A handy manoeuvre to have up your sleeve for any smooth move emergency
Making the difference between an average and a nice, fast, fluid heel- to toe-side carve is all about kite control. You must become at one with your kite; a solid unit. This move is 80% about kite skills and 20% board skills. It also forms the the foundations of a bottom or top turn in wave riding, depending on whether you're riding front or back-side. As always, executing a tasty looking carve is down to practice, practice and more practice.
Before trying this move, you should be comfortable pushing your board round to toe-side and riding in that position for a little way.
- Approach your carve by cruising on your heel-side at average speed with your kite at around 10 o'clock.
- It's important to keep in sync with your kite throughout the carve for a smooth ride. Once you're ready to start your turn, start steering your kite back around the edge of the window with your back hand. Slowly take it up and beyond 12 o'clock. Keep it slowly moving backwards with light pressure on your back hand. Steering the kite too fast will make it lift you and lose the control of your edge. Keeping the kite moving slowly avoids any unwanted airs!
- As the kite steers through the top of the window it will be pulling you downwind. This is when you just need to go with it and bend your knees, rolling your weight onto the centre of the board and let the kite pull you round your turn. The key to this move is to follow the kite wherever it goes. At this point you'll be heading straight downwind. Don't try to resist the kite; it'll pull you either into the air or over the front of your board.
- This is where a lot of people get stuck. As the kite reaches 2 o'clock (or 10 o'clock depending on which way you're going) it will stop trying to lift you and you'll need to get your weight on your toes, particularly with your back foot and start carving the board back in the direction you came from to keep the speed and power in your kite.
- If you start running out of speed at this point, it's likely you're focusing on your feet too much. Keep your kite moving and dive it down into the power. Then even out the edging pressure in your feet, moving more pressure to the toes on your front foot to help flatten the board and encourage it to get on the plane and build-up speed. (Note: On Tom's turn here, he actually cuts the kite right back in a figure of 8. This flies the kite back into the power to gain more speed out the turn.)
- All you need to do now is switch back to heel-side. Do this by either steadily transferring weight back onto your heels and once the board starts to turn put a lot of weight onto your back foot and really push it forwards to become your new front foot. Once it gets beyond halfway through the switch, start to increase the weight on your new back foot for control. Another way of switching back to heel-side is to look for a little bit of chop and pop off it for a little air time. As you get airborne pull the bar into your hip ? as you do it will automatically start to rotate your body. Aim to spin 180? towards your kite, land heel-side and ride away.
- If when you steer the kite through the top of the window you feel the kite trying to lift you out of the water it means you're being too aggressive with the kite. Move it across the window much more slowly. Try and make everything smooth with this move.
- If you're catching up with your kite in the middle of the turn then you're not committing enough to the turn, haven't engaged enough rail pressure and have made a very wide turn. Your kite needs something to fly against.
- If you've made it all the way round the carve but have lost all your power and speed then you haven't kept enough power in the kite. Cut it back into the power zone to gather speed out of the carve.
- If you find the front of the board is digging under the water at any point, you need to keep weight on your back foot for longer, transferring weight from your heel-side to your toe-side more gradually.
The better you get at this move the better it feels, and it's one you'll be whipping out for life.