Airborne in Aberdeenshire!

The East Coast of Scotland is set to become the 2005 'must visit' destination for anyone looking for the best conditions for extreme surf activities.

Where - The main beach areas are Balmedie, St Andrews, St Combs, Fraserburgh and Nairn. The two images of Balmedie which are further down the page are an indication of how good conditions are on the Aberdeenshire coast for Kite Surfers.

Getting there is easy in spite of the distance. Because of the importance of the oil industry good road, air and rail links go to Aberdeen. In particular BMI have cheap, regualr flights from London and Manchester.

Accomodation in Aberdeen offers a huge range of options, 5 star to guest houses are available. B&B's are a problem in the city itself. Many oil workers stay in B&B accommodation when thay are off the rigs so you may have to dig around for a place to stay. Once you get away from the city centre the cheap accommodation scene is a bit easier.

What - Kite Surfing is growing rapidly in popularity and the one thing you need to enjoy it is the space and location and a few skills. Mark Ward at Extreme Exposure says 'you don't need to be suoer strong or have nerves of steel to enjoy the fantastic buzz of Kite Surfing. The harness rig takes all your weight and poise and balance do the rest. You don't need muscles like a gorilla to control your Kite, one of the best kitesurfers along the coast is only 10 years old!'

Kite Surfing is a fast grow new sport which is gaining lots of publicity - because it is so extreme. It is not wind surfing, it is not wakeboarding, it is not surfing, it is not kite flying. It is the fusion of these disciplines with other influences to create the wildest new water sport for years.

Popularized by Robbie Naish and other European kitesurf stars in Hawaii in the last few years. The UK scene is now growing from a small group of about 12 kite surfers at the beginning of 1999 to a high impact body of Practitioners.

The British Kite Surfing Association was formed in June 1999 to communicate information about the sport amongst the practitioners and interested parties.

So you want to have a go at kitesurfing - then start out properly with some instruction from a registered BKSA school. They will teach you about the kite and its operations, how to rig it and how to get airborne. They will also teach you about safety and good practice.

Good Kite Surfing sites are being identified, as well as other, completely unsuitable places. Your help in maintaining access for all by being responsible and considerate of other water users is requested.

The BKSA offers FREE Registration to all practitioners & observers of kite surfing to encourage an open forum on the direction and structure of this new sport. The BKSA recommends that any person who wants to kite surf should first obtain "minimum competence" skills. Those are competent kite flying on land then water skills finally combined to basic kite surfing proficiency. Further details are available upon registration. If you want to be recognised as attaining kite surfing minimum competence or want to find out how to learn then contact for further information.

The beaches are huge and empty, the sun shines and the wind is almost perfect - what are you waiting for?


The following information is from the BKSA website, full contact details are at the foot of this article.

Safety First
Be Safe - wear a helmet.

Kite surfing is an extreme sport and is therefore potentially dangerous to both the Kite Surfer and others. The BKSA encourages responsible members.

Code of Conduct

Many people use the beaches and water around Britain for a variety of activities and kitesurfing (a.k.a kiteboarding) can be potentially hazardous unless certain precautions have been taken. This voluntary Code of Conduct has been developed in association with the Exmouth Kite Surfing Club and is based on common sense and co-operation. Beach Management Flag System supplied by Hayling Island Kitesurfing Assocation

Kitesurfing must never be attempted unless you are a competent swimmer, hold third party insurance and have undertaken proper lessons from a BKSA/ IKO qualified instructor.

Kitesurfing Road Rules  

  • Be sure that you can handle the prevailing weather conditions and never sail in offshore winds If in doubt don´t go out
  • The upwind rider gives way to the downwind rider.
  • The rider on the port tack gives way the rider on starboard tack.
  • Kitesurfers using the seafront should give way to other water users and retreat to a safe zone outside of the navigational channel when other craft approach.
  • The seafront can get exceptionally busy both on the beach and in the water. No matter how competent you are, or good the conditions look, never risk the safety of others If in doubt don´t go out!
  • Always maintain a 50-metre downwind safety zone between yourself and other craft. In the event of coming into conflict with other water users stabilise your kite at 12 o´clock. (Top of the wind window).
  • Never kitesurf within 50-metres upwind of any moored vessel.
  • Never kitesurf in or near to the bathing areas and swimmers, buoys and boat moorings.
  • Never practice jumping on land or close to the beach.
  • When returning to the beach, give way to riders who are launching.

General Safety Guidelines

  • The BKSA very strongly recommend that a helmet or quality head protector is worn at all times while kite surfing.
  • Check the local weather conditions before riding and ensure you fully understand the tidal currents and how they might affect the riding area. The currents off many British seafronts can be more like a fast flowing river and are potentially dangerous.
  • If you lose your kite or board whilst on the water, always report you are safe to the rescue services so they do not waste time and money looking for you. It is recommended that you write your name, address and contact number on all your equipment.
  • Always keep your lines away from people, animals and craft on land or water. Do not leave your equipment unattended on the beach and be polite to other beach users.
  • Always act in a responsible manner. If new or careless riders show up, talk to them with your friends about what´s at risk. Take the time to explain how to safely get into the sport, and where to obtain adequate and professional instruction.

Equipment

  • All manufacturers instructions and safety guidelines must be read and followed, in particular the limitations of the product.
  • Equipment must be regularly checked for wear and tear and repaired before going out on the water. If in doubt seek advice from an authorised dealer, approved BKSA/IKO instructor or more experienced local rider.
  • Always check your equipment thoroughly and ensure your kite is properly inflated. An under inflated kite is difficult to control and harder to re-launch from water.
  • Always use an effective kite leash and safety system so you can kill your kite instantly in the event of an emergency.
  • Never tether yourself to the kite with a closed system. Only use quick release harness systems and practice activating such systems under tension.
  • Carry a knife that is capable to easily cut the heaviest flying line you are using.

Setting Up, Launching & Landing

  • Do not lay lines across the path of other beach users and never launch in crowded areas.
  • Select a safe launch site and allow enough space for any difficulties you may get into. If it´s possible, have a friend help you.
  • Never ask an inexperienced member of the public to assist.
  • Extra care should be taken when the beach is busy. On occasions, it might be too busy to launch safely unless a specific launch area is in operation.
  • Prevent kites from re-launching with sand (or other ballast) to weigh them down and ensure that sand will not be dropped on other beach users when self-launching.
  • Fully disable unattended kites and return your lines to the kite so you don´t cause inconvenience to other beach users.
  • Look out for riders returning to shore and be ready to help land their kites.
  • Never kitesurf in congested areas with swimmers, boats, other craft or obstacles.
  • If you ride alone let someone know you are out and what time you expect to return.
  • Always maintain a downwind safety zone especially when jumping. Look before you jump.
  • Never ride so far away from the shore that you cannot swim back in an emergency.
  • All riders should be familiar with rescue signals and practice self-rescue pack down manoeuvres when undergoing kitesurfing instruction with qualified BKSA/IKO instructors.
  • If you need to swim kill the power in your kite, wind the lines onto the bar and deflate the leading edge.

There are Many Nature Reserves along the Coast and these have a Guide for Water Users. Kitesurfers are asked to follow this voluntary code and observe Nature Reserve byelaws.

Kitesurfers are solely responsible for their own safety and that of affected bystanders. Just because we´ve taken the care to publish this voluntary Code of Conduct we cannot be held liable for your actions. This Code of Conduct will be updated regularly as a result of continued developments in safety and kitesurfing equipment, consultation with local focus groups and other interested parties.

Aberdeen and Grampian tourist information

British Kite Surfing Association
P.O Box 101
Keynsham
Bristol
BS31 1TZ
Tel: 0870 165 7467
Email: Info@kitesurfing.org
Web: www.kitesurfing.org