Home Features Motor Drive: Project Transitions

Motor Drive: Project Transitions

INTRO - The transition is one of the first aerial tricks you will learn. Changing direction in the air may sound complicated, but because the kite moves smoothly in only one direction and can be done quite slowly, it's not as demanding as you might think. RRD's Seb Garat provides the demos and notes for this issue's project from New Caledonia.


Changing tack in kiteboarding is something that you have to do, so why not make it fun. Firstly we'll take a look at the basic pop transition before moving onto the front loop transition with a hand plant.

In order to understand what you're trying to achieve with your first transition jump attempts, you of course need to know how to ride to the left and right, how to change tack without falling into the water, and if you've had some successful attempts at jumping, then that's even better.

A transition requires some good kite piloting and getting the power back in the kite when you go the other way is the most difficult part of the trick. Here we'll focus on looking up close at what you're doing as a rider, and then we pan the camera out to see what's going on with the kite, which will hopefully help you understand the way the kite needs to move to regain the power and help you plane away from the trick.

The best weather conditions to learn is a steady wind between 15 and 20 knots. At this speed you can ride a medium-sized kite, between nine and twelve metres, that still reacts quickly, but doesn't surprise you with its high speed. Nine to twelve metre kites are usually the best for building confidence in most tricks.

Let's look at the position of my body as I approach the transition and the actions I make to release the board from the water

  • Come into the transition with reduced but steady speed and edge hard up into the wind
  • Move your kite up towards 12 o'clock, but not all the way - around 1 o'clock / 11 o'clock depending on which way you're going
  • Your bar should be sheeted out at this stage so you have almost straight arms
  • Next come the actions that are going to actually get you off the water: Now you need to combine two actions: edging hard (pushing on the heel of your back foot) as if you wanted to steer more upwind, but really aggressively, almost hard enough to come to a stop. At the same time pull on your back hand to send the kite the final distance around the window to 12 o'clock
  • When the kite reaches the zenith and you start to feel the lift, pull down on your bar. This is what will make you jump and give you some hang-time in the air. (You can now see why it's important to have your arms sheeted out when you approach the trick; so that you have some room too sheet down and create power)
  • Keep the bar pulled down to create as much lift as you can.

Your bar should be sheeted out at this stage so you have almost straight arms.


The next stages are to do with controlling yourself once airborn:

  • As you go up just keep the kite around 12 o'clock. Have a look at your kite to check on its position if you need to
  • To stabilise yourself in the air bend your knees and stay tucked up. (When you want to make a more complicated transition, it's during this hang-time that you will execute your trick; one footers, back or front loops, grabs)
  • Concentrate on pointing the end of the board facing the direction that you will be heading towards the water
  • Now start thinking about your landing: once at the peak of your jump, and just before to start coming back down, you have to start sending your kite towards your new direction. Pull fairly hard on your new front hand (old back hand) to get the kite pulling you so you have forward momentum when you come in to land. You can see on the pulled back sequence that the kite dips so hard in the new direction that the leading edge is actually parallel to the water for a moment
  • At the same time direct your board to the water and focus on your landing zone. You have to land heading slightly downwind and towards the pull of your kite to soak up some impact and speed first
  • When you touch down on the water, don't forget to then pull on your new back hand to stop the kite touching the water just as you did when you were learning your water starts. The principle is the same
  • After a few metres and when you feel like you have your speed under control, get your edge back in the water and ride normally on your new tack!



Focus on steady, direct movements on the kite. If you send your kite too hard when going for the jump and it goes all the way through 12 o'clock to the other side of the window, you will jump, but then you will fall directly to the water and won't be able to stay in the air as the kite won't be supporting you above your head.

If you're not edging enough before the jump you will only make a small jump and it will be difficult to repower your kite. Hold good speed coming into the trick and really push on your back foot as you send the kite up to 12 o'clock. You should have almost carved the board directly up into the wind by the time you pull down on the bar for take-off.

Another reason you might not be getting enough height is that you're sending the kite too slowly up through the window. You need to be precise and fast in your actions.


Once you get the movement of basic transitions and build up your confidence you can start thinking about including a trick in
your transitions. There are lots of options; you can start with a grab, then try a one footer, add a rotation, or even
multiple rotations!

When you want to start complicated manoeuvres it's better to be well-powered. It will give you more time in the air to execute everything you want. For this trick, it will help if you've got your regular front rolls dialled. Contrary to skateboarding or other board sports you won't actually stand on your hand in this hand-plant, but you will be just high enough throughout the move to have only your hand touching the water.

  • To prepare yourself for the transition, slow down a bit so you have control
  • Move your kite up in the window in exactly the same way as for a regular transition, edge hard just before you jump and then go directly into a front rotation, keeping only the back hand on the bar. Throw your head and front shoulder forwards and look over your back shoulder to spot your landing as soon as it comes round into view
  • Put your front hand down towards the water as if you're trying to pick something up
  • When your hand touches the water pull on your bar with your back hand to move your kite steadily in the new direction, making you hover over the water
  • Now rotate your body around your planted arm in a forward rotation
  • When you're about to finish your rotation, start pulling harder on your old back hand to send the kite further in the new direction.
  • Get your hand back on the bar to control the kite as you come in to land, point your board towards the pull of the kite and ride away.
  • This trick looks better with more speed.

The faster you go into the trick the longer you can plant your hand in the water, but you have to be precise with
your kite, which is why it's better to get the movements nailed going slowly.


If your kite is flying behind you too much and you're losing float then you're probably pulling too hard on your old back hand. Try to keep the kite balanced in the air. It's difficult not to pull more on one side as you only have one hand on the bar, but try not to hang off the bar too much; take all the pressure through your harness instead and just feather the bar for steering.

If you're struggling to reach the water with your hand then you've probably hauled in to much on the bar and have gone too high. Make more gentle input into the bar and go a bit slower. If you're doing a lot of face plants then you're not sending the kite and pulling down on the bar enough! It will take a few goes to understand the feeling and get used to the handling, but you'll get there.

Wainman Hawaii

Added: 2011-06-13

Category: Features

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