Five tips for the kiteboarding waterstart
So, you've taken a kiteboarding lesson or two and you're ready to try your first water start. That's awesome! Welcome to a new reality, my friend! I have five great tips for you to remember when you're first starting out.
Learn to fly the kite in one hand. Kiteboarding is 80% flying the kite, so it's a no-brainer you should have some serious kite time under your belt. I recommend finding a clear area and just hanging out with a friend. Remember to keep your hand on the middle of the control bar and minimize kite movement. If you dive the kite too aggressively, you are likely to get pulled off your feet. If the kite is not responding, you might have to pull the bar in or even push it out a little. This is called sheeting in or sheeting out. The most important thing to remember is to try and keep a little bit of line tension at all times. That is the secret to kite control most beginners forget. f you do this, kite will respond accordingly.
Keep your knees close to your chest. When you're ready to do a board start, sit down in the shallows. You'll be flying the kite in one hand while you get your board on. Now, keep your knees close to your chest. The low center of gravity will prevent the kite and current from pulling you around. It will also make getting up on the board infinitely easier. One of the most common mistakes is leaning too far back or leaning too far forward. Another common mistake is letting the current twist you around before you can dive the kite. Bending your knees, and keeping the board close to your body, will prevent that from happening, too! Of course, if you do get twisted around, use your free arm to correct yourself. Remember, keeping a low center of gravity will keep you in control.
Ride slightly at the kite. As you dive the kite through the power zone, you want to point the nose of your board slightly at the kite. You don't want to point it too far downwind or you'll put slack in your lines and lose control. It's a mellow balance. Once you've picked up a little bit of board speed, you will want to gently lean back against the kite and feel the harness holding you up. Now is the time to use your hips to steer the nose of the board away from the kite. This is called edging against the kite. Doing this will allow you to generate power and continue to ride. Basically the kite wants to pull you forward and your board are resisting it. This energy has to go somewhere, so you end up moving the direction your nose is pointing.
Make use of the entire wind window. On common mistake I see beginners do is dive the kite through half the wind window. While that works in very strong conditions, it's not going to work when you are appropriately powered.
Simply bring the kite just past noon, opposite the direction you want to go. Now you can do a power stroke and stand up. The lighter the wind conditions, the more you will have to "prime the kite," as we call it. Simply move it further to the other side of the wind window to generate more pull. Be careful with this one! It's better to start small rather than go big and get lofted.
Keep your weight centered over your knees, especially your back knee. When you dive the kite, your knees are close to your chest. You're going to use the full wind window and ride slightly at the kite. Now, put pressure on your back knee and stand up while using your hips and front leg to point the nose of your board gently away from the kite.
Congratulations, you're riding! Welcome to kiteboarding. Nothing tops the feeling you get from your first board start. The good news is you get that same feeling every time you learn something new in kiteboarding! Now, remember you might only go a few feet but don't get discouraged. Falling is part of kiteboarding. In fact, there is a saying that if you're not crashing, you're not learning! Be diligent, be patient, and, above all, have fun out there!
Peace - Blake
A Michigan boy through and through (even though he was born in Saudi Arabia), Blake is a youth with a lifetime of experiences and adventures. Not only that, he's passionate about sharing his zest for life with others. He is proficient at many fields, including kiteboarding and acting as concierge to any who simply ask. Looking for an adventure? Well, Blake is your guy. From sailing the Gulf and the Caribbean to backpacking Hawaii and Southeast Asia, he knows his stuff and can make your vacation into an adventure.
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