|INTRO - Whether you get caught out by a squall or are intentionally riding super over-powered to do some mega airs, holding that edge down requires extremely good technique. Kiteworld test rider, Chris Bull, weighs in with some heavy words to help you hold the power.|
| KITE SET-UP
Kite set-up is very important. Most modern kites have huge depower and enable the rider to go out in far greater wind speeds than kites were originally designed for. It's really important that you have as much accessible depower as possible without having to push the bar out so far that you start to bring your weight/shoulders over your hips. As soon as your weight starts to move in over your hips and in over the board, it forces more weight inside onto your toes making your edging much less effective. Poor edging with an overpowered kite usually results in a big increase in speed which in turn makes the kite fly deeper into the wind window, giving you even more power and speed... and eventually you wipe-out. Set up your kite so that you have maximum depower with your arms almost stretched out.
When riding overpowered, the kite should be as low to the water as you can comfortably get it. With the kite very low in the window, the angle of pull is very low, providing very little lift. A high kite makes your edging much less effective than really digging in against the constant pull from a low kite.
It's important to keep your stance low and dynamic. If you're standing upright, it will be very difficult to hold that edge down and to keep control of your speed. The correct stance for overpowered kiting is keeping a very low, angled body position that's aggressive and positive - your butt is nearly in the water but you're in control, not the kite. Your front leg should be almost straight while your back leg flexes more and your back foot controls the edging pressure.
When the weather is going insane, a good thing to do is remove your upwind/front arm from the bar and reach it as far upwind as possible. This will open up your body allowing you to get the board pointing into the wind much better. You can even drag your hand/arm in the water if you're really having trouble controlling your speed. Make sure you slide your other hand into the middle of the bar to ensure that you don't unintentionally steer the kite.
Occasionally Mother Nature decides that she's going to win and although you've got great technique, you're still going to get a pasting after finding yourself travelling faster and faster, unable to slow down. If you're inexperienced it's probably best if you just sit down in the water, using your butt to create drag and slow you down. While doing this, keep your knees bent so they can act as shock absorbers when you trudge and bounce through the water. This technique is known as 'tea bagging'. When you stop, keep the kite to one edge of the wind window and as low as possible out of harm's way. This is always the best place to keep your kite rather than straight above your head where you could get lofted... especially on the beach. Get your breath back, wait for the gust to pass and then start again.
The other option is to carve downwind as quickly as possible. Keep the kite at the edge of the window as you carve hard - you will travel very quickly downwind until you and the kite are level (with the kite at the edge of the window). By doing this you remove any extra apparent wind from the kite as you and the wind are travelling in exactly the same direction; also, with the kite at the edge of the window it's showing as little sail area to the wind as possible, allowing you to catch it up. Once you get better, this method is great fun and very effective. It does require some practice, so when you carve downwind, concentrate on putting as much weight as possible on your back foot to avoid doing a 'slapper' and catching the nose of the board in the water.
1. Keep the kite low, really low!
2. Pull on your kite's depower adjustment so that your kite depowers fully when your arms are straight.
3. Make sure your shoulders are not being pulled over your hips and you're keeping an aggressive outward body position, leaning out with your shoulders.
4. Keep your butt low to the water, but imagine your kite is attached to your man/lady bits and squeeze those butt cheeks hard to maintain a strong dynamic posture, not looking like you're taking a dump.
5. Use your upwind arm to get more leverage for effective edging by keeping it upwind or even in the water.
6. When riding with one hand on the bar, make sure it is kept close to the middle of the bar to avoid unwanted steering.
7. If it all gets too much, stick your butt in the water to try and slow down, or just go for it and try the downwind dash. Just remember to keep weight on your back foot to avoid a face plant.
OUTRO – Chris Bull is a member of the Kiteworld test team and runs a school called Hayling Island Kitesurf School and a shop called Ocean Addiction on Hayling Island