observations from a fairly recent student
Some comments on teaching methods. I have been to a couple of excellent schools, but there are still some shortcomings. I have never been required to self rescue, self launch or land. I have been told about the procedures, but never practiced them with an instructor. Maybe it's because the areas where I learned were flats. I had to view these techniques via CD and try them on my own. I was never required to perform the various safety releases, probably because it takes time to re-rig. They were pointed out to me, but never executed. I also learned and practiced these on my own. I think that sometimes the instructors want to get you into the "meat" of the sport, that they assume that by pointing out things, that you will instinctively know how to do them when the need arises. When I learned to fly, I had to complete a ground school course before even stepping into an aircraft. I agree that this would be a little tedious for kiteboarding, but now some operators are doing just that. Watersports West in the Tampa Bay area has a groundschool in their shop and a CD that they give out as part of the course. Paul Menta and TheKiteHouse now has a course at the Keys Community College. The usual course scenario, as it exists in most teaching locations, usually begins with rigging and flying the kite, wind window etc on the first day. Body dragging and waterstarts on the second, etc. An instructor needs to be sure that the student can self rescue, can release the equipment, can assess the conditions by demonstrating then requiring the student to do so. The problem sometimes comes when the student has had a lesson or two, and the instructor asks if the student understands self rescue, rules of the road, safety releases, launching and landing, to which the student replies yes. Nobody wants to rehash old stuff. But does the student really know these areas? How many kiters actually practice self rescue? Was the first time you did it, was when you had to? You need to get it right at the beginning. All it would have taken for me would have been the instructor to actually land the kite in the water, secure the lines, and demonstrate the self rescue and then have me do it. One time would have been all that was needed. But it's like the flight attendant demonstrating the life vest and oxygen mask, they really don't want to put them on, so they just sort of show you how to do it. In aviation, we use check lists to make sure nothing is missed. Could this be used in initial teaching? When a student signs up for a lesson, it would be easy to give him a short course syllabus explaining what he is going to be taught and safety rules for the sport. He is made to sign his life away on the release form, why not give him an idea of what he is in for. I think most people would like this. People like to prepare. Would give them something to do the night before the first lesson.