Archive for the ‘Jake Mitchell’ Category

How To Pack Your Kiteboarding Gear For Vacations

Posted: December 21, 2013 by in How To, Jake Mitchell, kiteboarding general

A kiteboarding Golf Bag

by Jake Mitchell

One of the best attributes of kiteboarding is being able to do it in so many diverse locales, as long as a relatively open source of water is nearby. As vacations generally involve visiting places that meet that criteria, it can be quite hard to leave all your kitesurfing gear behind as you flee the winter doldrums. Fortunately, by getting an appropriate kiteboarding gear bag and learning how to effectively pack it, you’ll have no reason to leave your equipment behind.

The first step is selecting the correct travel bag that can successfully harbor all of your kitesurfing gear. Kiteboarding bags like the Dakine Club Wagon and Dakine SX Bag are great options. Occasionally called golf bags, the original intention with most kiteboarding bags was to disguise them as other sports equipment luggage that could take advantage of airlines’ free baggage policies. This leeway is increasingly rare with airline cost controls nowadays, but the influence lives on. The length of your kiteboard(s) is important when determining the size of bag to opt for; you will want a bag that is slightly longer than your largest kiteboard. Many kiteboarding bags, when packed correctly, should hold two kiteboards, at least two kitesurfing kites, a pump, harness, and water garb.


How to Butter Slide/Nose Slide

Posted: November 22, 2013 by in How To, Jake Mitchell
Tags: , , ,

by Jake Mitchell

One of my favorite kiteboarding tricks is the butter slide, sometimes called a nose slide. It is quite easy to execute, given you have the right equipment, conditions, and a good sense of balance. Even more importantly, it looks really flashy, especially if you hold it for a long slide!

Progression Kiteboarding has a great video to get things started:

For another perspective, or if you’d prefer the butter slide dissected in Spanish:

The nose slide is executed most easily in flat water conditions, and will also look most the most pronounced. You will want to remove the fins from your kiteboard, and make sure your kite is moderately to highly powered. You can butter slide just fine in footstraps, although boots will provide better leverage. The trick is most easily done in the direction your feel more comfortable riding toeside.

Keep reading for step-by-step directions:

One of the inescapable hardships of kiteboarding comes in the form of losing your kiteboard. It happens to everyone, from the new kitesurfer to the advanced rider. And sometimes, after a particularly high velocity crash or in wavy conditions, it can seem impossible that you’ll ever recover your kiteboard with how far you were dragged. Naturally, that led to some kite surfers attaching leashes to their kiteboard so as to never lose it. You may find yourself asking the question, is a kiteboard leash right for me? The forthright answer to that question is no, you should not attach a board leash to your kiteboard. The answer boils down to simple physics.


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.


When getting into kiteboarding, there are a lot of different things to consider. These range from choosing an appropriately sized kite, selecting the right board, deciding between a seat or waist harness, oh — and putting it all together. As kitesurfing does require a sizable initial investment, it will occur to people to try to reduce the cost by skipping lessons or forgoing a trainer kite. However, kiteboarding not only has a steep learning curve, but can quickly become very dangerous to not only you, but an entire beach, if you aren’t properly trained. Furthermore, you can easily ruin your gear, and investment, by skimping on the learning process. I ruefully admit that I self-taught myself, and in the process managed to shred a kite bladder, get uncontrollably dragged down the beach by a looping kite, and struggle much longer than I would have if I had just taken a darn kite surfing lesson!

The HQ Beamer kiteboarding trainer kiteOne of the first things I recommend for people considering trying the sport of kite surfing is to invest in a trainer kite. They range in price from $80 for a basic model like the HQ Symphony TR II 1.7m Trainer to $300+ for more specialized kites including the Prism Tensor 4.2 Kiteboarding Trainer / Power Kite, and in turn end up saving you time, money, and from damaged equipment.


One of the more frequent questions we get from new kiteboarders is whether they should get a waist or a seat harness. Despite a few notable exceptions, that answer is going to boil down to preference. While it is a decision best made in a kiteboarding shop where the different styles can be tried, not everybody has that option. For that reason, I’ll compare the major differences.

Dakine Vega seat harness for kiteboardingSeat harnesses like the Dakine Fusion or Dakine Vega are generally quite popular with people just learning to kitesurf. They tend to fit around the hips, with leg straps similar to those found on a climbing harness. Because seat harnesses sit lower, they have a lower tow point, or spreader bar location. This lends itself to greater stability, which in turn allows for easier water starts. Seat harnesses are ideal for people with back sensitivities or problems due to the lower pull point, and heavier set riders. Disadvantages include that the fact that they tend to be bulkier, and can constrict one’s range of movement. They also are more apt to be compared to large diapers, so the wearer should be comfortable in their self-image.

Dakine Chameleon kiteboarding waist harnessWaist harnesses are often most popular with riders who gravitate towards freestyle riding or kite surfing in waves. Waist harness will fit around the abdomen, much like a WWE Championship Belt, allowing for full leg movement and greater torso maneuverability. This same fact allows the wearer more comfort when walking around on the beach during setup, prolonged swims stemming from self-rescues, and proves easy to put on and take off. Major disadvantages include that they tend to ride up, especially for people who keep the kite overhead when learning, can cause rash and chafing, and can lead to back discomfort, as the pull will be concentrated higher on the back. Several popular waist harnesses are the Dakine Pyro, Dakine Renegade, or the Mystic Warrior, these harnesses vary in cost from $180-$260.

Dakine Nitrous boardshorts kiteboarding harnessA third type of harness has recently been gaining popularly, colloquially termed a boardshorts harness. The Dakine Nitrous boardshort harness tends to be a combination of the seat and waist harness, offering a lower tow point as well as lower body flexibility. For all intents and purposes, they can be thought of as a climbing harness disguised under board shorts. This results in a lesser amount of support, but serves as a good compromise for those not keen on the other two more popular options.