How to choose your first kitesurfing kite
"What kite should I buy??" This is one of the questions we are asked all the time at 24-7 Boardsports, so I'll give you some pointers to help guide your research:
Airush DNA - Modern Low Aspect Delta
Shape kite - Easy relaunch.
Firstly, this is a great time to get started in kite surfing! The materials technology in kites is now very advanced & kites from the last couple of years are incredibly well designed & well made in dedicated factories - Making them more durable, stable & safer than ever. I'll not point you at a specific make or model of kite, rather I'll take a look at some of the more general concepts that make one kite more suitable than the next.
Since 2008 or so, many kites have featured bridles & this is one of the key things to look for on your first kite. A bridle is the name for the system of string attached to your leading edge. The bridle allows the kite surfer to 'switch off' a lot of the power from the kite, by changing canopy's angle to the wind, whilst in flight. Before bridled kites were produced, kitesurf kites would only depower to a limited extent when pushing the bar away, relying instead on user skill & a fairly consistent wind strength! The ability to easily control the amount of power makes a kite feel more 'user friendly' and you'll feel more confident and in control.
Safety systems are crucial - we all rely on them when it goes wrong & you really want yours to work. Simple 'push away' systems are now largely an industry standard, but whatever safety system your kite has - learn it inside & out. Different manufacturers kites can flag to either one or both front lines. Different systems make the kite behave slightly differently after you fire the safety, so try it in light wind before you need to use it in anger and learn how to fully flag your kite for a self rescue.
Kite sizing. You want your first kite to be roughly the right size for your body weight in the 12-18 knot wind range, which is best for learning. If it's much windier than this you will need a smaller kite, but that will make learning a bit harder as the kite will be faster & trickier to control. As a general rule, a 75kg kite surfer would want about a 12m kite for the 10-18 knot range. As you get better at kiting, you will be able to use the same kite in a bit higher wind. If it's windier than this much of the time or you're a lighter rider, then you're going to need a smaller kite like a 9m. Its worth taking the advice of your kiting friends and your instructor when choosing a size.
Relaunch is a major factor in determining how suitable a kite is for you. Modern bridled 'Delta' (kites that look like a 'D' shape when laid out flat), where the wing tips sweep away from the water when the kite is down, have the easiest relaunch. Kites which have a deeper C shape, or kites which are higher aspect (long & thin) are much harder to coax off the water. Some of these kites will have a 5th line, which supports the kites shape, a bit like a bridle, which is used to help with relaunch by tipping the kite onto its back. High aspect or 5 line kites are probably best avoided at first, especially if you kite at a deep water spot where an easy relaunch is key.
Power delivery is something that's not often considered by new kiters. When you're learning, the ideal kite will give you power when you want it & how you expect it. The sheeting control at the bar is going to be your main means of controlling the power initially, so you want the kite to react positively & progressively to what you're doing with the bar. The kite should be stable & sit quite deep in the window, so it's always in a position to catch the wind & give you more pull if you want it. Lower aspect kites like the Airush Lithium, with deep canopies & long center struts will do this for you. This is especially key for heavier beginners who often struggle to find power, even though more experienced riders of the same weight are kiting successfully.
Hopefully this has armed you with a bit more knowledge - I'll cover some more of the ideas above in a bit more detail in the future. Our shop 24-7 Boardsports carries in stock lots great value kite & board packages as well as having plenty of kit on the water for demo. If you want to chat through your options just pick up the phone (02380 894000) or hit us up on Facebook.