One of the most common questions I get asked after giving someone kitesurfing lessons is "how much will it cost me to get into kitesurfing?" Most people don't want to spend hundreds of pounds on new kit in a sport they haven't mastered yet. This is a fair concern and one that has be taken seriously as kitesurfing can get quite expensive. So in this article we're going to look at how much you should be spending and some tricks to cut down the entry cost.
The first thing I would say on this subject is that if you don't want to be one of those people that takes kitesurfing lessons and then never goes kitesurfing again make sure you buy your own kit when you've completed your kitesurfing lessons. The amount of people that I teach who I then see a year or so later who tell me they haven't been kiting since, when I ask them why not the answer is always the same..."no kit." Buying kit not only means you have the kit ready and available in your house, staring you in the face saying "Use me...Use me," it also means you've made an investment in the sport and thus are that much more likely to force yourself to get up and hit the water. Now the costs of dong a course and buying kit may push your budget to bursting point so lets look at a couple of options to make the whole process a bit more wallet friendly.
Learning with a friend is a great way to reduce your costs, that way once you've done your kitesurfing lessons you can buy some kit between you and practice together, this not only halves your costs but means that you have someone to look out for you down the beach when your learning (and someone to laugh at you when you mess up!).
Ask the school your learning with if they have any old school kit they're looking to get rid of, at Tantrum Kitesurf we constantly try to cycle out school kit as it offers a great, cheap way for beginners to get into the sport on great kit and also means we're constantly teaching on new kit, so everyone wins. Many other schools adopt this policy and it provides a great route for you to get into the sport on the cheap.
Hiring kit is generally not something I would recommend, because of the high chance of damage to the kit hire costs are usually very high and after a few sessions you can find yourself having spent more than it would have cost you to simply buy the kit in the first place. Buying second hand is a great way to reduce your costs and the kitesurf second hand market is booming at the moment.
Actual costs of kit will vary but in general for you first kite your looking for something round the 350 - 600 pound mark, this should ensure that the kite is in good enough condition that its not going to fall apart the first time you drop it on the beach and that it'll be modern enough to fly well and safely. There are also many cheaper brands appearing on the market these days many with the express aim of getting more people into kitesurfing by offering cheap entry level kites, brands such as Griffin, Faith and Kangaroo are some examples. These kites tend to be very well made and simply lack the magazine coverage and marketing power of the bigger brands as these companies obviously spend a lot less on marketing as they are trying to keep their overheads down. The kites fly as well as any any other major brand and are a great option for beginners as a first kite that will carry you through to becoming an Intermediate. For a detailed discussion of kites see my article on the the C vs Bow kite debate.
The board is a fairly simple bit of kit (as far as the beginner is concerned) and indeed it is possible to go kiting on a tea tray...though not advised!! For a beginner the size is the most important thing, aim for something between 135 cm and 150 cm depending on your size and weight, as you get bigger/heavier so does the board. But apart from that just go for the cheapest one you can find until your confident at which point you can purchase yourself a nice, new, shiny, expensive one!!! With a board I would look to spend between 150 - 300 pounds on your first one, but you may be able to pick up some real bargains for 50 quid or less. As long as it has footstraps and at least heel side fins it'll get you going! Again look through my other articles as I will be publishing quite a few specifically looking at kitesurfing boards.
Harnesses can be picked up very cheaply, from 25 quid, many schools will have old harnesses they're looking to get rid of, so just ask during your kitesurfing lessons, as with all the other kit this is a great place to start. I would recommend you spending a little more on your harness as a comfortable harness can make a huge difference to your enjoyment of the sport. The plastic moulded harnesses are often the most comfortable and it will make your day on the water that much enjoyable not having it up under your armpits all the time!!
Well I hope that's cleared up some issues, as always if you have any comments on this article please leave a comment, I love hearing from you and its your input that's most important to me.
Sam Guest is an IKO Kitesurf Head Instructor currently working in Tarifa, Spain. He has 10 years experience working in the water sports industry and has a passion for life, the ocean and helping people get the most out of what they've got.
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