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When you imagine kitesurfing in your head, the setting is probably somewhere warm and sunny off the coast of a tropical, sandy beach.
Although this is the most ideal condition for the extreme sport, winter kitesurfing is still a popular way to enjoy it.
Can you kitesurf during the winter and do it safely?
Kitesurfing during the winter is doable, and for some people, they prefer to get into the water during this season. However, there are many factors to consider if you kitesurf during winter including wind and water conditions as well as protective gear that can keep you safe from the elements.
If you’re someone who likes to kite all year long and you can’t afford to visit a warmer climate during winter at home, you’ll want to learn the basics of kitesurfing during the winter.
Many keen kiters still hit the water when it’s cold and some actually prefer it, but there are some things you’ll need to know to make sure it’s both safe and comfortable.
How to Protect Yourself From the Elements
The biggest and most obvious difference you’ll notice when kitesurfing during winter is how cold it can get on the water.
Without the right protection, you’re susceptible to serious health and safety concerns and potentially life-threatening scenarios.
A responsible kitesurfer always knows the weather and water conditions before they head out, so make sure you understand what you’re about to take on.
The best defense against low temperatures and chilling winds is a wetsuit so you’ll have to choose one specifically made for cold weather.
A neoprene wetsuit with quick-drying properties is ideal so that it doesn’t cool your body too much when you’re out of the water.
Choose a full-length wetsuit with arm and leg coverage and one that is easy to get into and out of as needed.
Another thing people forget when it’s cold is that the sun can still be just as harmful with its UV rays.
Just because the sun might not be shining or temperatures are low, that doesn’t mean you should get on the water without sunscreen and other protection.
Wind chill can be especially damaging to your skin in winter so you’ll want extra protection here as well.
The Potential Dangers of Kitesurfing During the Winter
There are many benefits to kitesurfing during the colder months but also potential dangers.
The biggest concern is how different the wind blows and your kite reacts, so it’s not recommended for beginners to attempt before they feel confident.
The density of winter winds should be your first concern, and for a beginner or intermediate kiter, this can come as a shock.
When the temperature is cold, the wind will provide your kite with more power.
While this can be beneficial, it can also be dangerous if you’re not skilled enough to handle it.
The same speed of wind when it’s cold will produce a lot more power than warm conditions and this can be quite a stark difference.
Cold winds are also a lot choppier and they might vary in their direction and intensity.
If you go out expecting harsher and stronger winds then you should be adequately prepared, provided your skill level can manage them.
Keep an eye out for rain fronts or dark clouds that signify approaching rain as it will usually have an impact on the wind’s direction and force.
Any changes usually happen quickly so you have to be prepared for anything.
Finally, in addition to all of the usual kitesurfing safety concerns, your health and body temperature should be factored in.
Avoid waters and temperatures that are too cold as you may be susceptible to hypothermia, drowning or stiffness and immobility which make maneuvering your kite and board dangerous.
What Do I Need to Remember for Winter Kitesurfing
The harsh conditions present in winter can make it more uncomfortable and less enjoyable during the winter months.
However, here are some tips you can follow that will ensure you’re as comfortable and safe as possible even with the dramatic dip in temperature.
Kite with a friend
Even if you feel confident in your skills and have done your research on conditions, you should never attempt a solo kite during winter.
Having a friend close by is safe and smart to do, just in case something happens to equipment or temperatures become too intense to weather on your own.
Know Your Skill Level
Winds can increase dramatically in a matter of seconds when it’s cold so you must be able to handle them.
Check Weather Conditions
The day before and the morning of your intended ride, you should check all the weather and water reports.
Understand that when temperatures are colder, winds are harsher, so always add another 50 percent to the estimated gale force.
Check Your Gear
Do an extra thorough check of your kite, board, and other gear before you head out.
Being stranded on the water for even half an hour during winter is a lot more dangerous than during warmer months so you need to be certain your gear is reliable and in good condition.
Use Winter Friendly Equipment
A suicide leash is unsafe to use in winter conditions because of the harsh wind so you should always use a flagging safety leash in the colder months.
Always be prepared to utilize the flagging safety leash as needed.
Pack a hot thermos with something to drink before, during, and after your session, get dressed in your gear before you arrive at the shore, and cover your face with a layer of Vaseline to protect against wind damage.
Kitesurfing during winter can be a fun new way to experience this sport, but it should only ever be attempted by confident and competent riders.
If you’re planning on attempting to kitesurf in colder conditions but want to consider the risks, you might have additional questions that we can help answer.
What Are the Ideal Conditions for Kitesurfing?
The best conditions to kitesurf when you’re a beginner is something less windy around 14 to 22 knots.
Experienced surfers often kite in conditions with up to 40 knots of wind, including during colder months.
Depending on your skill level, you’ll need to stay with a temperature and wind speed that suits you.
What Is Too Cold for Kitesurfing?
As a guide, water and air temperatures of under 110 degrees Fahrenheit combined are considered cold.
Before going out, you should calculate the air and water temperatures and add them together to get an idea of how cold it will be.
Anything lower than 90 degrees combined should be reconsidered, even for professional riders.
Is Kitesurfing Dangerous?
Kitesurfing is considered an extreme sport and there are safety concerns surrounding it.
However, if you have experience with kitesurfing and know how to evaluate wind and water conditions the sport is not as dangerous as you might think.
Kitesurfing during winter adds further risk but it can still be enjoyed safely if you follow the rules.