INTRO - Top tips from the guys who know best. You'll need a board and a kite first and foremost in this sport but with so many on the market how can you know which ones will benefit you most?! Read on and the answers will reveal themselves...
Before you buy any gear though, ask your instructor what will be best for your ability level and the place you ride.
Every good kitesurfing shop will have beginner packages for sale which will include a board and a kite complete with bar and lines. Some will make up a package to include the wetsuit and harness as well. Usually there will be a choice of kite size to make allowances for your weight and typical local wind conditions.
TOP TIPS FOR BUYING YOUR 1ST KITE:
Look for a kite from the year 2004 or later. Kite design has improved dramatically over more recent years resulting in more user-friendly equipment, and generally speaking, the more modern the kite the easier and more smooth the learning experience will be.
Look for a kite between 9.0m and 12.0m2 depending on your size and weigh
Make sure it is of a mid-aspect ratio. High-aspect ratio kites are long thin kites and are more focussed on providing high-performance for advanced riders. The lower the aspect ratio, the shorter and fatter the kite gets and the easier to fly and relaunch it becomes. The potential for such high jumps is decreased, but don’t be fooled, even the lowest aspect kites could still send you 30 foot up!
Make sure you check with the person selling the kite that the bar and lines are in good condition.
Ensure that the kite comes with a good safety system so that you can ditch the power if the wind was to suddenly pick up or if you made an error in flying the kite. Ask the person selling the kite to demonstrate how it works and check that there is no stickiness and it functions smoothly.
Bear in mind that you will quickly improve to the point where you may want another kite for stronger winds. Make sure your first kite size will fit sensibly in a ‘quiver’ of kites. For instance, if you buy a 12m to learn on, your next kite could be a 9m giving you a kite for stronger wind. However, if you were to buy an 11m as a stronger wind kite there would not be much difference in the sizes and therefore not be much difference in the wind range you could handle. Try to ensure that you have at least 2 meters difference between kites and remember the bigger the kite the lighter the wind you need.
Again, the best advice we can give is to go and speak to your local kitesurfing shop. They will be able to discuss your weight, experience and local conditions, and it is much more reassuring to get that sort of information face-to-face rather than over the internet. They may even have some demo equipment so you can try before you buy. Try as much as you can to see what feels easier for you to get on with. Everyone is different.
If it is not convenient to visit a local shop, we suggest that you look for a board with the following information in mind:
Look out for a twin-tip. These boards look like traditional wakeboards and are symmetrical so you don’t need to turn them around when you want to go the other way.
Choose a medium sized board that is somewhere between 135cm and 160cm long. You will grow out of anything much bigger very quickly, and anything smaller you will find hard work and possibly demoralising to progress on. (The smaller the board the less buoyant it is and therefore the more power you need to get up and going.) You can use a medium-sized board up until when you are learning your first rotations.
Ensure that your board comes with a leash so you can attach it to either your ankle or your harness so you don’t loose it when you wipeout.
Make sure that it is of an easily-manageable weight. Often the heavier the board the more robust it will be, but there's no need to buy a tank as it will only feel cumbersome on your feet.