Wednesday, April 30, 2014

How to do a Night Kitesurfing Session: Safety Tips


In my previous post I talked about a very special full moon kitesurfing experience, and I would like for you to also take advantage of a full moon whenever you have a chance. I had many experiences of night kitesurfing and those always turned out to be especially exciting. So I decided to share some basic night kitesurfing tips with you for a safe, nice and smooth session. Here they are:

full moon kitesurfing kiteboarding fullmoon

1. Choose a full moon night (one or two days before or after will be good also) with no clouds, because you will need direct light. As you might imagine, moonlight is much weaker than sunlight and clouds might block any light completely.
2. Find a spot that you know very well and that doesn’t have any big safety issues: no rocks, currents or strong tidal movements, no big waves, obstacles etc. You can’t do night kitesurfing in a place full of obstacles.
3. The access to the water should be very safe, so a sandy beach is almost mandatory. If you are at a lake with no easy access, you can consider launching from a boat, even though it can be quite dangerous to manage the lines with low light. That’s why it’s important to never do this alone. Go with an expert buddy, better yet if he/she is a local instructor.
4. Have your full moon night kitesurfing session in a company where at least half of the crew is pretty skilled and experienced, so that there is someone to handle the situation in case of emergency. 
5. No beginner should be allowed to take part of the full moon night kiteboarding session or at least they should be a really small minority.
6. In a larger group, form a group of two or three kiters that will have to stay together at all times, in order to assist one each other in case of emergency.
7. Determine a well-lit gathering point on the beach that would be visible from the water.
8. Every kitesurfer should be equipped with a water resistant light device (such as LED lights) to indicate his/ her position at all times: it might be a good idea to attach a light on one of the kite’s bridles as and additional safety device, which should also be seen from the beach. Every board should also have a light attached. In case of a kite crash, the light would help retrieve it easily.  
9. If it’s possible, one kiter in every group should be equipped with a waterproof communication device.
10.  Assistance on the shore should be available, and it would also be good to have a rescue boat on site.
11. The kiting area should be clearly defined, in order to prevent the participants from going too far. Everybody should be reached quickly in case of emergency.
12. Determine a light signal identifying the starting and ending time of the session. This will help to reasonably organize and optimize the schedule of your night kitesurfing event.

A full moon night kitesurf session is not the best situation to try our favorite tricks or to ride big waves, but it has its own original magical aspects.

Imagine riding on a silver-lit surface, where even the wind will sound more gentle and quiet, and where you will see the dark water passing under your kiteboard with nuances you’ve never seen before. The moonlight, once you get used to it, is really strong and can allow you to see almost as in daylight, but with an unusual new flavor.

Try this new experience and share it with us! Safe kiteboarding!

full moon kitesurfing kiteboarding fullmoon

Addendum: A fellow kiter Willy Badenas, showed us how the original techinque of led lights to enlighten Kites and Kiteboards which is used in Mar Chiquita (mar del Plata): The result seems astonishing!
(Thanks Willy for sharing: the original idea is of the local rider Noe Quiroga)

kitsurf kiteboarding led light night session
kitsurf kiteboarding led light night session

kitsurf kiteboarding led light night sessionkitsurf kiteboarding led light night session





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This post follows the previous moon light kitesurf post, adding tips how to have a great night session
Full Moon Kitesurfing
Date published: 04/30/2014
Date Update: 04/30/2014

Friday, April 18, 2014

Full Moon Kitesurf Session


I’ll always be grateful to my good friend Carlo Macchiarulo, the owner of IL PIRATA resort in Pemba and founder of Kitesurfing Mozambique, a real Mozambique’s kiteboarding pioneer, who last summer organized the best full moon kitesurf session I have ever taken part of.

First of all, let me say that Murrebue beach, where the event took place, was one of the greatest kitesurfing spots I had ever seen in my kiter’s career. You can read in detail about it in this post. For now I will just give some hints: hip-high flat warm water, surrounded by white sandbanks in low tide, safe sandy bottom, a reef that prevents the entering waves from creating choppy water, and steady seasonal trade winds, normally blowing from 14 to 20 knots, with peaks of 25 to 30.

Full moon, Kitesurfing, session, kiteboarding

Five participating kiters were: me, Carlo, a great local kiter Bart, South African airplane pilot Cameron, who practices kiteboarding whenever he has a chance, and Ines, the girl of the group, who used to be my kitesurfing student.


Full moon, Kitesurfing, session, kiteboardingThe special occasion was Red Moon night, when the moon appears to be slightly bigger and reddish in color, due to its close position to Earth.

The session started half an hour after the sunset, when the remaining sunlight allowed us to set up all our kite gear, so we could be ready for the “battle”: the moon was low on the horizon, reflecting its strong light on the water surface, surrounded by a purple sky, fading into dark blue colors.


When everybody was ready, we started launching our kites, and I remained as the last, being the most experienced in self-launching, while all the kiters where starting to get familiar with the new and unusual kitesurfing environment.

Full moon, Kitesurfing, session, kiteboardingAs soon as I got into the water, the feeling was great: the wind was gentle but consistent, allowing me to relax while performing my first tricks. The water was warm, with a soft, quiet, oily appearance, and the moonlight was so bright that I could easily see the other kiters in a range of one kilometer and even my lines heading up to the kite.





Even though not feeling very confident, I tried to perform a simple jump and landed it without a big effort. Realizing that I was in a very shallow lagoon, I decided to try more complex tricks and to my surprise, it was pretty much the same as if I was kitesurfing in sunlight. Of course, it was a bit difficult to measure how high my jumps were from the water surface, but in these easy conditions I wasn’t preoccupied about that at all.

The atmosphere was magic and relaxing at the same time: all the kiters seemed to be riding silently and gently, respecting the special moment that could not be disturbed.
Full moon, Kitesurfing, session, kiteboarding

All of a sudden, I spotted a white sandbank in the center of the lagoon, and decided to stop for a while to admire the surroundings. It felt like landing on the moon itself - the sand was reflecting the moonlight, and all I could hear was the sound of a gentle breeze and the sliding of kiteboards on the water.

There are few moments in life of pure inspiration, and that was one for sure!
Time passed in a blink of an eye, and the kitesurfers’ strength began to fade as we were out for more than two hours with no break. One by one, slowly, we began approaching the meeting point on the shore, full of admiration for that fabulous new world that opened up for us, as we started landing our kites.

This is for sure one of the best kitesurfing memories I hold, and I suggest to everybody to try a full moon kitesurfing session if you have a chance.

Full moon, Kitesurfing, session, kiteboarding

In my next post I’ll talk about some basic tips on how to approach such a particular kite session.


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In this post is described a beautiful full moon kitesurfing session
Date published: 04/18/2014
Date Update: 04/18/2014

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

10 Tips on How to Give Your Kitesurfing Equipment a Double Lifespan (After Kitesurfing Session)

In the previous post we talked about some maintenance tips before a kite session in order to maximize your kitesurfing gear’s lifespan.

But there’s more stuff to take care of right after the kiteboarding session.

Normally, we finish kitesurfing and we look forward to relaxing and having a cold beer, but our loyal equipment deserves some simple caretaking before that.

This advice, combined with pre-session kitesurfing gear maint

enance tips, helps a great deal in keeping our equipment at its peak performance and consequentially at its highest economical value for a much longer time.

So here’s what to do post-session:

1. Let’s repeat this tip, it’s quite important: don’t leave your kite for hours on the beach under the sun and in the wind: its canopy will become worn before time, losing color and the original resistance.

2. Pay attention to how you wind back the lines of the bar: the better you do it, the quicker your next kite set-up will be and less worn they’ll become with time.

3. Allow your kite to dry completely before packing it to avoid mold. It’s better if you take your time and find a shady place for drying, as UV rays are harmful to the canopy.

kite kitesurf drying

4. Even if you are on the beach, try to pack the kite avoiding any sand on it (sand rubs against the canopy and stiches and wears them off), and make sure there are no sharp things on the ground while you are pressing the bladders to empty the air.

5. Avoid packing the kite on rugged concrete or asphalt surfaces, which will help to keep it clean, but will most likely scratch it easily. Soft grass is a good option.

6. Clean the pulleys to prevent the formation of sand fouling that will get harder with time, especially if packed into the kite.

7. Put back the kite in its own bag as soon as possible - that’s the safest place for it.

8. Don’t leave your kiteboarding gear, especially the kite, in a hot car for a long time: the valve glue is pretty sensitive to high temperatures and this might cause air leaking from the bladders.

Once at home, before the final storage, complete your kitesurfing equipment’s maintenance:

9. Washing the kite with fresh water is a controversial topic. I personally think that you will be exaggerating if you wash it after every kitesurfing session, but on the other hand, leaving it with salt and sand for long periods of time is not ideal either. Think about the pulleys which can be corroded and get stuck buy salt. So that’s my rule: when you think you’ll not use the kite for quite a long time, that’s the moment to wash it with fresh water. Of course, you want to make sure you wash it gently, not to affect the canopy. Then dry it well to prevent mold.

kitesurf pulleys wash

10. Always keep the kite’s valves open when un-inflated - that will prevent them from getting too big and possibly leaking air.

kitesurf kite valves open


11. Washing the rest of your kiteboarding gear is actually very advisable: all the metal parts of kiteboard, kite bar and harness get rusty and corroded much faster with salt and humidity. So rinse them with abundant fresh water, paying more attention to metal parts. If you have a wetsuit, it also needs to be cleaned from salt, and I suggest to dry inside out, as the internal fabric normally dries much slower than the external.

12. When your kitesurfing equipment is dry, store it in a cool and dry place.

If you follow these simple tips, your kite’s lifespan will be as long as you want, and you’ll be able to resell it at a much higher price. I do follow these rules myself, and all my kiteboarding gear has been preserved almost as new for years.


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10 Tips on How to Give Your Kitesurfing Equipment a Double Lifespan (After the Kitesurf Session)
Find important tips on how to do a complete maintenance your kitesurf gear after a kite session
Kitesurf Kiteboarding Equipment Gear Care
Date published: 04/15/2014
Date Update: 04/015/2014

Thursday, April 10, 2014

10 Tips on How to Give Your Kitesurfing Equipment a Double Lifespan (Before the Kitesurf Session)

We have to keep in mind that our kitesurfing gear is very sensitive towards how we treat it. Often kitesurfers don’t pay much attention to the basic procedures of their kite gear maintenance, preventing it from staying in perfect shape for a long time. However, these simple rituals can prolong your kiteboarding equipment’s life dramatically.

And since we are talking about quite expensive gear, everybody would probably agree that it’s worth to spend some short extra minutes to keep it at its best. Another good reason to maintain your gear in good condition is directly connected to your safety: you can feel safe kiteboarding only when all of your gear’s parts are functioning perfectly. Your wallet and your safety are two pretty important factors for me!

We will start by listing what needs to be taken care of before your kitesurf session, while setting up our gear. Here are some basic rules:

1. Always avoid knots on the lines: these can produce very weak points (up to 50% weaker than straight parts), where the lines can easily break.

2. Check your kite’s pulleys for sand fouling that might prevent them to work properly causing bridle tearing or more dangerous tangles and consequent unpredictable kite behavior.

kitesurf kiteboard pulley maintenance


3. Activate all the safety releases on the beach, before going out, and clean them from any dirt such as sand: we don’t want them to be stuck in case on necessity. Also, take some time to practice the safety release sometimes: the practice will make us much quicker and more confident in activating it when needed.
kitesurf kiteboard safety release activation maintenance

4. Check the board screws from time to time to prevent involuntary detachments of pads, handle or fins.

5.  Avoid self-launching and perform it only when strictly necessary: this technique will add a lot of wear in long term, and if there are some sharp objects on the beach, you can easily cut your kite.

6. Lay down the kite on the beach before starting to pump it, in order to avoid bladder’s twists and consequent misplacement or even explosion.

7. Do not force the pump nozzle too far into the valve to avoid stretching and possible leaking when closed.
kitesurf kiteboard kite valves nozzle


8. Transport your kite in an appropriate bag, especially in the car: if you just place it uncovered in the trunk when transporting your kitesurfing gear to your favorite spot, keep in mind that there might be lot of sharp objects, like board fins, which can cut your kite’s canopy.


kitesurf kiteboard kitebag



9. Don’t leave your for kite hours on the beach under the sun and in the wind: its canopy will lose its color and the original resistance will wear out before time. UV rays are lethal for rip-stop tissues, the material that most kite canopies are made of, so the less sun a kite is exposed to, the more resilient it is.

kitesurf kiteboard beach
New Kite

kitesurf kiteboard beach
Kite after many hours of sun exposure

10. If you can’t avoid leaving your kite on the hot sand for a while, partially deflate the leading edge in order to prevent the overheating of the air in it, which might cause the explosion of the bladder inside (believe me, I have experienced it myself).

Realize that the performance of your kitesurfing gear is directly influenced by your behavior, and if you are planning to sell it in the future, here’s another reason to keep it in good shape.

In my next post we’ll talk about how to pack and store your kitesurfing gear after your kiteboarding session.

Safe kitesurfing!


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Here you can read about what's to be done before kiting to ensure all your gear parts work properly and last long
Kitesurf Kiteboarding Equipment Gear Care
Date published: 04/10/2014
Date Update: 04/10/2014

Monday, April 7, 2014

SECRET KITEBOARDING SPOTS: Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve (Riviera Maya, Mexico)


kitesurf boca paila sian ka'anWater, 12 knots and up of wind, a kite and a kiteboard: that’s all you need to enjoy one of the most exciting sport ever created by man. These ingredients would suffice anywhere to get your adrenaline pumping and excitement flowing, but when you have the luck to kitesurf in such a magical Caribbean spot as Boca Paila in the Biosphere Reserve of Sian Ka’an, you understand how kiteboarding can blend adrenaline and poetry so harmoniously.

Get ready for one of my secret spots to be revealed and come on a kitesurfing journey with us that you will never forget!

We will start the trip in Tulum beach zone, which is a Mexican Caribbean eco-chic village with beautiful white sand beaches and some great kitesurfing on its own. But this time we will continue past the gates of Tulum’s beach zone, through the gates that will take you to the wild and natural Biosphere Reserve of Sian Ka’an, and onto to a dirt road towards Punta Allen, past wild beaches on your left and jungle on the right. The road, full of holes, might also be semi-flooded depending on the season, so 4x4 is advisable.

boca paila esturay sian ka'an kitesurf spot
After fourteen kilometers of dust and bumps, which sometimes might seem never-ending due to the thick vegetation that doesn’t always allow to see the changing panorama of the coast, we will reach the bridge over Boca Paila. It’s a completely magic kitesurfing spot, where the fresh water lagoon meets the Caribbean Sea, sometimes separated by a thin tongue of land, which completely disappears during rainy season.

After brief walk in the forest through a narrow jungle path, we will reach the wild beach bordered by the sand bank (estuary) of the lagoon on one side, and the sea on the other. The magical view opens up – white sugary sand beaches and blue waters as far as your eye can see.

Keep in mind, however, that now it’s time to use your kiteboarding spot assessment skills: you can be tempted by the flat water and eager to kitesurf in the fresh water lagoon behind the bridge or in the river underneath it, but these waters are full of crocodiles, and local fishermen warn that it’s a big risk to put your foot in there. But don’t worry. You will have enough fun on the other side of the bridge, where different shades of turquoise Caribbean waters will entice you.

boca paila esturay sian ka'an kitesurf spot kiteboarding

Close to the point where the sea meets the lagoon, the current has created a perfect flat kitesurfing spot of about 300 sq meters, where the water doesn’t reach higher than your hips and you can practice freestyle, wakestyle or also safely enjoy it if you are a beginner. If you like wave kitesurfing, you just need to head out towards deeper waters, and you will have a great wave spot on the days with stronger wind.

Dare to kite until sunset, and find yourself surrounded only the white sand, palm trees, bright colors of the sky and magical atmosphere.

boca paila esturay sian ka'an kitesurf spot kiteboarding jump


If you enjoy some “exploration-style” kitesurfing, the Biosphere of Sian Ka’an has plenty of undiscovered kiteboarding spots to offer, just remember: you’ll be in a semi-savage area, where you’ll have to be extra careful while assessing potential dangers to avoid any bad surprises.

But if you take the right precautions, this ancient Mayan land will open up for you in all its beauty and mysticism. Enjoy!

Do you know of other secret kitesurfing spots around the world? I would love to hear about them!

If you like the idea of kitesurfing in Sian Ka’an and Tulum, you would love the idea of acquiring real estate here, because it is considered to be one of the best investments at the moment. Learn more about SianKa’an and Tulum real estate options with Riviera Maya Property Consultants.

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Post On a secret kiteboarding spot: Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve (Riviera Maya, Mexico)
A secret paradise kitespot in Riviera Maya...
Kitesurf Kiteboarding spot flat water and wave
Date published: 04/07/2014
Date Update: 04/18/2014

Thursday, April 3, 2014

The easiest way to get injured while kiteboarding? Kiteboard Leash!

Talking about kitesurfing safety, here’s the most important thing you will ever need to know: AVOID USING ANY TYPE OF KITEBOARD LEASH!

Using a kiteboard leash is a really bad habit still practiced by a good number of beginner (and not only) kitesurfers, and the level of danger it bears is deeply underestimated.


WHY DO KITEBOARD LEASH INJURIES HAPPEN?

kiteboard leash kitesurf dangerWhen you are kitesurfing, it’s pretty normal to make a wrong maneuver even for an expert, to fall off your kiteboard into the water as a result, and to be dragged by the kite for some meters. What happens with your kiteboard in this situation? You usually will lose the board behind you, it will dive into the water and, if you are connected to it, the leash will work like a bungee and will throw the kiteboard against you with a rough power.


As you might imagine, a 4-5 kg heavy board thrown into your head while flying at a high speed can result in a big trauma. You might think it’s a very rare case that won’t happen to you, but believe me - it’s really common.

HOW TO AVOID KITEBOARD LEASH INJURIES?

During my kitesurfing career I‘ve seen many people get injured by their leashed board, and my close friends were among them. The only solution to this issue is to never permanently attach your kiteboard to yourself with any type of a leash while kitesurfing.

If you aren’t skilled enough to retrieve your board by an upwind body drag, the best thing you can do is to improve your body drag skills by spending two or three hours practicing. It’s a short amount of time to spend to prevent a very bad trauma, and it’s worth it.

CAN MY HELMET PROTECT ME?

You might argue that if you wear a helmet, you will be safe, but keep in mind that a helmet provides protection to your head only, and the kiteboard can be thrown into your face, your neck or any other body part.  A friend of mine was hit by a kiteboard on his ankle on his kitesurfing vacation, and the result was a deep 10cm cut, a lot of blood, a very swollen leg and, of course, no kitesurfing for the entire vacation.

ARE REEL LEASHES THE SOLUTION?

kiteboard reel leash danger kitesurfAnother myth that is spreading through the kitesurfers’ community is that reel leashes are the solution: the idea is that tension-loaded reel outs will extend further, will have a slow reeling back in and prevent the springing-back effect. This is really misleading, because that extra length can even increase the potential power that will propel the kiteboard to bounce back to you. And that’s not even considering the problems that a 4-5 meter-long leash can cause by tangling around your body or the kite bar’s safety systems. The advice remains the same: no board leash while kitesurfing.


AN OLD TRICK TO RETRIEVE YOUR BOARD

If you are afraid to lose your kiteboard or not to be able to body drag upwind to retrieve it, you can use the trick I tested myself when I was a beginner: put children’s floating rubber sleeves on your kiteboard’s handle. It will produce two positive effects: increased board visibility and the function of a small sail that will push the board quicker downwind, helping you to reach it faster.

children floating sleeve kitesurf kiteboard



BOARD RECOVERING TOOL

And what if you feel that children’s rubber sleeves are bad for your image? Well then, you can invest some cash and buy a device designed for kiteboard gear. Look for “Leash-less Board Recovering Tool” online.

kiteboard recovering tool kitesurf


Tell me what you think! Can you share your experience with a kiteboard leash? Do you have any other advice not mentioned here?


Talk soon.




Post On the easiest way to get injured while kiteboarding: Kiteboard Leash!
Here is described how dangerous is to use a kiteboard leash
Kitesurf Kiteboarding Kiteboard Leash
Date published: 04/03/2014
Date Update: 04/18/2014