Congratulations! You’re now comfortable enough with your kiteboarding skills – able to easily ride upwind, downwind, change directions, and do simple jumps – that you’re ready to move into freestyle kiteboarding and incorporate some new tricks.
If you’re just moving into the freestyle kiteboarding stage, these 3 tricks are a great place to start upping your game. They are fun, impressive and visually appealing, as well as will help you continue to build your confidence and skillset.
Note: freestyle kiteboarding tricks can be dangerous if not performed correctly, or if attempted by someone who does not have the fundamentals of kiteboarding mastered. Please exercise caution when attempting any of these tricks.
The Back Roll/Loop
If you’re a beginning with freestyle kiteboarding, the back roll/loop should be the first trick you master as it’s not only the easiest but can help you build a foundation for other more challenging tricks.
Before you start:
- Make sure you can do a basic jump and edge aggressively
- You should be able to ride without looking at your kite and with your hands in the center of the bar.
- You should be able to relaunch your kite in all sorts of conditions.
- Pick a day with about 15 knots wind where there is enough chop for you to focus on your body spinning (and less on working your kite).
- Start with a 12m2 kite (which leaves you more room for error).
- Keeping your hands close to the center of your control bar to avoid unwanted bar movements, edge upwind slightly while picking up some speed by getting your kite lower in the window. Then move your kite slightly higher.
- Lean backward and look toward your board’s riding direction (over your front shoulder), as you push your board firmly upwind by pressing into your heels.
- Sheet in and pop up to get your board off the water. Keep your eyes looking over your front shoulder and your body will naturally start rotating.
- Bring your heels up to your butt to spin faster while continuing to, look over your front shoulder. Try not to pull on your back hand when you’re spinning as this may trigger a kiteloop. (Keep your hands in the middle of your bar so that if you do accidentally pull the bar you’ll only be sheeting in.)
- You should now be above the water and positioned completely backwards with head and body facing opposite of your riding direction, while your body continues to spin around toward your riding direction.
- Turn your head to look toward your landing zone as your body spins closer to your initial riding direction. At the same time, pull your bar down to send your kite back into the front half-window to give it some power for your landing.
You’ve (hopefully) landed smoothly on the water heading downwind, and once your board is planing, you can carve upwind again.
The Front Roll/Loop
Once you’ve mastered the Back Roll, the Front Roll is a great freestyle trick to try. We recommend finding similar conditions to try this out as you did for the Back Roll – a choppy day where you can focus on the trick instead of your kite. You should have the same basic kiteboarding skills under your belt as recommended for the Back Roll.
- As you start to build up speed, move your kite up in the window,edge hard upwind. Start initiating a body rotation as you sheet in and pop off the water. This starts a lot like a back roll but instead of looking out over your front shoulder like you do in the back roll, turn your head to look over your back shoulder, rotating your front shoulder toward your back shoulder.
- Bend your front leg (relative to your initial riding direction) fully and extend your back leg as you take off – this will bring the rear tip of your board much closer to the water than the front tip.
- Continue to look over your rear shoulder (opposite your riding direction) as your body rotates, and bend your knees to tuck your feet up to your butt.
- As you’re about to complete your rotation, extend your legs to slow down your rotation and move the board back toward the water, and pull on the bar with your front hand to re-send the kite. Like with the Back Loop, keep your hands in the center of the bar.
You should land your board facing downwind with a bit of power still behind the kite.
Ready to get unhooked? The Raley is a great trick to learn as your first “unhooked” freestyle kitboarding trick.
Before you begin:
We recommend practicing popping up high (start unhooked) by digging your rails in hard as you send the kite back. You’ll need to balance just the right amount of power for this trick (not over or under powered). Keep your hand in the center of the bar (as with the previous tricks). Keep your kite high for your first jumps, and slowly lower it into a more horizontal position (releasing tension from your back).
Ready to try the trick?
- The pop is key with this trick. Start with your kite at around 45º, and lower your kite slightly as you pick up speed to lower the tension in your lines so you can easily unhook. Once you’re unhooked, keep your hands in a low position.
- Dig your rails in really hard and bend your knees. This will put your weight mostly in your heels as you lean your upper body backward, and will put a lot of tension in your arms.
- Once you can no longer stand the arm tension, let the pressure out in your legs and allow yourself to be get forward in the air as you relax your arms.
- Your arms and legs should now be extended and parallel to the water. Enjoy your flight and a full body stretch with your eyes looking ahead.
Gravity eventually wins and it’s time to land. Make sure you have a good spot to make a landing and bring your legs back in so you don’t land belly flop! You might want to take your back hand off the bar to help keep your balance and get in an upright position, bend your knees and land as softly as you can.
image courtesy of YouTube