The true story of keeping the kite at 12

iko, Kite knowledge

If you get used to keep the kite at 12, chances are that, one day, your kite is going to stall and will you be prepared to react in the proper way?! Do you know how to avoid a gigantic faceplant on the sand?

Now you might think: “what are you talking about, Gio? I can put the kite at 12 and remove my hands from the bar and drink a beer, do a pirouette, high five my best friend, read a newspaper and my kite will be still sat comfortably there at 12 waiting for me to tell it what to do.”

And I’ll tell you: “come to El Médano, or any other gusty spot, with 10 knots of gusts, try that here and you let me know how it goes.”

Getting used to keep the kite at 12 is dangerous. Not always of course, but you shouldn’t get used to it.

Granted: if you are coming from a spot that has nice stable wind you’ll have almost no issues there. But, if you want to become a more conscious kiter who knows what’s the safest approach, keep on reading.

Too often we forget that kitesurfing is an extreme sport and we start to take stuff for granted. We think “oh no, that will not happen to me” and then sbadabaaam – karma comes and slaps you in the face! So, let’s talk about safety and which things we can improve to become an even more badass kiter!

If the wind is gusty and we keep the kite at 12 the chances are higher for the kite to frontstall and drop in the power zone. If the kiter is lucky, he/she is going to fall on the ground and dragged only for a few meters. 

If the kiter is not lucky, the wind will pick up again while the kite is dropping in the power zone and you will be catapulted downwind. This is dangerous for the kiter but also for all the other people that are at the beach. And they are innocent and don’t deserve this 😛

I see on average 2 people per windy day experiencing this in El Médano. No joke. 

Even the IKO has taken a strong position on the kite at 12 o’clock issue:


Let’s start from the basics: What is a kite frontstall?

A frontstall happens when the Angle of Attack of the kite becomes negative (for example the front lines lose tension or when the front lines are shorter than the back lines) and the kite drops forward towards the kiter. Granted, this mostly happens in light or gusty winds, but if you get used to keeping the kite at 12, when the time comes to test yourself in challenging conditions, you might forget about this and your could end up frontstalling. So, why not just avoid it altogether?

For me, the only reason to use the kite at 12 is when you move your kite from one side to another of the wind window. In general, in our kite life, we barely have to use the kite at 12 while at the beach…

Let’s review a few kitemare scenarios!

For the sake of this article, we will imagine our friend Joe, he’s a kite enthusiast and very eager to kite. He kites all the time he can. Joe is that one kiter friend that always has accidents and we never understand why. 

This is Joe:

Hello Joe!

1. Trim the kite at 12

Joe remembers to trim his kite every now and then, and, when he does, he always trims it at 12 o’clock. While trimming the kite two bad things might happen to Joe:

1) his can kite frontstalls because he pulls on the trim with strength because it might be stuck and whoopsie he creates a negative Angle of Attack, the front lines become shorter and so Joe scores an own goal – the kite frontstalls.

2) Joe’s kite has a too positive angle of attack and it backstalls. The kite backstalls when there is too much Angle of Attack (AoA). The back lines are too short compared to the front lines and vice versa. The kite will start to move backward trailing edge first, lose all its power, and crash. 

What Joe has maybe forgotten is that, while keeping the kite at 12 he’s making his life more complicated. When the kite is high up at 12 and it either front or backstalls it’s a long way down. While frontstalling, a gust could come in and pull him away as the kite is in the middle of the power zone. When it backstalls the kite could catch the wind and run towards the edge of the wind window, pulling Joe under the kite and frontstall as well! What a mess, Joe!!! And then everybody at the beach will say “oh, of course that was Joe…”

oh poor Joe

What can Joe improve? He could try to trim the kite with a 45 degrees angle, so if it frontstalls he could quickly move to find the tension in the frontlines. And, if it backstalls, the kite will be already on one side of the wind window and will be close to the ground. The damages in both cases will be less.

Bonus track: when a kite backstalls or frontstalls never pull the bar. If it catches power again, by having the bar pulled, we would be creating immediately full power to the kite! And how many time did we watch Joe flying away on the beach?!?

2. Walk upwind with the kite at 12

Our dear friend Joe, has just starting to ride and he still needs to do a lot of “walk of shame” to go back upwind. Joe walks upwing giving his back to the wind, walking backwards, with the kite at 12, one hand on the bar, one hand on the board. Joe, my dearest, walking backward limits your chances to see where you are going, there could be obstacles behind you like boards on the sand and you could fall. 

Aaaand that’s Joe again

What can Joe improve? Try to keep the kite at 45 degrees. Joe would then be able to turn his body towards the direction he want to go. It’s even easier to control the kite like this! And bonus, he can see where he is going 😛

Joe’s evolution to kick ass kiter

3. Being lifted with the kite at 12

It’s Joe’s first gusty and strong wind experience. He has never ridden with a 7-meter and today is the day! Joe launches the kite, brings it to 12, and all of a sudden, due to 10 knots gusts, he is being lifted vertically up in the air. He feels completely overpowered and out of control. The kite is pulling him up, and he does involuntary jumps. You run to grab his handle otherwise he would fly away…

First of all, he should ask himself, if he’s at a level that he can ride overpowered and maybe go for a smaller kite (or a beer).

What can he improve? 

What Joe doesn’t know is that by keeping the kite at 12 in strong gusty winds he has less ability to counterbalance the pull of the kite with his weight. 

Joe could have tried to keep the kite on the sides, at 45 degrees, in this way, he can use his weight more efficiently. And most importantly, if he lets go of the bar, the kite will drop on the sand and the fall will be smaller and less powerful than if it has to drop from 12.

4. Adjusting anything with the kite at 12

Or with the kite flying in general…

As Joe lowers down to adjust his footstraps flying the kite at 12, he’s doing something dangerous. You think:  “come on Joe it’s quite difficult to keep one eye on the kite while you have to look at your feet no?!” Also Joe could be pushing the bar down, shortening the frontlines and the kite could frontstall!

As Joe lowers down to connect the leash of his surfboard with the kite at 12, he could recreate a similar scenario as above.

Joe pushing down the central lines….

What can Joe improve? Adjusting harnesses, footstraps, helmets, drinking water (or anything else) it’s safer to do while the kite is parked. Sometimes just for laziness we think “it’s going to take only a minute” and sbadabammmm karma…. Imagine an F1 driver tying his laces while driving… it makes no sense. 

5. Talking with the kite at 12 

Joe just had the session of his life, but he is still not done yet. He comes out of the water, wants to share the stoke with his friends, and drink a sip of water. He doesn’t want to park the kite because “it’s only going to take a minute”…. So, Joe is standing with the kite at 12 for 10 min in the middle of a small crowded beach.

Next time you see Joe doing this, please remind him to park the kite. It’s the safer option as the kite could stall but also when he stands up with the kite at 12 in the middle of the beach Joe is a bit in the way of other kiters coming in and out of the water. Let’s be aware and respectful of the shared space on the spot.

Bonus track this amazing video from Jeremie Tronet about 10 Common Mistakes All Kiteboarders Should Avoid

Ciao ciao



iko, Kite girl life, The instructor life


By Elena Buetto & Giorgia Matteazzi




Ask many female kitesurf instructors what they think this job looks like and you’ll get many different answers with the same meaning: SIMPLY AMAZING

May be an image of 2 people, including Giorgia Matteazzi and people smiling
Kiteboarding Girl: Like a regular Girl but much cooler 😀

Most of them switched their life and decided to have the best office views in the world, good vibes surrounding, share their passion and face exciting challenges every day.

So, if you are considering the idea to turn kitesurfing into your job, this is our suggestions: Go for it! Get in the game! It’s an experience not to be missed and, if for any reason it doesn’t work, you can always come back and you’ll still have a cool story to tell. 

We’ve all been in your shoes.

More and more women are getting closer to the extreme sports, we want to encouraged you and let you know that there are many other girls ready to welcome you and to share fun.

What I love most about this job is the opportunity it offers to travel and discover new places, coming into close contact with the local lifestyle and people. By teaching kitesurfing, you spend your days on the beach, enjoying the energy of the natural elements, practicing sports, having a healthy lifestyle and always meeting different and interesting people. What more could you want?


Together with @lagiokite, we interviewed some super girls teaching all around the best spots in the world and we got something you ought to know.

Kiteboarding is funny but it’s still an extreme sport.

Ladies (and men too), keep this in mind: no one is born knowing everything so, we all need to be (well) trained as knowledge empowers people.

IKO, the International Kiteboarding Organization, offers a worldwide professional training program. 

IKO – International Kiteboarding Organization

All of us need to learn how to teach kiteboarding in the safest way in order to avoid that anybody could be exposed to danger. 

The IKO Career path!

No strength needed.

90% of people think that we need strong arms to “hold” a flying kite. I am sure that before approaching to kitesurf, you thought that this sport required a lot of upper body strength. 

Girls, teaching kiteboarding is about passion, good knowledge and communication, empathy, and a lot of patience. These few qualities are essential to get the trust and the attention from your students.

Often men are stronger. But, as women, we can assure you that we learned how to compensate for any lack of physical strength using better technique. 

Girls should have no doubts about being able to do this job for the simple reason that female instructors are exceptional because of our natural ability to multitask, something that men tend to lack. We are generally very sensitive and have an innate ability to listen and almost infinite patience (an essential characteristic in teaching).

We are precise, dynamic, tenacious and technical, everything you need to be a professional kitesurfing instructor!


For sure, as Sara said, we need to be active girls, athletic and ready to spend long hours walking on the beach (or in the water, if your spot is a lagoon). Giulia reminded us that it’s physically demanding, but Giorgia has not doubts on the fact that ladies are clever enough to find smart solutions to make it easier.  

Wouldn’t it be amazing to have a big community to share tricks and suggestion? 

Kite instructor or psychologist?

As Sara remind us, every person is different so we have to focus on the students’ needs. A good instructor must adapt the lesson according to circumstances: we are trained to help people to give their best.

Giulia loves seeing people going from zero to hero and she truly understand the ones that fight with determination as she neither was immediately successful when she approached the first times to kitesurfing. 

We completely agree with Chloe that thinks that techniques and practice is just a less part of the work, as psychology plays a big role and our aim is to keep the student highly motivated, focused, with the right determination to go on. 

All of this comes with the experience, but it is also the main part of the IKO training course.

And if something happens?

There are a lot of potential dangers involved in kitesurfing, and you will experiment/touch with hands some of them.

Look on the bright side and take it as an opportunity to become a more experienced instructor. Whatever seemed impossible before, will become your daily bread. 

Remember when I said that you, as everybody, need to be well trained? This is what IKO trainers do: they teach you how to deal the unexpected. 

I love this job for so many reasons, but mostly that I get to have the most beautiful office I could ever ask for and kiting almost every day, Also possibility of travelling to other stunning spots around the world. I found teaching to be very satisfying job as well. I get to meet many cool people and it’s always great to see my students progressing.



After the trainee course you might be required to have some shadowing hours in a IKO center, it means that you give lessons to real students supported by a more expert instructor. It is a unique chance to keep training and to get more field experience led by somebody that’s going to help and give you precious advises and suggestions.  

Remember that we are part of an amazing community: kite surfers watch out for each other in and out the water, just think of the help in launching and landing the kite.

You will be an independent instructor; this doesn’t mean that you can’t ask for your colleagues’ opinions. Be humble and eager to learn from everybody. 

It’s an amazing job! You will meet many other kiters and lovely persons from all over the world. But be aware, you must love teaching and stay & walk on the beach all day long. Plus, you’ve to be a pretty patient human being!


So, 100% Pro and NO cons?

We are used to be positive people, but we can’t lie and say that everything is perfect.

Surely there are not always Caribbean days at the beach: winter strong wind and cold water make everything much harder for both instructor and student. Also, hot sunny days with so warm wind are difficult to afford too.

This is why it’s very important to wear the right gears, protect our skin, drink a lot of water, use sunglasses and why not, ask for more suggestions to our instructors friends that can’t wait to share with you the old wives’ tale. 

You should also know that during the windy hours you’ll probably have to teach, so you’ll miss the best wind and waves to enjoy. We always suggest to find the way to keep riding for yourself not to lose the passion as well as to recharge your batteries. 

we love to teach girls.

Women are clearly under-represented in this sport.

We are so excited when our students are girls and women. It means we are contributing to make the kitesista community bigger. So, what are you waiting for? Don’t hesitate to become a kitegirl instructor and to inspire many other girls.

Data provided by IKO
Data provided by IKO

Don’t underestimate yourself.

Push your limits and give your best, be confident and trust in yourself. We got it, so you can get it too.  Basia would say to anyone to just follow heart and dreams and not to forget that girls can do anything!!!!

Jump! Do it! And if you don’t like it after, you’ll always have a cool story to tell. Sharing your passion with others is a gift for ourselves too!


Let’s Go Girlssssss!

Do you wanna read some funny stories? Keep on reading the experiences shared by the women kite instructors we interviewed:


What’s your name? How old are you? Where are you from? Your IKO level? Hi, my name is Basia and I’m 25 yo. I was born and raised in Gdansk, Poland. I’m IKO instructor level 2.

Funny story: This job never gets boring, and it’s another thing I love about it. I’m currently living and working in Kilifi, Kenia, which is not a very touristic place. So from time to time you get to see local people herding their livestock on the beach. One time during my lesson I had to escape into the ocean because the cow started running on to me, probably feeling threatened by the kite I was holding in my hands.

Insta: @basianiez


What’s your name? How old are you? Your IKO level? My name is Giulia, I’m going to turn 30 in October 2021, IKO level 2, really close to level 3. 

Funny story: One time I didn’t share with my students that we were connected via radio communication. She was setting up the lines downwind and she misplaced the bar. She was 20 meters from me and she couldn’t hear my feedback with the wind, so I activated the radio. She didn’t understand where the voice was coming from, got scared, jump up, and did a 360-degree pirouette, ending up with her bottom in the sand. We couldn’t stop laughing.

Insta: @lulytakites


What’s your name? How old are you? Where are you from? Your IKO level? My name is Chloé Rodriguez, I am 30 years old and I come from Grenoble in France. I come from a city surrounded by high mountains and after spending more than 20 years on the ski slopes I decided to change my environment.

Funny story: I taught a student for 10 hours how to pilot the Kite, safety system, body drag, and come the day I show him the water start! super-enthusiastic, he goes away from the shore and tries his first water start. unfortunately, he loses his board and his reaction stunned me: he poses his kite on the water and disconnects completely from his Kite and he starts swimming to go get his board … I see the kite fly away far away and I have to quickly jump in a boat to get it. when I come back to him I ask him why he did that because before we had learned body drag and he replies “I thought it was going to be faster” that’s sure to finish this lesson it was quick.

Insta: @chloe_rapanui


What’s your name? How old are you? Where are you from? Your IKO level? I am Sara, a 33-years-old IKO Instructor from Italy. I am IKO level 1, teaching and kiting around since 2014. I’ve been teaching > 1500 hrs and > 200 students from all around the world.

Funny story: I have many many stories, I could have written a book/blog! A very funny story is back to Brazil 3 years ago. I was doing assistance for a medium-distance downwind trip. You might think, WOW. But many things happened on the way and I had somehow to fix everything… a kite bladder exploded, a board-strap too. A boogie almost stuck in a river mouth. Huge cuts on a customer’s feet…It’s a nice job but sometimes things are very challenging and funny!!



What’s your name? How old are you? Where are you from? Your IKO level? Hello, I’m Lucia Sciuto and I’m 29 years old, I’m Italian and I was born in Catania, in the beautiful Sicily. I’m an Instructor iko level 1.

Funny story: One of the funniest things that happened to me especially at the beginning was when I used the bb talking radios, often when I took back the kite and the board of my students upwind to the “waterstart” point I forgot that they could hear me and while I was kiting they heard me singing and having fun in the waves LOL. 

Insta: @lucia__sciuto


What’s your name? How old are you? Your IKO level? Beatrice, 36, Italy, Instructor 1

Funny story: Funny things happen every day,  that is what makes this job interesting, every student can surprise with absolute non-sense questions either acting super weird(like my last student trying to deflate the kite while lying on his belly with the kite under himself 😂)


What’s your name? How old are you? Where are you from? Your IKO level? My name is Martina. I am 30 years old. I am from Milan, Italy. I am an IKO Instructor and Assistant Trainer.

Funny story: My teaching experience is full of funny stories, little anecdotes that are the basis of sincere and lasting friendships. I remember a couple of beginners who asked my colleague and me to do a little challenge off the course. We were two teams (instructor + student) and at the end of 10 hours whoever had made the most progress had to take the other team out for a dinner. The atmosphere was not tense at all, we had fun and spent our lessons laughing and joking, involving others as well. How did it end? Offering dinner to two hungry men cost me and Lisa a little, but it was worth it!

Insta: @martina___brambilla


What’s your name? How old are you? Where are you from? Your IKO level? Megan Frey, Age 36, Originally I am from Orcas Island, Level 3 (just passed exam yesterday) 🌊🥂🐋

Funny story: + A funny story with kiting… Every day, humor is the best for learning… Sometimes I can be a complete goofball with my metaphors when teaching that my student can let down to make the necessary errors in order to learn while bypassing their inner critic. Sometimes if a student is too worried, asking many questions or judging themselves for not understanding at lightning speeds… before I answer them I’ll dance to put a new vibe in the air and then they laugh and then I answer and then they explore even more. And at the end of the day, they are way beyond where they were at the begging of the day.

Insta:@frey.wellness Blog:


What’s your name? How old are you? Where are you from? Your IKO level?  I’m Marica, I’m 40 years old, and I’m an IKO Instructor Level 3.

Funny story: An adult office man on vacation with his children came to take a lesson with me starting from zero. He was a very sporty man, very tenacious, determined to learn how to kitesurf, and after struggling to make his first board, he looked at me with a face as enthusiastic as a child’s and said: “That was so cool, no chemical drug can do the same!”…we laughed till tears!

Insta: @marica.iko.instrutor Blog:


What’s your name? How old are you? Where are you from? Your IKO level?  Giorgia, 34 (still 27 in my head), Italian, IKO Level 3 hopefully soon to be an Assistant Trainer ;P

Funny story: Once I had a student who weighed 120kg…just about double my weight WTF At a certain point of the lesson I had to take his kite and walk on the beach and I was flying away so he was holding me by the harness while walking sooo people didn’t know who was the instructor and who was the student anymore eheheheh

Insta:@lagiokite Blog:

Thank you for reading! And if you want to know the process to become an IKO instructor please don’t hesitate to contact me either via instagram: @lagiokite or via email:

Ciao ciao!!!