How to Waterstart | "Ride With Blake"
This is Blake Olson here at Smathers Beach in Key West, Florida. I'm about to teach you how to do your first starts on a kiteboard. Ben, the person behind the camera, is going to be demonstrating as he's learning. Here are five simple steps for a successful waterstart.
5 Steps to a Waterstart
1) Fly the Kite with One Hand
The first thing you need to do is to practice flying the kite with one hand while holding the board in your other hand. Be sure to grab the bar in the middle, using your thumb as leverage on the other side of the bar. This is to ensure that the kite won't take off on you as you're practicing your starts. With your hands in the middle of the bar, you'll have a lot of leverage, which will keep the kite from moving too fast. If you feel like you don't have enough power because you don't have the ability to steer, pull in on the bar a little bit. You can then steer the kite and sheet out when you get it where you want it to be. Hold the board in one hand, facing the way that you're going to be riding. Pro tip: chat with a friend while you practice flying the kite. This will help teach you to multi task and not feel as nervous when the kite is pulling you around.
2) Keep Knees Close to Chest
Keep your knees as close to your chest as possible. You want a really low center of gravity. Be sure to make your body really small so you can easily get up and ride. If you're body is stretched out, you usually face plant or fall on your back or butt and slip out. Stack your shoulders over your knees like you're in a little ball and get the board as close to you as possible when you start. It helps to have a small pivoting point. When your body is elongated it is easy to face plant.
3) Ride Slightly at the Kite
Point your board downwind and get all of your shoulder weight over your knees. Start to ride downwind, and then slowly start to curve upwind as you go. Make sure the kite is above your head and point the board downwind. Be sure you are able to ride your board flat so you can take off and build up speed. You don't want to be starting on edge, as you can sink into the water or catch your nose.
4) Use the Full Wind window
Whatever way that you're going, you're going to bring the kite over to the opposite side of the window so you can fly the kite all the way through the power zone. Not only do you need to steer the kite, but you also need to adjust the loft of the kite, which then adjusts how the wind affects it. While sending the kite down through the window, pull in and power up the kite so it catches the wind. When the kite comes back up, it will be full of power which will pull you into where the wind is blowing. As you settle the kite down and then steer it back up, you will want to sheet out. This will send the kite flying into the sky a lot higher. Many people believe that when you have the kite in full power, it will move faster, when in all actuality, sheeting out is what shoots the kite into the sky. You're basically pumping the bar as you're pumping the kite, which helps the kite shoot up faster, swivel and pivot around.
5) Keep Your Weight Over Your Knees
Keep your shoulders over your knees and lean forward so that you're leading with the board. As you're moving down wind, you'll slowly start to stand up and sheet out at the same time. As you stand up, you'll push out on the bar and lean back so that all your shoulder weight is over your back knee, and the front leg is straight. With your weight over the back knee, this will dig the board into the water on more of an edge. That pivots the board in the water, using your front leg to open up your hips, which then allows you to move the board around. Basically you're crouching, standing up in a backwards stance and sheeting out on the bar at the same time. The board will start to take off, build up speed, and you'll be off riding!
Now keep this in mind: Don't rush things! You can't control the speed of how you're learning. Those who learn the fastest listen, think about it, and take the process slowly. Make sure you practice all the little things plenty of times. You'll be a lot better when it comes time to get up and ride.
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.