The sun is in the sky, the breeze on your face, and the ocean spray at your feet — what could beat the experience of kitesurfing? An up-and-coming sport which combines elements of windsurfing and wakeboarding, kitesurfing is a refreshing activity that has become one of the most popular thing to do in Leo Carillo or Long Beach. But what exactly does it entail?
First things first, kitesurfing does require equipment: a kite and a board and a few other things. The kite isn’t quite the one that you flew in the skies during picnics when you were little; it is instead approximately 36 feet long, with some variation depending on your height and the speed of the winds. Corresponding to the size of the kite will be the size of the board. This board will work a little like a snowboard — you’ll strap your feet to it with both facing the same long side. With the board and kite, you’ll also require a waist harness to attach the kite to you so it is easier to control. Other miscellaneous things might include sun protection and water-appropriate sport clothes. But really, the trio of kite-board-harness is all you’ll really need to start.
After knowing how to properly suit up, you’ll have a basic idea of what kitesurfing is. Kite strapped to you, board under your feet, learning to orient yourself such that the wind carries you up and across the ocean surface. There’s a lot that happens all at once, such as bracing against the waves and paying attention to the winds. To move around, you’ll have a bar right in front of your harness that will allow you to pull on the kite, helping you to change speed and direction. With much practice, experienced kitesurfers can “freestyle”. This is basically doing various aerobatic tricks and jumps with the board!
However, it’ll be a while before your kitesurfing is at that level. Generally, at least 6 hours of lessons are needed for one to really have a feel of the sport. Lessons will start on land as you learn to control large kites single-handedly, how they behave in the wind, and technical jargon relating to wind speeds, angles, and types. Soon after, you’ll practice the basics with an instructor in the water. While this may sound intimidating, know that kitesurfing’s learning curve is actually far easier than that for windsurfing, and that when surfing with others that have knowledge of the wind, it is quite a safe activity. You don’t even have to be extremely fit to kitesurf successfully; you just need persistence, drive, and a good instructor.
Finally, where are the best places to kitesurf in Los Angeles? We have a few different options available in Malibu or in Long Beach where the best surfing is to be had in this neck of the woods. With a little bit of experience with the waves and the wind, you’ll soon be able to freestyle yourself among other kitesurfers in Santa Barbara, Belmont Shore, or Sunset Beach! And if Kitesurfing is a tad too intense for you check out some SUP!
Pictures by Lyvly Ambassador: Liam K.