Kitesurfing with kids
Report No. 2:
When chaos becomes a routine
Fritz Kalman started kitesurfing three years ago – and it wasn’t long before his wife Ulli was infected with the kite virus. He tells us about how also their kids slowly got hooked to the kitesurf lifestyle:
As me and my wife went for regular kitesurf sessions to Podersdorf we also took our three children with us. Our system was that one of us could go on the water whilst the other one went swimming with the kids.
By and by it happened more often that the kids stayed with us at the kitespot. Granted, it’s not always easy being a family with three kids in the “cool” atmosphere of a kitebeach. But luckily this changed the more often we appeared as a family. My wife and me both improved our skills on the water and our children got more and more interested in the sport.
So on days with less people the two older kids started to practice with trainer kites on the beach. Sometimes we also went to a field to practice. 1,5 m were enough – when you weigh only 30 kilos even such a small kite can pull strongly! For us it was super important that the kids learned to properly control the kite, as this is essential especially at a crowded spot like ours. And yes, the chaos at the beach (which you often find on Sundays at the Nord-Nordstrand in Podersdorf) slowly became a routine.
Then I started to take my kids out with me – standing on the board in a tandem style – when Rebecca was nine, Tobias was eight and Natalie with six years. Of course they all had the basic physical and mental conditions: good swimming abilities, coordination, no fear of submerging or swallowing some sips of water. And they wore a protective vest for more buoyancy and less impact on crashes.
Rebecca did her first “real” kite course when she was ten. But, if parents expect that after paying one beginner course everything is done and the kids can be sent to the water unattended – they could hardly be more wrong! After one beginner course it’s not possible to let your kids go kiting and leave them all on their own. So the next step was to book private lessons for Rebecca.
From the moment when Tobias also started to kitesurf seriously things got really expensive! Booking private lessons all the time for two kids would have turned out in a financial desaster for us – so finally us parents decided to go on the water and practice with them. Which was possible cause the local kiteschool (thanks to kite2fly!) were on site with their boat, we could rely one hundred percent on them and – and even now they still have an eye on our daughter when she’s kiting out there alone.
So in the meantime Rebecca rides independently, and Tobias will follow her next season I think. I really appreciate it that in the meantime our kids are so much more accepted on the kitebeach and that on the water they even get cheered and praised by the instructors from the kiteschools.
Kitesurfing with kids:
My conclusions & most important tips
- Support: Sending kids to a beginner course is not the whole job. It takes some time until they learned to ride independently. As a parent you can expect to spend many hours on the water with your kid practising – provided that you are a decent kiter on your own! Otherwise it will need more courses or private lessons.
- Space: If you don’t have a deserted area to practice it make sense to book an upwind service with the boat. So the kids can train undisturbed and in case of emergency the boat is on site.
- Safety: Good swimming abilities are absolutely essential for anyone who wants to go with a kite into the water. For practising bodydrag and waterstart in the beginning we used safety lines (10 and 20 m) with safety leashes on both sides.
- Equipment/clothes: In my experience it’s important that in matters of wetsuit, harness etc. nothing presses or pinches or may slip somewhere – otherwise children might get easily moody and loose concentration.