Most kite pics we see in magazines show kitesurfers in perfect conditions: Blue sky, turquoise water, warm temperatures and spots that offer good conditions – like constant winds and flat water or beautiful waves. Apart from the fact that on photos you just see a single moment and not how the session really was, some may assume that kitesurfing is always like this – bikini or boardshorts weather and so on … It’s definitely not! Harsh weather though acts as a deterrent do a lot of kiters. Too bad – cause there are many good reasons to go kitesurfing in bad weather, even if it’s grey and it rains.
Kitesurfing in bad weather?
Those who live on a spot with perfect wind and weather maybe don’t need to think (or read) further, cause they are really lucky! But lots of kitesurfers don’t have these lab conditions on their doorstep. Maybe they learned the sport during vacation – at at sunny, warm place – but their home or the closest kiteable spot doesn’t offer lab conditions. Cold weather, gusty winds, choppy water, maybe also one or two hours to go by car … for some kitesurfers still enough reasons not to go for a session. Ok, maybe it doesn’t sound very tempting. I would say it’s always worth to try!
For me kitesurfing in warm summer conditions is one thing – and kitesurfing in bad weather and cold like here in Austria in autumn is another thing. It feels like two totally different kinds of sport!!! Very often when I meet people in summer and we talk about kitesurfing are surprised when I tell them that in autumn, winter and spring I go for sessions when the weather (and water) is under 10 degrees. They can’t imagine that it’s fun. Well, it’s hardcore, but it is mega-fun! We kitesurfers from Austria are used to this – you just have to see how crowded our main spot, the Neusiedlersee, sometimes is on bad weather days. No problem – if you have the right equipment and knowledge!
However, I must admit that finding the motivation to grab your stuff and combat the roughness of nature is not always easy. Here you will find some reasons why you should give it a chance tough! Subsequently you find most important things to bear in mind for sessions in bad, cold weather.
Why to go kitesurfing in bad weather
It’s an adventure
Going for a session with 30 knots, cloudy sky and cold is definitely adventurous. You feel the power of wind and water much more intensive and you have to be prepared for everything – sudden gusts, weather changes, rain (btw I love to ride in rain, as long as it’s not too strong … ok, the drops may hurt on the face but it’s thrilling!). Of course it’s tempting to stay on your sofa and watch 20 episodes of your favourite TV series when it’s grey outside … But c’mon, what can be better than experiencing your very own kitesurf adventure?
It’s a skill-booster
Riding in difficult conditions like gusty winds and choppy water requires to be more concentrated and attentive. Your kite control will improve (even if you don’t notice it during the session). You are forced to recognize your own limits and to adapt your riding and tricks to the prevalent conditions. Training tricks in choppy and gusty conditions may be frustrating sometimes, but it will make it easier to do them when then you ride at a perfect spot again. Even when the wind is too low to have fun or too strong to try something the session is for sure not lost – as it automatically enhances one’s kite control. So yes, I am sure that riding in different weather conditions makes you a better kitesurfer!
It’s a proper workout
Kitesurfing in cold weather and challenging conditions is physically demanding and burns a lot of calories as the body is more tensed during a ride and has to transform energy into warmth. No question that the after-kite-burger … or pizza – whatever you choose – tastes even better then! Not to forget that being active in the fresh air is always good for you, as long as you follow some safety rules (see the tips below).
It’s a challenge … and you’ll be stoked, for sure
Cold, gusty winds, rain, maybe waves … depending on a kitesurfer’s experience level these things may be exhilarating but scary at the same time. But: Overcoming inhibitions and go out for a session despite one’s fear feels absolutely great (of course without any overestimation of personal skills – see the safety tips in the following). You will be proud of yourself after a hardcore session! Meeting challenges in sports also supports personal development and helps to feel more stable and stress-resistant in daily life.
So, I hope these reasons are enough motivation for those who have never tried to kite at a spot with very challenging conditions or in cold weather. But: As kiting in difficult conditions involves higher risks there are some things to consider before you go! After all, nobody wants to experience a kitemare like the guys in this article!
Kitesurfing in bad weather
What to bear in mind
When kiting in rough conditions we have to be even more aware about what’s going on around. Always check the forecast before you plan to go for a session and observe the weather as is can change quickly, especially with weather fronts. Don’t forget to have a look on your equipment and safety devices regularly! Particularly when kiting in cold conditions it’s important to minimize the risk of material problems and accidents: Cause if you have to swim in cold water due to a ripped line or a kite that doesn’t launch your body will cool down quickly, and this can even be life-threatening.
Tip: Read more about kitesurfing & safety in this article.
Keep yourself warm
As hypothermia is one of the big risks of cold-weather kitesurfing, staying warm as long as possible is essentially when you for for a session in low temperatures. So never ever go without proper equipment – you shouldn’t take the risk to go with a summer wetsuit when it’s really cold! Lots of brands offer thick wetsuits especially made for low temp and you should absolutely invest in one of these. If you go more often in very low temperatures, a drysuit might be an option too. Additionally a surfbeanie will help you to stay warm longer.
And, don’t forget: Warming up before your session is an absolute must! By the way: Being physically fit is definitely not a disadvantage for such hardcore kitesessions – so it can’t do harm to exercise regularly in the gym or at home.
Also remember to staying well hydrated, take some hot tea in a thermos flask and a snack to eat with you. One more important point for kitesurfing in cold weather is to be quick and well organised – there’s no time for dawdling on and on while setting up the equipment or looking for clothes! So you should know where to find your bits and pieces and have a look at your equipment before to see if it’s intact. If you cannot go indoors to change your clothes before/after kiting, you should get yourself a poncho* – for me one of the best accessories ever (btw for Vivida garment you get 15% off with code KITEJOY ;)).
It’s also a safety thing to be conscious about one’s personal kitesurf skills. Self-overestimation may lead to dangerous situations and accidents! Apart from the fact that kitesurfing in really bad weather conditions is not for absolute beginners, also advanced and pro riders have to adapt their riding to the prevalent conditions (more or less). Just some examples: Some days/spots/wind directions at certain spots are not made for unhooked tricks, sometimes it’s better to take straps than boots, sometimes it’s better to take the surfboard, sometimes it’s better to be a little underpowered than overpowered.
Having a feeling for what’s the proper riding style for any condition/place is a main feature of experienced kitesurfers! And one thing is absolutely sure: Riding in different weathers and at different spots will let you get this feeling over time.
If you have any further questions about kitesurfing in any weather, don’t be afraid to ask! And feel free to write about your personal experience with harsh weather sessions in the comments 😉
If you need more reasons for starting to kitesurf, maybe you should read this one 😉