Board Skills – A Beginners Guide
Board skills are as important as kite skills and are half the battle when it comes to learning. Coming from wakeboarding or snowboarding will give you an advantage, however, there are unique techniques that you’ll need to learn. Board skills are difficult to teach other than by watching and correcting, so the biggest tip I can give is you get out there on the water and practice. The quickest way to develop board skills is by spending the time on the water using trial and error.
Getting Your Board On
The first hurdle you will encounter when starting out is how to get the board on in the water without crashing your kite. This is a frustrating step for many beginners because you are so close to being there. Just remember, you will learn how to quickly and comfortably get your board on your feet and be out there cruising
soon! Try and use a combination of favorable conditions to makes this process less frustrating. Avoid waves, especially breaking waves. Try and find shallow water that is knee to chest deep. Try and kite in side shore or side-on wind. Check our “beaches” section for more information on beginner friendly spots.
The Location: Walk or body drag out until you are safely away from the beach and are in at least knee deep water with plenty of room downwind. Get the kite to 12 and your feet out in front of you (pointing downwind).
The Kite: Park your kite up at 12 o’clock. Try and keep the bar out (away from out) and fly it with one hand using very small corrections to adjust the kite to stay directly overhead. Fly the kite with your left hand when you put your left foot in, and your right hand while you put your right foot in. The opposite hand will hold the board. You can de-power your kite here on the strap if you want to make things easier or if you are being pulled down wind.
The Board: You will be holding the center grab handle while you get your feet into the straps. It will make your life much easier if you set your straps a little loose so you can easily slip your feet in. As you get better, tighten them up. Hold the board with your right hand and put in your left foot, then hold with your left and put in your right foot. Try and do this as quickly and calmly as you can.
Correcting rotation: You may find that you begin to rotate as you put the board on. This may be a symptom of the kite moving around, so try to keep it at 12 and de-powered. Once you get the board on, you can drop the bar with one or both hands and tread a little water to readjust.
The Waterstart : Board Skills
Once you have your board on and you are comfortable, you’ll be ready to attempt a waterstart. Keep your board out in front of you and your legs extended. As the kite pulls you up, try and let you back leg compress and keep the front leg straight. This will bring the board up behind you so you point a little downwind which will make it easier to get going. Keep the board flat as you exit the water, and let it point 45 degrees downwind. Once you build speed, you can begin to edge.
Edging : Heel Side
Until you reach the intermediate level, you will only be edging on your heel side. Once you build up enough speed, you can begin to lead back, and roll the board back onto your heels, causing the heel side to dig into the water. You can practice edging by rolling back and forth from flat-foot to your heels. Learning to effectively edge will be the main component of staying upwind. As you edge harder, put more pressure on your back foot and less on your front foot.