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An expensive start to kiting, feeling discouraged

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lisah
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An expensive start to kiting, feeling discouraged

Postby lisah » Wed Jan 28, 2015 10:35 pm

I was a total newb and bought a $700+ lesson package. I didn't learn much and wonder if I should keep investing time and money. I want to learn so badly but feel discouraged about my progress and level of nervousness I felt flying the kite.

So my questions are, did others feel hesitant about body dragging without water craft support? Does my nervousness flying the kite indicate that I'm not going to be successful at this sport? Were others nervous about the kite jerking them around on land? Is it typical to know about the wind window before flying the kite? How do lessons usually go?

I started my lessons with a 4 line kite strapped to my harness, my instructor clung to me like a marsupial, and I flew it on the beach. I don't know how big it was but it was definitely jerking me around. He told me how to release it in an emergency but there was no discussion about wind window and I knew nothing about that at the time. The kite was pulling hard when I flew it wrong and the instructor was just basically telling me where to fly it. 10 o'clock, 12 o'clock, etc. I had no idea what was going on and eventually told him I was afraid of the kite. He told me to sit down and fly it.

That night, exhausted and intimidated, I did some research and learned about the wind window. My husband also helped to explain it. The next day, I mastered the trainer kite in about 90 minutes.

By then I had used up nearly 5 hours of a 7.5 hour lesson package just flying the trainer kite.

Then, the body dragging took place in a very busy spot. It was an assisted body drag, once again with the instructor clinging to me. I was hesitant to do it alone. We went out again in a less busy spot, but once again I felt hesitant to do it alone. There was no water craft support, just my instructor on the beach with a walkie talkie.

The expectation when I signed up for the original package was first day, kite. Second day, body drag. Third day, try board. That didn't happen at all, and I'm feeling bad about my progress and wondering if my nervousness is typical, if my lessons were typical, and not sure how to make sure things go better when I do take more lessons.

Thoughts?

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Re: An expensive start to kiting, feeling discouraged

Postby dwaynej » Wed Jan 28, 2015 10:49 pm

lisah wrote: ... Thoughts?
Never had jet ski / water support myself and we all have difference experiences / capabilities with the ocean. Assumption with this sport is some comfort with being dumped in the ocean so many of us with surfing experience take to the water aspects of kiting quickly. If you don't have that experience, it will take some time to acclimate.

Its not bad and not a loss... Lessons do cost somewhere between $300-$1000 depending on location and skills. I say you have done a great job identifying what you need to focus on and weakness in the instructors technique.

I would say finish off the lesson plan getting comfortable with all aspects of flying the kite on land. With a new instructor and assuming a safe site with onshore wind, I would then focus on learning to get up on the board, last, practice your body dragging. This is the order I was taught.

As others have suggested, once you a comfortable with the kite, just practice body dragging around the ocean. Body dragging itself may be uncomfortable and that may reflect lack of ocean experience and practice will help a lot.

Progression videos are awesome.

Not everyone gets on the water in 1-2 lessons and thats cool, but if you do want to progress, you will need to keep at it and this is a sport which takes many water sessions to master. 1-2 sessions a week and a 1-2 seasons will get to a point where you are kiting with confidence. IMO, its an incredible sport but steep learning curve. Certainly not something you can just lean on vacations.
Last edited by dwaynej on Wed Jan 28, 2015 11:21 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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Re: An expensive start to kiting, feeling discouraged

Postby edt » Wed Jan 28, 2015 10:59 pm

everyone has a different comfort level so I would say your experiences are pretty typical. Takes about a year of progression to get to get past the newbie level into intermediate. the progression videos are well worth it, if you want to supplement your lessons.

there is a saying around here never teach your girlfriend or boyfriend how to kiteboard because they will be your ex after you get done yelling at each other. :-)

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Re: An expensive start to kiting, feeling discouraged

Postby plummet » Wed Jan 28, 2015 11:02 pm

No, it is not unusual and you are doing fine.

Your expectations are way too high as far as progression is concerned. My suggestion is to get a trainer kite and fly it on the beach for some weeks to get used to flying a kite.

Does your husband kite? If he does i assume he has a small 6m kite. The next phase would be to fly that in the water body dragging until you can get back to the same spot that you started.

Then when you have mastered the body drag you are ready for water starts. Allow yourself an entire year to go from start to going upwind. Of course you can achieve going upwind in a lot shorter time in the perfect world. But the world is not perfect and life gets in the way. Be patient and practice any chance you can.

It sounds like you are not a water person and feel uncomfortable too far out to sea. This is also a natural feeling. Try and find a spot that has shallow water to learn in. Feeling comfortable further out to sea comes with time.

Should you give up or forge through? Do it!. Kitesurfing is glorious indeed. But it is hard to learn and most people give up before they feel the glory.

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Re: An expensive start to kiting, feeling discouraged

Postby ElbowRoom » Wed Jan 28, 2015 11:12 pm

it took me over 12 hrs of lessons to get up and riding. back when kites had no depower it was a very unforgiving learning curve.

after about the 10th time out i started doing ok but every session ended with some kind of drama. torn kite, line tangles, being scared out of my mind, you name it.

stick with it. maybe you could have had a better instructor, but no instructor can take the power out of the kite for you. its scary as hell when you first feel how strong the kite is and how fast you are out of control...

just stick with it. soon enough you will feel how effortless it can be. be prepared for more scary moments though. you can mitigate that by not going out in too much or too gusty wind. when its blowing moderately, like 15kts, those days you should try it. at 25kts its a different sport and you need to know what you are doing.

hang in there, its a painful learning curve but completely worth it.

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Re: An expensive start to kiting, feeling discouraged

Postby BWD » Wed Jan 28, 2015 11:33 pm

Bad instructor.
You should master flying a trainer and have knowledge of wind window, launching and landing, safety systems and self rescue etc before body dragging.
And after you are bored with the trainer kite, go on and fly it ymore times before taking a lesson with a full size kite.
The basic kite flying skills and the knowledge should be part of the lesson, if you can't demonstrate you have mastered them on the first day of the lesson.
I would go as far as to say you shouldn't have been offered a full lesson or to fly a full size kite until you pass these first milestones.

Lots of instructors who get away with shoddy work will probably come in and shoot me down for saying these things.

The way it should be is, "Intro to Kiting" should be one whole lesson program, plus practice on your own with a small kite, read and watch videos on theory, safety etc., may take a few days or be spread out. And it should be cheap, easy, on land and no jet ski needed. Can even be DIY.

Actually "Beginning Kiteboarding" the way people often start, using big kites and trying to start dragging and riding, should come after quite a few hours of practice and studying about what the hell you are getting into.
Unfortunately it's not usually set up that way.
Try a better instructor and you will have a much better time!

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Re: An expensive start to kiting, feeling discouraged

Postby lisah » Wed Jan 28, 2015 11:37 pm

Thank you, everyone! I will keep going. Yes, my husband does kite and we live on a sailboat. He already has a couple kites, a board, etc. We bought a harness for me and now we have all I need to go kiting, I just need the skills.

I don't have much experience in waves. I've never surfed or done any board sports, unless SUPing counts. A total newb! I love other adventure sports (mountain biking, canyoneering, climbing) so I'm sure I can learn this.

Any ideas about how to get more comfortable in the ocean chop? I'm not afraid of it, I just find it disorienting and distracting when waves wash over my head while I'm body dragging. I'm going to have to find a way to get used to that. Maybe just putting on a PFD and floating around in the big waves near the boat?

So here is my plan:

Fly a small trainer kite on the beach every chance I get
Next time there's a 15 knot day, take a water craft assisted lesson with a different instructor
Adjust my expectations that it may take a long time to learn this!

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Re: An expensive start to kiting, feeling discouraged

Postby Starsky » Wed Jan 28, 2015 11:52 pm

ElbowRoom wrote:it took me over 12 hrs of lessons to get up and riding. back when kites had no depower it was a very unforgiving learning curve.

after about the 10th time out i started doing ok but every session ended with some kind of drama. torn kite, line tangles, being scared out of my mind, you name it.

stick with it. maybe you could have had a better instructor, but no instructor can take the power out of the kite for you. its scary as hell when you first feel how strong the kite is and how fast you are out of control...

just stick with it. soon enough you will feel how effortless it can be. be prepared for more scary moments though. you can mitigate that by not going out in too much or too gusty wind. when its blowing moderately, like 15kts, those days you should try it. at 25kts its a different sport and you need to know what you are doing.

hang in there, its a painful learning curve but completely worth it.
This is an awesome post. Says it all really. Everyone gets "the fear" at some point on the learning curve and best get it over early and proceed with caution. Your plan from here sounds great.

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Re: An expensive start to kiting, feeling discouraged

Postby skullcandy » Thu Jan 29, 2015 12:07 am

Your feelings / frustrations are normal. You seem competitive and want to succeed at it. Ive done all the action sports out there and kiting took me the longest to learn / feel comfortable with on my own. Its not like skiing/snowboarding where you can just buckle your feet in and go down an easy trail, you need to do a whole bunch of safety conditions assessment and thought before you even unpack your gear! (e.g. your points about knowing the wind window, local conditions, weather, currents, what the plan is when I have an "Oh Shit" moment - and we all have those - advanced guys too). So you are taking the right approach - everyone progresses at a different rate. I've said this many times - kiting can be an investment starting out (lessons, gear, time, etc) but everyone will agree on here that its all worth it in the end.

Re: Ocean Chop... Just remember the kite will keep you moving and above the water. When I get splashed in the face I don't overreact to the water in my eyes or mouth - relax the bar, position it over head, then wipe eyes or clear mouth. Kiting is certainly an activity where you need to be very comfortable in the water.

Stick with it!

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Re: An expensive start to kiting, feeling discouraged

Postby dwaynej » Thu Jan 29, 2015 12:27 am

lisah wrote:Maybe just putting on a PFD and floating around in the big waves near the boat?
Hoping you are wearing at least a buoyancy vest while learning to kite. A wetsuit will also help with buoyancy. Try spending some time on a boogie board and body surfing. Need to get the experience of water over your face so it does not make you uncomfortable.

Here's a bloopers video which gives you an idea of what to expect while riding. Check out 0:42 wiping out the body dragging to board...

https://vimeo.com/95061333

Edit: GPS data is overlayed using free VIRB Edit software from GoPro with input from my Garmin Fenix 2 tracklog although I am sure any gps tracklog will work. Only hassle is you have to match video with tracklog before you edit/cut the video. Enjoy!
Last edited by dwaynej on Fri Jan 30, 2015 4:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.


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