Toeside Wave Riding Tips

The 12th of August will go down as a day to remember as far as kitesurfing in Durban goes! Surf and wind combined and the crew hit Kite Beach Durban for one of the best kiting sessions in a long time.

Kitesurfing - Wave Riding - Floater - Rob Chrystal

The swell was SW 3.4 m at 11 seconds and was pushing a solid 4-5ft mid-break that had power, was hollow and grinding. The wind was NE 12-14 knots, but with a counter current on the inside, we had the power we needed.

Toeside Wave Riding Advantages

Kite beach in Durban has a more onshore wind and lends itself to toeside wave riding. For those who are new to the wave riding side of kitesurfing, toeside wave riding is where you edge against the kite and once mastered allows the rider the benefit of having a brake (your board or hand) and an accelerator (the kite) as well as a balancing bar (the kite bar) – all these combine to make it a very effective way of riding barrels. On this particular day, the shore break was unforgiving and was not for the faint-hearted. If you crashed your kite, chances are you would not get it back into the air as the counter current was preventing it from re-launching. Scott Hunter had a bad day in the water and tore 2 of his kites in an hour. The boys were pushing the limit, but were paying the price. They had to commit to the barrel as there weren’t many doors being left open.

What this session emphasised was how each form of wave riding has its place and how if you use the kite in right way you can take full advantage of the conditions. There were a few kiters out there that were dominating the session, whereas for most it was a matter of survival. The difference was in the way that they used their equipment to put them in the right position. Wave riding is an art and each form of wave riding is very technical and different – here are a few tips and shots from the day that will help you with this style of riding.

Toeside Wave Riding Tips & Tricks

Kitesurfing - Toeside Wave Riding - Craig Chrystal

Craig Chrystal | Photography by Ryan Joffe

Craig Chrystal was one of the standouts – here he is seen loving the intensity! The best tip for toeside riding is to get your speed up. A lot of riders ride on their back foot too much but the trick is to get your weight forward to get your drive – notice how Craig is leaning forward here. Once you have the speed you can direct it and change the angle of the wind. The trick is being able to get the speed so that you don’t need to fly your kite too much. It is also about your kite position – too high and it pulls you off the wave and doesn’t give you drive – get the kite and the board to work together.

Getting Barreled with a Kite

Kitesurfing - Toeside Barrel - Rob Chrystal

Rob Chrystal Getting Barreled | Photography by Ryan Joffe

Rob Chrystal using his trailing arm to bleed the speed and find the green room. You can use your arm in the wall of the wave to stall or slow yourself down – as he does this he depowers the kite a little as well. Always be aware of your lines in the barrel and carry a hook knife just in case!

Cut Back Tips

Wave Riding - Cut Back - Peter Bolton

Peter Bolton | Photography by Ryan Joffe

Peter Bolton shows off a very effective cut back. The trick is not to lose too much speed; you do not want to come out of this manoeuvre with no speed as it will bring you back into the pit. So try bring your kite a little higher when you do this just in case you need to dive it to get you out of the pocket. Rail to rail surfing – it is all about transferring your weight from the one rail to the next at the right time – a good kite will also not stall and delay before re-engaging – allowing you power throughout this move.

Floater Tips

Kitesurfing - Wave Riding - Floater - Rob Chrystal

Rob Chrystal | F-One | Photography by Ryan Joffe

Rob Chrystal Floats a thick section! The floater is a great move that allows you to get around sections but if you drive off the top you can use this to generate speed and it also helps you stay on the face of the wave. Again – make sure you don’t pull the kite back as you want to keep the motion going forward in the same direction as the kite.

So next time you have some onshore winds, even if you have small surf, get on it and start honing your toeside skills so the next time you are faced with decent swell you can make the most of it. The more you practice the easier it will get until it all gels together.

Written by

Rob Chrystal


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  1. This is probably the most helpful information that I’ve found and I’ll be reading it over and over again. Thank you so much!