What to look for when buying Kitesurfing Gear

You’ve mastered your waterstart and well on the way to becoming an independent Kiteboarder. You can’t wait to get your hand on your own kitesurfing gear but you have to be sure you’re making the right decision and it’s worth your investment.

With tens of kiteboarding gear manufacturers represented in Dubai, each offering different models promising the latest in features and innovations it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and confused. Some of us may not have got it right the first time. Your gear purchase decisions can get emotional and complicated.

We have coached kitesurfers of all levels and provided them with the latest gear over the past 4 years. Our experience in Dubai and Abu Dhabi has helped us identify key points about the equipment we use that can help you make the right choice. Here are our recommendations:

kite1. Choose the equipment appropriate to your skill level. If you are new to kiting consider purchasing the same equipment you’re learning on. You will be more familiar with the features and how it responds. If you are looking at other options, always demo the kites before you buy. Testing is the only way to know how the equipment feels in your hands and responds to your input. You will be more comfortable with an all terrain kite that is versatile, easy to handle, easy on the arms and easy on the wallet.

Most kite brands have an entry-level kite that is well suited for beginners and designed to help you progress quickly and safely. KD recommends the Catalyst and the Zephyr, kites you will enjoy for many years to come.

As far as the board goes, you would be better off with something light and easy to handle in Dubai’s choppy conditions to get you edging, riding upwind and jumping quickly. The Gintronic, Luigi and King George perfectly fit this description.

2. Choose the equipment appropriate for your local conditions and your weight. If you plan on kiting in Dubai and weigh 90kgs or more, don’t expect to get too many days of riding on your 14m kite and 135X42 cm board. You will need a lightwind solution to maximize your time on the water. A 17m kite with good handling and a light, wide board will give you that extra low end power you need to get you riding 90% of the time. Keep in mind, however, that size is not the only deciding factor and not all big toys are created equal. A good light wind kite should have a tight turn radius, maximum weight savings and superior depower to allow you to handle a wider wind range.

The Zephyr has proved itself to be KD’s undisputed leader in the “light wind/ bigger rider” category for the second year in a row. Add an extra 10m line extensions and you will be amazed at how much power you can generate in sub 10 knots. Beware and keep in mind the safe distance with the added line length.

Pay close attention to the width of the board as opposed to the length. At KD we use the King George II XL as it is a relatively wide 49cm compared to its length 144cm.

buy-kite-surfing3. Choose the equipment designed for your passion. What attracted you to kiteboarding in the first place? Purchasing your equipment based on the purpose it is designed for will help you progress faster, safer and maximize your fun on the water.

a. Everybody loves to Freeride, and for some of us that’s what kiteboarding is all about. Nothing beats exploring Dubai’s waters on a sunset session. The best freeride kites are stable, have easy bar pressure, relaunch and upwind ability.

As for the boards, fins make a huge difference. We use larger fins, around 57mm that help us go upwind better. If you crave high lofty jumps then choose a kite that boosts you up like a paraglider. The Edge get’s us up there with ease and brings us down smoothly. It is also the kite of choice for those of us passionate about old school tricks; we have plenty of time to give that board-off a go and get a bird eye’s view of Dubai’s beaches.

b. Learning the latest Freestyle trick requires a kite that gives you fast intuitive handling and unhooked performance. C kites have always been the winners in this category. Poor relaunch, depower and low end, however, have always haunted these kites. Riding the C4 allows us to go for all those unhooked tricks we found impossible without having to worry about relaunching or depowering.

c. If you’re a surfer, then a dedicated wave kite is your best choice. This is what KiteSurfing Phuket is all about. These are designed to float down the line effortlessly and handle precisely so you can release the bar and ride the wave.The Reo has been designed exactly for this purpose. You could always use your surfboard strapless, but there are many surf boards designed for kiters. We love the Newind surfboards, even if it’s just to cruise and carve on our waveless beach, getting ready for the next Oman and Mauritius trips.

d. Course Racing is the latest kiteboarding discipline, and it’s taking the world by storm. There’s even a committee working hard to get it into the Olympics. Racing is all about technique and speed. We are working on a Dubai series soon, and that’s when strategy will also come into play. Racing is not the easiest discipline to master, but it is pure adrenaline on the water.

The Edge is 2011’s raceworld champion. It is the Ferrari of the kiteworld. This is the kite that rips at unbelievable speed upwind or downwind. Combine the Edge with a WR3 or a CF5 Raceboard and you have no excuse to start competing in the next competition.

4. Your harness and wetsuit is just as important. Don’t go cheap on your harness. Whatever equipment you purchase, you will feel dreadful if you’re uncomfortable during your sessions. Seat harnesses are also a great option for beginners and course racers. KD loves the comfortable fit of the Warrior III and the spreader bar stays exactly where it’s supposed to.

“A wetsuit??” Yes, believe it or not, it get’s cold here. Not only is it uncomfortable to have a cold session, it could be dangerous as your reaction time decreases and limbs go numb. Mystic has an awesome range of kiteboarding specific wetsuits for the ladies and guys that are super flexible so you won’t waste energy while stretching for your next move. Your joints will thank you as you get older.

5. Safety Equipment should be a priority. We recommend you budget for this accordingly. Helmets are designed to protect. Very few beginners in Dubai use these, and at KiteDubai, we are concerned. We love the Watts H20 with comfortable soft neoprene covered EVA liner to the lid and a visor perfect to protect us against Dubai’s Rays. While learning, consider wearing a floatation device, it could be a lifesaver in an emergency situation.

An impact vest is also great protection for your ribs and offers a little added flotation. The Force D30 serves this purpose well.

Don’t forget your eyes. Wear shades to reflect glare and avoid spray.

6. Do your research when buying used gear. Make sure you’re buying from a reliable source and you test the equipment thoroughly. Anything older than a few years in Dubai usually needs something fixed so make sure you can find spare parts. You will always find great deals on used equipment on Dubizzle, Dubai Kite Forum, Winds of Dubai and by getting in touch with KD.