Posts Tagged ‘high wind’


High-wind kiteboarding at Bahia Salinas & Lake Arenal

Kiting in high-winds is exciting, or chilling, depending on how prepared you are and you’re level of kiteboarding skill.  In Costa Rica, you get these high-winds consistently between December and February, or sometimes during the extended wind season from November to April.  The top two spots for high-wind kiteboarding are both in the northern area of the country, Bahia Salinas and Playa Copal near the northern border and the top end of Lake Arenal.

If you’re headed to Bahia Salinas or Lake Arenal during high-wind season you’ll need to know about the gear, weather, and techniques used for kiteboarding in high winds.  Help keep your kiting safe and enjoyable by focusing on these three critical areas:

kiteboard for high windGear for high wind kiting

Did you know a 30-knot wind’s power is four times stronger than 15 knots? And yes, you’ll get 30-knot and occasionally even 40-knot winds in both Bahia Salinas and Lake Arenal.  Mixing both the right kite size and style are key high-wind ingredients. Small, stable gust-absorbing kites offer more stability, depower and safety. And your board needs good bite. Narrower shapes with flex and larger fins allow more control in powered conditions. A harness that lowers your gravity center helps manage power. Also, be sure your gear is in immaculate condition. A small, unrepaired pinhole can break open under high pressure, so even if you go out in stable wind but hit high-wind gusts, it can be a spoiler.

Costa Rica wind patternWeather tips for high-wind kiteboarding

High winds are often products of unstable weather systems. They shift more in speed and direction than lighter breezes.  Fortunately in both Arenal and Playa Copal the wind direction is relatively stable, but the wind gusts can really catch you by suprise if you don’t know what to expect.  Especially when kiteboarding out of Playa Copal in Bahia Salinas, you’ll notice not just gusts, but also wind streams.  You’ll want to ask about these beforehand so you can adjust and enjoy the wind streams between the beach and Isla Bolaños, which can give you an extra kick or where you’ll need to power down to avoid an uncomfortable or dangerous ride.  Knowing what’s going to happen is just as important as what is happening. Study the weather and local area. Avoid shallow water, obstacles and crazy wind patterns.

Check out the wind forecasts for Costa Rica and be prepared before you go.

Technique for high wind

Strong winds require dedicated focus to every element, especially kite control. Since you’ll be riding smaller kites, everything is faster. In Bahia Salinas we’ve seen kiteboarders using 3m and 5m kites, which lets you know it really can get strong sometimes.  It’s not common, but definitely gets to that point a few days during the season.  Your brain and reaction time must keep up. Slow and easy movements are vital. Know overpowered riding techniques. Keeping your kite low and board on edge decreases control loss by maximizing resistance. If you’re flying high, your kite’s probably too big and only your body weight is working for you.

Read up on the top spots for high-wind kitesurfing in Costa Rica:

Find some Costa Rican kiteboard lessons or kite equipment for your  adventure:

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