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Old 06-05-2008, 10:37 AM
conchxpress conchxpress is offline
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Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: South Tampa, Key West
Posts: 244
Default 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.
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Old 06-05-2008, 01:57 PM
conchxpress conchxpress is offline
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Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: South Tampa, Key West
Posts: 244
Default In addition

Another point is that a lot of people who take lessons aren't from the area. A lot of lessons are given to people who are on vacation and don't want to go home knowing only how to do the safety maneuvers and body drag. They're attracted to the sport because they see people riding, jumping, throwing tricks. They don't feel that they've accomplished anything unless they are up and riding by the third day. When their friends ask what they did on vacation, they want to say "I kiteboarded," not I learned to body drag and self rescue. Their satisfaction means better tips for the instructor.And that's the rub. The only people that can say that money doesn't matter are those who've got plenty of it. It's a powerful force. And let the force be with you. The paradox is that in the end, the safer and more competent that people feel, the more likely they will continue in the sport, and THAT does mean money. I don't think instruction in the sport should become equivalent to the resort dive courses. Another powerful lure is the "gear in exchange for no wind days." I fell for this. But now you have someone with a day or two of lessons, his own gear, released to the riding spots that everyone is trying so hard to protect. Lucky for me,(or not!) I'm older and I left my charge ahead let the chips fall where they may, attidude back in my earlier years. I was lucky to have met the guys riding at Smathers in Key West, who helped me out a lot. Thanks guys. So when you guys that have been riding a while see someone new on the beach, it's o.k. to ask him how long he's been riding, where he got lessons, etc., if he needs a launch.No one wants to be the new kid on the block. Newbies are shy, they probably won't approach you. If the guy turns out to be a kook, you've identified him. If he's eager for your help, you just might find a fellow ambassador for the sport, and a chance to help someone become a safer rider. Everybody wins.

I guess I've ranted long enough. Peace out
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Old 06-05-2008, 03:18 PM
DJ HiPPiE DJ HiPPiE is offline
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Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 24

It's threads like this that are really helpful for a newb like me make the right decisions when it comes time to take lessons.
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