- IKO Affiliated Kite Center
- Professional Certified Instructors
- High Standards/Progressive Methods
- Latest and Safest Equipment
- Great Rates
- Scenic Central Locations
- Consistant Reliable Learning Conditions
- Safe and Fun Learning Environment
- The ideal school for your kiting lessons.
Let KGB Kiteboarding show you how easy and fun learning how to kiteboard can be! Being an International Kiteboarding Organization Kite Center means that KGB Kiteboarding offers the highest quality certified kiteboarding instruction available anywhere.
Centrally located in scenic Emeryville Marina, our clients enjoy some of the best and most consistent windy learning conditions in the entire San Francisco Bay Area. These facts guarantee that your exciting kiteboarding lesson experience will be windy, safe, packed with essential knowledge and very memorable.
Most of our clients have some questions about the sport and our lesson program. We have put this FAQ page together to answer some of those and generally get you more informed & safe before and after your lessons. Let’s begin!
Q: Is learning to kite easy?
A: Yes and No. Yes, with the proper instruction, you could be riding within one water lesson. No, because it’s a very technical sport and you will hit some frustrating patches where learning takes longer. Learning how to kiteboard is a slow progression, you will get better with proper instruction and learn new things every session. The average beginner will usually be able to start riding consistantly after about 10-15 hours of lessons and/or practice.
Q: Can I teach myself or learn from a friend that kites?
A: Kiteboarding kites are very powerful. Learning on your own or having a friend teach you how to kite surf can be very dangerous. Teaching yourself can also be frustrating and often leads to bad habits and mistakes.
Self-taught riders often damage their kites and themselves while learning and as a result spend more money in the long run then they would have if they had taken professional kiteboarding lessons. Friends teaching will inadvertently leave out very important facts and safety topics when teaching, as they usually don’t follow a set lesson plan or don’t have the training needed to properly teach the sport.
Q: Is the equipment difficult to use?
A: Learning proper kite piloting skills and usage of the many safety features of the kites from an IKO trained and certified instructor, will allow you to kiteboard confidently and safely as well as give you the skills needed to keep you out of harms way. There are many different kite companies that produce a variety of kiteboarding kites, having the opportunity to spend time with an experienced kiter will also provide you with better knowledge about kiteboarding, or kite surfing, equipment. A good school works with hundreds of students every year and has the experience needed to get you riding quickly and safely.
Q: Why learn from KGB Kiteboarding, an IKO Kiteboarding School?
A: The IKO (international Kiteboarding Organization) has set up international standards of quality and safety for kiteboarding schools, instructors and the students. The high level of training, professionalism as well as the deep knowledge of the safety aspects of the sport held by our instructors guarantee the best conditions for learning.
The standards for becoming an IKO Affiliated Center are very high. As such we are proud to offer the highest standard of kiteboarding instruction available, having met all the IKO safety and quality standard requirements. Our friendly and experienced IKO instructors make learning how to kiteboard safe, fun and memorable.
Q: What type of lessons does KGB offer?
A: We have lessons for all levels Beg-Adv. Our lessons are either land based, beach based or deep-water PWC Assisted depending on the lesson plan selected as well as current conditions. This gives you the opportunity to learn in a variety of environments, creating a strong foundation for your new skills.
Q: Will I get IKO certified after my lesson?
A: All of our students will receive an IKO Kiteboarder Card. This card allows students that have acheived IKO level III or Independent Kiteboarder, to become an IKO member, purchase kiteboarding/travel insurance, rent kite surfing gear at more than 140 IKO centers globally and gain access to kiteboarding locations that require proof of kiter ability in order to ride.
Q: How do I get started?
A: Learning to kiteboard is primarily about flying the kite properly(piloting), board skills are secondary. For years now most new kiters have learned kite surfing by first piloting a trainer kite, that would be our Intro to Piloting lesson. This Intro lesson is also a great way for new students to give the kite a try and to gauge whether or not kiteboarding is for them.
Q: How many lessons will I need?
A: IKO Level I students will learn to pilot using small depowerable 4 line kites from the start, allowing them to bypass the trainer kite lesson and go straight to piloting an inflatable kite. This newer more progressive teaching technique is one of the reasons why our students typically progress quicker with us vs. other schools.
Level I-III lessons would then be next. After that most get some gear and practice a little. Then if you feel you might need some additional instruction, come back for a private lesson or an assisted downwinder, and we can help you perfect your technique.
Q: Are lessons done in a group or are they private: 1 on 1?
A: We offer a variety of lesson plans, both small group 3:1 and private 1:1 lessons. KGB group lessons are maximum 3 students per instructor. If you have booked a group lesson and you happen to be the only one scheduled at that time don’t worry, you will get actually end up getting a private kiteboarding lesson for no additional charge! Please check the various lesson descriptions for more information.(Intro Piloting lesson group sizes may be larger)
Q: Where will my lesson be held? In deep water from a PWC or at a beach?
A: Since we can provide lessons at either location, we try to tailor each lesson to the needs of the individual or group (wind dependent). Let us know what you would prefer and we can try to make it happen. When learning to kite having both beach and deep water lesson experiences will give you a very solid foundation.
Q: What does KGB Kiteboarding provide me with for the lesson?
A: We provide everything that you will need to learn including wetsuit, booties, harness and a floatation vest or you can bring your own if you prefer. On the water we use 2 way radios, these allow the instructor to be in constant communication with you throughout the lesson.
Q: What will I need to bring for my kiteboarding lesson?
A: Your desire to learn to fly! You will need to bring beachwear/swimwear, sunscreen, water and some snacks. The summer fog on the bay can be cold, please check the weather conditions before your lesson and bring some warm clothing if needed. We have full facilities on site as well as restaurants, markets and wi-fi access. Please arrive 15 minutes prior to your scheduled lesson start time.
Q: What should I bring for snowkiting lessons?
A: For your snowkite lessons you will need to bring your snowboard or skis/poles, helmet and skins or snowshoes if you have them. Goggles, a warm winter coat, snow pants as well as any necessary gear to keep your feet, hands and head warm is also required. While snowkiting you can work up a sweat, we recommend that you also bring a change of clothes in order to stay dry throughout your lesson, or dress in layers. Water, snacks and sunscreen are also suggested. Please arrive 30 minutes prior to scheduled start time.
Q: What time do lessons start?
A: Since this sport is completely dependent on the wind, the lessons can start when the wind starts. Seasonally in the bay we can plan on there being daily thermal winds. Sometimes the wind is up in the early morning but for most of the season it usually starts to pickup in the late morning to early afternoon hours.
Because of this and for your convenience, we try to adhere to our scheduled daily lesson times of 10:30 am, 1:00 pm, 1:30pm, 3:30 pm, 5:30pm & 5:45 pm. On windy days there is the availability of both late morning and afternoon lessons.
See our snowkiting pages for lesson times and snowkiting locations information.
Q: What happens if I have a lesson booked and there is no wind that day or if the wind stops during my lesson?
A: We rely on nature providing wind for the lessons but it doesn’t always produce and sometimes when it does it’s too much. For most land lessons (snowkiting included) a minimum windspeeed of 7-10 mph is required, and for water lessons a minimum of 12-15 mph. For student safety all lesson activities stop when the wind gusts exceeds 30 mph. We will check the forecast a couple days before your scheduled lesson and call you to confirm, however your scheduled lesson time may be subject to change. We have a mid lesson light wind policy for view under lesson policies on this site.
Q: Can I reschedule?
A: If the forecast doesn’t look promising we will contact you to either change the time or to reschedule for a later date of your choosing. If the wind dies during the lesson or the lesson needs to be called off by the instructor for any reason, the hours remaining will be done at a later time that same day if possible or at a later date.
If you need to change your scheduled start time, you will need to call us at least 24 hrs prior to reschedule. For more info see our “Lessons Policies” located in the footer below.
Q: What gear will I need to get to start kiteboarding after my lesson and how much will it cost?
A: You will most likely need a complete setup to get started practicing on your own. You will have the option to buy a used first setup for around $900-$1400 as is w/no warranty, or new from $1300-$2200 w/warranties and customer support. New gear is recommended for all students that exhibit good kite piloting skills.
We offer discounts on new kiteboarding gear to all our students and we will also be happy to counsel you on your used gear purchases. All 4-10 hr lesson students will receive a $150-$300 discount on the purchase of a complete new gear package. We can get ANY brand for you upon request.
Whether you buy new or used these are the basics you will need:
- Full size Kite and Pump
- Control Bar w/Lines
- Impact Vest
- Hook Knife
Q: Once I have taken my lessons and purchased gear, where do I practice?
A: Once you have begun your lessons we invite all our students to practice under instructor supervision at one of our lesson/beach locations. The SF Bay Area has some of the best kiteboarding locations in California. Robert Crown Beach, in Alameda is also a popular beach for beginners, but can get quite crowded at times. For more info/maps see our Resources page.
Q: Where and when does KGB Kiteboarding operate?
Online and via telephone we are available year round daily from 9am-7pm
Shop & School:
3310 Powell St.
Emeryville, Ca 94608
We are open daily from: 10am-6pm
Our primary lesson locations are Emeryville Marina and Roberts Landing in San Leandro.Free Parking is available at both locations. Your scheduled lesson location will be based upon your needs as well as weather conditions and you will be notified of any changes.
Q: Can I just walk up for a lesson and do you sell/rent gear?
A: We encourage pre-booking for the weekends, but we can usually accommodate last minute bookings especially during the weekdays. Walk up students are accepted if there is availability.
Yes we do stock some gear, but for most gear inquiries please call us or order online. Trainer kites and other accessories are available at the center. Kite rentals are available, see our rental page for more info.
Q: How do I book a lesson?
A: Lessons can be scheduled and paid for on this website or if you prefer email or call (888)411-0732.
SAFETY TIPS FOR NEW KITERS
Thanks for taking your kiteboarding lessons with KGB Kiteboarding and welcome to the exciting world of kite surfing! Now that you have finished your basic kiteboarding lessons you are a “newbie kiter” and you are now ready to start practicing on your own or with a friend. We recommend that you start by practicing all the safety techniques you learned during your lessons as well as body dragging for a few hours before attempting your board-starts again. Practicing in this way will give you a solid safety foundation to build upon and make controlling the kite and getting up on the board much, much easier.
Always remember that kite surfing can be a very dangerous sport, so it is up to every kiter to be safe, independent and responsible for the kite launch spot, themselves and others on the beach and in the water. If you ever perceive someone as possibly being unsafe or are yourself uncertain about safety or any other procedures please speak up at that time! No one at the kite spot wants to get hurt, or hurt anyone else. In many cases there are experienced kiters around that are always willing to help out a new kiter or answer any safety questions. It is up to all of us the keep this sport safe and friendly for all to enjoy.
To help you get started in this exciting sport we have put together some useful information for you to refer to until you get more comfortable out there kiting on your own. If you have any questions about purchasing gear, equipment choices, kiting locations, conditions or anything else kite related we are always available. Please feel free to ask your instructor any questions you may have or give us a call anytime at 888.411.0732.
Here are some kiteboarding safety tips we should all practice:
- Use all your safety tools: Lessons, common sense, kite leash, quick releases, knife, helmet, impact vest, booties, sandbags, buddy system, know the forecast and wind & tide conditions, know your ability and stay within your limits!
- When at a new spot try to make friends with an experienced kiter to help you get the location conditions and any launch area & kite spot hazards dialed in.
- Try to partner with experienced kiters only to help you launch and land your kite. Not Spectators! No self-launching in the launch area. Use assisted launch & landing whenever possible.
- Use rigging area only for set-upor take down.
- Weight your kite with sand when not in use to keep it secure.
- Do a pre-flight check on all your gear.
- Walk down your lines through your fingers. Feel for nicks, cuts or knots.
- Know your specific safety systems and test them regularly. All kites must have a safety leash, and quick release systems.
- Launch, Learn & practice downwind from other kiters as a beginner. This includes the flying of trainer kites.
- Launch & land your kite with no solid objects at least 100 yards downwind.
- Use launch & landing area only for launching & landing, not for rigging and only when you are completely suited up and ready to enter the water with your kite.
- Do not leave bar and lines laid out and walk away. This creates a hazard for the public and other kiters launching & landing in the area. When not in use your Bar and lines should be rolled up and stored on the kite and in the rigging area.
- The signal for launch is “thumbs up” By both parties! Make certain your kite is in the correct powered position and not flapping.
- The signal for an assisted landing is to “pat your head” Done by both parties! Make certain to be upwind of the kite when catching a landing kite.
- Never let a line wrap around any body part! Always carry a hook knife.
- No jumps or tricks in the launching area, or within 100 yards of other kiters/beach.
- Avoid collisions at all costs. Avoid all watercraft, swimmers & wildlife.
- Don’t tailgate other Kiters on the water.
- Never kite out further than you can swim back.
- The outgoing kiter (launching) has right away over the incoming kiter (riding).
- Right hand forward kiter has right of way and shall maintain course, but raise kite high.
- Left hand forward kiter must give way and alter course.
- Up wind kiter should raise kite for passing.
- Down wind kiter should lower kite for passing.
- When doing jumps or using kickers, sliders & rails, follow the same rotation and direction as other kiters as to not cause conflicts.
- Do not fly any traction kite in close proximity to power lines or any fixed obstacle, (trees, boats, rocks, fences etc) distance is always your friend. Enter the water immediately after launching. Always use a leash that kills the kite’s power when the quick release safety system is released. This is for your safety, the safety of those around you, and because we don’t want to see anyone lose a kite.
- Wind Speed/Effects. Depending on the size of the kiteboarding kites you own, you can ride in winds from 10-35 mph, but we suggest newcomers don’t try anything over 15-20mph until they are confident in their skills. Be cautious of kite surfing around structures and near buildings or bluffs as the updrafts and turbulence could cause your kite to fly erratically or even carry you up over the top. Be aware of any obstacles that may create various wind effects that may affect your ability to control the kite.
- Kite Size: In general, a 170 lb person would use a 12m inflatable kite in 10-20kt. The heavier the rider is, then the bigger the kite size needed. The lighter the rider the smaller the kite size. The stronger the winds (20kt+) the smaller the kite needed overall. Sounds confusing; it can be. There is a learning curve to judging wind speed and kite size, always error on the side of safety. Common sense should always be used, if not sure of right size for conditions start small and work up in size, or ask an experienced kiter before rigging or going out.
- Where to Ride: When you are starting out, our lesson beach is good under instructor supervision or you can go to Alameda’s Robert Crown Beach to start practicing. These are ideal locations when learning because they have beaches with shallow water and the winds are lighter. Once you are an advanced beginner and have learned how to ride upwind, are kiting in both directions consistently, making turns & able to handle higher winds (20+kt) you may consider going to 3rd Avenue, Sherman Island and other spots around the bay or the world. See our links page for “local area kite launches” map link.
Please continue to use this guide as a future reference tool. These tips are meant only as a guide and are by no means a complete kiteboarding safety list. Again please contact us with any questions you may have and have a fun and safe time kiting.