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

BKSA vs IKO

When looking to take lessons or become a kitesurfing instructor, you may find yourself choosing between the BKSA or IKO. To give you all the account of each organisation and what they offer, we’ve drawn up a comparison below.

 

BKSA vs IKO

The BKSA (British Kite Sports Association) is the governing body (non profit) for all things kiting in Britain. They run all the training schemes, from grass roots to coaches. They are one of the most respected organisations world wide and set the bar in terms or quality and integrity. All BKSA schools have BKSA trained and qualified instructors who continually have to re-validate, update and pass assessments to keep their qualifications valid. The schools are inspected regularly by external examiners to check the equipment is in good condition and they are abiding by the strict guidelines set by the BKSA. It’s an official governing body for Sport England and therefore ticks all the relevant boxes in accordance with this.

One of the main aims for the BKSA other than training are the grass root schemes for kids and the racing events, which eventually may be used for the qualification for the Olympics.

The IKO (International Kiteboarding Association)is a privately owned company based in Cabarete, Dominican Republic. The IKO was set up as the sport began and became the leading organisation as the sport developed in the late 90s. As the sport became more mainstream, most developed countries created governing bodies to take the sport forwards and develop nationally. In terms of schools and instructors, the IKO differs to the BKSA, it follows a similar course and to become qualified but once qualified the instructors are very much on their own. They have to keep a log of their students email addresses online (which they pay for) and a revalidation is just an online quiz every couple of years. The schools pay an annual fee to become IKO approved but are never inspected as the organisation is in the Caribbean and it’s the schools choice whether to carry out risk assessments and follow standard operating procedures, all of which are strict procedures for any BKSA school.

Our verdict – Stick with the BKSA or a governing body for whichever country you’re in. The IKO is run as a profit making business with disregard for quality and safety. Kite schools and instructors can’t be assessed with an online tick box test every 3 years and often the kit is totally inadequate within the schools as they’ve never inspected and never will be. The IKO has been banned in many countries already and will likely be in more in the future.

bksanew

An example of the quality of IKO instructors is someone who came for a job interview with us and claimed he had never done a self rescue / deep water packdown. This is a method used to get yourself safely back to the beach if everything goes wrong when out on the water. It’s something any BKSA school would teach on the first day of a kitesurfing lesson and all BKSA instructors are trained to both teach it but also how to rescue someone who has begun one, either on a boat or kite. To say we were shocked was an understatement!

The IKO has it’s place in under developed countries as a governing body isn’t available, so it’s better than nothing, but anywhere else it’s inadequate.

From a potential instructors point of view, the qualifications gained are also something to consider. We would suggest first deciding where you want to instruct. The BKSA qualification is recognised worldwide and we’ve never had an instructor declined a job because of their qualification. The IKO is recognised worldwide and as previously mentioned, in less developed countries it would be no problem picking up work. However, for a lot of countries it is becoming a banned qualification and may cause problems.