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I'm really interested into getting into kite boarding. First step seems to be to get a trainer kite, followed by getting a lesson (lessons).
If I'm getting a trainer kite, is it worth spending the extra $$$ on a larger kite? I've read that a 3m kite is capable of pulling one on a mountain board/snow board when the conditions are right. Is this actually feasible, and worth the extra money, or is this only true when you're out in the middle of a hurricane?
Any recommendations on a trainer to purchase? I found on kitemare.com recommendations for Airush 3m (~$200?), and looks like he is also recommending the a Best kite (~$139). Cheapest kite at boardsports was $109 I think.
Also, it seems that the few places that offer lessons I've looked into so far around the bay area are only "in season". Any chance of getting lessons (private, or otherwise) in winter? Does the scene frown upon non-certified people giving lessons?
Finally, any tips on buying equipment? I was at BoardSports the other day and noticed that their kites are heavily discounted right now. Would it be possible to score some major deals in the spring of next year?
When would be the best time to purchase some used equipment? Now -- that the main season is over, or next year when people are getting new gear?
I'd say that for a trainer kite, you want a minimum of 2m, and 3m is better as it gives you more opportunity to get used to the power of the kite. 3m is enough in moderate winds to practice things like laying on the grass and sending the kite down to generate enough power to pick you up onto your feet, which is good excercise to kind of simulate a water start. The extra cost isn't so much that you shold be discouraged as you will likely be able to get more future use out of a 3m kite than a 2m one. I used to have a 3m and sold it when I felt I no longer needed it, but regret that as it would be useful for possibly snowkiting and/or landboarding. Snowkiting requires less power as you have less resistance on the snow than on water and you have instant planing.
You may be able to contact someone at KiteWindSurf in Alameda; they may consider offering a lesson. I don't think you'd have any luck with any of the others as far as I know, but I could be wrong. Sometimes experienced kiteboarders may give a lesson or two to friends, but typically it is frowned upon for private party individuals to give lessons for various reasons, and certainly for your protection.
It's not my intent to dissuade anyone from buying new, but based on my experience and from what I've seen, you may be better off learning on used equipment. You'll save money and chances are you'll damage your gear in one way or another during the learning process. Now through very early Spring is a good time to buy used gear; it will command higher prices once the season is underway.
I've got a Slingshot B-3 that I bought after I already got started on the water (I used my friend's trainer kite initially). It's a lot more fun to fly than a smaller one, and I can take my friends out and get them stoked on the sport too! In my opinion larger is better.
Just to revisit this thread, I wanted to thank everyone for steering me to a larger kite. I ended up with the Best Trainer, which is roughly somewhere between 1.8 and 2.8m in size. I chose not to give a formal review of it because I donít believe I could have done so objectively without having flown other kites.
I took my land lesson on Saturday, and flew the loaner SlingShot Wasp 1 trainer for a few minutes. I have to say it flew like the ìSuper fast like a bumblebee on Redbullî analogy used in another thread describing the WindWing RageII 8m ñ and probably much more so.
Personally, I didnít like the lack of pull and the speed of the kite. One possible benefit though, is that it requires you to react quickly if the thing starts misbehaving. I didnít try, but I donít believe I would have been able to get the kite to pull me up from a sitting position, and my instructor estimated the wind to be blowing about 12-15mph.
I did however like the overall construction and quality of the kite. The bridle system looked much more sophisticated than the system used on the Best trainer. It seemed to me that it would keep its shape better. If I ever had the chance, I would like to see how the larger Wasp 2 or 3 compare.
As far as the Best Trainer goes, the thing generates plenty of power. Iíve flown it at Alameda with similar wind conditions, and it will lift you from a sitting position without a problem, and generate enough power during guests when overhead that to either lift me or at the least make me feel light on my feet (I weight 175 or so). It also comes with a bar large enough to attach a fixed harness loop/line. Iíve flown it when riding a skateboard and was able to get cranking faster than I felt comfortable going. Iíve tried with a snowboard but always in poor conditions and barely able to keep the kite in the air.
My major complaint with it is that it has a tendency to lose shape if the wind drops. If it does so when hovering it can usually be recovered by stepping back and putting tension on the lines, but if it is moving it sometimes starts tumbling and usually forms into a ball and drops to the ground. Also, the way the bridles are setup, the tips are sometimes able to get folded inward and get stuck between the rest of the kite and the lower bridle lines. Iíve been flying it as it was when I received it, but there are ways to mess with the angle of attack which may make it fly a bit smoother. It also looks like it could be connected to a 4 line bar.
Getting away from a quasi product review, Iíd also like to thank everyone for suggesting to myself and others to fly the hell out of their trainer kites. I believe it made a huge difference. Once I got past the initial intimidation of being hooked in and flying a real (albeit 5m) inflatable, I felt very comfortable, and my instructor made a comment about it too.
The one thing I didnít do, but would like to recommend, is to try to get a harness to wear when flying a larger trainer.
Thanks again everyone.
A 3M foil will pull you on a mountain board, if the wind is strong and the sand is hard packed. On a skateboard it will pull you in moderate wind and with better technique in light wind as well.
This weekend I was on OB, wind was over 20 on the wind meter and I got a 5M foil up. It was not easy to handle, the gusts gave it a hard time and created huge power spikes. I found myself off my feet a few times. It also didnít feel proper to open a 10M foil with that wind.
My Buddy J gave me his Airush 3M, and I used it for the rest of the day. I kept going up and down the beach on the board. When you go downwind you can really zoom in seconds. Going upwind was hard because there is not enough space to maneuver in the narrow sand strip close to the water.
I was impressed by the airush trainer. My general thinking about the trainer kites was always that they are build for hello world introduction flights, but not for real traction. The airush proved me wrong. It handled gusts admirably (and I have a few high quality foils for comparison), launched easily and was generally easy to fly and felt safe. It did not have enough power to go upwind without proper technique, but still managed with some effort. Something interesting about this kite is that it increases power with apparent wind, but only to a certain point, and then power starts going down if you donít work the kite hard. This is great for beginners, it creates a notion of ìspeed limitî on the board.
As for the collapsing that you are experiencing, this is a common thing with all kites. You need to keep the kite moving all the time to reduce the likelihood of collapsing. Keeping the kite static on the edge will make it more vulnerable for gusts.
Try ìsinningî when flying on the edge. When on the edge, donít keep the kite static pointing upwind, move it up and down the edge continuously. Try to make the turns smooth. Sinning will also increase the pull and is a common technique that you need to learn, easier to learn on your feet. Try to sin the kite up and down and create constant power even through turns. The more constant the power, the easier it is to stay on the board.
As for collapsing, some kites will handle gusts better than others. The higher quality kites have internal bracing in the wing, specially designed bridles (auto-stable profiles) as well as air intakes that prevent pressure loss of the wing in a gust. Donít expect too much from a trainer, but try to implement the techniques above, they should help.
If you can get a depowerable foil, it will also teach you to control the depower function of the bar that all inflatable kites have today. This is getting to the expensive range of foil kites, so I suggest that you do that only if you think you will use the kite after the learning process. A good use for those kites is snow, they are a joy to fly in the snow and can do some pretty sick stuff. Last week a snow record was taken of 66MPH on skies with a prototype of a new Flysurfer. Thatís the highest speed I have seen so far on snow (not ice), kind of an unofficial record.
I'd second what Ollie said about skipping the new kites as a beginner. Check out the ads here and on Ikitesurf.com. As a new kiter, you probably won't be able to tell the difference between a 2003 kite and a new one (of course, there are the new relaunch systems that will help you get your kite back up out of the water, but they're pricey). Get a few different sizes, then after a season you'll know which ones you use the most. If you want a newer kite, get the size or two you use most commonly.
Most used kites are sold without bars, but that's actually good. You can get a brand new bar with lines for between $120 and $180, and the new bars have all the new safety and convenience features that the older ones didn't. Liquid Force bars are a good deal and have lots of bells and whistles that work with most all brands of kites. Later you might want a couple different size bars, but when you're learning, you can just switch one bar from kite to kite.
When I was learning on the trainer, we just made our own harness loop by tying a piece of dog leash to the bar and then hooking to our belt buckles. That way you can get the feeling of steering with one hand, which you will have to do in the water when you're learning to pull your board towards you with the board leash.
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