By Nils Stolzlechner

Originally Published in the June 2009 Issue of The Kiteboarder Magazine

As simple as it might seem initially, course racing is actually very technical and involves much more than just being able to handle your kite and board. Five years ago, Chip Wasson and I thought that getting people racing with kites would be pretty easy. After our first three races, we all knew that there was a long way to go. First off, hardly anyone knew the rules and a perplexed fleet of racers all started in different directions. There was lots of confusion. For a kiteboarder that wants to give racing a try, I recommend the following three things:


1. Know the Rules
It is essential to know the rules in kiting, especially right of way rules. Read through the rules that are posted on the US Sailing web site for Kiteboarding Course Racing. You will want to know what the other racers are thinking and what they are expecting you to do while racing. In addition, you want to understand and be aware of what your rights are out there as well.

2. Practice
As much as people want to win or place well in races, very few actually train for the events. If you want to do well you need to train, which entails working out off the water and getting into perfect physical shape before you even put your harness on. I am usually in the gym on cardio equipment four times a week. On the water, I go through a minimum of three simulated 20 minute races on a pre-set course. Going upwind I try to blend the highest possible angle with the best speed and figure out the sweet spot between the board and kite. Good racers are in that optimal zone about 80% of the time. When you start I would say you might be there 10% of the time. Going downwind overpowered makes a grown man cry of fear. No matter how many times you train going fast through heavy chop, you will never get used to it.


3. Pre-Race Planing & Racing
No matter how good you think you are, most likely you will be at the end of the fleet for the first few races. This is normal and even if you have the latest gear it will not help instantly. Prior to your races, draw the course down on a piece of paper. Memorize the course instead of following people around. During the races manage your course, picking the fastest route around the marks. Remember that one fall will cost you a ton of ground that you will not make up. After you are done racing, do a quick recap, write things down that you did well and what did not work. Talk as much as possible to the top guys and what they recommend. The more you know the better you will do.

Current Racing Board Development
The latest kiteboard course board designs are still all over the place. For NJS Designs, the trend is heading towards larger, wider, and floatier boards. After testing different shapes all winter, the current Course Fish version is 5’11” long with a wide point of 20” and a tail of 17”. The rocker line is minimal, but is a key element to drive the board upwind and still have good control on deep downwind reaches. The biggest innovation for this year is that we finally figured out how to get the board off its edge and are able to ride it flat. By reducing the angle the board was in the water by over 50%, both the upwind angle and speed showed significant increases. As simple as they may look, the new boards have over 20 key areas that all need to work together. Just missing one of them turns a high performance board into a useless piece of driftwood.

Originally Published in the June 2009 Issue of The Kiteboarder Magazine

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