Getting Started - Wind Conditions in Kite Surfing
Wind conditions vary from time to time and it is important that you know how to assess the wind. If you are just starting out with Kite Surfing, a basic understanding of the wind conditions may well be enough.
Before we further discuss how you can assess certain wind conditions, let us first discuss some terms you need to know.
To help you determine whether the wind condition is suitable for Kite Surfing, follow these steps:
- Onshore winds blow from the water directly perpendicular to the land.
- Offshore winds blow from land toward the water at any angle.
- Sideshore winds come directly parallel to the shoreline.
- Side-onshore wind is a combination of sideshore and onshore winds.
- Upwind refers to the direction from which the wind is blowing.
- Downwind refers to the direction the wind is blowing towards.
First, check where the wind is coming from. Feel the wind blow against your hands or look at flags and trees. Look downwind and check that there are no obstacles in the beach and that the area is large enough. Should anything go wrong and you fall downwind, youíll need time and space to correct your mistake.
Also check the shoreline. If you should end up downwind off your kitesurf session, this must be a safe place to land. Clearly, this is a dangerous situation and you donít want to end up in a jetty.
Tips and Tricks
- Sideshore winds allow you to travel away from and back toward the beach without fear of getting blown out to sea or back into the launching area. If you drop your Kite Surfing Kite, you donít get blown out any further from land.
- An angle toward the beach less than 45 degrees can be a favorable wind direction because you can still travel away from and towards the beach. If you drop your kite and have to swim in, the wind will push you slowly toward the shore.
- Avoid onshore winds as this wind will continually try to blow you further inland. Unless you can ride upwind instantly, the Kite Surfing Kite is going to blow you back onto the beach in a matter of seconds.
- Offshore winds can be very dangerous. First, because the wind is almost never stable and this makes it difficult to control the kite. Secondly, if you get in some sort of trouble, you will not be blown back to the shore but out to the open water. A rescue boat will then be needed to help you.
- Another thing that you need to take note of is wind direction and the smoothness of the wind. Direct offshore winds have the possibility of you being flown out to sea while direct onshore winds have the possibility of you being thrown against beach objects. Cross-shore wind directions are widely considered to be the best.
- Avoid the following: thunderstorms, gusty winds, off-shore winds, directly on-shore winds, downwind obstacles, power lines, trees, other kiters, other water users, underwater obstacles, piers, boats, winds too strong for your kite size among others.
- Know the expected weather for the day.
- Know how to determine wind speed and choose an appropriate Kite Surfing Kite.
- Know the hand signals to communicate with other kiters on and off the water.
- Know how to perform Self-Rescue if the wind changes directions or switches off.
Different Kite Surfing Kites have different wind ranges. Some kites may have a wider wind range while some may have a narrower wind range. You donít need the exact speed and direction of the wind, but it pays if you have a very good idea of how strong it is and where it is coming from.