Christchurch - Safety & Location of Kite sports training areas
There can never be enough emphasis on safety. Every kiteboarder needs to carry out a 'Site & Risk Assessment' before setting up at any kite spot. Good technique involves thinking about where your using the kite, and your surroundings. eg whats downwind of you if something goes wrong. Rigging the kite correctly 100% of the time. Launching and Landing the kite safely. Staying in control at all times. Always being aware of other users & beach goers..
The Wind Window
Understanding the Wind. The diagrams above help describe 'The Wind Window', this is where the kite will fly.
When you stand with your back to the wind, hold your arms straight out to each side, left arm to the left, right arm to the right, the 180 degrees in front of you is 'The Wind Window'. 'The Wind Window' also extends to straight above your head. The kite will only fly to the edge of the window, if you try to fly the kite past the edge of the wind it will 'luff' or fall from the sky. The kite must always be launched from near the edge of the window (the Low Power zone) , either the left side or the right, and then brought to the position above your head. This is called the 'Zenith' or 'Neutral' position. The neutral position extends from the left hand side, up and over your head, to the right hand side (always with your back to the wind). Launching and landing your kite from these positions is most important, as this is the safe (neutral) part of 'The Wind Window'. Once you have brought the kite up to the 'Zenith' position you can practice moving the kite in a small figure eight above your head, this is how you generate power with the kite. When you are comfortable with the controls of your kite you can start to make the figure eights larger, moving the kite further into the wind, this is when you'll start to feel what kind of power your dealing with. Leaning back against the kite and doing controlled 'figure eights' you should be able slide downwind with the kite. Controlled body drags or slides are important for good kite flying technique. The sooner you understand 'The Wind Window', the quicker you'll be mobile with your kite.
Areas for Kiteboarding in Christchurch
On the Map below is marked the area we use for our Kite School and for ongoing water based kiting here in Christchurch. 'The Estuary' is best in light to strong SE, E & NE winds, or medium to high tides. Expect 4-5 knots more wind at the Estuary than the beach when the wind is prevailing easterly. There is a learners area 700m upwind of the main kite spot, just ask a local & walk with your gear up the side of the main area till you reach the grass clearing, this is the rigging & launch spot called 'Sandy Point'.
South Brighton Beach (on Marine Parade, south of Kitesports shop shown on map) kiting south of the Surf Club is a great place for Buggying or Landboarding on light wind days, or Kitesurfing in more than 12 knots of wind from light to strong SE, E & NE winds, also strong Northerlies can be expected, especially in spring. Watch out for the NW or SW winds as these are off shore & very gusty unpredictable winds not suitable for most kiters. We need to make a point of staying away from 'Busy Areas' eg Surf Clubs and areas where people may be swimming, sunbathing, or using the beach for other sporting activities. Stay South of the marked post at South Brighton Surf Club, the further South the better while you are learning. No one should be launching or landing kites in front of any of the Surf Clubs or buildings, THIS IS SOMETHING WE WILL ACTIVELY IN FORCE (better to self regulate than be regulated), as we want to prevent accidents before they happen. If you are Landboarding or Buggying past any Surf Club or between the Flags, do so slowly, with your Kite high and under control, making sure other beach users see you. NO KITESURFING between the flags, or where people are swimming (this is just common sense)
If we focus on safety now, we'll be able to come back and Kite another day, if not we'll probably end up with less options to kite as restrictions could be put in place.
Have fun and Fly Safe!