THINK back to your childhood days when a windy day meant it was a fantastic time to fly a kite. Do you remember holding your kite and waiting for the wind to pick it up as you control its flight with a length of string? Now think of hopping on a board while strapped to a harness and flying that kite above water, letting the wind take care of the rest. That’s how a childhood pastime becomes an extreme sport.
Kiteboarding is the fastest-growing extreme sport on the planet. About a decade ago, a Filipino residing in Hawaii went to Caliraya Lake in Laguna with his power kite and board. Around the same time, a German kiteboarder went to Boracay and flew his kite there. Both places claim to be where the sport first took root. Admittedly, kiteboarding hasn’t reached its peak yet, but we’re ecstatic it’s still on the rise.
I’ve been kiteboarding for seven years now. I started out as a windsurfer. I was introduced to the sport when a good friend of mine from Anilao, Batangas, invited me to watch a windsurfing competition in Boracay. It turned out the said event, the Boracay International Funboard Cup, was a combined windsurf and kiteboard competition. I remember flippin’ out when I first witnessed the high-jumps and the variety of tricks involved in kiteboarding. They were so amazing that I enrolled in a kiteboarding class a few months after the tournament.
Kiteboarding is freedom, the ultimate in buddy sports. In kiteboarding, you are powered by nature, the wind being the chummiest of the bunch. Breathing fresh air in the company of great friends is what makes it so irresistible!
Contrary to what others usually think, kiteboarding does not require you to have upper-body strength. You are pulled not through your arms but through a large belt we call a harness. What you do need is good hand-eye coordination and dexterity. If you have a lower-back injury, get clearance from your doctor before taking up the sport.
In kiteboarding, never pull the control bar. This is a common mistake among windsurfers and wakeboarders who are crossing over to the sport. The kite stalls and you lose power every time you do this. Should you find yourself in a nasty situation, always activate your emergency release. Forget about the kite! You can always have it repaired or replaced. Your safety is always our chief concern.
If you prefer riding your board for a longer time to paddling out, then you should experience how magical kiteboarding can be. But before anything else, get a licensed instructor who is accredited by the International Kiteboarding Organization to teach you the way. Once things are in order, I guarantee that you’ll be stoked as swiftly as your first ride!
CHOOSE YOUR FIRST KITE
Qualities to look for: Your first kite must be versatile and beginner-friendly. Stay away from C-type kites, which are for advanced riders who want constant pull and very little de-powering (the closest the kite can get to achieving zero lift).
Best type of kite for newbies: A bow-type kite, which covers wider wind range. You can use this in a more varying wind speed.
The right kite size: It depends on where you plan to kiteboard. We always tell our students to inquire about or observe the preferred kite size in a kiteboarding spot.
On choosing a used kite: Pre-loved kites are cheaper, but always opt for one that hasn’t undergone repairs. Only buy a repaired kite if you’re assured that it still flies well. Road testing is a must. Any kite five years old and above is a waste of money.