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Kitesurfing is one of the most popular water sports, and it is a great way to experience the ocean’s rough waves and freedom by riding over water with your kite pulling you along. It demands a considerable measure of control over your feet and body as you try to stay on the board and direct it as the water flows beneath you. This is done all while controlling a kite that pulls you along, manipulating it to manage your direction and speed better.
If you are a newcomer to the sport, it can be quite tricky getting the hang of it and learning how to kitesurf successfully. In this article, we’ll be covering the basics and giving you some kitesurfing wave riding tips and pointers to get you started!
Kitesurfing Wave Riding Tips
Gybes and Powered Carving Turns
Learning how to ride the waves is going to be tricky if you aren’t used to controlling the board, kite, and your body. Gybes and powered carving turns are two invaluable skills that will help you better master wave riding and make you a better kiteboarder overall.
Here is how you can practice and master your carving in three simple steps.
Back Foot to the Back
As simple as it sounds, all you need to do is ensure your back foot is as far back as possible, right up against the back of the tail end. Despite this being a simple step, many forget to do even this or don’t do it properly. You need to have this wider stance with your feet far apart to become more stable on the board, making it less likely you’ll wipe out while trying to carve the waves.
Plus, you can also control the board much more easily with your foot at the back, taking pressure off your feet to turn. Don’t forget to do this step, as it will lead to unnecessary strain and will make the subsequent steps much more difficult. Get into the habit of placing your back foot all the way back.
Put your Weight on your Front Foot
When you’re turning, you need to shift your weight forward onto your front foot to allow control over your speed and direction. Most surfboards are designed to be used and directed this way, so a seasoned surfer might have this come naturally to them. However, if you’re new to the sport, experiment with your foot placement and weight distribution between your feet.
Leaning on your front foot allows you to accelerate and keep your speed up while on the wave, so if you find yourself lagging on the waves, it might be because you aren’t distributing your weight properly. Practice finding what is ideal for you.
Bend your Knees
The idea here is to lower your center of gravity as much as possible. A lower center of gravity is very beneficial when surfing, so keep your knees soft and bent when carving and turning, as it allows you to shift your weight between your feet, heels, and toes. This ultimately makes carving more smooth and impressive, as having straight legs would make it more difficult to shift weight on the water and make it awkward to achieve the same effect.
Carving Into the Wave
Now that you know the techniques you should practice, you can take to the water and begin experimenting. Of course, you should start off slow before taking on the more gargantuan waves. Begin by practicing on flatter water that doesn’t have as much swell to it, and practice on the smaller waves as they approach the shore. Your aim is to approach the wave, carve across the face of the wave, and head back to shore.
What you should be focusing on is your weight distribution, foot placement, and kite work. The main benefit of carving to turn is that you only have to turn your kite once when turning, relying on the additional speed and power of the wave to do most of the work of turning you. This allows you to focus more on the balance you need to move up and down the wave face.
Gentle carves are ideal for smaller swells in the water that have yet to form into proper waves. You can even practice on more gentle waves, too. Generally, you’ll have two options on how you can approach this technique.
- Ride out heelside, gently carving onto the wave and coming out toeside.
- Ride out on your toeside edge and gently carve onto the wave, coming out heelside.
Both of these approaches require more gentle, precise movements when controlling your kite, as you’ll be learning how to rely on the energy from the waves to keep your momentum going as you carve.
Once you have practiced enough with gentler waves and swells and are confident in your ability, you can begin taking on steeper waves closer to breaking on the shore. Again, there are two general ways to approach this.
- Ride out heelside, carve with power onto a wave, and come out toeside.
- Ride out on your toeside edge, carve with power onto the wave, and come out heelside.
As you pick up more power on these waves, you’ll likely notice the increased speed you carve with. You’ll be accelerating incredibly fast with powered carves, so you need to be confident in your ability to keep your balance and control. Focus on your kite the most and fly it a lot more aggressively, turning it before your board to carry your momentum back to the shore.
To quickly recap, you’ll want to ride the waves by carving into them using the three steps described above. Keep your foot to the back, learn to distribute your weight onto your front foot efficiently, and keep your knees bent. Start with gentle carves to practice, and once you are confident in your ability and skill and think you know precisely how to control the kite and your body weight properly, take to the steeper waves for more powerful carves, which are much faster.