If you think it just takes a light wind specific kite to ride in light winds … you have a rude awakening. The truth is … It takes light wind specific flying skills in conjunction with the light wind specific kite to succeed in really light wind. My comments are based on years of riding and teaching others to ride in light winds, successfully.
Lets start out by defining what light wind speeds really are. If you ask most people what light wind is , you get a spectrum of opinions: 12-15 knots / 10-15mph / 8- 13mph / 18-25 Kph /etc, etc. San Diego is a well known and undisputed, light wind kiteboarding environment. San Diego’s average wind speeds in the Summer are 8-14 mph, and we ride and stay upwind in those conditions.
If a manufacturer wants to test a true light wind kite … they should bring it San Diego in the summer and run it through all the tests: /Launching / Re-Launching / Stability / Back Stall / Upwind Drive / Low End Pull / Safety Systems / Self Landing / User Friendly / Durability / Turning Rate. If you want to ride in the lightest winds, you do want a kite that has proven is ability to excel in San Diego’s light wind conditions and become a light wind master of that kite.
Its very common for experience riders to have difficulty riding in the light winds of SD. The reason for this is there lack of skills needed to survive the light wind conditions. We have refined the flying techniques and tricks to handle the lightest wind conditions and keep ourselves riding and the kite flying.
If you want to learn those light wind flying skills and learn how to adjust and tune your kite to flying the lightest winds , even if its not a light wind specific kite … contact us to reserve a Light wind skills lesson.
Here are some of the most popular Light Wind Kites that actually excel in light wind conditions; Liquid Force: Solo / Naish: Trip / Cabrinha: Contra / Nobile: Mr Big.
If you have any questions on what kites and boards help you ride in the lightest possible winds … just email me.
John Arthur – Chief Instructor at Manta Wind & Water Sports, San Diego, CA, USA
Here is a list of some safety guidelines I followed, when I fly my Trainer kite.
Trainer kites can injure me and others around me, they are not toys. I made sure I kept a safe distance away for people and animals, and hazards such as powerlines, buildings and trees. I agreed to always follow all the manufacturers directions when using my kite.
Trainer kites pull much stronger and fly much faster as the wind speed increases. I made my initial flights in the light winds (less than 12mph). I understood that stronger winds would be more dangerous, especially if my trainer kite was over 2 meters in size. My trainer kite has a safety system and I read the owners manual on how it works before I started flying the kite.
I understand Trainer kites can easily pull or lift small children. They can even pull or injure adults if the wind is strong enough. When in doubt, I will not go out.
Trainer kites can get damaged if you crash them to aggressively. If I crash my trainer kite directly down at high speed, their stitching or fabric can tear. That sort of damage is not covered by the warranty. I did my best to refrain from crashing it in such a manor. I activated the safety system if this was about to occur.
Low quality trainer kites did not perform well, and I don’t think they are worth the price. Inexpensive trainer kites seemed poorly engineered and they just don’t fly well for me.
Trainer kites did not teach me how the real kite works, nor do they teach me how to kiteboard. I used them to develop initial flying skills and comfort with a kite before taking on the larger and more complex kite used in kiteboarding, kitesurfing, snowkiting and landboarding. They are fun and I still enjoy them.
I understand that Trainer kites are 3 meters in size or less, and they are labeled as “Trainer” kites.
I understand and accepted that I was flying the kite at my own risk and I aways kept it away from people, animals and hazards. I also understand that mother nature can surprise me on occasion and I am always ready to activate the safety system of put the kite down.
I also understand that if I were to release the kite from me … It may blow into people or hazards. That is why I always gave myself plenty of space and checked the components before flight.
I know that the flying lines are strong and able to cut or burn skin, so I never flew my kite at anyone or anything.
How I set up a trainer kite for launch in light winds:
Here are the general steps I used to set up a trainer kite.
I selected an open area with steady airflow, away from people and hazards.
I found that an open sandy beach or a open grassy park was the best location to learn.
I made sure winds were less than 12mph and the ground was soft. I selected an area that had at least 300 feet of open space.
I made made six (2 pound) sand bags to hold kite down during set up … when I was a sandy beach, I just use piles of sand.
I set the unraveled kite on its back with the leading edge openings away from the wind and the training edge of the kite upwind.
I put the first weight or sand pile on the trailing edge of the kite to hold the unraveled kite in place against the wind.
I then unravel approx. 1 foot of the kite and place another pile of sand or soft weight on that part of the trailing edge.
I continue this process until the kite was fully unraveled and it was held securely down by the weights or sand.
I pick up the control bar and move upwind of the kite … I was careful not to pull on the kite and cause the weights to fall off.
I unwound the control bar as I walked upwind. I did not let myself pull on the kite … for fear it might take off before i was ready.
I untwist the lines by spinning the control bar, without pulling on the kite. I know that the color RED is ALWAYS for my left hand.
I connected my safety leash SECURELY to my wrist. (the safety leash must be worn when flying the kite!)
How I Launched the Trainer Kite in Light winds.
Here are some general steps I used to launch the trainer kite.
With my back to the wind, and the control bar in both hands , and the color red in my left hand, I walk backwards toward the wind as I pull on the control bar to fill the kite with wind and get it to launch straight to the top of the sky.
If the wind is good quality, the kite will set still when it gets to the top of the sky. I hold the bar pretty steady and hold the kite still at the 12:00 high position.
After I am able to hold the kite steady overhead, I pull gently on the right side of the bar to move the kite to the right side of the wind, when the kite comes down to the 2:00 position in the sky, I pull a little on the left side (red) of the bar to stop it from going down further , and I hold the kite steady at 2:00 position.
Now I gently pull on the left side of the bar to slowly move the kite up to 12:00 position and hold it there. Then I pull more left and move the kites slowly to the 10:00 position in the sky and then pull a little on the right side of the bar to hold the kite steady at 10:00 position.
I practice flying and stopping the kite from 10 to 12 to 2 o’clock positions … until you are good at it.
If the kite falls or crashes … you can relaunch it using the kites features shown in the owners manual.
If I feel overwhelmed or feel in danger, I always let go of the control bar, so the wrist safety leash can kill the kite.
What flying skills do I practice?
Fly the kite with 2 hands and keep it from falling or crashing.
Fly the kite so it can perform clockwise loops and counter clockwise loops through the sky.
Fly the kite while you walk to the left side of the wind and then fly the kite while you walk to the right side of the wind direction.
Fly the kite around then practice stopping it for a moment then Fly it around and practice stopping it in another location.
Fly the kite gently through the sky with only one hand in the center of the control bar. Kite is in the left sky with the right hand controlling it and visa versa.
Fly it without having to look at it all the time … learn to fly it by feel.
Practice saving it from falling when in really light winds.
Practice using the safety system to fully depower the kite ( kill the kite).
Practice proper counter balance against the pull of the kite. (arch back somewhat, to counter balance against the kites pull)
The secret to learning how to kiteboard / kite surf safer and more quickly than most people is to adopt the following agenda:
Understand that Kiteboarding/ Kitesurfing is an Extreme Sport and there are real risks to the safety of you and those around you. Ask yourself, “would you sky dive without proper training from a certified, licensed and insured training facility that has had years of experience teaching people to sky dive ?”
Understand the kiteboarding is a KITE Skill above all else! Be GREAT with the kite, and riding is easy.
Get experienced professional instruction from a certified, licensed and insured kiteboarding instructor. Make sure he/she has taught at least 50 students how to kiteboard. Avoid taking lessons from another kiteboarder , even if they are a very good rider. I have had to fix so many dangerous practices, that were taught to my incoming students, who took a previous lesson from their friends, or some hot shot rider.
History has shown that inexperienced instructors and non instructors, don’t know how prepare you for the risks and independency of the sport. They consistently fail to teach you the skills needed to make you safer, and self sufficient with the kite and your safety.
Uncertified and uninsured instructors have a history of teaching unsafe and risky techniques to their students. They are not accountable for their actions, because they don’t have to follow the guidelines of any certification agency. Since they are not licensed nor insured, they are likely to disappear in the event of an accident or injury. Be wise, don’t spend you money on such a risky venue for your training.
Your lesson should cover no less than these items:
Site selection and evaluation / Kite set up / Safety system operation and check / self launching / assisted launching / self landing / assisted landing / emergency de-power of the kite / flying patterns / one handed kite control / power system adjustments / safety procedures / self rescue and recovery / rules of the road and right of ways / environmental conditions / local rules and regulations / how to keep your kite flying in light wind conditions / proper kite and equipment selection / how and where to practice on your own after the lesson.
Purchase the right size and model of equipment for you to learn and grow into. Your instructor should help you select the correct size and type of equipment to ensure a safer and more successful path to your learning. Get the right stuff on the first try, and when your instructor feels you are ready … practice using that equipment as often as you can.
Golden Rule for safety and learning quickly:
Your kite is not suppose to fall or crash EVER, it should only go down when YOU want it down.
Practice flying your kite a lot, and become so skilled with your kite, that it NEVER falls or crashes again. You must learn to fly it with such control, that it does exactly as you wish at all times, or you will calm it down and/or shut it down on command. Practice using the Safety System to perform Self Landings. Do this as a skill every day you fly the kite.
Some additional thoughts for you to consider:
If you have to re-launch the kite … you are not very good at flying it.
If you can’t fly it well with one hand … how will you handle a board.
If you don’t know how to self launch and self land your kite … who will help you?
Stay down wind of other beach/water users … so you don’t crash into them.
If you don’t practice how to kill the kite … you won’t be able to do it.
The kite can help you or hurt you … keeping it in control is the #1 rule.
If you don’t KNOW what to do … don’t grab the bar!
Simply put, take your kiteboarding lesson first! Your kiteboarding instructor with show you how the kite works, and what you should be practicing. You will get to fly the kite/s and see for yourself if you can handle the kite and you may even get to try the kite you plan to purchase before you lay money down. When you lesson is finished, ask your instructor,” What is the ideal kite size and model for me to learn and grow into ?”
It’s in your best interest and safety, if you buy the right size and model of kite to match your size, wind conditions and skill level. Doing so will aid your learning, and provide you with enough power to ride the most number of days per year. This means you will become a kiteboarder safer and quicker.
Avoid buying a kite gear before you take lessons. The students that take this route, end up regretting their purchase, and in the end, they learn slower, or not at all. Get the right thing on the first try and become the kiteboarder you want to be, quicker and safer.
If you insist on getting gear without the input of your instructor … What model of kite should i get? We suggest you purchase the “All Terrain” model kite. All the manufacturers offer such a kite. You want a kite that “Does it All”. These kites help you progress into the sport, but you never outgrow them … even after years of use.
If you purchase a kiteboarding kite and you are not familiar with the kites safety system or you are unsure about any of it … then take an equipment orientation lesson with a certified and experienced instructor to teach you how it works and what it can do for you to aid your learning.
Feel Free to contact me with any Equipment Questions
What lesson is best for you …. Private or Group lesson?
Any lesson with the professional, certified, licensed and insured instructors, at Manta Wind & Water Sports, is the right lesson to get you started in the sport of kiteboarding, aka: kitesurfing. The reason we say this is based on years of experience teaching to individuals and groups. We provide you with the essential experience to determine you best path for continuing education in any of our lesson programs.
No one is good at kiteboarding after one lesson. It will take more practice with the equipment on your own, or in continuing lessons if that is your path. We show you what you need to know to feel confident in your path to improving your skills and ensure maximum safety in this extreme sport.
Private kiteboard lessons
Customized training based on your abilities and comfort.
More time flying the kite and practicing skills, ensure greater confidence.
Immediate answers to your questions.
Fewer lessons needed to achieve your goals
Higher initial cost for lesson, but fewer lessons needed overall.
Greater chance you may get to board riding skills in a 4hr lesson.
Almost all students feel ready to purchase gear and work on skills after the lesson.
Group Kiteboard lessons
Slower pace for learning and more time to observe and learn from others.
Lower initial expense, but great chance you will need more lessons.
Easier to get a lesson on weekends in the summer months.
Greater exposure to common errors we make while learning to kite
Good chance you will have other to train with after the lesson
Slimmer chance you will get to the board riding skills in a 4hr lesson.
Half the students feel ready to purchase gear and work on skills after the lesson
Any lesson is going to be a good lesson to get you started in the sport.
Worry less about the expense. Don’t worry how much time before you’ll be riding a board … if you learn to fly the kite well … board riding will come quickly and easily.
So … Sign up today and get your kiteboarding adventure started. Kiteboarding really is one of the easiest and fastest sports to get good at. It will offer a lifetime of fitness and fun.
Trainer kites are smaller, and a different design, than the kites used in kiteboarding. The idea is to purchase one before you take professional lessons, and spend some time on your own developing basic flying skills and confidence with those skills.
We offer 2 sizes of trainer kites to our customers, 3meter and 3.5 meter size models. The 3m size kite is the most common size trainer for those who want to train in lighter wind speeds, ( 4-18 mph ). The smaller 1-2m size trainer kites are used by smaller people of for those practicing in stronger wind speeds.
We have found that the trainer kites do build confidence in those students that practice with them before taking professional instruction. However, we also find that prior trainer kite experience does not ensure you will perform better with the 4 line inflatable kite that is used in the kiteboarding lessons.
Flying a trainer kite is fun and does build your confidence before taking the kiteboarding lesson. However, Flying the trainer kite is not going to teach you to fly the 4 line inflatable kite used in the lessons. It only teaches you to fly the trainer kite.
Bottom line: If you can afford to buy a trainer kite and use it before taking lessons, then do so. However, If you can not afford to buy a trainer kite, don’t worry … the majority of students do just fine in the lessons without prior training kite experience.
Split boards have been out for several year in some form or another. Until recently , they were custom made to order and they were very expensive. In the last two years, technology and materials have dramatically improved and now the Splitboards are incredible! They ride great, they are super strong, they are light weight, they assemble in seconds, they look great. You have to try it to believe it. Get yours today.
The two most popular designs available, are using the highest quality production techniques, materials and are built to last. These new designs assemble with little or not tools in seconds and they ride great.
After lots of evaluation, we have decided to carry the following 2 brands of Split boards:
Nobile -NHP Split …. $1199
FlySurfer -FlySplit “M” … $1099
Both of these boards assemble in seconds and they ride like any other high performance board. The weight of these boards is so light , you can’t tell its a split board. The durability of these boards is as strong as most other one piece boards.
Our experience with the, FlySurfer and Nobile, split boards leads us to suggest, they can even be chosen as your only kiteboard, for beginners to advanced riders alike.
If you travel a lot and/or you don’t want to break the bank buying multiple boards, or pay extra airline charges for oversized bags … then consider getting one of these Split Kiteboards.
Manta stocks and sells the following split boards.
Nobile NHP Split in the 138cm and the 134cm sizing … complete with footstraps and fin set for only … $1199
FlySurfer FlySplit “M” in the 134cm sizing … complete with footstraps and fin set for only … $1099
We also carry the Nobile Split board travel bag … to hold you split board, kite, harness & control bar … $179
Please help us keep our access to kiteboarding in San Diego.
Be the best example of kiteboarding to everyone you encounter.
Beginners to Advanced kite boarders will enjoy Enchanted Cove, on Fiesta Island, San Diego 92109.
All lessons and kiteboard training in San Diego are performed here. Enchanted Cove offers flat, ocean fed, bay water, surrounded by sandy beaches with limited hazards.
This is the best place to come for beginners to intermediate kiters, as well as flat water junkies, freestylers, and hydrofoil kiters. I ride here a lot, the flat water makes for great freestyle tricks and easy learning. The water is warmer than the open ocean … no wetsuit required in summer and early autumn. Surrounded by land so, self rescues are easy. Fun place!
San Diego is not known for strong wind … we are actually the light wind capital of California. So, leave your 5-7m kites at home.
Wind speed is usually blowing only 9 to 16 mph, during the summer months ( 8-14 knots). West and North West are the best wind directions for Enchanted Cove. Avoid NE, S and SE winds … they are extremely gusty and very hazardous for kiting in this area. On a good day, wind will be blowing WNW 11-19mph.
Learn to keep your kite flying, even when the wind shifts or drops … that is the secret to your success at this location. There is often a wind shadow near western beach and relaunching is never a sure thing.
You must wear a kite leash when you ride in San Diego. There are children in the area and at the park on the East end of the bay. You do not want your kite to get away and blow into them or the freeway immediately to the east.
Kite size is based on rider size, skill and board type … but we are usually riding 12m-17m kites. Smaller riders usually ride 9-12m kites.
The bay is connected to the ocean and affected by tidal changes. No waves, and very small wind chop. Water temperature is 68-72 F in the summer and drops to 55-63 F, in the winter. A 3mm surf suit is good for October- April. A 3mm Shorty is good for May – July. A swim suit is perfect from July – September.
We suggest you wear surf booties all year to protect yourself from cuts that are possible from shells, clams and glass in the sand and shoreline. String Rays are present year round … so shuffle your feet when walking in the water.
Please Launch and land your kite near the water line and avoid possible contact with the street and vehicles traveling along that street. Keep your kite over the water when walking with it.
You should know how to safely “self launch” and “self land” your kite when you kite in San Diego. If you don’t know how to do this, contact us and or take a lesson on how to do it.
Beginners and Kiters in training, must stay downwind of more experienced kiters, and always avoid congested areas on the water and shoreline.
Please stay at least 100 ft / 33 meters away from all beach and water users and give up the right of way when ever possible. In general, do not fly your kite over anyone or anything, and set up away from beach users.
You must respect the space and safety of all beach and water users at all times … public safety is priority #1.
If you blow onto the small island east of the riding area , do not walk onto the island (endangered plants on the island). Instead, stay on the western shore line and walk south, to the end, then swim off.
Don’t kite if the beach is to crowded to safely set up, launch, enter, exit, or land your kite.
There are no services or facilities on the island, except for the occasional port-a-potty. Bring your own water, snacks and first aid kit.
Do not leave valuables on the beach or in your vehicle and lock it when you are away.
Please set up and launch on the south western half of the cove when the prevailing wind is blowing ( W or NW) … do NOT set up where the wind can blow you towards the youth camp or other water users.
Do NOT ride near, nor land on the beach on the Eastern Beach where the “Youth Camp” is located. The youth camp is private property. They do not want us to endanger the children nor their property. The youth camp beach is closed to kiteboarding activities all year. If the youth camp has kayakers or other boats out on the water. Please stay south of them and give them lots of room. They are children and they do not know how to interact with kites. They are only out for 30 minutes at a time , then they go back to shore.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read though this and welcome to San Diego.