Archive for February, 2013

HQ Rush 350 Pro trainer kite

People often ask, “What’s the best trainer kite?” My answer is always the same, “It depends on what you are looking to do with it.” True, some trainer kites have additional features that make the flying experience a little easier; however, these additional features don’t necessarily make the kite the right choice for you.

Let’s start with the size of the kite. Trainer kites can be as small as 1.7 meters, or as big as 5 meters. These “meters” are surface meters, and every .5 meters you gain in size will give the user approximately 30% more pulling power.

To put this into perspective, let’s compare a Rush 300 (3 meter kite) to aRush 350 (3.5 meter kite). Where the Rush 300 has a wind range of 4-29mph, the Rush 350 has a wind range of 4-21mph. This means that a Rush 350 can be flown in lighter winds with the same amount of pulling power as a Rush 300 in a little stronger wind.


A new kiteboarder on the beach

As a newbie, it can be a little intimidating the first few times, or more, when you show up at your new, local beach to go kiteboarding. When you look around, it appears that everyone else has it all together, and you probably feel like you’re sticking out like a sore thumb. Well – you probably are, but that’s OK. All of those same people out there ripping it up on the water had to start from the exact same spot that you now find yourself nervously standing on. Learning to kiteboard can be challenging if you like your privacy and don’t want to look like a kook in front of other people. Get over that – quick. Unless you have the luxury of private beaches or remote locations, you will be learning right alongside the intermediate and advanced level riders, and they will be watching you. They’re looking to see if you’ve taken some lessons and know a little bit about what you’re doing, or if you’re one of those half-cocked, do-it-yourself types that will no doubt make things dangerous for yourself and for those around you. Please note: don’t be that person – take lessons first. It will save you tons of time, speed up your learning process, and above all, educate you about safety, procedure and etiquette.


A great spot for kiteboarding

The answer to this question will vary based on what kind of riding you enjoy as well as your skill level. For instance, most riders enjoy flatwater riding, but wakestyle and kitesurfers often enjoy waves to use for jumps and surfing. There are, however, a few attributes that can be applied to all riding styles.


Snowkiting at easmanville farm

Snowkiting at easmanville farm

Tucker and Jeff made it out for a morning snowkite session today at our new favorite spot and scored some fun powder.  Tucker was riding the Rome Garage Rocker 154 with Rome Mob Boss bindings while flying a Slingshot RPM 14m kite.  Jeff opted for a Flow Era that was lying around the shop and a 2013 Cabrinha Switchblade 12m kite.  With knee deep powder in spots it made for some fun riding and an excellent time to test our our new snow kiteboarding spot at Eastmanville Farm that offers a large area with enough elevation fun to mix things up a bit.  While the hike back is rather long in deep snow, it is well worth the reward.  Be sure to keep your eye out for the obstacles at this spot.  It has trees, fence posts, and a large ditch that might posses a threat to beginners or an unsuspecting rider but most of the large riding area is clear of major obstacles.


Kiteboarding Gear for the New or Experienced Rider

Flotation vest for kiteboardingYou have finally made that sizable investment into kitesurfing, getting yourself a new kite (maybe two so you’re prepared for those really windy days), a slick-looking kiteboard, and a comfortable harness. You have everything you need to hit the water… But wait. While you are most of the way there, there are some other things to think about before that long overdue first session on your new gear.

a) A floatation vest. No matter your proficiency level when it comes to kiteboarding or swimming, a floatation vest is always a wise decision. The reality is you will inevitably find yourself at some point in some sort of pickle on the water, whether it involves the wind dropping, losing your board, or even breaking a line. When that does happen, that extra buoyancy helps immensely, providing not only additional floatation to help conserve energy, but also peace of mind as you float there assessing the situation. That added floatation may also help save your life in the event conditions change for the worse and you have to release your kite. Furthermore, it ensures some added padding to cushion those explosive crashes, prevents waist harnesses from riding up, and provides a little added warmth when paired with a wetsuit. Kiteboarding-specific vests are often designed to fit comfortably with a harness. Normally priced around $100, they are a must for any kite surfer, particularly those new to the sport.

kitesurfing wetsuitsb) Wetsuit gear. If you want to make the most of the kiteboarding season in Michigan, a plethora of wetsuit garb is a must. While the air may be warm, the water is often not, especially for a prolonged duration. As noted above, things can go awry quickly, and an appropriate wetsuit will not only keep you warm and calm, but add a slight degree of floatation. Even in the summer I’ll don a two or three millimeter wetsuit or wear a shortie. I’ve found that adding even a thin set of wetsuit gloves and a beanie often does a great job of providing extra warmth as well, as some chilliness can set in after an hour or so between the wind and water.

c) A good sunscreen. While often overlooked, a thick, waterproof sunscreen is essential. Lighter sunscreens can often wash off easily, and after several hours in the sun, a burn is unavoidable if not adequately protected. I enjoy a rub-on sunscreen stick, as it tends to remain intact for longer, and application is effortless.

kitesurfing helmetd) A helmet. Some people like to add a helmet to their equipment. These are often used concomitantly with kiteboard leashes (which I do not recommend), primarily used to protect from board mishaps. For the average rider, they are likely not going to find themselves in need of a helmet to protect for high-speed crashes. Still, they do provide extra safety and peace of mind, as well as added warmth for the head, and ear protection.

kiteboarding rashguardse) A rash guard or insulated shirt. A rash guard serves a few different purposes, and for the minimal investment required makes a lot of sense. First and foremost, a rash guard provides an additional layer between the skin and equipment, helping to prevent against skin irritation from friction. The evaporation effect of a wet rash guard keeps you cool in the summer, and helps guard against the sun. An insulated shirt also provides these benefits, except that instead of cooling you off, it provides an extra layer to trap heat and keep you warm.

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Writer/Rider: Jake Mitchell
Weight: 175lbs
Age: 22
Years riding: Started 2010
Level: Intermediate, Freestyle
Kites: 2012 Liquid Force Envy or North Rebel, sometimes dabbling in Cabrinha

Kiteboarding kite safety system practiceOne of the reasons I have become so enamoured with the sport of kiteboarding is the ability to constantly progress, and, relatively speaking, the ease of doing so. Take wakeboarding for example. Sure, the board skills element is very much similar. However, throwing that front-roll comes at a much higher cost behind a boat than underneath a kite – due largely to the increased speed, you can really manage to hurt yourself. With kiteboarding, you can throw some pretty flashy tricks without the risk of serious injury. Therecovery time also tends to be far less – a usual botched attempt requires only a quick kite relaunch. Even with this accessibility, adding tricks to your kiteboarding repertoire can seem like a daunting task – and in reality, some are certainly going to be. But fortunately, a lot of your beginner and intermediate tricks are not that way, and this article is designed to help identify and remove those barriers that are holding you back from progressing while on the water.

1. Being comfortable with your kite

One of the most common problems people encounter when trying new things in kitesurfing is not being completely comfortable with their gear. With a few notable exceptions, kiteboarding kites have become very safe, possessing huge depower ranges and safety features to further eliminate power. But in order to benefit from these modern features, you have to know how to use and deploy them, and how to re-engage them as well. This means pull that QuickLink system, push the CPR system, identify the flagging line and engage it. Try it in low and high winds. Now safely reset it. Practice self-rescuing. Try to reverse launch your kite. Unhook your kite and let the bar go. Now get hooked back in and relaunch. Practice self-landing using the safety systems. Of course, do all this on a day when you have the beach largely to yourself, and ideally have someone there who can help coach you through it. Once you’ve gotten really comfortable with your kite, you’ll find yourself attempting tricks with a whole new level of confidence.


12 films in 12 months.
A year in search of shred.
Different spots, different crews, different styles.
We don’t know exactly what’s going to happen, or where we’ll go.
But if it sounds fun, and it feels good, we’re in.