Learning to stay upwind is one of the first and most important kitesurfing skills you will want to learn as soon as you are up and riding.
‘Riding Upwind’ is the first in our new series of progression tutorials brought to you by Calvin Da Silva from Kitesports, a reputable kiteboarding shop based near Durban, South Africa.
Calvin is a qualified IKO Instructor at Kitesports and one of their most accomplished team riders.
BTW: If you haven’t started kitesurfing yet, but you are thinking about learning, may we suggest our Beginners Guide to Kitesurfing: Getting Started.
How to Ride Upwind
So you’re up and riding and addicted to kiteboarding! All that’s left is to ride upwind so you can forget about that walk of shame back up the beach to have another go. The key to staying upwind is to have enough power in the kite so that you can keep it in one position and ride. Keep the kite at 11 o’clock if you’re riding left foot forward and open your head, hips and shoulders to face the direction you want to ride in. Lean your shoulders back away from the bar, which automatically puts weight on your heels and sinks your board edge into the water.
Correct Riding Stance
Your stance is also a key element here. Keep your hips more forward, not back as if you are sitting on the toilet. There’s a well known saying for this, but I will spare you the details for the sake of our younger more innocent readers… Also, keep your front leg pretty straight and bend your back leg – this will shift your weight back and help you to apply more pressure on the back edge of the board which will shoot you upwind. The key is to get a balance between board speed and amount of edging against the kite so you continue to go forward without stopping or having to go downwind toward your kite.
Say goodbye to those irritating walks back upwind!
- You keep sinking back down into the water
Ride slightly downwind first to pick up some speed before you start edging against the kite. Also don’t put too much pressure on your back foot – this will turn the board upwind too much, effectively putting a brake on your forward momentum. You might also be ‘parking’ the kite too soon. ‘Work’ the kite in a wave-motion down and up to build up some more speed before you park it at around 45 degrees.
- You get pulled downwind at speed
Straighten your front leg and bend your back leg to get more weight over your back foot. Think of your front foot as an accelerator and your back foot as a brake – the more you push on your front foot the faster you go, the more you push on your back foot the slower you go. You might also be ‘working’ the kite too much. Just park it at around 45 degrees and edge harder.
As always, we would love to hear from you… if you are struggling to stay upwind, feel free to ask questions in the comments below and we will be happy to help you.
Calvin Da Silva (Kitesports)
To learn more about Kitesports, visit their website at: www.kitesports.co.za
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