Back on the water,kiteboarding beginners will find that lessons or camps will be necessary in order to take their skills to the next level, or to master the basics of the sport. Luckily, North Carolina is home to some of the largest and most recognized kiteboarding companies on the East Coast, if not the world: Kitty Hawk Kites, REAL Watersports and Blowing in the Wind, to name a few. These companies sponsor events, sell and rent equipment, and offer seasonal lessons for all skill levels, ranging from beginners to experts.
REAL Watersports offers three instructional methods for kiteboarders, including lessons, private lessons, and a 3-day kite camp. All three methods utilize the same instructional syllabus, custom-designed by the coaches at REAL Watersports over the past 6 years. The courses are broken down into half-day segments, with typically two lessons per day, and a maximum student to instructor ratio of 2:1.
The lessons, both private and group, are broken down into different sessions and depend on the kiteboarders' skill level. The different lessons also have varying costs, depending on instruction time and coach involvement.
Beginners will want to start their lessons with the Ground Control session, a $100, 1.5-hour course which is the fundamental building block for learning the sport at any level. The on-land class covers the basics of rigging, tuning, line management, flying techniques, kite safety, and rider responsibility.
Once this course has been completed, students can move on to the Water Time session, a two hour course that costs $250. This class covers relaunching the kite from the water, body drags, water starts onto the board, basic riding, and self-rescue.
All water time is accompanied by a coach to allow teaching "On The Fly," a technique pioneered by REAL. For more water time, you can also try the 2-hour $250 Double Down Course. This lesson builds on and perfects your ability to rig, self-launch, self-land, self rescue and waterstart on your board. Extending your rides is also a main focus of the double down. According to REAL, Double Down is the ultimate confidence booster for those just hitting the water.
These classes are held at three instructional centers in Newport, Rhode Island; the British Virgin Islands; and Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. You can sign up by contacting REAL Watersports.
For folks who want to go from novice to kiteboarder in a hurry, REAL also offers intensive 3-day camps. These camps have been churning out kiteboarders since 2000, and offer total immersion into the sport, with a roster of 20 certified and world class coaches. The coaches are fully trained and educated beyond "user's manual expertise" on all equipment offered by the following brands: Jimmy Lewis, Slingshot, Liquid Force, Best Kiteboarding, Naish, Dakine, Kitefix, NSI and Mystic. Equipment is provided, and students also receive a discount on any equipment they would like to purchase after the camp is over.
The camps are held throughout the year at the REAL Watersports Center in Cape Hatteras, and their website offers information on all upcoming camp sessions.
The other international kiteboarding giant is homegrown Kitty Hawk Kites, the largest supplier of kites in the country. Kitty Hawk Kits offers professional instruction available for students of all levels. Backed by the long history of the largest hang gliding school in the world, which has been teaching the world to fly since 1974, the school has an impeccable reputation.
Lessons are provided daily, and beginners can start with the Learn To Fly course, offered for $299. This course includes two separate sessions, which can be taken separately. The first is the 3-hour Landboarding Course, offered for $99 as the prerequisite for all water courses, and perfect for those wanting to learn Power Kiting, Landboarding, Snow Kiting, or how to use a Kite Buggy. Next is the 3-hour First Water Course which costs $199, and teaches the fundamentals of kiteboarding, set-up, launch/landing, body drags, water relaunching, self-rescue, and the first water starts on the kiteboard.
Once you've mastered these courses, you can move on to the 3-hour Extended Water Course at a cost of $199. This is a semi-private lesson focusing on extending your ride in both directions. Teaching on the fly with Kitty Hawk Kites' watercraft, the goal is to smooth out the kite position, body position, and board position to get you continuously riding in both directions.
The kite surfing school approved by the PASA (Professional Air Sports Association.) PASA has created methods of teaching that have become industry standards for providing safe instruction.
Kitty Hawk Kites also offers kite camps to give you the inside edge on learning the sport faster. Like REAL Watersports, Kitty Hawk Kites has been offering camps since 2000 and uses professional instructions to fully immerse you into the sport of kiteboarding.
Camps for groups of 3 or more can be scheduled anytime, or you can join an existing camp session. Camps consist of two days of intensive training, from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. each day, and you should be prepared for a hard day of playing. The Fast Track Kiteboarding Camps, held every Saturday and Sunday, with Monday as an alternate weather day, are a special opportunity for you to get loads of instruction in a group dynamic atmosphere. Student to instructor ratio will never exceed three students to each instructor at these camps. Students will also receive a discount on all equipment they might need after the lessons and camps have ended, and they're ready to kiteboard on their own.
Lessons and camps are held at various Kitty Hawk Kites locations, particularly along North Carolina's Outer Banks and the flagship store in Nags Head. For reservations and availability of all kiteboarding and lessons, contact Kitty Hawk Kites.