By Alzahra Aldawood
Let’s go fly a kite; by the way, you’re the kite.
So what exactly is kitesurfing?
It’s a wind sport where you ride a kiteboard (small surfboard similar to a wakeboard) while attached to a large kite; just let the wind do the rest to pull you over the water.
Riders can use the power of the kite to make very high jumps and move across the water faster than most sailboats. The sport has many disciplines including recreational riding on flatwater, surfing waves, freestyle tricks, racing and long-distance touring.
Flat water locations such as those in Half Moon Bay are favored by riders looking to perform freestyle since the water is smooth, making it easier to take off and land on.
What do you need to get started?
You’ll need a kite with bar and lines, a harness and a board. Safety equipment including helmet, life jacket, booties and safety knife are also important.
Kiters fly small trainer kites on land to learn about kite control, then they move to the water to learn how to use the kite to pull them through the water. Kiters then add a board and start taking their first rides downwind.
So where can I find lessons and equipment?
The kites we use generate a lot of momentum so they need to be respected with the right kind of training; don’t try to train yourself simply with YouTube.
Mishal Extreme Outdoors provides lessons and rental kite gear at the local Half Moon Bay kitesurfing spot. You can buy equipment from a North brand representative in Sharqiya (kitesurfkhobar.com) as well as many online international retailers.
If you are unsure what might work, just ask one of the surfers at the beach.
When’s a good time to go kitesurfing? Any recommended spots?
Any windy day! There is wind all year round in Sharqiya, but summer is definitely the best time to kite because of the stronger Shamal winds and warm water. Kite surfers usually meet close to the southern-most point of Half Moon Bay and can be found there on any windy weekend afternoon.
Who are the people in your current group of surfers?
The Khobar kitesurfing group is an eclectic mix of more than fifty kitesurfers (both Saudi and international). About a third of the surfers are beginners or learning, so everyone is welcome.
Half Moon Bay is shallow water so it’s ideal for beginners. The sport welcomes all ages; our riders range from 15 to 60 years old. There are a growing number of women in the sport in Saudi too.
For lessons contact Mishal Extreme Outdoors on Facebook.
For questions about equipment you can contact Fred Clark or Ikaraam Ullah on Facebook.