A sport just out of its infancy that's now taking off at wind-swept coasts around the world, kiteboarding combines elements of windsurfing and wakeboarding with a new way of harnessing wind power: specially designed kites that pull riders across the water at high speeds and allow them to perform high jumps and other tricks impossible with other watersports. While it all sounds a bit "extreme," kiteboarding is relatively safe in lighter winds and can be learned in just a few lessons with a good instructor and the right conditions.
Picking a quality kiteboarding school is essential. In the past few years, a lot of operations have opened seemingly overnight, and not all have the experience, or the insurance, to offer students safe and productive lessons. However, South Florida Kiteboarding (SFKB), the largest kiteboarding school in the state, has been teaching lessons since 2000, just a couple years after the sport began. The company has perfected its teaching techniques and facilities: Beginners get one-on-one training with certified instructors—no groups—and are taught in safe, flat shallow water or, when winds are below 12 mph, in the Cable Park, a system which simulates kiteboarding on a freshwater lake.
"Kiteboarding can be learned relatively quickly in the right environment," says Manager Stefan Pantu. "Our main selling point is that all kiteboard lessons are given in super easy waist-deep water. This greatly accelerates the learning experience. Many other schools teach in difficult open-ocean conditions with breaking waves, people on the beach, and deep water."
"I came across the guys at SFKB and quickly realized that shallow water is where it's at when learning how to kiteboard," says SFKB student Chris Pendl, who had tried lessons with other schools but wasn't happy with the results. "Don't waste your money on those guys at the deep water beach who want to give you lessons. Leave it to the pros at SFKB and get it right the first time."
If you want to learn to ride on your own, you can book the Addicted lesson package, which spreads nine hours of instruction and supervised practice time over two or three days. "Students typically learn to use the kite (without a board) in a two-to-four-hour lesson," says Pantu. "On no-wind days, students can learn kiteboard skills at the Cable Park. This is done in parallel with the kite-only class. Once students have the board skills, we put the kite and board skills together in another class. After that, the student can practice with minimal supervision at our facility in Crandon Park, Key Biscayne."
Trip planningThis package can be arranged at any time, but the best wind conditions typically occur between October and May. Rates cover one-on-one instruction, use of kiteboarding facilities and equipment, and supervised practice time after lessons. Lodging, meals, and transportation are extra. South Florida Kiteboarding offers private upscale accommodations in Dania Beach for $60 per night with kiteboarding packages. The accommodations are located just a few miles from the Ft. Lauderdale airport.
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