HOW TO: Look After Your Wetsuit

So, you’ve bought yourself a brand new wetsuit! After dropping a couple of hundred pounds on a wettie, you want to make sure you can get as much life out of it as possible. Our instructors spend hours every day in their wetsuits, so we’ve compiled their top tips for wetsuit maintenance (and repairs in case you need them!)

Before

  • Take care when putting your wetsuit on. Pull it on gently and try to AVOID SNAGGING it on fingernails or jewellery etc
  • CHECK YOUR WETSUIT for any small holes, as these will stretch further if left unrepaired

During

  • TRY NOT TO WEE in your wetsuit too often, as this deteriorates the neoprene and leaves a funky smell
  • If you stop for a long rest, change out of your wetsuit – DON’T LIE IN THE SUN WITH IT ON
  • If you change out of your wetsuit whilst still at the beach, make sure you DON’T CHANGE ON THE SAND

After

  • Take care when taking your wetsuit off, unzip all sections and GENTLY pull it off
  • SOAK for 15-20 minutes in WARM, fresh water
  • After soaking, RINSE the wetsuit out with more fresh water
  • Always dry your wetsuit INSIDE OUT
  • Hang the wetsuit to dry on a THICK HANGER – a thin hanger can damage the neoprene (you can cut a foam pool noodle to fit over a hangover or tie a couple of thinner hangers together and cover with lots of tape)
  • AVOID cleaning your wetsuit with any aerosols, alcohol, solvents or petroleum
  • If your wetsuit seems a bit smelly you can wash it with WETSUIT CLEANER or small amount of BABY SHAMPOO
  • DON’T USE A BRUSH to scrub your wetsuit, simply rub it against itself in any particularly smelly areas (armpits etc.)

Storage

  • Store your wetsuit LYING DOWN FLAT if possible, or on a thick hanger if not. DO NOT FOLD your wetsuit to store it, especially if it remains there for a long time, as this can damage the neoprene
  • Store in a COOL, DRY AND PROTECTED PLACE – with NO DIRECT SUNLIGHT
  • Do not store your wetsuit somewhere you also store vehicles which are used – the FUMES from the exhaust DETERIORATE the NEOPRENE over time
  • Do not store your wetsuit near chemicals, gasoline, oil or solvents

Repairs

  • For major repairs, take your wetsuit to a surf school to be PROFESSIONALLY REPAIRED
  • Small holes in the wetsuit can be fixed at home, using special NEOPRENE GLUE or NEOPRENE PATCHES
  • To LUBRICATE ZIPPERS, rub a small amount of BEESWAX on them

Kitesurfing Equipment Maintenance

Let’s face it, kitesurfing is an expensive hobby, so you want to make sure your kit lasts as long as possible. Although it may seem like a chore at the time, the best way to ensure your kit lasts as long as possible is to maintain and store it properly. We’ve gathered some top tips for kit maintenance from our instructors, to help you get the most out of your equipment. And for those occasions where something goes slightly wrong, we’ve also included some tips on making small repairs. Should you need something more major, we offer an equipment repair service.

KITE

Before

  • When setting up your kite, try to avoid DRAGGING IT OVER ROCKS as these will scuff the material
  • INSPECT your LINES and CANOPY (especially near the leading edge) before every session
  • Only SELF LAUNCH if you are a proficient kiter – getting this wrong can severely damage the kite (or you!)
  • If not flying the kite, carry it towards the water in a “U” or SMILEY FACE shape, with the struts facing upwards
  • CHECK YOUR BRIDLES before each session
  • Before pumping up your kite, CHECK THE BLADDERS ARE NOT TWISTED
  • DON’T PUSH THE PUMP TOO FAR INTO THE VALVE, and check there is NO SAND IN THE VALVE

During

  • PICK THE RIGHT KITE SIZE – Going out too overpowered can make you more likely to damage the kite
  • Try to avoid crashing your kite, but if you can’t help it, RELEASE THE BAR and crash in DEEP WATER
  • If you decide to take anything more than a 10-minute break, PACK UP YOUR KITE. Leaving the kite FLAPPING IN THE WIND or LYING IN THE SUN will damage the kite
  • Spend the last 10 minutes of your session cruising along gently, this will give the kite time to DRY OUT

After

  • Only SELF LAND if you are proficient – slamming your kite into the beach or dragging it over rocks will tear through the canopy
  • Pack up your kite as soon as possible, especially in strong winds. A FLAPPY KITE IS AN UNHAPPY KITE.
  • If possible, PACK UP YOUR KITE AWAY FROM SAND, on something soft like GRASS
  • Lightly BRUSH OFF ANY SAND
  • If you’re kiting somewhere particularly HOT with very SALTY WATER (i.e. NOT THE UK) then wash your kite with fresh water after each session to avoid the SALT DAMAGING THE KITE
  • Pack your kite away FULLY DRY – if you cannot dry it straightaway, be sure to unpack it and dry it out as soon as possible. KITES LEFT WET WILL GET MOULDY.

Storage

  • STORE YOUR KITE DRY, WITH NO SAND ON IT
  • DON’T STORE YOUR KITE SOMEWHERE HOT for long periods of time, as the glue on the seams gets damaged
  • Store your kite with the BLADDERS DEFLATED and VALVES OPEN so they do not stretch
  • If possible, store your kite in it’s KITE BAG, as this is the safest place for it

Repairs

  • If your kite requires a MAJOR REPAIR, or if the damage is NEAR THE LEADING EDGE take it to a kite shop to be professionally fixed
  • Small rips and scuffs (NO BIGGER THAN 1CM) can be fixed with a PATCH, which are often included with your kite. Make sure to ROUND OFF the corners of the patch and ALWAYS STICK THE PATCH ON THE INSIDE OF THE KITE
  • Before applying the patch, CLEAN THE AREA AROUND THE HOLE
  • Small PIN HOLES IN A BLADDER can also be fixed with a patch

BAR & LINES

Before

  • UNWRAP YOUR LINES CAREFULLY, taking special care to AVOID GETTING SAND IN THE LARKS HEAD KNOTS as this will wear away at the rope material
  • If you set up on the sand, DUNK YOUR BAR IN THE SEA to get rid of the sand

After

  • FOLD YOUR LINES NEATLY around the bar; this will not only make it quicker to set up on your next session, but also increase their life
  • After every session, WASH YOUR BAR AND LINES WITH FRESH WATER
  • WASH METAL PARTS WITH FRESH WATER as these are the points that get damaged most by salt

Storage

  • Store your bar and lines NEATLY; IN A COOL, DRY PLACE

BOARD

Before

  • Every 10 – 15 sessions, CHECK THE SCREWS ON THE HANDLE AND FINS
  • If your screws regularly come loose, TRY USING MEDIUM STRENGTH LOCKTITE

After

  • After each session, BRUSH THE SAND OFF YOUR BOARD
  • WASH EXCESS SALT OFF YOUR FOOTSTRAPS

Storage

  • Store your board in a COOL, DRY PLACE

HARNESS

After

  • When taking off your harness, LOOSEN THE STRAPS SO THEY DON’T STAY IN THE SAME PLACE, as this causes them
  • WASH your harness and leash in FRESH WATER after every session
  • Check thoroughly and REMOVE ANY SAND OR SALT FROM YOUR SAFETY RELEASE

Storage

  • Store your harness in a COOL, DRY PLACE

BEGINNER KITESURFING LESSONS GUIDE – PRIVATE TUITION (LESSON 4)

Guys. I did it.

Yep, guess who is now able to get up and ride 10 – 15 metres to her right (only 2 metres to her left, but sssshhh) and THE BEST TIME EVER doing it?! You guessed it, me! And for all you wonderful people out there who have been following my journey, and for those who have had a laugh watching my many failed attempts, our lovely instructor Paul filmed it for us!

After feeling like I’d made really good progress when I went out with Rupert I wanted to make sure I didn’t leave it too long before my next attempt so as not to forget everything I’d learned. As luck would have it just a couple of weeks later we struck gold, a lovely sunny day with plenty of wind and nice small waves. More wind meant not having to pump up a 17 metre kite, yay! After a site assessment and setting up the kite we headed down the beach and I chatted to Paul a bit about what I’d achieved so far. The great thing about having private lessons is that you can go entirely at your own pace and work on whatever you’d like, rather than following a set lesson plan. I mentioned I sometimes struggled with rolling up towards the kite when doing my board starts, so Paul suggested we try working on that on the beach, with him gently tugging on my leash to give me the feel of the kite. After a few attempts I was a lot closer to standing up so we headed out into the water, which was a lot warmer than I thought it would be!

Because of the lack of wind when I’d gone out with Rupert, he had held the board to help me get into it so that I was ready to go as soon as there was enough wind. Since we had enough wind this time, Paul said he wouldn’t being do that, and I’d have to learn how to put the board on myself whilst holding the kite! This genuinely terrified me. How was I supposed to float in the water and put the board on without diving the kite and getting dragged away?! In fact, it’s actually not that bad. I’ll admit I definitely struggled the first few times but after a while you learn to “feel” what the kite is doing without looking at it so you can focus solely on getting the board on. By the end of the lesson I had no issues in getting the board on pretty quickly each time, something I was actually quite proud of!

The “rolling up” to standing position was definitely the part I struggled with the most. Whilst I’d heard many horror stories about students “superman’ing” over the front of the board (shout out to my friend Shannon who managed to release the safety AND lose a contact lens in the process!) I seemed to be going the other way, being too timid with standing up and ending up sitting back down in the water. The best tip Paul gave me was to try and get my head to my knee. For someone as unflexible (is that even a word?) as me that sounded ridiculous, but aiming for that did sort of force me to try harder with the motion of getting up.

The great thing about Paul as instructor is how genuinely patient and encouraging he is. Every time I tried to get up on the board, he was right there with me to give me little tips and pointers, and didn’t get frustrated with me at all. As the guys who own the centre will tell you, I am a perpetual worrier. It’s difficult not to worry that your instructor is bored (and freezing!) whilst it takes you what seems like 5387 attempts to get up on the board. I have to give it to every instructor I’ve had so far – you can tell they love their job and don’t mind at all if you don’t get things right all the time. Massive thanks to Paul, Rupert, Jen and Samina for putting the time in with me! If you’re nervous about trying kitesurfing because you think you’ll struggle, I’d honestly say just go for it!

The most difficult thing I found when first attempting the board starts is how much you have to think about, so it was useful to focus on a small part of it each time I tried, until eventually I could put it all together. Because I’d spent some time flying powerkites in between my lessons and had also had a kitebuggy lesson at the centre last year, I found the kite control part of the board start manoeuvre quite easy. If you’re struggling with controlling the kite or feel quite nervous with it, I’d definitely recommend having a play on something like a Peter Lynn Impulse Trainer – they’re super easy to launch even on your own and I’m much more confident with kites thanks to them.

After a good few attempts and correcting different things I was getting wrong, I was getting up more consistently, and in the 90 minutes we spent out in the water I noticed a definite improvement. Not only was I able to get up most times, I was riding further each time and wasn’t so hesitant about diving the kite. Most of the time I was trying to go right – this felt more natural as it’s the same way I snowboard, but Paul also helped me try to go left a couple of times. I was nowhere near as confident that way, but it was good to see that it didn’t go as terribly as I had thought (my left side can be pretty useless at times!)

I came back in with a huge grin on my face, happy that I was even closer to being able to kitesurf independently. I can’t believe that in just 4 sessions I’ve gone from learning how to fly a power kite to getting up and riding along without looking like I’m completely out of control!

Now it’s getting to winter and we’re a little less busy I’m hoping to get out another few times, but I’ll be wearing a jacket, booties and gloves for sure – being in just my 4/3 is a little brave for December! Luckily we have a stash of super warm stuff for students throughout winter so I’ll be raiding that! I’ll keep you updated on my progress, but for now – check out this video Paul made of our session!

 

 

BEGINNER KITESURFING LESSONS GUIDE – DAY 3

Hey guys!

I’m back again and I’ve been back in the water! (I can’t wait to say I’ve been “on” the water rather than “in,” but I’m still spending a fair amount of time in it at the moment!) For my Day 3 lesson I had private tuition with Rupert, one of the three brothers who own and run The Kitesurf Centre. Rupert has been kitesurfing for many years now and is an experienced instructor – you’ll often see him out in high winds attempt to jump really high! Whilst I’m not planning on jumping any time soon I was hoping he would be able to offer some good advice and tips.

When it came to the day we’d planned to go out the wind was much lighter than expected, but Rupert explained that if I took a big enough kite I’d still be able to get up and riding. In fact, he said that it would be great for me to go out in light wind – having only ridden before in strong wind the light wind meant I would have the chance to perfect my kite-flying technique, not to mention the waves would be smaller! As a 5’2″ woman I can tell you that made me very happy!

Now, when he said big kite, I hadn’t quite expected 17 metres big! The fears I had had on my first lesson of being dragged along the beach by the kite came rushing back to me. How could I, a 60kg woman not get dragged along by a kite that big?! I asked Rupert if, before we headed into the water, I could have a go at flying the kite on the beach to see how it felt. Once again I was pleasantly surprised, I was still able to fly the kite without feeling like it was pulling me too much. It took me a while to get used to how much slower the kite flew through the air and how much more I had to move the bar with this compared to the 5m. Instead of just moving the bar slightly I had to get the bar almost parallel to the lines with my knuckles touching them! Rupert explained that the kite being slower meant that I would have more time to think and react when attempting my board starts.

Once we were out on the water I was amazed by how much smaller the waves were and felt pretty confident. It was brilliantly sunny and I was determined that this would be the day I would finally get up on the board. Since the wind was lighter, Rupert told me I would need to keep the kite moving as much as possible and do my very best not to crash it since relaunching would be difficult. He advised me to fly the kite in a figure of eight pattern before diving it for my board start manoeuvre. Before I knew it was I was going for my first attempt – I dived the kite, rolled up… and braced my legs, meaning I went ploughing through the water directly towards the kite. Oh dear, that wasn’t what I had in mind! I headed back towards Rupert and we chatted about how me being nervous had made me brace against the board, rather than straightening my right leg and bending my back one to kite off to the right. This time, he said, I was to “kick” my right leg out in front of me to get the motion and direction right. I tried again, dived the kite, extended my right leg… and forgot to roll up! I sank back down into the sitting position and sort of floated there for a bit, wondering how I was ever going to remember to combine all of the different parts of a board start. It all seemed so very complicated, but I was determined to keep at it. Luckily, Rupert has years of experience teaching complete beginners, so was super patient with me.

After a few more attempts, we realised my biggest problem was fear – I was scared to go over the front of the board, so I wasn’t rolling my body far enough forwards. I was scared to go too quickly, so I wasn’t diving the kite far enough. Often, I would go to dive the kite and then decide something wasn’t quite right – maybe the wind had lulled, maybe a wave had just hit me – so I’d panic and take the kite back to 12. Rupert decided it was because I was overthinking it and worrying too much, so we tried something different on the next attempt. He was going to tell me to go, and I had to do it. No worrying about the wind or whether or not everything was perfect, I had to go. “Go!” he said, and I dived the kite, extended my front leg… and WENT! I was up, on the board, heading off to my right. The feeling was incredible and a huge smile spread across my face. I was up! I could do this! Then it occurred to me I didn’t really know what to do when I was up, and as I slowed down I sank back into the water. Kite up in the air I practically ran (as well as you can through water) back to Rupert for a high five, grinning from ear to ear. I may not have got very far, but I’d got up, and I was unbelievably proud of myself.

“What do I do when I’m actually up?” I asked, eager to see how far I could ride. Rupert laughed and explained I needed to then go for the second power stroke, whereby I’d dive the kite again, to make sure I had enough speed to start planing across the water. After that I’d be able to keep the kite steady in the air and keep going. Still riding the high from my last effort I was keen to go again, so with my board back on my feet and Rupert shouting “Go!” I did it all again, this time managing to ride a little further but not quite getting the second dive strong enough. After a few more attempts I was able to go around 5 metres (this may not sound much, but I was more than happy with that!) before we decided to call it a day. I’d just had a great run and I’ve heard of too many kitesurfers injuring themselves after saying “just one more run” so it seemed like a good point to stop. By this point the wind had died off slightly and I was starting to get hungry – learning to kitesurf is a great excuse to eat more food!

As we headed back to the centre I couldn’t wait to tell the others how happy I was with my progress. Having worked in the school all summer, one of my favourite parts of the job has been seeing the smiles of students coming in from the lesson they’d first managed to get up and riding on. This time I got to swap roles and be that happy person already stoked for their next attempt. I couldn’t stop smiling for the rest of the day, happy that I was finally able to share the sense of pride and new found adventure I’d seen so many of our students have.

Next time guys, I’m going to get a decent run in. I’m aiming for 20 metres, and I’m going to get that second dive of the kite. I can do this! And you can do this too! If you’ve done your Day 1 and 2 with us, or had lessons elsewhere but aren’t quite managing to get up on the board then our Day 3 (Board Control) course is perfect for you! Drop us a call and book in – if you get a really happy sounding girl on the phone, it’s me! 🙂

BEGINNER KITESURFING LESSONS GUIDE – DAY 2

Hi there, you’re back!

Did you catch the kitesurfing bug on Day 1 just like I did?! It’s so much fun. I couldn’t wait to get back out into the water to perfect my body dragging techniques and maybe even try the all important board start! If you can, try to do your Day 2 course as soon as you can after Day 1 so it’s all still fresh in your memory, but don’t worry if you can’t – your instructor will give you some “homework” at the end of Day 1 with some useful pointers and reminders of what you covered. You can’t even go away and check out some tutorial videos on YouTube, there are some great walkthroughs and exercises geared for kitesurfers so you can progress even when you can’t make it to the beach.

A couple of weeks after my Day 1 Lesson, I headed back out for Day 2; this time with Jen, our resident northern instructor (everyone needs a friendly Northerner – they can teach all year round without being out off by the cold!). At the start of the lesson, Jen went through a quick recap of setting up the kite and flying it to check how much we had remembered. I was worried I’d have forgotten everything but was pleasantly surprised by how much came back to me once I was flying the kite again. As the wind was quite strong, Jen put us on a smaller kite and gave us each a turn to show that we could still use it without getting dragged away, we just needed to remember that the smaller kite would be a bit quicker so our reactions would need to be too. After a couple of turns each we headed out into the water to progress with our body dragging.

On Day 2, you learn a new type of body dragging – the upwind body drag. This involves learning to fly the kite with one hand, straightening your body out parallel to the kite and tensing (almost like a seal in the mud with it’s head and tail raised!) in order to be pulled along. Upwind body drags are helpful for body dragging out to sea when you’re kiting somewhere with a shore break, getting back to the beach with cross shore and most importantly – getting back to your board when you’re out to sea!

After a couple of attempts where I didn’t make it all that far upwind, I managed to get