First Water Lesson Was A Disaster. Help!

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First Water Lesson Was A Disaster. Help!

Postby Buzz » Mon Jul 31, 2006 8:26 pm

Just had my first water lesson. I'm quite satisfied with the instructor and the operation - no problems with that; nice place, nice people. But really curious about their teaching methodology. Seemed like a strange way to introduce a first-timer to the water part.

Before the water lesson, I spent about 8 hours with a trainer kite. No problems with the trainer kite, did all of the exercises required. Successfully. Every one.

After the trainer kite, had a land lesson. Lasted about 2-3 hours. That went well, although in retrospect it seemed - and probably was - too brief.

First lesson on the water was body dragging.... With a big bow kite the kind of which I had used for maybe 15 minutes total beforehand.... whilst treading water in switching currents.... with waves lapping at my ears..... with an instructor behind me calling out instructions (over the din of an idling jet ski) that sounded mostly like "Sheestkum oughtfriktsit! Pull dcranscumpliert! Turn feidkder!"....until I somehow managed to get the kite up and it started yanking me through the water like I was a rag doll being key-holed, as the sailors call it.

That was about it for my water lesson. Very depressing.

In the name of all good common sense, how is this instruction technique supposed to work at all? If it worked for you, can you give me some helpful advice? If it didn't work for you, what did you do?

Wouldn't it be more appropriate as a first water lesson to just step out into shallow water where you can wade into waist/shoulder height and practice these same maneuvers? That way you can remove the variables of switching currents, waves lapping at the ears, trying to keep your upgright balance, idling jet ski noise, etc, and just focus on the kite which would then pull you into your (first anyway) controlled body drag. I realize learning how to "body drag" in deep water is essential, but as the very first exercise?

I really would like to learn how to kiteboard. It looks like a fun sport and I believe I can do it. Unfortunately it seems I may have to help the instructor as much as the instructor is helping me. Not being negative, but sometimes that's the way it goes.

Any advice? Please share anything helpful for me. What are your secrets? Thanks.
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Postby Sander » Mon Jul 31, 2006 8:58 pm

Welcome to the world of kiting! Your frustrating intital experience is common. You are off to a great start by having taken lessons.
Now that you've had the water lesson get out and do some dragging on your place might be Alameda...ask the local crew for advice before you launch.
The best advice I can give is to keep at it as often as you can before the summer is over...and you will definitely progress.
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Postby dewey » Mon Jul 31, 2006 9:06 pm

If you were being dragged around in deep water imagin if it were shallow. Don't worry too much, I've seen much worse. Just remember to take it easy with the kite. It's just like the trainer, small movements mean a lot.

PS. The jet ski thing is one of the best ways to teach, and deep water helps.
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Postby Proparoo » Tue Aug 01, 2006 4:02 am

One or two "Desaster" days and then you will be up and rideing...
Thats the great thing about this sport, the learning curve is way fast..

I remember being dragged down in La Ventana, kite pulling me one way, board leash pulling me the other... Oh My God I wanted to quit right then, but in another 2 hours I was rideing!!!

Now after 5 months I would say I am a solid beginning intermediate with the ability to launch at Sherman and no problem staying up wind. Hell, windsurfing would have taken me 3 years to get this far.

Don't give up, it's only for a short while and you will look back and laugh.
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Postby andre » Tue Aug 01, 2006 10:57 am

Yeah, that's what my first water lesson was like. Dumped off near Treasure Island, cold-ass water, 3 foot swells, first time w/ the big kite. It's definitly sensory overload. I got cold out there and came in halfway through. I went out a second time and it felt better, and by the end of the lesson I was riding. This sport ain't easy, that's for sure. But keep it up man. You will swallow some bay water and get tossed. But it's worth it. Just be glad you're learning w/ some experienced people and the latest equipment. Imagine getting into this sport years ago w/o all the new techology. I'm sure you've heard the stories. anyways, keep trying!

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Postby panzerfaust » Tue Aug 01, 2006 11:46 am

Hehe, yeah, that's normal dude.

Just keep at it and eventually you will stop being a hazard to yourself and others.
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Postby Bulldog » Tue Aug 01, 2006 12:44 pm

Well, it may not be easy to learn, but just try learning to ski or snowboard at age 30 plus. I'm an expert skier, but I hurt myself way more learning to snowboard than I did learning to kite, and it took much longer to get proficient. And the real danger level is much higher when you're going downhill towards rocks, trees, and people than being out in the open water.

Rich is right, the learning curve on kiting is very short (if maybe a bit steep). It's scary being out in deep water, but once you learn to kite you will realize that being in shallow water, especially near land, is way scarier if you have a kite hooked to your waist.

P.S. -- You better get used to drinking gallons of water, because it gets worse before it gets better. :)
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Postby michael » Tue Aug 01, 2006 2:37 pm


totally agree - practicing off jet ski is MUCH safer. A total beginner launching a 12m kite for his first time off the beach, then crashing it in a random direction is a VERY scary scene to watch...

Advices like "keep trying", "it's normal", "one or two disaster days and you will be fine" are really confusing. "Keep trying" with jet ski lessons ?
On one hand, people say how unsafe is to practice close to the beach, on shallow water, jet ski is the best way, and at the same time give an advice like "get out and do some body dragging on your own"...

When I was in this situation, I found it as a dead end. Practicing off jet skis is not cheap, practicing off the beach is not safe. Especially if the water lesson went so bad, now you know how much power the kite can generate, and if you can't control it with absolute confidence - don't practice on your own off the beach.

I have put another posting with my advice in the other thread - check it out.

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Postby pipedragon » Tue Aug 01, 2006 3:31 pm

Yes, welcome to kiteboarding. I know it is frustrating at first but this was actually a good lesson. This is kind of an individual sport. The instructor can not sit with you and teach you to kite like other sports. They teach you the basics and safety. The rest is up to you. I had one water lesson similar to yours and then did the walk of shame at Alameda for weeks after that. Don't get frustrated by other kiters and don't give up. We all started this way. Your also best to hook up with other newbies or friends and learn together taking turns on the kite while the other assists. Much easier.
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Postby Bob » Tue Aug 01, 2006 5:59 pm

whilst treading water in switching currents
Every five plus hours man - turns 4 times a day
with waves lapping at my ears.....

Of Course!
What did you expect - it's a water sport.
If its windy enough to kite there are waves - This is a good thing.
it started yanking me through the water
Later on that is where the board will come in... And the stoke will be fueled!

What are your secrets?

How do you get to Carnegie Hall from here?

Before you can cruise yous gotsta pay your dues

Whatever you do be sure to practice away from solid objects and innocents on the beach.
AND Understand your safety system-how to deploy it - and self rescue.

The view will be worth the hike to the summit!
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