Kitesurfing right of way rules - 9 simple kiteboarding rules

Posted by Jake Oszczepalinski at

Kitesurfing next to SUP's is one of the fastest growing water sports right now. There are a lot of new riders out there who, despite having lessons in the past weren't taught the rules determining right of way on the water. Here's a breakdown of how right of way works in kitesurfing and all other water sports - this includes larger vessels but don't try to make a tanker change its course. Bug on a windshield and these sort of things.

Kitesurfing Right of Way - Kiteboarding Right of Way Rules

Kiteboarding right of way rules are really easy to remember:

  1. Other water users with limited manoeuvrability (yeah such as tankers!) are always right. The same goes for slower water users e.g. swimmers or sometimes even windsurfers.
  2. Kitesurfer on a starboard tack (right hand forwards) has right of way.
  3. Kitesurfer on a port tack (left hand forwards) must yield right of way which is typically going downwind, however it's the person on the starboard tack that decides where he or she wants to go.
  4. When two kiters are on the same tack, kitesurfer that's upwind must give way to the kitesurfer downwind - e.g. if he's faster, let him pass.
  5. That does't mean that if you're downwind you shouldn't be mindful of the guy upwind - not everyone knows these simple rules.
  6. When two kitesurfers are passing each other riding in opposite directions
    - upwind kiteboarder must keep their kite high,
    - kiteboarder downwind must keep their kite low.
  7. In the surf: kitesurfers leaving the shore have the right of way.
  8. In the surf: kitesurfers riding a wave have the right of way, except when the other person is leaving the shore.
  9. When you're riding behind someone stay vigilant as they might not look back before manoeuvring.

Above all - always assume that the other person might not know the rules so stay wary of them.

Ride safe!

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  • this should get printed and nailed at very beach! so many people not giving a damn about any of that! and that includes experienced riders!!!

    Kayle on
  • Nicely summed up but shame that some other water users don’t care about any of that :/

    Faceplant on
  • Avoiding learners should be added too as lots of peps seem to be showing off in front of the noobs stressing them out. Keep yer distance!

    kgb on
  • And not riding up someone’s butt when he’s running out of the water would be nice too!

    Pete on

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