« Good Practice Guide
In an emergency:
If you see someone in difficulty tell a lifeguard or call 999 and ask for the Coastguard.
If you need to swim kill the power in your kite, wind the lines onto the bar and deflate the leading edge.
If you lose your kite or board, report that you are safe to the rescue services (call 999 and ask for the Coastguard) so that they do not spend time looking for you.
If you get into trouble never abandon your board (it will keep you afloat) stick your hand up and shout for help.
Dorset is one of the best places to kite surf on the South Coast, with its clean waters and diverse coastline meaning that there are lots of spots for kite surfers of all abilities and experience to get on the water. If you fancy trying out the sport or if you already have some experience but want to learn how to do those amazing kite surfing tricks safely then there are over ten kite surfing schools along the coast.
What is kite surfing?
Kite surfing is often seen as a more extreme sport. Kite surfing (sometimes called kite boarding) is a relatively new water sport where a large controllable kite is used to propel yourself and the board you are standing on across the water. With the right skills and experience kite surfers can launch from the water into the air to perform tricks and jumps. Different styles of Kite surfing have evolved over the years such as wakestyle, waveriding, freestyle, freeride, jumping, cruising and pacing.
The British Kite Surfing Association say that anyone from the ages of 7-70 years old can safely learn to ride on their own after an average of just 15 hours of tuition. It is always recommended to get the right tuition from qualified instructors.
What do I need?
Kite surfing isn’t a sport that you should teach yourself, it is an extreme sports so it can be dangerous for you and other sea users if not done properly. If you learn with one of the kite surfing schools, often the full kit will be provided. If you fancy taking up the sport then you will need the following kit:
- Board: There are lots of different types on the market. A first typical board is a twin-tip. More experienced kite surfers can also use traditional short surf boards, skim boards or even wakeboards.
- Kite:Most kites are inflatable which means that they float on the water. You need to make sure you have a kite with a good safety system and a leash. The leash attaches from your kite to your harness so that your kite doesn’t fly away or hit anybody.
- A harness:This makes sure that the kite pulls you from round your waist and not from your arms.
- Safety equipment:Helmet, buoyancy aid, quick release for your harness, full length wetsuit and boots
If you are looking for training or to buy your own kit then check out the British Kite Surfing Association’s website for some good advice.
When is the best time to do it?
Kite surfing in Dorset can be done all year round from light warm-water cruising in the summer and more challenging surf and weather conditions in the winter. Remember to always check the weather, tides and currents on iCoast map before you go out. During winter months the water is colder, winds stronger, there are rougher seas and less hours of daylight – this all needs to be taken into consideration. iCoast has a great water sports weather forecast and links to webcams along the Dorset coast which makes it easy for you see when and where you will get the best conditions to kite surf. If you are a beginner then the British Kite surfing Association recommend you look out for a steady wind and flat water with wind strength of between 10 and 15 knots.
Where can I kite surf on the Dorset Coast?
Kite surfing areas for beginners and improvers:
- In Whitley Lake (within Poole Harbour) there is a dedicated board sailing area with water that is almost never more than waist high, so it is great for beginners and improvers, but it can dry out at low water. Kite surfing conditions are best at Whitley Lake in South Westerly winds. It is not recommended that beginners kite surf in Whitley Lake in wind directions from North through East to South.
- Portland Harbour is also very shallow, sometimes only knee height at low tide, so it is also a great place for learners and improvers. Kite surfing at Portland Harbour can be done in any wind direction but the best conditions can be found when there are Southerly to North-Westerly winds. Portland Harbour is managed by Portland Port Authority. To use the harbour for kite surfing a Harbour Permit is needed which can be purchased from Paracademy. However, you must be a member of the Portland Kite surfing Club or be undergoing training at the Paracademy.
Kite surfing areas for intermediate to expert level:
- Sandbanks beach offers exciting conditions for experienced kite surfers when the wind is coming from a south westerly or easterly direction.
- Poole Harbour – If you want to kite surf in Poole Harbour but outside of the Whitley Lake board sailing area then you can. Kite surfing is also promoted at Hamworthy Park, Baiter Park, Studland, and all beaches outside the harbour in suitable conditions. Kite surfers however, are not permitted in the harbour entrance or any of the main shipping channels (See the relevant Notices to Mariners).
- Weymouth Bay or the Pier bandstand is a great place for kite surfing but it is only permitted from October – March, when the beach has less tourists about.
- Christchurch Bay – there are several beaches that are perfect for kite surfing including Mudeford that has a sand bar that helps to create good waves.
- Southbourne and Boscombe, in the Bournemouth area, provide ideal family-friendly locations where kite surfing can be carried out.
Kite surfing areas for experts:
- Kimmeridge Bay offers more challenging kite surfing conditions.
- Overcombe Corner is a great spot when there are south westerly winds. The swell and breaking waves can create perfect conditions for jumping.
Location ratings courtesy of The British Kite Surfing Association.
What to look out for
The Dorset coast is not only fantastic for kite surfing but is great for spotting wildlife such as seabirds, seals, and dolphins and for exploring the Jurassic Coast with its famous geology. The waters however, can get very busy, especially close to amenity beaches, so it is important to respect wildlife, other users and the environment while you enjoy kite surfing on the Dorset coast.
Do your bit:
Watch out for wildlife
- Dorset has several areas that are important for birds on the Dorset coast including a Special Protection Area at Poole Harbour, between the between mean high and mean low water mark. The western and northern parts of Portland Harbour are also very important for over wintering birds. It is important not to disturb roosting or nesting birds at high tide between:
- November and March birds when “over wintering” and need to conserve energy reserves.
- Mid-April to the end of June birds are breeding. If birds are disturbed during this time then birds can abandon eggs or chicks.
- Report live strandings of cetaceans, and injured/entangled marine mammals to British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) on 01825 765546 (24 hours). Report all other live injured or entangled animals to RSPCA 08705 555999
- Don’t linger for too long when you are close to wildlife– by all means look, but then move on.
- Avoid eelgrass (seagrass) sensitive areas – Within Poole Harbour, close to Whitley Lake, there are some eelgrass bed sensitive zoneswhich are marked with buoys. It is important that kite surfers do not kite surf or trample the seabed in these areas because eelgrass beds:
- Provide a sheltered habitat for lots of species including cuttlefish, fish, and spiny and short-snouted seahorses.
- Provide food for over wintering birds such as brent geese, wigeon and mute swans.
- Stabilise the sediment in Poole Harbour
Find out more about eelgrass beds in Poole Harbour.
Watch out for other users
- Respect other kite surfers:
- The upwind kite surfer should always give way to the downwind kite surfer and the kite surfer on the port tack should always give way the kite surfer on starboard tack.
- When returning to the beach, give way to kite surfers who are launching
- If you see a kite surfer returning to shore then help them out with landing their kites safely.
- Respect other water users:
- Maintain a 50 metre downwind safety zone between yourself and other craft (including moored vessels)
- If you do get to close to another water user then stabilise your kite at 12 o’clock.
- Never kite surf in or near to bathing areas and swimmers, buoys and boat moorings.
- Keep your kite lines away from people, animals and craft on the water to prevent entanglement
- Retreat to a safe zone outside a navigational channel when other craft approach
- Make sure that you are following any restrictions that apply – Some kite surf spots on the Dorset coast have temporal restrictions to respect other users or location restrictions so that kite surfing doesn’t affect busy shipping areas.
- Respect other beach users:
- Look around the beach, if it’s too busy then don’t launch
- Never practice jumping on land or close to the beach
- Do not lay kite lines across the path of other beach users
- Weigh down the kite with sand to stop the kites from self-launching on the beach and dropping on other beach users.
- Do not leave your equipment unattended on the beach – Disable you kite and return your lines so that you don’t inconvenience other beach users.
Watch out for the environment
- Take all rubbish home – do not discard rubbish at sea or on the beaches. Marine and beach litter spoils peoples experience of the Dorset coast, can harm marine wildlife and can disrupt commercial industries by litter getting tangled up in fishermen’s nets. Find out more about marine litter in Dorset.
See the RNLI guide to surfsport safety.
Only kite surf if you:
- Are a competent swimmer.
- You hold third party insurance.
- Have had a proper tuition from a British Kite surfing Association (BKSA) / International Kite boarding Organisation (IKO) instructor.
- Are wearing a helmet, buoyancy aid and a quick release harness system.
- Have checked all your equipment and repaired any damage.
- Have a signalling or communication device and a knife to cut your flying line in an emergency.
- Your kite is properly inflated – an under-inflated kite it difficult to control and harder to re-launch from the water.
- Know that the conditions are right for your capability (no wind above 20 knots in your first year) Check the weather and tides and make sure you are aware of local hazards – Learn to interpret tide tables and weather forecasts.
- Have practiced:
- The self-rescue pack down techniques with qualified BKSA / IKO instructors.
- Killing the power of the kite instantly.
- Winding the lines onto the bar and deflating the leading edge.
- Releasing the quick release system under tension.
- Have told someone responsible ashore where you are going and when you will be back. They will be able to raise the alarm by calling 999 and asking for the Coastguard if they get worried and you are not back on time.
- Written your full contact details on all your equipment.
- Be sun smart
- Always wear SPF factor 30 and above waterproof sun cream. Reapply frequently.
- Drink plenty of fluids as you dehydrate faster while exercising.
- Consider taking a rest and seeking shade during the hottest part of the day.
When out kite surfing:
- Never ask an inexperienced member of the public to assist launching.
- Never kite surf in offshore winds.
- Never go too far out to sea, make sure that you would be able to swim back to shore if there was an emergency.
- Look before you jump.
- Make sure you come ashore before dusk or in fading light.
Help, I’ve been stung!
- Weever-fish – If you feel a sharp scratch on your foot while in the water that becomes more painful, you may have stood on a weever-fish. Don’t panic but find a lifeguard for treatment. If there’s no lifeguard, place the affected area in water as hot as is comfortable. Test the water first so you don’t cause scalding.
- Jellyfish – Do not rub a jellyfish sting, as this will cause the pain to intensify. Lightly spray the area with seawater and apply a cold compress if available.
Information for this webpage has been collated from the following sources:
- British Kite surfing Association
- Poole Harbour Commissioners
- Portland Harbour Authority
- Maritime and Coastguard Agency
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