Kitesurfing is a fantastic water sport that is becoming more and more popular throughout the UK. We spoke to Peter Sawyer, a North Devon based kitesurfing/surfing instructor and owner of Kitemare company, who gave us the inside scoop.
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Peter is a kitesurfing instructor from Westward Ho! and started kitesurfing 7 years ago. As an experienced surfer of 27 years, Peter really is an expert on the water. Based on the sea front of Westward Ho!, his water sports shop Kitemare is now in its second successful year, offering kitesurfing and surfing lessons to all abilities.
‘Everyone goes out into the water smiling and we get a lot of returning
customers throughout the season.’
Tell us what kitesurfing is, Peter?
Kitesurfing is basically standing on a board and using a large power kite to propel yourself over the water. It is totally different to surfing, but the two sports complement each other really well; when the wind is up, surfing isn’t great however kitesurfing is and vice versa.
How did you get into it?
I was surfing at Ponta Preta in Cape Verde and was nearly drowning from the swell. I saw a kite-surfer pass who just glided over the waves and was inspired. That’s when I decided I had to try kitesurfing!
What attracted you to kitesurfing?
The difference to surfing was definitely my inspiration to start kitesurfing. It’s a great alternative to days when the surf isn’t so good.
Why is Devon a good area for kitesurfing?
Predominately we get good wind from the coast. We have some amazing long, sandy beaches so I find that there isn’t a great concentration of people that get in the way, which is perfect for kitesurfing.
Where are your favourite spots to kitesurf in Devon?
Westward Ho!, Saunton Sands, Woolacombe and Instow. The wind really picks up in these places, which is brilliant for kitesurfing!
Can anyone take part?
All ages can take part. We’ve got two schools here at Westward Ho! We have a kids club too; at the start of the season we had 20 children learning, all aged between 7 and 16. You also get older people who like to try too. Classically, it’s always been known as a sport for men between the ages of 40 to 60, but that’s really changed now.
Is kitesurfing easy to learn?
It is! Some think it sounds difficult but the sport has really opened up to many people. You can make it as extreme as you want or you can go out on a nice sea breeze and make it easy.
What are your top tips for beginners?
Definitely take lessons. Just get as much time on the water as possible. We are one of only 15 kite shops in the country and we are always here for advice and to give tips on the right equipment to use.
What equipment do you need?
To kite-surf you will need a kite with bar and lines, a kitesurfing board, a harness to attach the kite to your body, and ideally a helmet and impact jacket when you first start.
What do you have to think about safety-wise?
Not bumping into people when on the water! Making sure you get the right conditions and tide. I have been on the water for a long time and you really need to know about rip currents, cold fronts and when the wind is gusty or smooth. Get lots of experience and lessons. Once you’ve got the experience it really is a great sport!