Here are a few kiteboarding tips and tricks that you may find useful when practicing kitesurfing (if you have any specific questions about techniques or you need additional tips, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
How to body-drag upwind to retrieve your kiteboard
If you are separated from your board, you normally end up downwind of your board since your kite presents a larger surface to the wind than your board. To be able to retrieve your board, you have to avoid drifting downwind more than your board (or, ideally, go slightly upwind).
The best way to achieve this is to control the kite with your upper hand only, keeping the kite steady at 2 (or 10) o’clock position, while using your lower hand and body as a keel (lower hand in the water and legs straight in a “superman” position, slightly leaning on your lower hand). In the water, your lower hand should point into the wind no further than 45 degree angle from your lines, so that your body becomes the rudder to resist downwind drift.
Transitions from one side of the wind window to the other side are the most important. Ideally you will still hold your lower hand in the water while you bring the kite up, thus locking your body from drifting downwind during the transition. At 12 o’clock, your feet will point down in a continuation of your lines while you switch hands on the bar and bring the kite immediately to the other side of the window at 10 (or 2) o’clock. Your new lower hand should as previously point through the water no more than 45 degrees away from your lines, while letting your legs drag behind you.
- Making transitions from one side of the wind window with both hands on the bar, thus dragging downwind in the process.
- Flying the kite too much, as a result effectively generating small power strokes which will only bring you downwind faster.
- Flying the kite higher than 2 (or 10) o’clock, resulting in pulling your body more out of the water or in turning your body too much on your back.
- Pointing the lower hand too directly into the wind, e.g. 90 degree angle from your lines, resulting in your body becoming a sea anchor which drags harder in the water without much upwind progress.
How to kiteboard upwind
Taking lessons is the best thing you can do. With the The Kite School lessons program, having the instructor on the Jet-ski next to you, observing everything that needs to be addressed and using the radio helmets so you can make adjustments as you ride, saves you a lot of time and frustration trying to practice on your own.
That said….to ride upwind, the best thing is to have your kite parked at 2 (or 10) o’clock position. Keeping your kite steady, try to turn your shoulders away from the kite. Looking upwind, find a landmark and point your board towards it. Keep the kite a little depowered since the more you pull on the bar, the more power you are adding in the direction that your kite wants to pull, which is downwind.
Try pushing down on your board with your back heel, thus forcing the board to edge more into the water. This will not only force the kite to the edge of the wind window, but will also slow you down and help you edge more upwind. At first, this may stall your speed and you will need to learn to create a balance between maintaining board speed and edging upwind.
- Look away from the kite
- Do not pull too much on the bar once you got going
- Keep the kite steady.
Launching the kite
Launching the kite should be always performed with the kite towards the water.
The kite is a traction element, which starts pulling as soon as you launch it. If oriented towards the land, it will start pulling you towards obstacles that may be around, such as trees, houses, parking lot.
Have your upper hand on the bar and softly tension the lines. Turn the bar gradually, lifting the kite up just a few feet off the ground. Keep the kite low, and go! in the water.
Have your other hand on the quick release the whole time, in case you feel overwhelmed by the power of your kite or you get pulled unexpectedly. This is the only way you will be able to quickly release your kite right away.
Quick-releasing your kite towards the water will make your kite fly away and eventually fall in the water, thus avoiding any damage to your gear. Conversely, had you launched the kite towards the land, it would most likely fly away into one of the hard obstacles on the land. Even more dangerously, when launching towards the land you are exposing yourself to the risk of getting lofted towards the land and hitting obstacles.
- As people are naturally nervous in the beginning, instinct makes them pull harder on the bar, which unnecessarily adds power to the kite.
- Pulling too much on the bar can also oversheet (choke) the kite, which results in stalling and the kite falling back.
- One hand on the bar, one on the quick release.
- Launch towards the water.
- Have a competent kiter hold on to your harness and support you.
- DO NOT pull hard on the bar! : )