INTRO - Careering round a race course against anyone, from your mates to a steely competitor, is one of the most exhilarating ways to spend half an hour on a kite and board. Top UK racer and KSP World Wave Tour competitor, Lee Harvey from Cornwall, talks you through the basic skills needed for a smooth, fast downwind gybe. Although it's the first basic skill to master on any directional board, it always feels good when you carve hard and fast throughout
MOVE - THE CARVING GYBE
RIDER - LEE 'PASTY' HARVEY - www.pastyadventures.co.uk
PHOTOS - JOE COCKLE
This Feature is taken from #Issue 60 - SUBSCRIBE TO KITEWORLD MAGAZINE HERE
The carving gybe is essential to directional board riding and will also help avoid injuries and undue stress on the knees and joints from too much twisting and riding toe-side. The key to making a gybe on any type of board is speed and commitment. The main difference to carving round on your twin-tip is of course that you have to perform a foot movement, but there are also some slight tweaks to your body position. When gybing a raceboard compared to a surfboard you will probably be using a bigger kite on which it's better to downloop, whereas when it's windy on a small kite, you can simply turn the kite before the carve and it flies fast enough to stay in front of you. A big kite is slow and you can end up underneath it if you don't down loop it, bringing about the danger of the kite falling out of the sky. A raceboard is also much wider, which means using a wider stance and more rail pressure, but the level of commitment remains the same.
Most riders have a preferred stance (either right or left foot forward) and many, including myself, switch feet before the gybe when riding on one tack, and will do the foot switch after on the other tack. Whichever way you prefer, the move is essentially the same, just swapping the feet before or after the gybe.
On this carving gybe I change my feet after the move. We will be looking at the slam gybe another time, along with the duck tack, aerial tack and aerial gybe.
- Approach at speed, on a broad reach, making sure the kite is powered at 45 degrees and you are going downwind as fast as possible.
- Gently bring the kite up towards 11.30 (or 12.30 if going left to right). Step out of the back strap as you move the kite, placing it as far back and onto the leeward rail as possible (if you change your feet first, then this is when you do it - foot change instructions below).
- Lower your centre of gravity by bending your knees and pull hard on your front hand to initiate the down loop of the kite. Get your weight onto that leeward rail.
- Continue to put all your pressure onto the leeward rail while driving through with your front foot and keep your head up and looking forward in the direction of travel.
- Keep pulling the kite through the turn and, as you pass through dead downwind, begin to gradually level the board off by steadily standing up.
- As the kite starts to climb up the new side of the window continue to straighten your knees and open your shoulders up towards the front of your board.
- Get the kite up to one (or 11) and bring your back foot forward into its new strap (on a surfboard bring your foot forward to make a triangle as you twist your old front foot from the strap. On a raceboard you still make this shape but with your heels well apart).
- Dive the kite hard, bringing the power on while driving through the front foot, getting your back foot back into its strap and moving your body weight outboard.
If you're getting pulled off sideways as you go into the carve, make sure to bear off far enough downwind before you start to carve and keep your speed up.
If your lines go slack and the kite falls then you're catching the kite up too quickly. Move it earlier and before you initiate the carve.
If you're wobbling off during your feet change, try keeping your head up, eyes forward and make sure the kite is high and stable.
Losing speed on exit is often because you weren't carrying maximum speed into the entry. Be aggressive with the kite while flattening the board off just after passing through dead downwind.
If you're getting pulled off at the end, ensure that you start to flatten the board off just after dead downwind to keep your speed up and avoid turning too far into the wind.
Whichever board you perform a carving gybe on, the key points remain the same:
- Carry good speed on entry; stay committed through the turn and try to maintain speed on exit. If you have all of these dialled, then you will be able to look back and smile at the perfect arc of wake you've left behind you in the water as you speed away.
- Remember the key to success is commitment, positive attitude and practise.
For more technique tips and videos visit Lee's school website. 'Pasty' is also running a wave clinic in Dakhla 1st March to 12th March and there are a few spaces still available so book your space here: www.pastyadventures.co.uk
Lee is sponsored by North Kiteboarding, Resin8 surfboards, West, Freeriders and FCS