Kitesurfing, also referred to as kiteboarding, is a water-based sport that comes under the ‘extreme’ category. In this sport, the kite channelizes the force of the wind and a big power kite to move across a water body. It has elements of different outdoor sports like paragliding, wakeboarding, skateboarding, surfing, snowboarding and windsurfing. Apart from being touted as one of the least expensive sailing sports, kiteboarding is also said to be quite dangerous. So, is kitesurfing a dangerous sport?

There are several reasons that lead us towards believing that kitesurfing could prove to be a very dangerous sport if one engages in it without proper training or practice. If you go through surveys conducted by leading organizations, you will realize that beginners are prone to kitesurfing-based accidents and most of these accidents take place on the land.


What are the dangers of kitesurfing?

Some of the common dangers associated with kitesurfing include drowning in the water, falling on the land because of a technical glitch after getting lifted in the sky by the kite, and hitting some object while taking off and getting injured. One of the biggest risk factors involves you losing control over the kite because of the force of the wind. If this happens, you could suffer from a major injury. While these dangers cannot be fully avoided, taking precautions will reduce the chances of you suffering from a mishap.

Is kiteboarding an extreme sport?

Yes, kiteboarding is classified as an extreme sport. If we go by its conventional description, an extreme sport is any sport that involves risks and therefore, must be tried out after taking adequate training and precaution. Though it is said that one needs to train for 15-20 hours under a certified instructor to learn the ropes of kitesurfing, how fast you learn or get ready to try this sport on your own depends on various factors like fitness level, frequency or duration of the sessions, learning skills, water and wind conditions and the quality of the guidance provided by the instructor. My friend who was quite interested in kitesurfing but also averse to the dangers associated with it, spent a few days talking to and observing seasoned kitesurfers after receiving his training, to be doubly sure of what he was getting into.

Has anyone died from kitesurfing?

Yes, every year there are multiple reports of people dying because of kitesurfing-related accidents. Last year, a 52-year-old kitesurfer named Tom Hutchinson succumbed to death after a strong gust of wind blew him 150ft into the air and dashed his body against a nearby cliff. Recently, a 61-year-old man named Fred Salter passed away while kitesurfing. Salter, a resident of Fort Lauderdale in Florida, had to face a powerful gust of wind that sent his body flying towards a house. His body hit the house with a lot of force and Salter received grave injuries. Though he was taken to the hospital, he passed away on the same day. (Recommended article: ‘Has Anyone Died From Kitesurfing?‘)

How do people die in kitesurfing?

People die while kitesurfing because of various reasons including losing control of the kite and falling on the ground. I remember hearing about a particular incident in which a man, while kitesurfing, was blown away by a fierce wind. Unfortunately, he hit a rocks nearby and died. In the year 2020, a 37-year-old man named Logan Gemming passed away after he was hit by a wooden bollard while kitesurfing. In another instance, a man named Ben Witts, who owned a kitesurfing institute in North Devon, succumbed to death when he miscalculated a jump while performing some specialized stunts at Saunton Beach. A 63-year-old man named Thomas Downer, who resided in the United States, was on a short visit to the Cayman Islands when he decided to engage in kitesurfing. While kitesurfing in the afternoon, Downer was swept by a strong gust of wind and made to collide with the wall of a building. He sustained serious injuries and passed away shortly thereafter.

Why is proper training so important for kitesurfing?

Proper training is extremely important for any sport that has been described as an ‘extreme sport’ since it involves several dangers and a high degree of risk. A couple of years back, when I was about to try kitesurfing for the first time, my friend, who was an experienced kitesurfer, encouraged me but at the same time made me promise him that I would not try the sport without taking adequate training for it. You need to devote at least 15-20 hours and learn from a certified kitesurfing instructor. Apart from gaining practical knowledge, it is also important to understand the finer nuances of the sport before trying it out. (Recommended article: ‘Do You Need Kiteboarding Lessons?‘)

Is kitesurfing more dangerous than surfing?

Yes, kitesurfing is more dangerous than surfing. Both surfing and kitesurfing possess a high degree of risk as each sports deals with forces of nature like wind and water whose movement is difficult to judge or predict. Kitesurfing is more dangerous as there is a high chance of an accident happening even before the kiter has touched the surface of the water. The weather could be fine one moment and the next moment, it could turn violent. If you come across a strong gust of wind, it might make you lose control over your kite and lead to an accident. Also, if you misjudge a jump while being in the water, it could prove to be fatal for you.

What is the death loop in kitesurfing?

When you take training for kitesurfing, your instructor will inform you about all the possible risks involved in this extreme sport. There is a good chance that he will make a mention of the ‘death loop’. A death loop is referred to the occurrence of a situation in which your bar and lines get knotted or tangled in a manner that will result in your kite looping again and again. A huge amount of power will be built because of this and it will pull you aggressively or forcefully through the water. When I was undergoing training, my instructor told me that one of the most basic precautions you can take against the death loop is having a knife with you when you engage in it.

What are two important elements needed to practice kitesurfing?

When you engage in kitesurfing, two important elements that you will come in contact with are water and wind. The wind would be responsible for making your kite fly and water will act as a platform for you to glide through. Since these forces of nature are quite unpredictable, you must carry safety equipment that will help you when the wind moves too fast or the waves pose a threat to your balance.

Is kitesurfing physically demanding?

Kitesurfing is not a very physically strenuous sport, but having certain physical skills will come in handy while practicing this sport. For instance, you don’t need to be a swimmer to become a kiter but being well-versed with it will prove to be a life-saver if something goes wrong and if you land up in the water, you can swim your way back to the shore. This is the reason why most instructors ask kitesurfing enthusiasts to first learn swimming and then try out this sport. A basic level of physical fitness should be there as you will need some strength to control the kite against the wind.

What is the kind of equipment you need for kitesurfing?

The most important equipment used in kitesurfing is, undoubtedly, the kite. Over the last several decades, the kites used in this sport have evolved greatly. Today, you get a variety of kites to choose from including inflatable kites, the bow kite, the hybrid kite and foil kites. Apart from the kite, some of the other equipment used in kitesurfing includes the bar, a harness, kitesurfing board or a door board and a safety leash. Since it is a water sport, you will have to invest in water shoes and a water suit as well.

Do you need to be strong to kitesurf?

Excessive physical strength is not required to kitesurf but you ought to be in good health and possess good balancing skills and aerobic endurance to practice this sport. Also, it is important to be comfortable and well-balanced in the water. All the traction provided by the kite reaches the harness that is tied around your waist, so you wouldn’t require a lot of strength in your arms to engage in this sport.

What muscles does kitesurfing use?

While kitesurfing, your core muscles will be the ones to be used extensively. They will be in charge of managing the power emanating from the kite. The kiter’s arms will only be used in the process of steering the kite with the help of the control bar. After kitesurfing for the first time, my muscles were left with a lot of pain. However, with time, I got used to it and experienced very little pain during my kitesurfing practices.

Can you kitesurf on a normal surfboard?

You can kitesurf on a normal surfboard but if you ask a kitesurf instructor or an expert, they will tell you that a conventional surfboard doesn’t have the requisite strength for kitesurfing. A kite surfboard is designed quite differently from a regular surfboard. Kite surfboards boast double-layered construction, strong foam and the kind of design that befits kitesurfing.

Can you teach yourself to kitesurf?

You can teach yourself to kitesurf but since it’s an extreme sport that involves different kinds of risks and life-threatening dangers, it is recommended to enroll yourself in a kitesurfing school and learn the sport from a certified instructor. However, if you have made a resolve to learn kitesurfing on your own, you must start with learning about wind theory. After that, you can procure a trainer kite to start the training process.

Make sure that you use good quality equipment even during the training process. Don’t forget to wear safety gear while you train. Check the weather before heading out for a practice session. Even though you are learning on your own, it is important to have a kitesurfer friend around. When it comes to any sport, the most important thing to consider is safety. Therefore, the most important thing to have with you while kitesurfing is a reliable rescue plan.

At what age can you start kitesurfing?

Though an extreme sport, many experts believe that starting at an early age helps greatly towards mastering it and learning to deal with the risk factors involved in it. Most kitesurfing courses welcome children who are at least 10 years old. Apart from age, weight also plays an important factor. You need to be weighing at least 99 pounds or 45 kilos to participate in this sport.

Can you kitesurf with a trainer kite?

You cannot kitesurf with a training kite as it is only used to learn to control the kite on land. Such a kite is simply too weak to learn in the water.

Do you need a license to kitesurf?

No, you don’t need a license to kitesurf. However, since it is an extreme or high-risk sport, it is recommended for the kiter to get third-party liability insurance. If some person gets injured or some object like a vehicle gets damaged during your kitesurfing activity, this insurance will come to your rescue. I remember reaching out to an insurance agency and getting third-party liability insurance for myself after a few lessons at the kitesurfing school. (Recommended article: ‘Do You Need a License to Kitesurf?‘)

What is the best size kite for kitesurfing?

While choosing a kite for your kitesurfing session, you must consider the weather conditions and the velocity of the wind in that particular time and space. This was one of the first things taught to us at the kitesurfing school. If you observe winds blowing lightly (8-15mph), you could go for a large (14-18m) kite. If you observe medium winds (15-20mph), you should select a medium-sized (10-13m) kite. If the wind is blowing at a very high speed (20-25 mph), you can use a small (5-9m) kite.

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