Frequently Asked Questions
Answers to the most common questions about kiteboarding and lessons with KSM. For more info, feel free to contact us!
Is kiteboarding safe?
Kiteboarding is considered an extreme sport and safety has to be taken seriously. At KSM, our primary goals are to introduce the sport safely to our students and to accelerate the learning. Accidents, when they do occur, usually involve advanced riders who are pushing the envelope and attempting new tricks or going out in conditions that are too extreme for their ability. Knowing your limits, having the correct gear for the conditions, understanding weather, and being in good physical shape go a long way to keeping kiteboarders healthy.
When is the best time to come to Maui for lessons?
We offer kiteboarding lessons year-round but the best season historically is May through October. During November through April, we usually get 50% kiteable days versus 75-95% during the spring/summer.
Do I need to bring anything with me for the lesson?
We provide everything you will need for your lesson...drinking water, harness, life jacket, helmet, booties, appropriately sized kites, kiteboard, etc.
You will want to bring:
- Sunglasses are a good idea as you are looking up in the sky a lot and you will definitely want to have some kind of strap for your sunglasses.
Will I need a wetsuit on Maui?
Most Maui kiteboarders use a lycra rash guard if anything at all during the summer. If you have low body fat, then a 2-3 mm shirt could be adviseable. During the winter (November-April) a 2 mm suit works perfect for most riders but if you end up in the water often a shorty could be in order.
What is the best time of day for lessons?
We recommend beginners to sign up for morning lessons due to three factors.: 1) the beach is less crowded in the morning, which makes equipment set up quicker and easier, thus maximizing time; 2) the ocean is less congested with kiteboarders in the morning, which makes the water classes more fun and less intimidating; and 3) to avoid staring into the afternoon sun, which is in the same area of the sky as the kite due to the wind direction relative to the afternoon sun.
How hard is it to learn how to kite?
Learning how to kiteboard is actually easier and takes less time than learning how to windsurf. However, the learning curve is much steeper. For example, one of the first kiteboarding moves you need to learn is water starting, which is a rather advanced technique in windsurfing.
I am a windsurfer, is it hard to convert?
As a windsurfer, you already have good balance on a board, have used a harness, and understand the wind, so learning to kiteboard can be easier than for students without those skills. However, the learning curve is still pretty steep as you need more balance in kitesurfing due to the nervous kite which tends to pull you out of the footstraps and off the board. Keep in mind that 80% of sport is about the kite but once you get past the beginner stage you can progress faster in kitesurfing than in windsurfing.
How fast will I learn the sport?
Progress in this sport depends on what other skills a student possesses from other sports. Clients with prior experience in board sports such as wakeboarding, surfing, waterskiing, windsurfing, and snowboarding pick up the riding part quickly. In addition, windsurfers already have experience using a harness, which is very important. But, the best skills one can possess are good hand-eye coordination, good listening skills, and comfort level in the water. Two goals of the KSM team are to help reduce the frustration level of learning kitesurfing and to accelerate the learning curve. As a result, KSM students become independent kiteboarders more quickly and safely.
What sort of physical shape do I need to be in?
You should be in relatively good shape before taking kiteboarding lessons but you don't need to be an elite athlete to learn the sport. We begin teaching kids as young as 8 and the most senior student we’ve taught was 80 years old! Strength isn’t the key to this sport because you fly mainly from your harness and your body weight and technique are bigger factors in how much kite power you can handle. You should be strong enough to unhook the control bar from your harness hook when needed, though. (Suggestion: do a lot of pull up and abdominal exercises). Kitesurfing is not very aerobic - you don't run out of breath as quickly as you do when running because the kite does most of the work. Muscle fatigue in the legs can wear you out but as your skills improve your endurance increases. Being a good swimmer and comfortable in the water are very important, too. Essentially, being in good physical shape would allow you to get yourself out of a situation quicker than if you weren't in shape.
I have done some trainer kite flying and body dragging. Will I be able to take a class starting with the kiteboard on my first lesson?
This is a very common question. While we appreciate that students want to save money and time, we want their experience to be fun, safe, and easy. If a student has had some experience, we normally have them set up the kite with our assistance and do a tandem body drag in the water. Once the instructor-student pair is a safe distance from shore, the instrutor turns the kite rig over to the student and directs the student to drag out and back to the instructor who has swum upwind. If the student can drag upwind to the instructor, demonstrate a kite relaunch from the water, and can demonstrate a proper self-rescue with the kite, then we would begin instruction with the board.
Will I be riding on a board the first day?
At least half of our first time beginner students get to the board on the first day and attempt water starts and ride. Most students need 2-3 days of lessons to become competent and confident with the kite and do some riding on a board. Taking a few days of supervised lessons and having the proper equipment for all conditions will be less expensive than going out and buying the various sized kites one needs in the beginning.
Is KSM insured?
KSM carries a general liability insurance policy as requied by County of Maui ordinance to qualify for a commercial ocean recreation permit and as required by International Kiteboarding Organization for affiliation.
How long has KSM been in business?
KSM is the first licensed kiteboarding school in Maui County and the only business on Maui that has a kiteboarding school coupled with its own kiteboarding retail operation. KSM is one of the first kiteboarding schools in the USA and one of the very first kiteboading schools to become affiliated with IKO. KSM has been servicing the international kiteboarding community with lessons and retail kiteboarding equipment since 1999.
How much experience do KSM instructors have?
All instructors for KSM are highly experienced and are certified with American Red Cross in CPR/First Aid and with International Kiteboarding Organization (IKO) and/or Professional Air Sports Association (PASA). In addition, prior to becoming certified kiteboarding instructors, KSM instructors were kiteboarding recreationally for years and competing in local and international kiteboarding events. We believe that this is one of the most experienced group of instructors anywhere in the world.
What should I look for so I know I have found a safe, quality school?
Great question! Kiteboarding schools that have instructors certified with IKO (International Kiteboarding Organization) and PASA (Professional Air Sports Association) are a good bet but those certifications alone are not an absolute guarantee that you've found the perfect school. Other factors to consider would be: 1) does the school meet or possess any and all required government approvals and guidelines, for example CPR/First Aid, county, state, or federal permits or licenses, etc.; 2) does the school have its own retail shop; 3) how long has the school been in operation; 4) what is the reputation of the school and its instructors at the local beach; 5) is the school written up favorably in travel guides; 6) does the school and its instructors contribute articles to the kiteboarding magazines. The list could get extensive but you get the idea....do your homework. Don't just show up to the beach and let the first kite monkey grab you and drag you out in the water. Keep in mind, you get what you pay for and there is no end of people waiting to take your money. Remember-Safety First!
What is the difference between kitesurfing, kiteboarding, and flysurfing?
Kitesurfing, kiteboarding, or flysurfing (if you speak French) is an exciting water sport for the new millennium. The term kitesurfing is usually reserved for kiting in waves, but whatever term you prefer it's a very, very young sport. In 1999, there were probably only a few hundred kiteboarders in the world. Now, kiteboarding can be found in nearly every county and certainly on every continent. The idea behind kiteboarding is very simple....a kiter stands on a board with his feet inserted into straps or bindings attached to the board and uses the power of a large controllable kite to propel him across the water. Kiteboarding is a lot like waterskiing and wakeboarding, only you're replacing the boat with a kite. This simplicity of the sport also makes it challenging as your body is the only connection between the kite and the board. You have to pilot the kite in the sky and steer the board on the water, controlling them both at the same time.