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 Post subject: Re: Should kiting be for everyone?
PostPosted: Wed Sep 03, 2014 3:29 pm 
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Starsky wrote:
Do lesson programs have a duty to weed out unsuitable students.
In no way is this an attempt at elitism.
...


You said it yourself. That would be not only elitist, but also discriminating and authoritarian. Who, other than the law would have the right to take that piece of freedom from people?
Then, someone else would come up with the great idea of banning golf because the sun is bad for your skin, banning tennis because is bad for your elbow, and so on and on.
Live and let live. What do you care if others want to try it, not matter fitness and skills?


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 Post subject: Re: Should kiting be for everyone?
PostPosted: Wed Sep 03, 2014 4:11 pm 
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primarily safety and access. I absolutely see what your saying. The question was prompted in the context of a retrospective view of the sport, the rate at which it is set to expand, and by extension if retailers or schools or the industry itself has a responsibility to truly promote safety over gadgets that make it appear safe.

Historically it has always been a sport with entry hurdles, from difficult gear to lack of available instruction there were natural limitations to the sport's participation. Were reaching the state where major media and investment are going to push exposure. Gear is easier to use than ever, and the sport will be easy enough for almost anyone to do in nice safe locations and conditions. All great until you put it back in context of the real world with less than ideal locations and weather.

Its like skydiving. You can go as a complete tourist and go jump out of a plane. Used to be tethered, now its tandem, but you have to log a certain number of jumps and prove a few basic skills before you can jump and be trusted to pull the cord yourself. At the moment in kiting you take a lesson, buy the gear and thats it. Your loose on the world at large. For many that is absolutely fine, but for a percentage that is an issue. If numbers grow fast, so will that percentage.

We are at the stage where all over the world there are easy spots to get people up and going without ever exposing them to any of the real world hazards that exist where the majority of those beginners are from. They are all going to be just like you and me. Super keen and a little blinded by stoke. Its a legitimate question that I tried to shield from the perception of elitism that a number of people on here like to brand with. We see it here every season, where a rider that is capable of going upwind, and riding on a nice day, is just uneducated regarding weather and things like water temp. a simple issue in cold water or high winds can get serious fast, brings the wrong kind of media exposure and typically pressure to restrict access, regulate or simply ban.

No one argues safety is an issue. No one argues that access is an issue. There is a good reason a beginner simply can't just rent gear like they can golf clubs, tennis racquets or bikes. But very little is actually done about these issues until its the 11th hour or sadly too late. All the detachable footstraps in the world still only serve to create the illusion of safety in a sport that is inherently dangerous with catastrophe potential unlike golf or tennis. Cold water, high, unstable or dying wind conditions, beginner unfriendly launches, and potential conflict with other site users are absolutely common place in this sport. All things left out of the sunny sandy pictures in the brochure.

Education is the only real answer, but where is it best implemented and who's responsibility is it. Until now its been up to the user base to self correct, but were in for a boost in numbers all at the novice end of the scale and that should be planned for if not at least discussed.


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 Post subject: Re: Should kiting be for everyone?
PostPosted: Wed Sep 03, 2014 5:16 pm 
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Yes Starsky. Your point is good and the discussion is good. I just wanted to bring the attention to the fact that any regulation, banning or profiling is a potential hazard to personal freedom.


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 Post subject: Re: Should kiting be for everyone?
PostPosted: Wed Sep 03, 2014 5:25 pm 
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Starksy u underestimate how lazy people are. we had a student who threatened instructors here with lawyers because she couldn't ride. told us she was a champion jet ski rider won medals in various sports great swimmer. I told her kite boarding was hard sometimes it takes more than a week to learn how to ride she cursed me and we never saw her again.

it has been to long since you learned how to ride

the barriers are bigger than you think


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 Post subject: Re: Should kiting be for everyone?
PostPosted: Wed Sep 03, 2014 6:24 pm 
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In a literal answer to the question, I would ask, "have you been to an American mall lately?" How big of a kite and board do you need to get those 350 lb cows up on a plane?

Most of the public doesn't even know what to think when they happen upon kiteboarding. "Is that a parachute?"

I say let people give it a try, buy new gear, get worked, sell it cheap to me on craigslist.

Kiting is easier than surfing. I do both. The barrier to entry on kiting is higher from a financial and initial learning standpoint. But once you learn to ride the bike, you can go out and mow the lawn infrequently and not be set back too much. With surfing, you get out of surf shape if you don't go regularly. Then you surf like a kook, get worked, get discouraged. Way more physical upkeep required with surfing. (Not talking stand-up-paddle surfing on ankle snappers)

Old guys always say they wish kiting was around when they were younger. I tell them most of the guys I see out doing it are 50+ years old because they are the only ones with the time and $$$ to do it. As long as you don't try to go out in 30+ on a big kite or boost huge tricks, the chances of getting hurt I think are relatively low for the average elder kiteboarder.

I think the initial barriers to kiting and the early on negative experiences and frustration are enough to weed out the less committed crowd. The community is usually pretty good about approaching obvious newbies and moving them to less dangerous parts of the beach or other spots entirely.


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 Post subject: Re: Should kiting be for everyone?
PostPosted: Thu Sep 04, 2014 2:41 am 
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Sorry for interrupting this thread again, But i would like to apologize for getting off topic with my last several posts. Too many beers, Not enough wind.

Bille, I definitely owe you an apology for being a dick. Accidents in extreme sports usually do happen to the best players because they are pushing the limits. I'm sorry I made a joke at your expense.


To the thread- You can't ban stupid. If you deny them instruction they will go somewhere else or buy gear and fuck themselves up eventually.

Randahl- 350 lb cows up on a plane? lol We used to charge a dollar a pound over 200lbs for tandem skydives. 350 is a moneymaker$$$$$ We used to fight over the fatties.


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 Post subject: Re: Should kiting be for everyone?
PostPosted: Thu Sep 04, 2014 4:09 am 
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Starsky wrote:
Do lesson programs have a duty to weed out unsuitable students.

In no way is this an attempt at elitism. Its a legitimate question. Should there be a minimum standard for fitness, swimming ability, environmental assessment, etc. Like prerequisites that any school must screen for before starting into lessons. As simple as a swim test in a pool or at the beach, and a quick little written test on the basics of wind, weather, safety and the mechanics of sailing. Nothing ridiculous. The sport is accessible to the vast majority of people, but there really are the clueless who should not do things like ride motocycles, or get in a whitewater kayak. Should it be done at the school level. If instructors want to improve safety in the sport I think this is the kind of initiative that accomplishes more than a bigger brighter safety release.


No dude... no laws regulating and free market. So here is what happens: Typical Guy on beach sees a bunch of kites flying. Says to himself "cool I would like to try that". Does some googling. Walks up to kite school... signs up for $550 worth of lessons for two days. Takes the lessons... learns how HARD it is to learn and how much time/practice is needed to actually get good. 90% of them give up.... You really think a kite school is going to look at the semi goofy fat dude and say " you know what man... honestly... you are probably not going o be able to do this sport. So Im recommending that you spend your $500 the next two days on jet ski rentals rather than at my school". Of course not... take the money, provide the best service possible, smile... next in line please!

In my journey learning I realized:

1. Takes a level of athletics, swimming, strength, street smarts.
2. Requires someone ot have a good amount of money... Gear is not cheap. If you want to buy a full quiver of kites, boards, bars, etc you are looking at almost $10K. YEah you can start out cheap and buy used stuff or have one kite, board, etc. But that is going to limit the days you can go out, thus limit your progression, thus point your mind to something else to do in your spare time (if you have spare time)
3. Requires someone to have a LOT of free time on their hand. Which typically means has a very flexible job/lifestyle, OR doesn't have kids, OR is single
4. You can easily get hurt or die from this sport... more than others...

Just those factors alone is why you don't see most spots super packed. Yes there has been an increase in activity of those starting to kite and taking lessons. I attribute that to the access to information we have (this awesome thing called the internet and google) but also the advancement of the safety features in the kites and bars. Overall I think kite schools are ultimately benefitting from this more than anything. I would say 90% of the people who take that $600 intro school never touch a kite again. In fact I know an instructor who has told me this and he tells me he knows in the first 10-15 minutes wether the person will even attempt the next progressions or walk away / be unable to do the sport. Looks easy from the point of view of watching from the beach... sucks them in... then bam! Shit this is hard, time consuming, I may kill myself or someone else, and expensive.


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 Post subject: Re: Should kiting be for everyone?
PostPosted: Thu Sep 04, 2014 5:40 am 
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Do-it wrote:
...

Bille, I definitely owe you an apology for being a dick. Accidents in extreme sports usually do happen to the best players because they are pushing the limits. I'm sorry I made a joke at your expense.
...
.


Nah Dude ; i probably deserved it .


Last edited by Bille on Thu Sep 04, 2014 4:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Should kiting be for everyone?
PostPosted: Thu Sep 04, 2014 6:33 am 
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Great discussion, awesome topic.

I think that kiting can be for everyone. At this point the kiting world is not ready nor particularly interested in kiting for all. But If the industry really wants to attract the next million riders, work must be done. If anything, Kiteboarding should be no worse than resort skiing. As it stands now I think there are built in barriers that make riding more dangerous to Learn than it has to be.

The challenge is relaying the difficulty and risk that is entailed to prospective kiters as well as protecting anyone remotely involved. people who I worry about the most are the bystanders and fellow kiters in harms way, next group to worry or feel sorry for is the guy or gal in way over their head and with no support system.

I think the challenge to make the activity for truly everyone falls on the manufacturers. I will finish this thought in a second.

Currently barriers to entry are high enough to keep out most people without the will power, mental toughness and skill required to get in the game. but money can not be the only disincentive. How many people own 80,000$us wakeboard boats and never clear wake to wake? 2000$us back country ski gear that never see off piste? Lots. This is not really a problem though because a. They can control the terrain/or whether not to let the rope go and b. There are support systems (other people/marked terrain/closures) built in. Utimately cost consideration can be circumvented with used equipment and poor decisions


For the sport really to be available for anyone who is crazy enough to try there has to be a 100% fail safe system as far as the kite is concerned. If there is a way to completely mitigate the risk of the kite, then you will have something that is available for all to try. Find ways to mark or mitigate terrain(minimize potential energy) and provide a self supporting system for recovery

What I find it amazing that there really has been no real change in equipment for someone who is hooking into a chicken loop for the first time regardless of whether or not an instructor is there beside them.

We sit and bemoan new riders when ultimately they find trouble. It doesn't really matter if they are arrogant assholes or niave kids or old chubby guys- they need to be away from the kite asap. Sometimes things just go wrong, even veteran kiters experience this.

Now, if there were a way to dump almost every system, of pull we could basically give beginners and others a chance to mitigate terrain ((wind) and provide true (self) rescue support in every system then we could have a sport for all. Right now we expect someone to go into a avalanche terrain and chutes immediately after learning the bunny hill. In kiting the only real control is the equipment and the knowledge of the riders. Knowledge takes time, that weeds most people out.
We can't change the wind (terrain anology) or convince the kid in Kansas that his kite is too big for his cow pond and 50kt winds but we certainly could supply a better outcome of a failed attempt than getting dragged to death.

Now if manufacturers start looking for a new group of riders the equipment needs a true beginner system. Think something like a remotely deflatable bladder or a safety that splits the kite into two or more pieces that can be reassembled. Sell it to schools, charge whatever you want but offer a incentive to return the kite for 500$ towards a new purchase for the guy in Kansas. Not sexy stuff like new designs and shapes or promises of mega kiteloops but that's how you convince your next million of untapped market.

We can't bemoan the new people, the everyones . we can only make sure their decision to give it a go on a kite is not their last. Thats when the community suffers, lawsuits happen, launches get closed, state laws change. We live in a world with autopiloing drones and Kevlar kiteboards, internet in our pockets, i think we could certainly do better than just a leash and 500$ kite schools.


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