Kitesurfing, also called Kiteboarding, is a relatively new extreme sport, combining elements of surfing, windsurfing, wakeboarding and power-kite flying.
Kitesurfing is extremely popular around the Isle of Wight coastline, where there are spots for all wind directions and tide states, and to suit all levels of rider, from beginner to extreme hardcore.
Riders can gain air time in as little as 6 knots of wind but size is everything in this sport. Kite sizes ranging from 5m to 25m and Board's from 1m to 2m in length with different shapes and styles such as wake style, twin tips and directionals. The beauty is it all packs up so small it easily fits in your vee dub.
With wonderful beaches, and miles and miles of sea to set out upon, it’s no wonder that surfing in its many forms is such a popular sport on the Isle of Wight. Whether it’s surfing, windsurfing or kitesurfing, you’ll find the Isle of Wight has the perfect beach for each.
Certain beaches are better for getting out on your board: the beaches around the south coast are more popular with surfers as the waves in the English Channel are far larger than those in the Solent. Surfers do use Yaverland, Sandown through to Shanklin and Ventnor but it is Brook and Compton that are probably the most popular beaches for surfing, along with Freshwater Bay. Kitesurfers tend to congregate at Yaverland, Ryde and Brook, depending on the wind direction and for windsurfing Bembridge and the south east coast seem to be used most often, although Totland and Colwell Bay are also popular.
If you need a few lessons first then there are many reputable teachers who can help you learn the techniques:
Wight Waters is on Dunroamin beach between Sandown and Shanklin and offers surfing and bodyboarding, windsurfing, kayaking, stand up paddleboarding (SUP) and sailing courses. An ideal location for learning watersports, with shallow waters and a sandy beach, windsurfing courses range from taster sessions to RYA Advanced instructor courses, surfing and kayaking are given in beginners, intermediate and advanced courses and SUP (Stand Up Paddleboarding) can be learned in an hour taster or a half day session.
Billed as ‘the Isle of Wight’s coolest watersports centre’ Wight Waters certainly does have an impressive team. Started by Ian and Ceri Williams back in 1984, Wight Waters is now run by Ceri’s stepson Scott Gardner who has competed in national and international surfing and windsurfing championships and his brother Ross who was crowned European Formula Windsurfing Champion 2012. Aaron Williams is also a professional windsurfer and former champion, and now looks after their retail shop Earth, Wind and Water in Shanklin where all equipment can be purchased.
iSurf specialise in teaching surfing and stand up paddle boarding (SUP) on the whole range of different beaches that the Isle of Wight has to offer as they are a fully mobile surf school. Run by Surfing GB qualified surf coach Chris Mannion, who has been riding waves (and wiping out!) for nearly 20 years, Chris started teaching surfing on the Isle of Wight at just 16 years of age so is confident he knows the best and safest surfing spots the Island has to offer.
iSurf provides tuition for both adults and children from the age of eight and surfing can be taught in groups or on a one to one basis. When you get to the beach iSurf will kit you up with an Xcel wetsuit to keep you from getting cold in the water and you use Alder’s range of soft surfboards that are made of a material similar to a body board. iSurf are also able to film and photograph your lesson so you can watch and see yourself surfing.
From its campus and marina in Cowes, UKSA’s team of experienced and fully-qualified instructors provide a comprehensive range of ocean-based training; making sailing and watersports accessible to everyone.
There are courses in everything from kayaking, windsurfing and kite surfing, moving up through dinghy and keelboat sailing to yachting in which you can take skippering, yachtmaster and cruising qualifications. As a registered youth charity, UKSA is committed to inspiring children to get out on the water and try new experiences with courses in kayaking, keelboating and dingy sailing along with windsurfing and kitesurfing. As well as running school residential and day trips, special watersports programmes are run during the school summer holidays giving those as young as eight the opportunity to earn recognised qualifications.
If the wind is up and the conditions are right Windstalker Island Kitesports are likely to be on the waves around the Isle of Wight teaching others how to kitesurf with confidence. You just ring Jane and Eric Harris at Windstalker to book a lesson and they’ll tell you where to be and meet you there with all the kit.
Eric Harris started off as a land-boarder and then took up kitesurfing around nine years ago and is now a very experienced teacher of both sports. He’s especially good with more advanced students, teaching tricks and different moves in serious one to one sessions, but equally good with new students. Jane has been kite surfing for over four years and is great with newcomers.
Once you’ve got the bug you can buy your own kit as Windstalker are Cabrinha stockists – they can do all kite repairs too. Windstalker can also store your equipment for you if you’re an Island visitor and bring it to the beach for you when you come down, which is really handy.