When it comes to low wind riding there are a few things that can make it work or not work, and here are a few points that might help you out and keep you on the water longer.
Kites- When it comes to picking a kite the myth is that the bigger the kite the lower the winds you can ride in! This is not completely true! In most cases getting the right board is more important. But Today there are more then a few companies focusing on designing light wind specific kites, not just standard models made bigger. The key elements that make them work better is total over all weight of the kite( make them lighter and there will be more power to the rider), and sail and bladder shaping that makes the kite fly faster through the window, which in turn translates to more power. For instance the new Ozone Zephyr 17m was one of the first truly light wind designed kites, and its one that many other designers are chasing. Riding the Zephyr its very important to let it run and build up speed, once you get a good apparent wind built up the kite kicks in and really delivers power. A few other kites that have been coming onto the market with killer feed back are , Slingshot Turbine 17m , Cabrinha Crossbow 16m, and Airush Light wind Lithium. I always tell someone a good rule in picking the right size kite is, if your 170lbs or less stick with nothing bigger then a 14m, if your 170lbs and more look at the 16m kites and up. If you have these kites and still not able to make it work, focus your energy and money into getting the right board for the conditions.
Boards- This is an area that I feel is the most important when it comes to light wind riding and the least looked at by a buyer. In the last 2 years there has been one board I would never live without, the Airush Sector (Directional Med finned board)!! I can’t say enough about this board. Yes its pricey but well worth it if your into what I call kite-sailing or ultimate light wind riding. It comes in 2 widths 52 and 60cm, 175lb and less go 52cm, 180 and up 60cm for light wind. Not that this is the only board now out there, as some other brands have noticed and are making a jump into this market. These boards are what I call a tuned down race board, where as a race board you have to really stay focused to ride them, these tuned down race boards can be ridden more relaxed and easier to cruise on long rides. Of course there are still the easier to ride light wind twin tips that work really well, Crazy Fly Cruiser Pro, Litewave Wing, Cabrinha Plasma, which all work really well, but the Tuned down race allows you to ride fast, in lighter winds and the upwind is MUCH better!!
Riding style- Riding style is another area that can make it work for you in light winds. When Low wind riding its very important to focus on anything that will get you some apparent wind built up (any add wind that goes over the kite due to riding speed), meaning get up and keep moving the kite slightly going toward the kite to start building up forward speed, then Slowly start pulling against the kite. This is where the finned directional boards work the best, you can keep the board flat, giving you water contact to stay on a plane, but yet make the fins work to pull against the kite, where a twin tip you start railing over you take board surface from the water and loose your plane sooner. Next would be your kite location in the air, once you’re up and running, keep your kite relatively high in the window, this helps decrease the weight on your board there for reducing the speed needed to stay on a plane. Another trick is to focus more body weight to your front foot, this gets more weight on a larger board surface area, its not like you need to throw a ton of weight, just start to shift your weight and you will feel and see the difference.
Last but not least, always remember there is a point that nothings going to work, and that point is more dependent on your weight and skills.. But if your still wanting to get out and have fun on something here at the shop everyone has a 3m Sensei trainer and long board, if all else fails pull out the trainer, longboard and carve some turns, we can make that work with winds as low as 3 to 5 mph!! Jeff Howard-Kiteboarding Guru.