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St Louis Kiteboarding Frequently Asked Questions...

Kitesurfing - but this aint St. Louis!Kitesurf or Kiteboard?
How can I learn to kiteboard?

How long does it take to learn to kiteboard? 
Can I get lessons / instruction here?
What equipment do I need?
How much does the equipment cost?
Where can I get equipment?
What type of board should I use?
How big a kiteboard should I choose?
What types of kite are there?
How big a kite should I choose?
Where in the area can I go to kiteboard?
How can I findout where and when to surf with others?
Where can I get more kiteboarding info?

Kitesurf or Kiteboard?

The names are interchangeable. I prefer the term kiteboarding simply because in STL we ride in flat water – so there’s no surf involved. Plus, the term kiteboarding can also encompass land-kiteboarding.

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How can I learn to kiteboard?

You should learn kiteboarding from a reputable kiteboarding school.  None is available in the STL area, so you may want to travel to learn kiteboarding. There are kiteboarding schools in Chicago, and around the coast in the US.

kiteboarding can be an extremely dangerous sport and potenitally even life threatening if you do not know what you are doing. If you have to learn kiteboarding all by yourself, start with an instructional video (put the word out on the forum, and you can probably borrow training videos, etc). Practicing flying your kite on land and landboarding are also a good ways to learn.

Click here to read Tim's (one of our members) kiteboarding self training program.

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How long does it take to learn to kiteboard?

It takes an average student with little or no experience approx. 4-6 hours of professional instruction with ideal wind and water conditions to learn the basics. On your own, and in St. Louis, who knows, but you will need to have the patience of a Saint, as good learning conditions don't come often.

Once you have mastered the basics, it takes many more practice hours to get proficient handling the kite in various conditions, and in our area's gusty winds.

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Can I get lessons/instruction here?

Unfortunatly, there is no kiteboarding school here, nor any qualified instructors. The closest school is in Chicago - ChicagoKitesurfing.com

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Kitesurfing basic equipmentWhat equipment do I need to kiteboard?

To kiteboard you need:

  1. A kiteboard kite,
  2. A kiteboard,
  3. A kite control device,
  4. Accessories (safety release system, harness, life jacket, wet suit, helmet, etc.).

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How much does kiteboarding equipment cost?

An all in ballpark equipment cost is between $1,000 and $3,000 when all is said and done. A kiteboard normally retails between $500 to $700, and a kite around $700 to $1200 including lines and bar.  A larger kite may cost more, and smaller kite may cost less.

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Where can I get equipment?

The closest kiteboarding store is in Chicago. You may be able to buy used gear from someone in the area if you put the word out. You can also buy gear on eBay, and on-line kiteboarding stores.

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What type of board should I use?

Kitesurfing Rules!You can use a surfboard-like kiteboard (with foot straps), or a wakeboard-like kiteboard (with foot straps or bindings), to kiteboard. Many people use a simple "door" kiteboard, which you can make yourself.

Generally, kiteboards are classified in to two groups: directional and bidirectional boards. 

  • Directional boards have a distinct "head" (bow) and "tail" (stern).  A directional board always travel "head first".   To change direction on a directional board you have to jibe (to turn the "head" of the board in the reverse direction).
  • Bidirectional boards have no distinct "head" nor "tail".  Both "tips" of the boards are identical.  A bidirectional board is also called twintip (longer and narrower bidirectional board), or a wakeboard (shorter and wider bidirectional board, similar shape as a wakeboard).   A bidirectional board can travel in both directions.  To change direction on a bidirectional board, you simply stop in the water and reverse your direction.

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How big a kiteboard should I choose?

Since we live in a light wind area (5 to 15 knots most of the time), you should choose a larger kiteboard (10cm shorter than your height for bidirectional board or 30cm longer than your height for directional).

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Tim with Rich's C-kite in 2006What types of kite are there?

There are mainly three types of kiteboarding kites:

  • Inflatable kites (C-kites)
  • Flat Inflatable kites (Bow kites)
  • Ram air foil kites

- Inflatable or C-kites normally have an inflatable leading edge and 5 or more inflatable battens to give it a permanent "crescent moon" shape (this type of kite is also called an inflatable or Leading Edge Inflatable or LEI). They are very dependable to relaunch except for certain conditions such as in very light wind (less than 6-7 knots).

- Bow kites are Leading Edge Inflatable (LEI) kites that incorporate a bridle on the leading edge. They can be identified by a flat, swept back profile and concave trailing edge allowing greater kite depower. Bow kites have a wider wind range than C-kites (traditional LEI kites). Due to their massive depowering ability and greater wind range, Bow kites are the most recommended type of kite.

- Ram air foil kites have no rigid structure. The shape of the kite is formed while flying. These kites have shapes that are very close to airplane wings and therefore, probably are the most aerodynamic kites. Ram air foil kites have been on the market for a long time.

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How big a kite should I choose?

You will probably want to learn using a training kite (typically 2 square meters). After that, the most popular size is 12 square meters or bigger.

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Marcos at Carlyle in 2006Where in the area can I go to kiteboard?

There are basically 2 lakes in the area. Creve Coeur lake, and Lake Carlyle (50 east in Illinois). See the Launch Spots for detailed location info.

Creve Coeur is very tempting as it is a nice size for learning, it is convieniently located, and has lots of sandy beach for launching. But all that is a cruel deception! In fact, Creve Coeur is horrible for kiteboarding.
There is no steady wind there. Kiteboarding at Creve Coeur is like trying to waterski with the driver of the ski-boat going pedal to the metal, then taking his foot off the gas, then a couple of seconds later full blast again, etc, etc. It just ain't gonna work.
At Creve Coeur you also risk injury to others, as this is a busy park and people are always wandering all over the beach.

Carlyle is where you need to go, as it has much steadier wind and more constant power. At Carlyle there is really only one good beach for learning and that is Harbor Light Bay. And the wind direction needs to be (best directions listed first): South, SSE, SE, ENE, ESE, NE, E.

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How can I find out where and when to surf with others?

Watch the forum. Usually when someone is going out he or she, will send a post to the group and let everyone know where, and when, they are planning on going.

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Where can I get more kiteboarding info?

KitesurfingSchool.org - excellent site for all levels of kiteboarding, especially beginners. BestKiteboarding.com - a kite manufacturer, but also good source of videos, kite lines, advice on the forums, etc.
RealKiteboarding.com - good school for learning, located in NC.
KiteForum.com - TONS of advice and information on all aspects of kiteboarding. Do searches in the forums.

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