Kiteboarding Skills Assessment Test:
To obtain a kiteboarder certification card, you will have to undergo a live skills assessment with a Certified kiteboarding instructor. The test includes both theory and practical elements.
the Skills assessment usually takes between 1 and 2 hours.
The instructor will ask general questions to assess your level of knowledge, and also quiz you about your knowledge, including right of way rules, safety rules, weather knowledge, knowledge of wind effects, and you ability to assess the conditions.
Your instructor will ask you to assess the daily conditions including;
• making an estimation of the wind speed, using visual indicators.
• The instructor will ask you for the relative wind direction, and its significance.
• What is the tide condition and concerns.
• What is the best size equipment to rig for the day?
Then you will be asked to rig your gear, and the instructor will assess how you rig,
• is the gear rigged correctly and safely,
• and are the settings correctly adjusted.
Instructor will ask you to describe your float and fly plan,
• choosing your launch spot, and landing spots, and backup emergency landing spot.
Launching and landing procedure:
• Instructor will ask you to describe how you intend to launch and self-land your kite, as well as your emergency landing procedures.
• You will have to describe “emergency stopping”, and proper “self-rescue” procedure.
• The instructor will ask you to self-launch (where appropriate) and ride in the test area, show good kite skills, and stay upwind, demonstrate good control, turns, jumps and of course strong upwind riding. Safe riding; the ability to navigate among other kiters and other users is a safe manner. Also riding is a safe controlled manner.
• Usually there is a time limit, and a limit on the number of crashes, depending on conditions one or 2 small crashes might be acceptable, but no major loss of control, like crashing into another water user, or severe loss of kite control.
• Student will also have to demonstrate an emergency landing using safety systems, and do a full self rescue. And return to the beach unaided.
Review and redo:
• Finally the instructor will review the knowledge with the student and if necessary recommend more Study, or More practice to get the desired level.
• Once a successful test assessment has been passed, the instructor is permitted to Certify the student with the Kiteboarder Card.
• This includes registering them online with the certifying body.
• The student may have to also register online and confirm the test, to complete their registration.
Cost of the assessment:
There is usually no cost for the Kiteboarder Card itself, but the cost for this Skills Assessment is equal to the instructor’s normal hourly rates.
Click here for More Info about the IKO Kiteboarder Card
Click here for More Info about the IKO Skills List
Click here for More Info about the IKO Training Path
Report Lost Equipment to Coastguard:
When you abandon a kite or board at sea, the authorities might think you are in trouble and start an expensive search and rescue operation, to look for you. If you have to abandon any water craft or equipment in the ocean, report it to the authorities.
Also it is always a good policy to write your name and phone number on all equipment. So that people can call you to confirm they found the gear, and that you are at home safe.
Writing your name on your gear can save your life, because when you are really in trouble, the search can be more successful if they know who they are looking for.
- Vessel identification stickers are used to locate the owners of small crafts, such as kayaks, canoes and rowboats, when the vessels get lost or loose from their moorings. An owner should use a water-resistant grease pen to write his or her contact information on the sticker and adhere it to the side of the vessel. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Matthew Masaschi.
Wasted unnecessary searches cost taxpayers 10’s of thousands of dollars.
And while rescuers are following false leads, they might be diverted from looking for someone who is in real trouble.
Please report lost equipment, and
write your name and number on all your gear.
P.S. The Coast Guard Office has Stickers that can stick to any smooth surface.
Use a waterproof marker and rewrite the number when it starts to fade.
Kiteboarding’s 10 Worst Bad Habits
Here is a list of Kiteboarding’s 10 Worst Habits. This Top Ten is some of the worst things we see daily on kite beaches that make us cringe or shake our heads. Why do people do it, when there is clearly a better way or at least a better looking way to do it? These bad habits were submitted from our pro-team members as some of the worst examples of sloppy or just plain ugly kite technique. There are many more bad habits not on this list to be sure. Here we have listed ten of the worst in no particular order.
1) Poop stance: we have all seen it most of us have done it at one time, but it is preventable. Poop stance is kiting with your butt sticking out and almost dragging on the water. Maybe it is because your harness is too loose and slipping up under your armpits. Maybe your kite is 5 sizes too big, or maybe your arms are just way too short. But damn! It really hurts our eyes, so can you please get some better gear or some training please.
2) Hot launching and moon walking:
Ok we are not making a reference to Michael Jackson here, we are talking about the typical kook launch where the kite is soo overpowered that the kiter runs toward the kite in huge bounding steps on the verge of being lofted. This is typical of someone severely underestimating the kite’s power on launch. If you launch right you don’t have to run towards the kite, and “moon walking” is totally unnecessary. Launching out of control like this is not cool. Maybe you will fall on your face, or maybe you step into my kite and rip a hole in it. So please stay far away from me and my gear if you launch this way.
3) Not Signaling to launch:
Is it really so hard to give a thumbs up? Or maybe raise your board. Giving a clear launch signal is actually vital for your safety as well as those around you. We are not mind readers, so how do we know when you want to launch your kite. It is also not our responsibility to choose when to launch you. If you don’t give a signal, maybe your launch assistant gets bored and throws the kite up and walks away. Don’t blame the other guy if you are not ready, and get worked.
4) Not having A Plan:
Ok so now you are riding, but just not going upwind all the time. So you are going to do some “downwinders”, and may come ashore at some undetermined spot. So don’t just hope for the best without a plan. We see too many people just kiting along and then coming into the beach with no clear plan how they are going to land the kite by themselves. What are you gonna do? Take aim at the nearest person, kiter or not?. Please have a plan before you launch, and try to be self sufficient on landing, it is really not that hard if you know how.
5) Gadget Guy:
Safety is important, and so is having the right safety gear. Carry a spare kite leash too if you want. But some people think that more gear and gadgets is better than less. So they keep adding onto their safety gear. Extra gadgets and added items hanging off their harness are just going to get tangled in the lines. Especially carabineers and snap hooks. These are little traps just waiting to get stuck in your kite lines at the worst possible moment. So keep it simple and try to stay streamlined.
6) Reverse launching:
This usually happens when a person is kiting in a new location for the first time, and they do it like they are used to at home. The definition of a reverse launch depends on the location and the site setup. With a true crosswind launch like on Maui kiters should always launch with their kite towards the water, this is where the good wind is and the safest direction to get pulled away from land in a gust. So reverse launching is doing the opposite of what is safe and practical. However in onshore wind locations the other direction may be preferred, according to local conditions. Then reversing the launch puts you onshore with your kite in a bad position. To prevent this you have to watch how the locals launch, and ask them why they do it that way. There are usually good reasons as to why one method is favored. And you would be foolish to do the opposite. Ask an instructor or safe local rider to explain the local launching methods to you.
7) Reverse grip:
We have all see the guy with the underhand grip. Probably he was a windsurfer, or waterskier in a former life. But it is not right for kiting. Underhand grips are way too common and they are a bad habit learned from other people with bad habits. Like a virus bad habits like this spread. So unless you have a medical issue that limits your arm/wrist movement, you should be able to hold you kite bar in the normal way. Hands over the top kangaroo style. It is better for your brain, and for proper bar function too.
8) Crossed grip:
Why would you hold the left bar with the right hand, or vice versa?
This phenomenon tends to be regionalized to specific groups. It serves no practical function in fact it can have negative consequences when quick reflexes are needed. Like accidentally un-hooking, or a kitemare line break. When split seconds count you need to have technique and reflexive training on your side. But when you see people holding their kite on a launch with their front hand on the back of their bar, and their board in their back hand. You know that they are either self-taught or just copied their buddy who tried to teach them. This one really hurts the eyes for instructors and experienced riders. *The upside is that when you see someone trying to lunch like this, you can take it as a red flag warning so you to get out of their way, and to expect that a mishap will likely occur. Sadly once a kiter starts down this dark path, chances are they cannot be rehabilitated.
9) Using board Leash:
It is amazing and disturbing to me that some people still do this. There are so many reasons to not use a kiteboard leash, and you need go no further than a “Google search of kiteboard leashes” to know why. But some people are still too afraid (or ignorant) to stop using their board leash. Sometimes these people know that they shouldn’t do it, but they cannot give it up. Like a smoker denying the known health consequences. You also see some people “kinda-sorta” using the leash. The guys with the reel-type leash still attached to their harness, but they say “I don’t use it anymore”, or “I only use it occasionally when I need to”. Usually these guys were never trained to “not need one”. These days most beginner kiters are taught to upwind bodydrag on their first day. If you have good technique you don’t need a leash. Better yet always have a kite buddy around to help you get a board back. Again anytime you see a board leash, it is a red flag to stay far away from that person, and maybe you shouldn’t even launch them (for their own safety).
10) Talking During a launch:
In Golf you would never talk to someone during a their back swing. When a person is fully concentrated and committed to taking the shot, there is nothing you can say that will not detract from their shot. Same in kiteboarding. Way too may people try to talk or shout advice to people in the process of launching. For the most part this is just noise. Or worse you could distract them just enough so they look at you instead of their kite, then have an accident caused by you. If you want to chat or give someone some tips, the time to do that is well before they are actively launching. Most people appreciate a tip or two now and again, but half a dozen people shouting stuff at a stressed out person launching a kite is a recipe for disaster.
Better to hold your comments for later. Pick your moments when you talk to a kiter. And try not to interrupt their launch, or you could be the cause of an accident.
Most of our pro-team agrees that bad habits like these can sometimes be broken, But it takes concentrated effort and lots of discipline to overcome some of them. The first step is recognizing that you have a bad habit.
What do Kiteboarders Wear?
Kiteboarding is an outdoor sport that requires protection from the elements.
Knowing what to wear will help you to enjoy the sport more, and in some cases be safer.
There are differences in what to wear depending on where you are going and what type of kiteboarding you are planning to do. Keep in mind that not all of your time will be spend on the water kiting. You will need to have appropriate clothing to wear before and after your water time. You will also need a way/place to change into your water wear, and you may need some dry clothes for wearing afterward.
Clothing is for protection:
Clothing will protect you from the cold, the sun, the impact of boards, water injuries, and the kite lines. Kiteboarders are exposed to cold water as well as a high degree of wind chill. So although the ambient air temperature may seem relatively high, the kiter can still lose body heat faster in strong wind. Colorful clothing will help you be seen, this is especially important when kiting in remote areas, where rescue may be required.
Do not go underequipped or underdressed:
Make sure that you have enough kite wear for the environment you are in.
Cold water will require a wetsuit, very cold water will require a thick wetsuit, or even a drysuit, and maybe booties, gloves, a hood.
What to wear in warm water:
In warm water like Hawaii, you should wear sturdy swimwear like a bathing suit, covered with boardshorts, and a rashguard. Kids and small people or people with low body fat will need some sort of thermal protection. A thin shorty wetsuit, hot skin, or vest will be needed if you want to enjoy extended kiteboarding sessions.
Proper board shorts:
These should be the type of shorts that tie up on the front. This is to keep them on in a high speed crash. The snap type fly on shorts will not hold them on in a crash. Also the try to avoid the type with a velcro fly as they can open, or cause abrasion. Most modern shorts have a false fly that has no velcro. Stretchy shorts with flex fabric are best as they allow better range of movement. Do not have shorts that are too tight as they restrict movement and could rip if stretched too far.
Long Boardshorts called kite pants were very popular in the early days of the sport. These often had shin-high cuffs to allow for wake style bindings. These kite pants offered more protection from bumps and scrapes of kiteboarding. Kite pants are also starting to make making a comeback.
Avoid loose clothing:
Avoid clothing that is too loose as it will be pushed around and be displaced in a wipeout and not offer much protection. Loose shirts can get stuck over your head and cause problems.
It is a good idea to dress in layers especially your pants. If wearing board shorts it is s good idea to also wear a bathing suit underneath to reduce friction, but also to prevent unwanted water penetration in case of a severe wipeout. Kiteboarders often have high speed wipeouts and skip along the water on their butts, or have butt-first landings from high jumps. So layers of added protection like neoprene pants will help prevent unwanted water penetration problems or injuries in your body cavities. This is why water-skiers and jetskiers wear wetsuit shorts.
Another layer is also a good way to reduce discomfort of seat harness leg straps. Leg straps from seat harnesses can cause chafing and irritation to sensitive areas. So a pair of lycra shorts worn under board shorts will reduce problems there. Boardshort rash happens when a lot of walking and other movement rubs on unprotected skin. Any skin that gets repeatedly rubbed by the fabric will tend to chafe, so think about at least wearing Speedos (or bikini) under your board shorts or get some safety shorts.
Not just for warmth, but also for protection. Neoprene shorts are great for protection from chafing, cold, harness straps, and impact, and water penetration. Wetsuit shorts are comfortable to wear and can be worn discreetly under boardshorts if desired.
Wearing a waist harness without a shirt can cause friction against the skin that can lead to harness rash. In some cases open sores can develop on the skin especially near protruding hip bones or ribs. Wearing a rashguard shirt under a waist harness will help stop this from happening. The shirt needs to be long enough to cover the exposed areas of skin. Waist harnesses slide on the skin so the fabric of the shirt worn under a waist harness should be soft and untextured. A shorty wetsuit will also eliminate harness rash.
Boardshorts over wetsuits?
Some kiteboarders will wear boardshorts over their wetsuits. This is a matter of personal preference. Some wear board-short-harnesses, so they are integrated harnesses. Some kiters wear boardshorts so that they can have pockets to carry their car keys, or kite-knives or whatever. And some people will simply prefer the aesthetic of wearing boardshorts.
A rashguard shirt is designed to also offer some sun protection. Some shirts offer the same protection as wearing a 50 spf sunscreen. These are rated as such on the label. Wearing a white tee shirt does not offer sun protection because UV rays can easily penetrate most fabrics.
Wearing a swim shirt or rashguard is better than wearing sunscreen because it does not wash off. This is better for the environment because most Sunscreen can be harmful to marine life. Sunscreen is also not good for kiting equipment. Wearing a rashie or sunshirt means that you can use less sunscreen and have more sun protection. Wear a long sleeve rashguard for maximum coverage. Some people like to wear full length lycra pants and shorts for sun protection. This has added benefits for protection from jellyfish and other irritants.
In many kiteboarding locations jellyfish are a real problem, Northern australia and Thailand are a couple or locations that come to mind but jellyfish stings can happen almost anywhere. So think about wearing jellyfish pants. Jellyfish pants are simply tight fitting lycra pants that help stop the stinging tentacles of a jellyfish from directly contacting the skin. In areas with known jellyfish problems it is also necessary to wear a tight fitting lycra shirt tucked into the pants. You should wear booties too, preferably ones covering the ankles as well for maximum protection. But remember that your hands and face are still exposed too. There is special sunscreen that helps protect against jellyfish stings that can be used on the remaining areas of skin that are exposed. Full length wetsuits can offers even better protection from jellyfish sting than lycra clothing, but it is not always practical to wear wetsuits in hot climates. Many people wear the jellyfish pants under their boardshorts.
A stinger Suit is a full body suit of lycra/spandex that covers ankles to wrists, some may have feet or “sox” sewn in. These suits usually with a zipper down the front. These stinger suits are usually worn in high risk areas.
How to Wear Sunscreen:
You will still need to apply sunscreen to exposed skin areas. A good waterproof sunscreen for watersports should be used. Use a reef-safe brand, that is not animal tested. The face will need protection especially the nose and cheeks, but all areas will need some protection. Make sure you cover your forehead sparingly as excess sunscreen can get into your eyes. Many sunscreens will be painful if it gets into your eyes. But there are some that are non stinging. Use these for the face. Generally a gel or clear type stick sunscreen is best for faces and foreheads. Don’t forget to apply to your ears, and back of your neck, legs, back of calves, and tops of feet. Use sunscreen sparingly on lower legs and feet as it can adversely affect the footstraps or bindings. Apply sunscreen to the back of your hands, but try to avoid getting sunscreen on the palms of your hands, and wash it off your palms before kiting so you do not get it onto your control bar.
Wear a hat:
A hat with a stiff brim will offer some protection from sun on the face. The brim must be stiff or the wind will fold it down over your eyes. Many people wear a baseball cap, and it can be worn under the helmet as well. There are many other surfer style hats that are also suitable for kiting as well. A leash is a good idea to stop it floating away after a wipeout or a gust blowing it off your head.
Wear eye protection:
Wear eye protection, in the form of “Sea-specks”. These are waterproof sunglasses designed for waterports. These stop your eyelids getting burned, and protect eyes from sun, If you expose eyes to wind, and sun over the long term a medical condition called “Pterygium” can develop where tissue starts to grow over the eye that may need to be surgically removed.
Some people will want to wear face protection. This is fairly new but makes sense,. Anything that reduces long term sun exposure can help prevent sun damage, and possible skin cancer later on. Some countries wear face lycra coverings, and some people wear paintball type masks for protection. There are even full face helmet visors that block the sun and also some impacts from boards etc.
Of course we all know that helmets can offer a lot of protection for your head. They prevent many small injuries and they also help reduce severe injuries from the board impacting you, or your hear hitting hard objects like the seafloor etc. Helmets can also protect you from the sun, and prevent cuts from kite lines as well. Some helmets can protect the ears from direct impact, and may even protect your eardrums from bursting on a hard impact with the water. Only a proper water sports helmet should be used. Kiteboard specific helmets are best, Wakeboard helmets, and surfing helmets work too. Helmets also help you to keep warm in cold conditions, and are a great place to mount your go-pro camera.
An impact jacket is a thick neoprene vest that is padded. It protects your torso from impacts and can help prevent broken ribs and some chest injuries. Some impact jackets also offer added floatation which is always good to have. Especially when you have just cracked some ribs, and you can barely breathe, and can’t swim back to shore easily.
There are Life jackets, buoyancy vests, and floatation aids. The classification depends on the amount of floatation. Whether they are coast guard approved or not, most jackets designed to be worn while kiteboarding will not save your life all by itself. You still need to be a competent swimmer for kiteboarding. But buoyancy aid jackets can help you to increase your chances of survival until rescue arrives. Sports type life jackets called “Type III”, are comfortable and the most common type used in kiteboarding. A jacket must be tight fitting so that it stays on after impact, and so it does not slip up over your head or mouth. Short-bodied kayaker’s jackets are also used for kiting and work very well. Test your life jacket by swimming in it and see if it stays in the correct position when swimming. Some jackets have a strap that threads through your harness or spreader bar to keep it from riding too far up on your body. The general rule is the further you ride away from shore or from rescue, the more flotation you will need. Some US states and certain countries have specific laws requiring the use of a specific type of jacket. Like a coast guard approved Type II for example. Long distance kiteboarders and kite adventurers may consider using a type I (type one) “offshore jacket” or even an inflatable rig.
Booties (foot wear):
Water shoes, like neoprene booties can keep your feet warm, and protect them from cuts on shore and whilst riding. Booties offer better grip on the board, especially for skim board, or strapless surfing. Style riding. Booties come in different styles and thicknesses. Check to make sure that your booties fit unto your footstraps.
Gloves like leather sailing gloves for protection from blisters are good for people with sensitive skin. Neoprene gloves are good for cold water kiting. If you cannot feel you hands from cold that is a sign you need gloves.
A neoprene hood is necessary for cold water kiting. They increase your safety by slowing the onset of cold water exposure and hypothermia. The head is especially vulnerable to wind chill, ears will get super cold without a hood in cold water and strong wind.
Lycra hoods are built into some heavy duty rashguards, these are great for super hot sunny locations to reduce sun exposure. Separate lycra hoods are also available too.
Turtle neck style lycra tubes, can be worn around the neck and pulled over the face as needed for sun protection.
Neoprene Over jackets are made that can be work after you stop kiting to help you stay warm between sessions while your are still wearing your wet wetsuit. These might also good for instructors or support boat crews driving jetskis or dinghy’s in rain and spray conditions.
Getting in and out of a wetsuit is difficult, there are changing mats that help stop you getting sandy feet into a wetsuit, and there are terry toweling ponchos that you can wear to cover yourself while changing into/out of a wetsuit. These not only keep you warmer, but they also offer some degree of privacy as well.
Caring for your Kitewear:
Always have your kitewear ready to go. Take it out each night and wash it in soapy warm water. If you do not wash your rashguards and boardshorts you will get bacteria buildup and strong ammonia stink, and you can even get a skin fungus. Keep a spare set of your kitewear handy and rotate it as needed. Never put lycra or neoprene in the clothes dryer. Instead allow it time to drip dry. Do not use chemicals of strong soaps on lycra or neoprene. Follow the garment care instructions on wetsuits, lycra, bathing suits, or any specialized clothing.
Know before you go:
When traveling to a new location contact the local kite school or shop to ask about the best kitewear and protective gear to wear when you get there.
Maui Kiteboarding Guidelines Sign
Caution: Do not hitch your kite to launch.
Kite hitching is a dangerous technique and should not be attempted.
These types of techniques are dangerous for the general public.
Accidents have happened and these methods could easily result in serious injuries.
When it comes to kiteboarding lessons, there are 4 options:
1. try to teach yourself,
2. get lessons from a buddy,
3. get a lesson from some random dude,
4. or find a Certified professional kiteboarding instructor.
When communicating on-water or over a distance, wind and wave noise will drown out almost all verbal communication. So it is necessary for kiteboarders to use visual communications to signify their intent, and especially useful is using hand signals. There are a specific set of hand signals that are in wide use, and are widely understood. To be a responsible kiter, you should learn the kiteboarding hand Signals listed below. Understanding these basic hand signals will improve the level of safety for you and others. These hand signals are based on the standard signals used internationally by IKO certified kiteboarding instructors.
The International Kiteboarding Organization has released the “Top Ten Safety Directives for Public Kiters”.
This useful document includes knowing safety systems, using a kite leash, flyovers, position on board leashes, right of way rules and more.
“No kiter should take a kite without knowing how to ride safely. Every kiter from beginner to advanced should at least know these ten safety directives brought to you through the IKO”, explains David Dorn, IKO’s training director.