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Kitesurfing Wind Directions and Conditions

by Olivier Negrel

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Before throwing yourself into the water, it’s important to know what the weather conditions and wind directions are. This is a basic rule every kiter should know. 

Kitesurfing is a safe and fun sport, but only if you follow the right precautions and stay alert. Check the winds levels and direction, and make sure that no bad weather is on its way. After all, no one wants to be rescued by a patrol boat.

Wind direction is a crucial part of kitesurfing, so read our advice to learn about wind conditions and the best practice to adopt when you’re a beginner kitesurfer.


Offshore wind


If the wind comes from the land and blows towards the sea, it is called offshore. You have to be careful, as this wind is quite dangerous. If you have any problem in the water and lose control, the wind will push you out and it will be difficult to get back on the beach.

This wind is also dangerous on the beach. Our surrounding landscape (mountains, forests, and buildings) all create obstacles for the wind, which in turn makes it irregular and gusty. Gusts that create variations in wind power can make controlling the kite quite difficult. Strong gusts can make kiting uncomfortable and even dangerous at times.

If you’re kiting in offshore or side-offshore (also known as cross-offshore) wind, make sure there’s a safety boat nearby that can take you back to the beach should you run into any problems.

» Learn the basics or improve your skills on a kitesurfing camp with Freeride Tarifa!


Onshore wind


If the wind blows from the sea to the beach, it is called onshore. This wind is safe for all riders – should you have any problems out in the water, this particular wind type will eventually bring you back to shore. However, beware of this wind during launching.

The wind will be pushing you onto the beach, and a bad water start could cause a more or less dangerous fall according to the configuration of the beach and the obstacles (rocks, trees or walkers). If you can’t get away from the edge, the water start requires a minimum of experience and technique.


Side-onshore wind

The best wind direction for kitesurfing is side-onshore, also known as cross-onshore. This type of wind comes both from the sea and from one side. This wind will allow you to descend your sail on the side, to move away from the edge before making your water start, and will bring you back to the edge in case of a problem.

» Planning your next adventure? Check out the world’s best kitesurfing destinations for beginners.


The wind window


The wind window is the evolution area of your sail. Understanding the wind window is critical for managing the power of the kite and your direction of travel.

The wind window zone is represented by a quarter of a sphere. The size of this sphere depends on the length of your lines. The kite is connected to you by means of a bar, which is connected to your harness, from where the lines leave. You are a fixed point and the sail turns around you. You have the wind in your back and this sphere in front of you. The wind pushes your sail, which cannot pass behind you (except in conditions of gusty wind and abnormal behavior of your sail).


Edges of the window

Your sail will progress in the quarter of the sphere that is in front of you, to your right and left. These are called the edges of the window. Your sail will be able to move from one window edge to the other, passing over your head and by the zenith that is the highest point where your sail can go.

As long as your veil remains on this arc of the circle, formed by the edges of the windows and the zenith, it will be horizontal in relation to the wind. The wind will pass above and below the sail but will not be engulfed in it. Your sail is therefore in a zone of non-power, a neutral zone (it is not because your sail goes down on the edges of windows that it takes power!).


Full-power zone

The more your sail will move in front of you and towards the center of the window, the more the sail will pass perpendicular to the wind that will go directly into it. The lowest point in front of you is the area where your sail will take the most wind, so the more power. This area is called the full power zone (beware!). Therefore, the closer you approach your sail to the power zone, the more the sail will get wind and pull you. The closer you get to the neutral zone, the more the sail will lose the wind and the less it will pull.


The arc of the circle

For communication, we use the frame of the hours you can find on your watch and place them on the arc of the circle (zone of non-power), so we will have the left window edge at 9h, 12h at the zenith and 3h on the Edge of the right window.

To retain in this window, you have a zone of security (the arc of the circle), the full power zone and the edges of windows. We remind you that it is important to always take off the sail at the edge of a window, at 90 ° with respect to the direction of the wind, and it is important to know the safety signals for takeoff and landing!


Ready for your first kitesurfing lessons? Or would you like to perfect your skills? Go on a kitesurfing camp in a spectacular location. 

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