Author: Matt and Keegan Myers
Published: Aug/Sept 2004 issue of Kiteboarding Magazine, www.kiteboardingmag.com
Are you sick and tired of dropping your kite on your water starts, exploding during gusts, skipping downwind during jumps, or falling on your face trying to pop a raley? If so, be assured that you are not alone. These are the four most common faults in kiteboarding.
Overpowerd Too Easily
So now you are up and riding and feeling good. The only problem is you lose the ability to maintain control of your board speed and blaze a 50mph path through the water to the point of explosion, feeling more like a Nascar driver than a kiteboarder. This particular problem can happen for a few reasons. First off, you have to make sure you are going out with the proper size kite for the conditions. If everyone is out on 8 meter kites and you take your 12m out because that is the only kite you have, then you will defiantly be experiencing the explosion effect. If you’re flying the proper size kite and still getting overpowered, often the problem is in your body position when trying to edge.
When you begin to feel overpowered, your goal is to edge as hard as you can and bring the kite to the edge of the wind window where there is minimal power. Position your body so that your front leg is nearly straight while your back leg is bent and weighted. By utilizing this body position, you gain control over your board, and therefore have the ability to control your board speed. By applying an increased amount of pressure to your back foot, you can slow the kite down and force it to the edge of the wind window. This is a good technique to use in gusts or over-powered situations.
For edging purposes you want to keep your kite low at about 45 degrees or less. If your kite is high in the wind window, up near neutral, it is difficult to maintain board control because the kite is constantly trying to pull you up and off of your edge. Another advantage to keeping your kite low is that if you start to get really over-powered you can just tap the wing tip on the water to stall or crash the kite.
Can’t Jump High
We all want to boost 40ft on our jumps and come down with butter smooth landings, but getting high requires some skill. If you keep finding yourself going further across the water rather than up in the air, then the following tips may help you out. The key to getting high or pulled straight up and not across on your jumps is properly loading up your edge and knowing what to do with the kite. To get a good high jump, edge very hard and hold that edge until the absolute last second. Be sure that you are edging hard by keeping your front leg straight, back leg bent and cutting up wind. If you can do this then you can go big!
The next step is to understand what to do with the kite. Start with the kite at about 60 degrees of off the water. The more aggressive you are in turning the kite up to neutral the higher you will go. Pull the kite back hard to neutral (not beyond) at the same time as releasing your edge. This technique is all about timing. Remember, your goal is to keep the kite at the very edge of the wind window before and during your jump.
Linking this all together is the tricky part for most riders. So you are edging like a machine and you can whip the kite back harder than Martin Vari, but can you combine each technique at the same time? Many people will loose that edge moments before they send the kite and end up going 200 yards straight downwind. Focus on maintaining a secure edge, and then flick your kite from 60 degrees, while continuing to edge, to neutral. Release your edge just as you pull the trigger. If you nail this then you will be going as high as you want all day long! Just be sure to bring the kite back down in the direction you started so you can stick it.
Can’t Get Planing
Probably the most common problem for the majority of today’s beginning kiteboarders is simply getting up on the board and planing. Many times the rider will dive the kite, just begin standing up, and crash the kite into the water. This fault occurs because getting up and planing is a multi step process. Just diving the kite down towards the water will not get you up and planing; the rider must follow through to the next step – bring the kite back up towards neutral. The two most critical strokes in kiteboarding are the initial down stroke, followed by the upstroke. Without the upstroke, you will not go anywhere but face first into the water!
So how do you fix this problem? Simple, before you even start your initial dive with the kite, sit in the water with the kite in neutral, stabilize yourself, then mentally go through the process of what you’re going to do. Think through the course of action, “Ok, I am going to go to the right, so I need to pull my kite down to the right then remember to pull back to the left to make sure the kite does not hit the water.” This step seems quite easy, but most beginners are so excited to hit the water they forget to think through what they are about to do.
Instead of dropping the monster dive bomb with the kite on your first down stroke, try doing a few mellow down then up stokes to get a good feel of how strong the wind is and how much power you will really need. Once you think you have a good feel for things, then go ahead and dive your kite down in the direction you want to go. Most importantly, remember to turn the kite back up towards neutral. This step will not only help to pull you up on plane, but will allow you time to stabilize yourself and set your edge before you really get cruising.
Can’t Get Pop
Diversity in riding styles and tricks is what makes kiteboarding such a dynamic and addictive sport. Wake style, or ‘no-whip’ tricks have been around from the beginning and are only increasing in popularity. Most no-whip tricks are done un-hooked, but many of the same maneuvers can be performed hooked in for learning purposes. To do this you need to learn how to get pop off of the water and not have to depend on the kite for getting air.
For no-whip tricks maintaining board speed is crucial; the faster you are moving the harder you will be able to pop against the kite. However, with the increased board speed you still need to be able to load up your edge. While riding with a constant edge and cutting up wind slightly bear off and point your board downwind. After letting off your edge for a moment, reload your progressive edge and release. By momentarily releasing your edge you are allowing the board to plane out and dropping the kite slightly back in the window. By reloading the edge you will create pressure between the board and water, and generate tension in your lines by forcing the kite back to the edge of the window. Remember, the harder you release and load the more pop you will get.
Getting pop is all about being aggressive and lit up. The more energy and power you put into the trick then the more pop you will get. This is very similar to the aggression you see in wakeboarders and cable park riders. Typically, if you don’t put in the energy you will not get any results. Once you master the ability to pop out of the water with explosion, you can greatly expand your bag of tricks into hundreds of wake style moves.