The Perfect Quiver
Tip #5 - The Perfect Quiver
Is there really any such thing? As the owner of a kiteboarding store, I would say, "Sure! Buy 3 kites and 3 boards (small, light wind and surf) and away you go." But for most people this is not a realistic place to start kiteboarding. The trick to maximizing your gear with where you ride is asking the right questions. The basic equation for finding the right gear:
Body weight + average wind speed + skills + riding area = best gear options
Here is a list that you should ask yourself, your local shop, and area riders prior to buying gear.
1) What are the conditions of the area I plan to ride the most? - This is one of the most overlooked questions for a beginning kiteboarder. In the early days we would get people coming from Maui with 9 meter kites for Michigan. Needless to say - they didn't get much water time.
Let's break this question down a bit further.
- Wind Speed - what is the average WHEN you will ride? In the Great Lakes Region, it is much windier in the spring, fall and winter - but really are YOU going to be riding then? For most beginners the answer would be "no" due to the cold and rough conditions. Plan your first purchase for when you will be learning and additional kites and boards for opening the other times that you want to be out in.
- Water - will you be riding in flat or choppy water? Or are you going to try to learn in waves? (In this case look for flat water to start.) Choppy water requires that your kite is a bit larger than flat water to stay upwind. In the Great Lakes we ride fresh water, which is 13% less buoyant than salt water. You do need a little extra power to get going.
- Large body of water vs. inland lake - if you are going to learn on an inland lake you almost have to start with a bow/SLE kite for safety and gust reasons. A "C" kite will work you beyond belief.
2) How much do you weigh? - A 200lb person will be on a 16 meter kite when a 150lb person is on a 12 meter.
3) Board size and type - This has a lot to do with previous board skills. If you can kill it wakeboarding, you can easily start on a small board. No skills - big board. Skill sets that help - wakeboard, snowboard, surf, windsurf, skateboard, skiing. The type of board is more specific to your area and your style and age (softer boards are nice for old guys). Talk to your local shop and try to ride a couple of different boards. It is amazing to see two people say exactly opposite things about the same board and both be right.
So now you know the questions to ask. Do some homework, and try to talk to some locals - they know the answers.
Remember - you can't buy a one kite / one board quiver for all wind ranges. But you can buy a one kite / one board quiver that will deliver about 70% of your area's rideable days. Be smart, buy smart.