Getting into kitesurfing

London, 15th July 2010 – Kitesurfing is not exactly the new hot thing – the sport has a history of nearly three decades (after appearing during the early 1980s), but has only recently started to become popular world wide. A decade ago, there were not even a thousand kitesurfers around the world. By 2005, that number had rocketed to over 100,000 and it continues to grow.

The premise of the sport is simple: surfers use a large, resistant kite to acquire propulsion and ride a specialised board, which allows them to reach high speeds and use the thrust to perform eye-catching stunts. Thanks to its independent source of propulsion, kitesurfing can be done on a variety of surfaces that have a relatively low level of friction for the board. As the name implies, the sport is usually done on large bodies of water, such as lakes or beach shores, but can also be done on sand, snow and other surfaces.

Kitesurfing skills: hand signals

Most kitesurfers start learning basic hand signals on their first surfing lessons. A lot of times, however, the importance of learning the universal hand signals is not properly explained, and surfers are left without this vital skill. Hand signals are very useful when you want to give instructions to your assistant or communicate with someone on the beach and can also prevent accidents by alerting fellow surfers to potentially hazardous collisions.

At the very least, make sure you learn the signs used to request assistance in case you run into problems while you are surfing. You will find that the basic hand signals are pretty simple to learn and cover a variety of situations. As a bonus, knowing the hand signals will allow you to communicate with people that don’t speak the same language as you. Here is a sample of the most common hand signals to get you started:

Signal Meaning
Waving both hands in the air. I need help!
Tap your head with your hand. I’m going to land.
Make a thumbs-up sign and shout “Launch!” I’m ready to (or about to) launch.
Wave the control bar over your head. I need help with my equipment.
Raise your hands above your head and join your fingertips to form an *A* shape. Place the kite on the top.
Point at your eyes with two fingers. Look at me (or watch out for me).
Stretch your arms towards the sea with your index finger pointing out. Head towards the sea.
Stretch your arms towards the shore with your index finger pointing out. Head towards the shore.

Starting your journey or taking it to the next level

Getting started with kitesurfing is much easier than it was a decade ago. There are more instructors, the equipment has become more readily available and there are ways you can try the activity to see if it’s something you’d like to invest your time in. Companies such as Exelement can offer you a variety of packages to try it for the first time or to get started with kitesurfing lessons from pros such as James Boulding (the equivalent of getting track driving tips from Jenson Button).