How good were your lessons?
Many students finish their lessons without being competent going out on their own, which is not surprising, as many schools deliver a product that is much closer to a kitesurfing experience rather than a good lesson. This post should give you all the tools you need to self-assess the quality of your training so you can see what you've missed during your lessons.
You are aware of kitesurfing regulations in your area and you can assess the pros and cons of any new location on your own. You can choose a safe area for learning.
You understand basic seasonal weather patterns in your area and can dissociate safe wind sources vs unsafe wind sources.
You can name all wind directions in relation to the shore and understand which of these are safe and unsafe for learning to kitesurf.
You can assess approximately how much wind is blowing based on observations around you and confidently choose an appropriate kite size for your body weight depending on the current wind conditions.
You understand basic wind effects and can easily spot dangerous areas of wind turbulence where it would best to avoid flying a kite.
You understand all aspects of the 3D wind window and its terminology.
You are confident and competent in setting up and packing down your kite without any guidance. You can name all parts of your kite/bar/lines and understand their function. You can pump a kite at the correct pressure and understand the consequences of under-inflating the kite.
You understand the functionality of all safety systems including the hook knife and can elaborate on a few common scenarios when each safety system must be used. You understand how to get rid of the kite in a life-threatening scenario.
You understand how the kite flies and understand the functionality of the trim strap. You understand the concept of angle of attack and how the kite's power gets adjusted. You can recognize when your kite is back-stalling and understand how to react when this happens.
You are comfortable in assisting someone to launch or land. You can hold a kite correctly in preparation for a launch and can help land someone’s kite safely. You can detect problems prior to launching someone’s kite.
You understand and use clear launching signals, as an assistant and as a pilot.
You can fly the kite steadily at any clock position while being relaxed and without constantly looking at it, keeping your hand(s) centered on the bar. You have a soft grip on the bar and you have the instant reflex of letting go of the bar when you crash or lose control of the kite.
You have a safe and respectful attitude towards others. When launching or flying your kite, you can keep a safe distance from others and obstacles.
You instinctively let go of the bar after a crash or when you lose control of the kite.
You’ve activated the chicken loop quick release multiple times while the kite was flying and recovered the kite on your own. You’ve been tested randomly on your ability to quickly activate all safety systems multiple times.
You are completely competent and confident at performing a basic deep-water self-rescue and using your kite as a sail to get back to the shore in windy conditions without any assistance whatsoever.
You can safely (slowly and under control) launch and land your kite with the help of an assistant in various wind conditions. You understand the do’s and don’ts about launching and landing and how to keep yourself, your assistant and others around you safe.
You can relaunch a kite in deep waters from various positions (edge of the wind window, leading edge down, trailing edge down). You understand the key skills in avoiding a failed launch in light/moderate winds
You can enter and exit the water safely while flying the kite steadily, body drag away and back to the shore safely while keeping the kite steady.
You can walk around while flying the kite on a busy beach and safely move it away to avoid other people, kites or obstacles.
You can body drag away and back to the shore using the ‘’upwind body drag’’ technique without losing any ground and understand the key factors in being successful with this technique. You understand why board leashes are dangerous.
You are comfortable carrying the board while flying the kite and walking back upwind on the beach. You can move the kite safely from one side of the window to the other while carrying your board.
You can body drag upwind with the board and enter/exit the water safely while keeping the kite stable. You rarely crash the kite even while manipulating the board.
You can easily recover a board in deep waters (without stand up) after a crash using your upwind body drag skills.
You only try to water start when at a safe distance from the shore. You avoid water starting close to others kiters and obstacles.
You can explain all the right of way rules and understand their importance in avoiding collisions with other kiters.
You can ride 50 meters or more in both directions. You can ride under control and you can perform a safe and controlled stop.
You feel competent and safe enough to go out and practice without your instructor in a deep-water location. You are independent since you are completely confident that you can get out of most problematic scenarios, relaunch the kite, retrieve your board, all without assistance, even if you go out in a location where you can’t stand up.
You don’t know where to find information about kitesurfing regulations. You don’t understand the potential dangers or pros and cons of various locations.
You understand there is a preferred season for learning to kitesurf but couldn’t tell the difference between safe or unsafe types of winds.
You think of wind directions only in terms of compass points rather than the direction of the wind in relation to the shore.
You understand kites come in different sizes, but you constantly rely on others to find out how much wind is blowing and you find yourself asking others if the size of kite you have is appropriate for the current wind conditions.
You understand clean wind is best to fly a kite but don’t know how to spot areas where the wind could be turbulent.
You have a vague idea of the different parts of the wind window.
You don’t feel completely confident setting up your kite and lines. You don’t remember the parts of your kite and don’t understand their function. Each time you inflate your kite, you’re not really sure if your kite has the right pressure. You don’t understand the consequences of an under-inflated kite.
You have a basic understanding of the safety systems but you couldn’t think of common scenarios when to use them; you have no idea what a hook knife is and that most modern harnesses are equipped with one.
You don’t understand how the kite flies and you don't remember what the trim strap does and which setting gives more or less power. You can't tell when a kite back-stalls. You tend to pull the bar in more when the kite stops to respond and drops towards the power zone
You don’t feel completely comfortable launching or landing someone else’s kite. You don’t know the common mistakes assistants do when helping someone launch or land the kite. You tend to walk around when assisting a launch.
You use hand signals only as a pilot but not as an assistant.
You fly the kite with your hands at the extremities of the bar and tend to grab the bar with a heavy grip. You received little feedback about your flying skills. You always look at the kite when it’s flying and you tend to pull the bar in after a crash or when you lose control.
You’ve been launching and flying the kite close to obstacles and with other people or other kitesurfers inside or close to your wind window.
You rarely take your hands off the bar completely and you tend to pull the bar in after a crash.
You never activated the chicken loop quick release while flying the kite. You haven’t been tested on your ability to quickly activate safety systems. You wouldn’t know how to recover the kite on your own in an emergency.
You are not competent at self-rescue. Self-rescue was briefly covered only as a demonstration on the beach or in shallow waters from your instructor. You’ve never been given a chance to practice it by yourself in real conditions.
You tend to launch the kite with too much power and speed. Your assistant tends to get dragged while holding your kite. You tend to land the kite too fast and your assistant struggles to secure it. You don’t understand the common mistakes in launching and landing.
You’ve only relaunched a kite while standing up, and don’t know how to relaunch it in deep water from various positions. In lighter winds, the kite tends to roll over when you try to launch it and you don’t understand why.
You don't feel comfortable entering of exiting the water with others around. You have a hard time keeping your kite steady when body dragging.
You feel nervous flying a kite on a busy beach and have a difficult time walking around while flying the kite.
You lose ground when trying to perform upwind body dragging and don’t understand why. You don’t understand why board leashes are dangerous. You learned in shallow waters and you’re used to being able to stand up to retrieve your board.
You tend to lose control of your kite and crash while trying to carry your board. You’re unable to safely move your kite from one side of the window to the other while carrying your board.
You struggle to fly a kite while carrying the board. You’re not competent at body dragging with your board. You crash the kite often while trying to manipulate the board.
You’ve been learning in shallow waters and you’re used to being able to stand up and walk to your board after a crash.
You can water start but you’re not paying much attention to how close you are from the shore, from other kiters, or from obstacles.
You don’t remember the right of way rules. You tend to stop and keep your kite at 12 every time you get close to someone else.
You can ride 50 meters or more in both directions. You tend to pick up too much speed, crash and don’t understand why.
You’ve been told by your instructor that you are independent; however, you have doubts in your ability to go out on your own. You wouldn’t feel confident in getting yourself out of problematic scenarios without assistance. You are used to being able to stand up and you are nervous about going kitesurfing in a deep-water location.
You are not aware that kitesurfing is a regulated sport. You can’t tell if a location is safe or unsafe for learning. You wouldn't know how to spot potential dangers.
You are not aware of the dangers involved in kitesurfing in frontal winds (i.e. stormy weather). You think any winds are safe for kitesurfing.
You are unaware of the concept of wind direction in relation to the shore and how it can affect your safety and your learning experience.
You don’t know that wind strength is commonly measured in knots. You don’t know which kite size you should use and you wouldn’t be able to tell if the wind is too light or too strong for you to learn easily and safely.
You think anywhere is safe to fly a kite as long as there is some wind. You don't know obstacles can change the wind behavior.
You don't remember the parts of the wind window or you've never heard of it.
The kite was already setup when you arrived at each of your lessons. You’ve never had a chance to setup or pack up a kite / lines on your own. You have no idea what the different parts of the kite are called. You don’t understand the consequences of an under-inflated kite.
You didn’t know that all modern kites come with various safety systems. You wouldn’t know what to do or how to react if the kite dragged you out of control or how to react in any other problematic/dangerous situations.
You don’t understand how the kite flies and don't know what a trim strap is or how to use it. You don’t know how to recognize a back-stalling kite. You have the default reaction to pull the bar in more when the kite stops to respond and drops towards the power zone.
You’ve seen others assist in launching and landing kites but never had a chance to practice it during your lessons. You would rather avoid helping other kitesurfers to launch or land their kites as you're afraid of doing something wrong.
You don’t know about hand signals for launching or landing.
You’ve spent the majority of the time flying the kite at 12 O’clock. You constantly have your hands wide on the bar and tend to have a firm grip on the bar. You only feel safe flying the kite with the instructor next to you and received little to no feed-back on your flying skills.
You are constantly depending on your instructor’s hands-on assistance to keep yourself and others around you safe.
You’ve never taken your hands off the bar while flying the kite or after a crash.
You’ve never activated any of the safety systems and don’t understand what they do. You wouldn’t know how to recover the kite on your own in an emergency. You rely on the presence of your instructor if something goes wrong.
You don’t know a what self-rescue means in kitesurfing and wouldn't know how to get yourself out of trouble. You rely on the presence of others to get yourself out of trouble in case something goes wrong.
You’ve never launched or landed a kite as a pilot and wouldn't feel comfortable trying this outside of your lessons since this topic wasn't covered during your lessons. In all your lessons, the instructor passed the kite over to you while the kite was already flying (launched).
You received assistance from your instructor to relaunch the kite when it crashed. Relaunching was easy as you were always standing up. You wouldn't feel comfortable relaunching in deep waters.
You’ve never had a chance to enter or exit the water while flying the kite. You have a hard time keeping your kite steady when body dragging.
You haven’t had a chance to fly a kite on a beach and learn to safely avoid other people, other kites or obstacles.
You don’t know what upwind body dragging is and that it’s an essential skill to retrieve your board. You learned in shallow waters and you’re used to being able to stand up to retrieve your board or the instructor brings the board back to you.
You’ve never had a chance to fly your kite and carry your board at the same time on the beach. You've tried to grab the board in the water while flying the kite but you often lose control and crash the kite.
You’ve never had a chance to body drag with your board or enter/exit the water while flying the kite with the board. You crash the kite often while trying to manipulate the board.
Your instructor got the board back to you after a crash. You wouldn't be able to retrieve your board in deep water.
You can water start but you’re not paying much attention to how close you are from the shore, from other kiters, or from obstacles.
You never heard of the right of way rules. You stop with your kite at 12 every time you get close to someone else.
You can ride 50 meters or more in both directions. You tend to pull the bar in all the way and crash out of control.
You may have been told by your instructor that you are independent; however, you highly doubt you can go out on your own.You’ve got up on the board multiple times, however, you are constantly depending on the presence of your instructor to achieve most skills such as setting up the kite, launching and landing, board recovery, etc.