• Getting Started

    Below are some Beginner and Introductory articles to Kiting.
    These articles are aimed at making your introduction to kiting quicker, easier and more enjoyable whilst staying safe.


    With all the talk of buggys, landboards and kites, it's probably fair to say that without wind, you won't be going very far at all.  Wind can be fickle, hot dry and gusty and pretty much un-fly-able.  Wind can be cold, dense, smooth and beautifully predictable.  And anywhere in between.  If you've never thought about how the wind interacts with the land, picture this:
    You're standing on the bank of a fast moving stream.  In the center the stream is fast and smooth.  It slows down as it nears the bank due to friction with the land.  Any obstacles, rocks, trees etc disturb the flow of the water and the water will often be flowing in the reverse direction as it goes around and eddies back in behind the obstacle...

    If there's a lot of obstacles, it can be a quite a chaotic mess.  Now, pick the whole stream up and stand it on it's edge and you have a pretty fair picture of how the wind interacts with the land.  Buildings, trees, hills etc will all affect the flow of the wind the same as the water in the stream.  You need to get up and away from them to find the smoother air higher up.  But with power kites, we don't have the luxury of letting out 150 meters of line to get the kite above the disturbances so we have to examine our surroundings.  Buildings, trees and undulations will affect the wind a lot further than you think - you need to be as far downwind away from them as you can.  When I was in my early 20's I used to build and fly stunt kites but I didn't know much about how the wind was affected by it's surroundings.  If there was wind, great, I could fly in the local park....so I thought.  It cost me a few smashed stunt kites to slowly work out it was all the trees and buildings that were the problem.
    But it's not just getting away from obstacles that we need to think about as inland kiters - thermals can make a bit of a mess out of the wind too.  A thermal happens when the sun heats up a particular section of land - maybe it's on the side of a hill facing the sun, maybe it's a plowed paddock that's a little darker...or a car park, road, building etc.  As the land/carpark/building warms up, it, in turn heats the air above it.  At some point a warm 'bubble' of air gets heated enough to rise up from the ground - becoming a thermal.  Ever watched a lava lamp?

    Thermals in action!   And when that bubble of warm air breaks free of the ground and rises - cooler surrounding air has to rush in and fill the void.  Thermals are great for glider pilots (or birds!) as you can gain height for free by flying round and round in them - some are large and some are narrow and some can be a bit violent.  For a land kiter, it all adds more variability into the wind.   You might think you're in a clear location and the wind is relatively smooth, but if there's thermals going off around you, you may suddenly find serious shifts in both wind speed and direction.   Sometimes your best chance of smooth wind is an overcast day where the sun is not creating yet more havoc.
    Sometimes thermal activity may be obvious by all the cumulus clouds building around you, but rising air doesn't always result in a cloud being formed...

    So, don't choose a spot surrounded by trees to fly.  Or buildings.  Get into a clear an area as possible.  If it's a little elevated, better still.  Truganina is a good spot in Melbourne - it's elevated and mostly clear of trees.  While it still can be pretty turbulent and gusty, it's pretty good for an inland spot.  If the wind is coming off the bay, better still.

    The best wind for kiters is the afternoon seabreeze.  The sun heats the land and towards the end of the day, the air over the land begins to rise and the cooler air over the sea rushes in - it can be quite sudden.  I've been at Kingston where I was barely flying in 6 knots and then within 5 minutes, the seabreeze of 20 knots came in.  The seabreeze can be really smooth with very little variation and flying in it is an absolute joy.  The kite stays nailed to the sky and you'll feel far more in control.  That's why we will travel long distances to get, not only the smoother wind coming in from the ocean (or bay), but also the large expanse of hard sand the low tide exposes.  
    Temperature of the air will affect your kiting too.  I've had good sessions with a 6m Ozone Access in 12 - 13 knots - a wind speed that would normally be a bit low for that kite, but it was a cold dense wind.  The same wind speed in Queensland (for example) would be a lot warmer and less dense and hence I'd probably need at least the next kite size up.
    If I'm contemplating a kiting session at home, I will give the trees a good look - if they're bent over in the wind, but otherwise not moving about much, that's great.  It means a consistent wind.  If they are waving wildly back an forth, not so good, that means lots of gusts and lulls.  And I hate it when you're flying a foil in gusty wind and there's a big lull, the kite promptly folds up in a ball and begins to fall out of the sky and back in to the middle of the window only to be hit by the next gust, then unfurl in the middle of the window and go POW!!  "I'm back now"! and tries it's best to rip me out of the buggy.  Sometimes the wind is so gusty and messed up, that it's just not worth the risk in flying.  And sometimes it's smooth and a joy.  Learning to pick the right conditions takes a bit of time and observation but will repay with you safer and more enjoyable flying conditions
     
    To keep safe in the beginning it doesn’t have to be an expensive exercise, think about what you may already have available to you from other sports and hobbies. You can find the gear listed below in most Kite Shops or Sports Retailers, alternatively you can also take a look at our 'Buy & Sell' section for potential options.
    Deciding and purchasing the right safety gear is an important process in equipping yourself for Landboarding, it's as equally important as 'Choosing The Right Landboard' and will protect you whilst you're learning and as you advance your skills.  
     
    Don't skimp on safety, it's always cheaper than a medical bill after the incident!
     
    Helmet
    This can be as simple as a bike helmet to begin with. If you look around hard enough there will be one of these not being utilised by you or someone around you. Ask around you will find one pretty easily. As you progress you can look into Protec helmets or even snowboarding helmets. You will find these come up on sale from time to time. I personally utilise a snowboard helmet I got on sale at Anaconda for a very reasonable price. It’s comfy and is rated to protect my head. It has ear covers which is handy for those winter months and is vented to let some air in if desired. Ensure that your helmet is a good fit and not too sloppy. Have it done up tight enough that it doesn’t move around on your head, but not too tight that it’s uncomfortable.
    Knee Pads
    These are a must for landboarding. At some stage or another when your learning to landboard you will fall to your knees and most likely at a degree of speed. Make sure your knee pads are a good fit and will not slide down your leg when your planing across the grass on your knees.
     
     
    Elbow Pads
    An optional extra layer of protection for your elbows. These do not need to be fancy just something to protect you if you have a tumble. You’ll find these are the first piece of safety gear to go once you become somewhat proficient.

     
     
    Footwear
    Bear in mind you want some sturdy, comfortable shoes. There are many preferences for Landboarders here on Extreme Kites. Some of us like to use bulky skate style shoes, some hiking boots and some Crocs. Although I wouldn’t recommend Crocs for beginners, I would recommend something somewhat waterproof and capable of taking some abuse. You can ease into Crocs at you leisure when you become proficient and for those hot summer months.
    Gloves
    Again are optional. They can help you with your grip on the handles or bar and keep your hands warm at the same time. Motocross gloves make and excellent choice for kiting or visit Bunnings, there are plenty on offer there. Remember the thinner the better, you don’t want bulky fingers around your kite handles or bar.
    Wrist Guards
    They can be worn if you have concerns about your wrists, but usually get in the way of steering the kite responsively.
    Sunnies 
    These are a must for keeping that glare down. Find your old pair as your likely to have them fall off your face in a spill and they will get scratched.
    Suncream
    Don’t forget to slip slop slap. When your concentrating for so long on your board skills and kite handling - you often forget to apply suncream. Do this at the start of the session, so you don’t forget. Remember to take plenty of water and stay hydrated too.
    Clothing
    For your initial runs, wear long clothing that will cover up your bare skin. Old jeans are good to start in and at least a long sleeve t-shirt or jumper. Ensure you keep comfortable and have the ability to move freely, just think along the lines of minimising any cuts or abrasions to bare skin if possible.
    Remember to think about what else might be available to you. I started out with an old motorbike jacket that already had shoulder pads and elbow pads fitted, this saved me having to buy elbow pads and kept me warm. Another bonus was that it had a back pad as well. If you’re worried about falling on your butt, you can pickup a pair of padded shorts from the motorbike shop fairly cheap as well. And if you are concerned about your back, you can pickup some motorbike armour or a spine protector. Watch out for the clearance sales at motorbike shops or outlets.
    Last of all, when your starting out, remember to try and have a friend or spotter close by that can lend a hand when needed.
    If you have any questions or unsure about anything ask in our 'Landboarding Community Forum', there are lots of people who will be more than happy to help you make a decision on what's suitable for you.
    So you’re thinking about buying your first landboard and wondering where to start? Let’s clarify some of those initial questions you have and get you off on the right foot, or the left foot. We won’t go into anything to do with safety gear, getting rolling or handling the kite just yet, you will find those guides here on Extreme Kites when you are ready to access them.
    The main things to consider when buying your first landboard are your budget, your height and your weight. Obviously you don’t want to blow too much money on something you he never tried before, so let’s talk about why your height and weight are important factors that help determine the best board for you.
    Height plays an important factor with your stance on the board. If you are quite tall, then I would opt for a longer board. This will enable you to spread your weight out over the length of the board and should be more comfortable as your legs won’t be as close together. Vice versa if you are short, then a shorter board will be more suitable to you. Your height and weight will be disbursed more evenly on a shorter board and the footing will be more comfortable. Just think you don’t want your legs to be too squashed together or too far apart. For a medium size and build, go for an average sized board which are most common.
     
    "Landboard (land-board) noun
     - A board that is equipped with wheels and usually bindings for the feet and is often ridden on land, as in kite landboarding."
     
    Trucks
    When starting out landboarding there are two choices, Skate trucks or Channel trucks. 
    Skate Trucks are, as they sound, are very similar to those of a skateboard or longboard. They are oversized in comparison to regular skate trucks as they need to accomodate a larger wheel and deal with more force. They work the same way, however, by using a bushing (of various durometer) to give movement to the axle from the hanger. The harder the bushing, durometer wise, the harder to turn the board. The bushing can be tightened down further or loosened off between the axle and the hanger. Again, this means tighter or softer turns. You also have the option of sourcing harder durometer bushings, usually from your local skate shop or online. You would do this if you find that the board is still turning too easily under your weight after tightening down as much as possible. Skate trucks are recommend for lighter riders giving a lighter riding style, more maneuverability and easier turns. Think of skate trucks as the more nimble option.
    Channel Trucks, also referred to as Matrix trucks, still consist of an axle and a hanger. They utilise a kingpin, which is the centre point that the axle pivots on. Channel trucks house springs on either side with elastometers or dampeners inside them. This is what provides the hardness or softness of turning. The elastometers can be swapped for different durometers and the position of the springs can be offset, which equates to a very customisable turning resistance. You can really dial in your perfect ride on channel trucks, however the payoff is that they are a lot heavier than skate trucks. Channel trucks are recommended for heavier riders, as they give more stability at speed and provide harder turns. Heavier riders will naturally use their weight to turn the trucks, which is why a more stable platform is required. Skate trucks would just be too wobbly here for a comfortable ride.
     
    Bindings
    Bindings are important on a landboard, as they keep your feet in position and somewhat captive into the board. You need them to be able to slide your board around and to remain in contact with the board when you are off the ground, either for a small hop or a jump. You aren’t locked into the board so much that you cannot free your feet, landboard bindings are designed to step in and out of. You aren’t clipped in like you are on say a snowboard for example. They are adjustable to your stance and foot size. Bindings should be well padded and comfortable, as your shoes will be in them for the whole session. 
    The most common form of bindings are called ratchet bindings and they adjust via a ratchet system. The next form of bindings utilise velcro as the adjustment mechanism. It’s not important which style of bindings you have to start off with, just as long as they are there and freely adjustable. You don’t want your bindings to be too tight where you are unable to slip in and out of. Vice versa you don’t want them to be too loose and not providing the snug fit you need. We can expand of foot placement and fitment of your bindings in further guides.
    Landboards can also be referred to as Mountainboards and both can be used for land kiting. The difference with products marketed as a Landboard or Kite Landboard, is that they are designed to be a lot lighter than a Mountainboard. If you happen to buy a Mountainboard with a brake attached, you will want to remove this for landboarding. For starters the handle and line will get in the way and secondly the brake mechanism will likely rust out if your riding on the beach or a coastal wind location. 
    For your first landboard, wheels and tyres aren’t much of a concern. You want to get the feel for landboarding before you start shelling out extra money on customising your board and setup. So the standard hubs and 8” tyres will suffice for now. Make sure you have a pump handy, to ensure your tyres are at pressure. If your buying second hand, make sure the tyre tread is sufficient and that the tubes still hold air.
    As just mentioned, there is no problem with buying a second hand landboard to get the feel for it or learn on. The best place for this is to keep your eye on the Buy & Sell section here on Extreme Kites, you can also try your luck on Gumtree or Ebay.
    For a brand new landboard here are a few examples that will be able to get you rolling in no time:



     
    If you are ready for an upgrade the re-sell market here in Australia is pretty good. Someone is always interested in a beginners landboard and will sell quickly on here on the Extreme Kites Buy & Sell section. People can also use them as mountainboards, they are quite versatile and people will snap them up quickly if you re-sell at a reasonable price.
     
    Remember to stay tuned for the rest of the guides available in this section as you progress. And always feel free to ask for guidance or any questions in the comments section. No question is a silly question and at least one of the kind folk on Extreme Kites will chime in and help you on your way.
    Remember you can also keep an eye on the Meets & Events page for upcoming gatherings and head down to ask us any questions you might have and see for yourself the amount of fun we have. The best way to learn is to see and the best way to ask questions, apart from on Extreme Kites is in person.
    The right trainer kite can teach you flying skills that will help you progress through your Kitesurfing Lessons much quicker and more confidently.  Purchasing a trainer kite before taking lessons can accelerate your natural progression, it also gives you a learning tool to continue to use between your lessons.  Learning to Kitesurf is as much about the kite as it is the board, spending time with a trainer kite will develop your muscle memory in the same way when you drive a car you no longer need to think about turning the steering wheel, your body simply does it.  
    Top Choices for your First Trainer Kite
    2.0M to 3.5M Trainer Kites are an ideal size for learning, here’s some different designs and options below.
    Standard 2 Line Trainer Kite
    Two line trainer kites are the cheapest entry level kites designed to be used on land, in a park or on a beach.  They’re inexpensive, easy to setup and fly however they’re best used in the company of someone else to help you relaunch them when you crash.

    Some Suggestions: HQ Rush V, Peter Lynn Hype TR, Crosskites Boarder,
     
    Standard 3 Line Trainer Kite
    These trainer kites are for use on land, in park or on the beach.  They are generally not much more in cost than a two line standard trainer kite and come with a small 3 line bar setup.  The benefit of the 3 line design is that if you’re learning on your own when you crash the kite you will be able to relaunch the kite yourself.

    Some Suggestions: HQ Rush V Pro, Peter Lynn Impulse TR
     
    Closed Cell 3 Line Trainer Kite
    These trainer kites are for use on Land or Water, so if you’re struggling for open space you can walk out and fly them in the water.  Whilst they are more costly than a Standard 3 Line Trainer Kite they are a lot of fun and can be used to learn more of the basics of kiteboarding such as body dragging through the water.

    Some Suggestions: HQ Hydra II, Peter Lynn Skim
     
    Single Skin 3 Line Trainer Kite
    The newest designed Trainer Kites to the market and designed to be used on land, in a park or on a beach.  Unlike all the other trainer kites a single skin trainer kite has no “cells” so nowhere to hold air.  This makes them ideal for repeatedly crashing again and again when learning, and compared to all the other available trainer kites can take much harder and repeated crashes.

    Some Suggestions: Peter Lynn Uniq TR, Born-Kite Star3
    Second Hand Trainer Kites?
    A second hand trainer kite can be a good option, look for one that hasn’t been used a lot as the consistent crashing of a trainer kite weakens the kite over time.  You can look through our Buy & Sell section of our Community Forum.
    Still Not Sure?
    If you’ve still got questions and unsure, ask in our Community Kiteboarding Forum, our members will be more than happy to assist in answering your questions.
    If you got 10 land kiters together and asked them 'what kite should I buy first' something like 7 out of 10 would usually say 'a 3m 4 line low aspect power kite on handles'.
    Why 3m?  Power kites are generally made in sizes from 1.5m to 21m.  You want something that will be easy to learn on, still provide some decent pull but won't completely wear you out.  Something around the 3m mark is usually ideal for the average weight person.   For a start, you don't want to be fighting a kite while you're learning to fly it.  You want to be concentrating on flying it and having fun, not survival.  For most of us in the 65 - 85kg range, the 3m size is ideal.  Big enough to provide a fair bit of pull in 10 - 15 knots and powerful enough to buggy with should you go that way.  Plus, smaller kites in the 2m - 3m range are fairly quick through the sky and a little more exciting imho than the bigger kites.  4m - 5m kites start getting noticeably slower and it's a bit like hanging on to a truck - a lot of effort and you'd soon wear yourself out - depending on the wind strength.  Bigger sizes can produce more power in lighter winds, but if there's not enough wind for the 3m to fly then it's more than likely you'd struggle to fly a 4m or 5m.    Even though a 2 - 3m power kite is relatively small, don't underestimate the power that they can generate if flown in winds beyond what you can handle - they can hurt so stick to lightish winds while you're learning.
    Why 4 line handles?  4 line handles (a pair of power lines each side of the kite and a pair of brake lines) give you the most versatility.  You can easily reverse launch the kite should you land upside down.  You can also bring the kite to a complete stop by pulling the brakes and when you are learning, you'll quite likely have some velcro bands around your wrist with a line attached to the brake lines of the kite.  These are called 'kite killers'.   You just let the handles GO and the brake lines will be pulled killing all the power in the kite.  See pic from Peter Lynn below...

    4 line handles are also compact, easy to store, provide the most control for your kite and are relatively inexpensive.  2 line kites tend to be a bit difficult to relaunch from an inverted position and harder to land. 4 line kites may take an hour or so extra to initially get the hang of than a 2 line kite, but the extra hour will pay big dividends.  

    Low aspect?  Beginner kites are normally 'short and fat'.  These are low aspect kites.  High aspect kites are long and thin - lots of extra performance and speed/power but demand much more skill to fly. They are usually designed as high performance 'engines' for buggies.  Leave them for later.  While low aspect kites are often labelled as 'beginner' kites, they are not something that you will necessarily outgrow - they are often characterized by having excellent stability - particularly in gusty wind - and having very good manners.  They are excellent kites for days when the wind is less than ideal.  If you're not chasing that extra speed in the buggy or trying to go that extra 15% upwind then there's no particular reason you need to upgrade.

    Ok then, which kite?  Stick with a known and respected brand like Peter Lynn, Ozone, PKD, Zebra, HQ, Born Kite, Flexifoil.  All these manufacturers make excellent quality kites that should last for years if not crashed too much.  Good kites to buy first up are the HQ Beamer, the Peter Lynn Hornet, Flexifoil Rage, Flexifoil Sting, PKD Buster, Zebra Checka, Zebra Z1 and Ozone Quattro.  There is also the single skin Nasa Star 3 from Born Kite that is an excellent kite to learn on.  The best thing you can do is ask lots of questions on a forum such as this.  Better still, get together with some local flyers - you can learn far more in an afternoon flying with other people than any other way.  In the meantime, there's always youtube videos...
    Once you've got the reflexes working and you can fly your kite without needing to look at it, then you might like to get into some 'traction' kiting - ie: snow kiting, skates, landboard, or my favorite mode of transport, the buggy...

    Buying your first Kite Buggy is a big step, so lets explore the best options together so you get the right equipment to start.  The key to your first Kite Buggy is choosing a buggy that will get you kiting as often as possible, a versatile buggy when starting will give you the most enjoyment as frequently as possible.   Features that are important in a first buggy are the ability to use it in the widest possible conditions, whilst easily transportable and good value.
    Top Choices for your First Kite Buggy
    Peter Lynn Rally
    The Peter Lynn Rally is a fantastic first choice for a Kite Buggy, it’s compact, versatile and offers a really good all-round Kite Buggy.
    The Peter Lynn Rally comes in two available wheel configurations, Standard and Midi/Wide wheels.  The ideal configuration for someone starting with the Peter Lynn Rally as their first buggy is the Midi/Wide wheel configuration.  This will give you the flexibility to comfortably kite buggy in most parks, ovals and grassed areas whilst also providing the ideal introduction to beach kite buggying.  The Midi/Wide wheels option on the beach will allow you to kite with slightly less power required, and also allow you to go through much softer sand more comfortably than attempting with a standard wheel.
     
    Zebra Buggy
    The Zebra Buggy is an excellent first buggy offering the casual and beginner kite buggy pilot a solid platform to start with.  The buggy offers good back support and has upgrade options going forward as your skills develop.
    The Zebra Buggy comes in with the option of a 125cm or 150cm Rear Axle, and the option of a Standard or Midi/Wide Fork, and Standard or Midi/Wide Tyres.  The ideal beginners configuration is a Zebra Kite Buggy with 125cm Rear Axle, Midi/Wide Fork and Midi/Wide Tyres all round.  This will give you the most flexibility to kite parks and ovals, whilst the slightly wider tyres assist on softer beaches.

    Second Hand Options?
    A Second Hand Kite Buggy can save you considerable money when first setting out provided you purchase the right model for a beginner.  Kite Buggies such as the Peter Lynn Competition, Peter Lynn Competition MK2, Flexifoil and Libre vMax kite buggies are all excellent beginner choices and are frequently sold in the Buy & Sell section of our Community Forum.
    Build Your Own?
    If you’ve got the resources why not?  Take a read through our Kite Buggy Forum and start a new discussion.  Best methods and practises are always evolving and changing, so you’ll get the help you need in a New Topic.
    Still Not Sure?
    If you’ve still got questions and unsure ask in our Community Kite Buggy Forum, our members will be more than happy to assist in answering your questions.