If you see someone, let them know that the lessons will help them learn faster and safer. For some people it might seem expensive, but it is a good investment in order to get them started the right way. (BKB offers a Student Discount for poor college and high school students)

Maybe we could use this thread and have people chime in how lessons have helped them?

As far as I know, for now lessons are available through

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Re: Lessons - Let People Know About Them

Postby Advance » Sun Apr 27, 2008 6:57 pm

I completely agree Andy and gladly backup your point that lessons are highly recommended for anyone getting into the sport.

I've seen (and personally experienced) too many similar, scary, very sketchy things happen down here in Seattle. Interestingly, every year spring break seems to bring out the kooks and newbs. Here are just a few examples of near misses including myself and other kiters that were learning along with us back in '99-2000:

I'll never forget seeing two young women trying to launch a 20m wipika airblast north of the boat launch at Magnuson -- that's north, not south -- in late June when the southerlies turn into puffy, inconsistent air bubbles that will only allow you to get a kite into the air long enough to get yarded between puffs, after the kite falls out of the sky in a lull. (There were inconsistent blustery gusts to 20 kts on this day.) The young woman launching was hooked in but did not have her leash attached to the kiteline, while her friend was trying to hotlaunch her kite straight downwind between stands of trees, just upwind of and in between several picnics with kids running around, and several pic nic tables downwind. One could not even access the water with a kite from where she was launching. It was one of the potentially most unsafe scenarios Ive run into.

I pleaded with her not to launch and to go south of the boat launch, if she had to attempt launching. I strongly recommended lessons.

Unfortunately, this kind of situation is not unusual around here, particularly when the weather gets nice in the springtime.

I'll also never forget one pre-frontal day in 2000 when I saw a friend launching his 15m kite in approx. 20 knots of wind, way upwind of the launch site in the field at magnuson. He was intermittently suspended 3-4' off the ground, going 'boing, boing, boing' down the field -- I thought to myself "man he's nuts to launch that big a kite completely onshore like that - I'm going to be safe and launch my 15m in the water", so off I went into the water (with safety on my mind). I asked someone to launch me with my kite pointed onshore (like we do at Rufus) while I stood in the water. Stupid move on my part. The kiter launching me was getting ready to question me, but he figured I was 'experienced and knew wat I was doing'. I proceeded to launch my kite in too much wind, got picked up out of the water after skimming across the surface super fast toward the rocky embankment, initiated a jump to get over the shoreline and then swung under my lofting kite up above the shoreline. I flew my kite out toward the lake when I was about 10' above the ground and landed flat on my chest in 2' of water. Only my knee struck a rock, leaving a deep gash.
All in all, I was very very lucky. Had I not been so powered up, I surely would have hit the rocks when the kite first pulled me off my feet.

I was so freaked out by that experience that I opted to take a 2 day 500$ instructor's course immediately that spring (the first ever cert. given by wipika at the time, in HR) -- we didn't have instructors in Seattle at that time.

Or, once I launched AdamK of all people at GG (one of his first times on the Sound) back in 1999. I did not know how to launch a kite and ended up hot launching his 9m Naish, which luffed onto a group of picnic'ers in a lull and then powered up. Fortunately, none of the lines caught anyone, only the body of the kite material lay down on the parents and kids and their picnic spread. He then went skimming along the surface when the kite powered up straight downwind, narrowly missing impalement on the pylons at meadow point.

I once arrived at magnuson after some guy launched an 11m 2-line wipika and was suspended off the ground he was so powered. It was blowing spray, 40+ knots, on the lake in the gusts. Fortunately I got to him before a big gust hit him-- I screamed for him to drop his kite, which he did. He would have been in the trees or on top of the picnic hut for sure if he had held onto that kite.

I wish I had taken lessons back when I was learning in 1999 - 2000. Back in 1999-2000, when we were learning to kite, our knowledge about kiting was not sufficient to allow for good judgment or safety practices.

The instructors with Bellingham Kite, Urban Surf and Jetty Island Kite and Skim have the methodology and years of experience to teach people how to be safe while they learn how to kite.

Anyone new to kiting will do themselves (and potentially others) a big favor by taking lessons. It is so easy to make a bad move with critical consequences when kiteboarding.

Experienced kiters should not hesitate to recommend lessons when encountering people launching kites who obviously do not know what they are doing. Just my $.02.

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