To mere mortals staring from ashore, kiteboarding might look like sorcery left strictly to the pros. But break it down, and its mechanics are delightfully simple.
A large kite with long lines attaches to a harness that you strap onto yourself. The whole setup is controlled by a bar you grab, and with a board strapped to your feet you’re ready to go. Well, almost. Kites are incredibly powerful pieces of kit, and if you don’t know what you’re doing, it could get ugly. Taking a few lessons or getting certified has huge advantages. Read on to know more.
Getting certified in Kiteboarding
Holding an International Kiteboarding Organisation (IKO) card comes with more than just bragging rights. Not only do you get to grips with all the critical controls to keep your experience a pleasant one, you also learn to cope with situations where things just aren’t going your way – a very handy life skill.
With no prior experience of the sport, I was in for a surprise of the sweetest kind. Not only is the adrenaline junkie in me wide awake and craving for more, I couldn’t have picked a better place to start. The sport, team and location make for a heady mix that’s hard to deny. And walking away with an IKO card is certainly the icing.
Alternative water sports
If kiteboarding is not up your alley and you'd rather try your hand at something else, these adventure activities may work for you:
Kayaking (from ₹3,500): Think you’re too dainty for the Herculean strength involved in this activity? Think again. It’s a great way to explore the oceans while strengthening that upper body. Better still, the eastern coastline of our country is home to some pristine waters, islands and lagoons. No excuses, then.
Wind Surfing (Price on request): This extreme sport isn’t quite reserved for certified adrenaline junkies. With 18-25 knots of wind, India’s south-east coast has stellar conditions to windsurf. Combine that with a world-class school situated in Tamil Nadu, and you’re on your way to windsurf glory yourself.
Snorkelling (Price on request): Some activities might get a bit too “active” for a bunch of us, and that’s where snorkelling appeals as a fantastic alternative. The waters down south are vastly undisturbed and the thriving marine life below can leave you enchanted for hours.
Stand-Up Paddle Boarding (SUP) (from ₹3500): Popularly known as supping, this sport involves a longboard and a paddle. It’s a great way to surf waves or simply paddle through the waters. The fun truly begins when your balance is challenged by ripples, but it’s all worth it when you spot gorgeous marine life literally at your feet.
Top four kiteboarding spots in the country
We've shortlisted four places to kiteboard in based on a mix of watersport-ability and proximity to Mother Nature, among other things.
Kathadi, Tamil Nadu: Kathadi literally translates to ‘powered by the wind’. There’s no better place for the sport, really. Quest Expeditions, run by IKO -certified instructor Jehan Driver, is your school of choice in the deep south starting from ₹8250. Ideal conditions, highly skilled trainers and exquisite accommodation are only a few reasons to mark this sport on your map.
Manapad, Tamil Nadu: Here lies a small hamlet nestled between naturally formed sand dunes on one side and encircled by clear blue skies on three sides. A hot pick for those looking to boost tricks and catch waves at the point break around the peninsula. Spot Manapad Lagoon. The season to be here is from December to March.
Dwarka, Gujarat: Located 144km from Jamnagar, this beach is as north-west as it gets. It’s a beautiful cove, ideal for side-shore winds – the best kind. Relatively unknown amongst the kiteboarding community, it has enough appeal to lure the best of the lot. Spot Blue Bell Beach. The season to be here is from October to February.
Morjem, Goa: A place that rarely ever needs an introduction, it’s an eclectic blend of water sports, nightlife and spirituality. Most beaches are packed with tourists, but Mondego is the place to be for kiteboarding bliss. Venture further north for a magic lagoon between Maharashtra and Goa. Spot Mondego Bay. The season to be here is from September to May.
Kiteboarding kit you’ll need
Kitting up for kiteboarding isn’t cheap. But modern equipment is built to last, and if you pick the right kit, you’re in for an experience that only gets better with time. Available at quest-asia.com
1) Cabrinha Ace Freestyle: This performance freestyle board is built for every kind of riding category. It’s the brand’s most versatile twin-tip to date. Highlights include a great edge hold, low spin weight and smooth landings.
2) Majestic harness: This is Mystic’s flagship multi-use harness. Comfort is key when splashing about and the memory foam back panel is a great feature to have. Moreover, you won’t return to the shore with a colossal wedgie, courtesy the spreader down system.
3) Mystic MK8 X helmet: When you secure that dome of yours, you’ll want to add a bit of style to the mix. The MK8 X is a great blend of the essentials with a dash of flash. Customisable padding ensures it fits just the way it should. Buy it from Mysticboarding.
4) Seaspecs Classic Jet: The piercing sun needn’t get in the way of all the action. The Jet specs feature black lightweight floating frames with polarised lenses. That’s a 100% UVA and UVB protection for shade geeks. A secure strap system should keep you from parting from it unwillingly.
5) Tribord Aquashoes: Snorkelling is a fantastic way to familiarise yourself with the sea, but it’s critical to be safe when you’re at it. The Aquashoes keep those extremities nice and secure. Apart from keeping you from slipping, they’re also solid protection.
6) GoPro Hero5 Black: Waterproof skills straight out of the box make this cam a legit companion for all your aquatic adventures. It’s also cleverly cloud connected so auto-uploads start as soon as you plug it in for charging. Shooting the seas in 4K is truly addictive on the Hero5.
7) Liquid Force NV: Next-gen kites always aim to take things to a new level and the NV raises the bar yet again. A new profile and airframe geometry mean kite inputs back to the rider are razor-sharp. What it also means is less light-wind stalling and faster speeds.
Photography: Quest Expeditions Pvt Ltd