Wind Sources & Wind Directions
Wind Sources & Wind Directions
Wind Sources & Wind Directions : Video Transcript
To enjoy learning to kitesurf safely, you will need the wind to come from a safe source. You will also need the wind to blow in an appropriate Direction in relation to the shore.
In this video, we will learn to dissociate safe vs unsafe wind sources as well as dissociate safe vs unsafe wind directions.
So, where does the wind come from?
Generally speaking, we can say that wind is caused by the uneven heating of the surface of the Earth.
As we all know, warm air rises. That warmer air rising creates a low-pressure system
Whereas the cold air sinks, thus creating a high-pressure system.
Wind is then generated from High pressure systems moving towards Low pressure systems.
In other words, the pressure differences between two areas is what drives the wind.
The higher the pressure difference is and the closer these low- and high-pressure systems are together, the stronger the wind will be.
The lower the pressure difference is and the further apart these low and high-pressure systems are from each other, the lighter the wind will be.
There are many other factors affecting the source of the wind and its direction such as the Earth’s rotation.
Some weather systems can be quite large and complex, while others can be more localized such as a Sea Breeze.
As a Beginner Kitesurfer, you don’t have to be a weather expert, but you do need to use common sense and avoid bad weather systems such as storms and fronts. These weather systems typically bring unpracticable and unsafe winds for kitesurfing.
The most serious kitesurfing accidents happen in those frontal or storm systems as they often bring dangerous wind Gusts. Gusts or squalls are a dramatic increase in wind speeds in a very short period of time. In a front or a storm, it’s common for wind speeds to double with little to no warning. Fronts and storms can also quickly change the direction of the wind without warning.
Some days the wind may seem nice and light at first, but then as a front arrives, the wind speed and direction can change dramatically.
Generally speaking, nice weather will bring safer and more stable winds. Stable and predictable winds will help progress much faster while keeping you safe.
As a kitesurfer, you will eventually become used to regularly check wind forecasts and live wind readings. Those forecasts and readings will help you plan your travels and decide if the wind conditions are suitable for you to go out.
The Internet is the best resource for wind forecast, simply search for ‘’wind forecast’’ along with the name of your kitesurfing location.
Many Websites exist that will give you wind forecast for most kitesurfing locations around the World, such as windy.com, windfinder.com, and others.
Most wind forecast websites use arrows to tell you where the wind is coming from.
Wind Arrows Point in the direction where the wind is going, however, Winds are named after the compass point where they are coming FROM. So, in this case we have a Southerly Wind. This would be a Northerly Wind, a Westerly Wind, An Easterly wind, and so on.
Most kitesurfing locations around the World have a preferred season, during which the winds are more consistent and thus more favourable for kitesurfing. The Windfinder Website allows you to get access to wind statistics for most popular kitesurfing destinations around the World, so you know which months of the year are likely to have more favourable winds.
Remember that talking with local kitesurfers or schools is also a great way to find out about wind patterns in a specific area and how they expect the wind to behave on any given day.
As a Kitesurfer, you need to ask yourself: what direction is the wind blowing in relation to the shore?
You will soon understand that the same wind source can have various directions depending on the orientation or angle of your beach. These wind directions have various names.
On-shore, is a wind that blows directly towards the shore
Off-shore, is a wind that blows directly away from the shore
Cross shore wind, also called Side shore wind, is a wind that blows Parallel to the shore, in either direction.
Cross On-shore wind, also called side on-shore wind, is a wind that blows at an angle towards the shore, in either direction
Cross Off-Shore wind, also called Side Off-Shore wind, is a wind that blows at an angle away from the shore, in either direction.
You Must avoid kitesurfing in off shore or cross off-shore winds. If anything goes wrong you won’t be able to make it back to the shore.
Here is a real-life example of a kitesurfer who is caught in off-shore winds and desperately trying to make it back to shore.
You should only consider kitesurfing in off shore winds if you have access to a dedicated rescue boat, such as in a kitesurfing centre.
On-Shore wind has to be the most dangerous wind direction, especially for beginners. You won’t be able to get away from the shore and run the risk of getting dragged onto land. Some of the worst accidents in kitesurfing happened in On-Shore winds!
On-shore winds are only safe for learning if you are able to walk at least 50 meters away from the shore before getting up on your board.
When learning to ride, you won’t be able to go upwind, so in on-shore winds you will always get pushed towards the shore.
Cross-on shore or side on shore winds are by far the safest to kitesurf. This wind direction will allow you to easily get away from the shore, but more importantly to easily come back to the shore if anything goes wrong. This wind direction is the most suitable for any skill level.
Cross-Shore is also a safe wind direction, however, if anything goes wrong, it may be more difficult and take longer to get back to the shore,
Always Keep in mind that the angle of the beach can change. In this example, we have a safe cross shore area, which quickly becomes a dangerous cross off-shore area. When learning to kitesurf, you will lose ground downwind, so this location in this wind would be unsafe, considering how easily and quickly you can end up in the off-shore area.
Here is a summary of what you need to remember about Wind Sources and Wind Directions
- Avoid Kitesurfing in Storms or Fronts
- Search Online for Local Wind and Weather Forecasts
- Ask Locals/Schools/Shops about Local Wind Patterns
- Look for Steady and Reliable Winds
- Avoid Off-Shore and Cross Off-Shore Winds
- Avoid Direct On-Shore Winds
- Steady Cross On-Shore Winds are the Safest to learn to kitesurf
In the next video, we will learn about wind speeds and wind effects.