So you've done your lessons, and you're ready to buy your gear and get out on the water. But where do you start?
Brush up on your terminology!
Depower range - the amount the kite can be trimmed to maintain a safe riding wind range;
Bar throw - the amount of depower available just through moving the bar;
Fast/Slow relaunch - the time it takes to relaunch the kite from the water;
SLE - supported leading edge, where the kite uses a bridle system to provide support to the front of the canopy- used on "bow kites";
Bar Input - the sensitivity of the bar to input from you;
Types of Kitesurf kites:
There are many different "types" of kitesurf kites available in todays market, so we'll help you narrow down your choice..
1. C-Shape - First released commercially around 2001-2002 these kites are for full freestyle users only. They offer no benefits to a beginner, in fact quite the opposite! With a lack in depower, no gust response, and hard to relaunch, the C-Shape is the exact opposite of what you require, and is now considered an outdated design. Examples of this kite would be the early North Rhino (2002-2006), Slingshot Fuel (02 -current).
2. Hybrid C-Shape - The more modern version of the C-Kite for todays full on freestylers, the Hybrid C has a bigger wind range, and is more "user friendly" . Not suitable for beginners!
3. Bow - Also called SLE (supported leading edge) these kites typically are more flat in their design and have a bridle line system with pulleys on the front of the kite which provides support to keep the kite in shape. Not as popular nowadays, but very popular back in 2006-2008. One of the first kitesurf kites to benefit from a very large depower range. Examples of this kite type are the Best Waroo.
4. Hybrid - basically a bow kite, with a bit more rounded leading edge and no bridle system. A much "cleaner" kite without the bridles and easier to rig up. Very popular amoungst freeriders/wave surfers. Good relaunch, good depower range, sensitive to bar input (good for freeriders, not so good for beginners). Example of this type of kite is the North Rebel.
5.Delta - The more modern design, having a much deeper canopy than other types of kite, the delta design is becoming very popular for many different aspects of kiting from surf to freestyle and beginners too. Very fast relaunch, large depower range, lots of constant power makes these kites ideal for the beginner. Examples of this type of kite are the North EVO and NEO, the Best Kahoona and the F-ONE Bandit.
Two main styles of boards are available, twintip and directional. Twintips are so named because you go in both directions without changing your feet, so the board has tips at both ends. These are the most popular for beginners to learn and progress on, and vary in size, but bigger is better, as this helps you keep moving across the water. Most beginners have around a 143cm length board, but the size is based on your weight.
Directional boards are surfboard styles, where you change your feet when changing direction. These are not really suitable for beginners.
Firstly, because of the big leaps in terms of technology and safety systems, we recommend not buying anything over 3 years old. Anything older than this will actually make it much harder for you to learn and the safety system will not be as effective in an emergency as the newer systems.
Where possible always go and see the gear before buying it. Often we see examples of secondhand kite gear purchased on common auction sites that are not even close to their description, and in some cases can only be classed as dangerous! Repairs and replacing some items can be expensive, so always check over the gear before parting with any cash. If in any doubt about purchasing a suitable secondhand kite, we are happy to have a look for you, just send us an email.
You've probably read the above and will have questions, if so why not drop us an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or give us a call on 01243 671777 and we'll be happy to chat about kitesurf gear with you, to help you make an informed decision.