If you want to get into unhooked kiteboarding, here’s a detailed guide on how to get started. It’s a lot more fun than you’d expect, especially once you get the basics right! Follow the instructions below to avoid hard crashes and learn to unhook faster and more effortlessly than ever.
Before We Start
Unhooking for the first time should be done in the right conditions, meaning you slightly struggle to pull the bar in fully and ride without getting dragged downwind, or any lighter than this to the point where you can still generate good pop hooked in (without sending the kite). You’re best off learning on a 9-14m kite. Make sure you pull in some trim line on your kite to stop it backstalling and to reduce the power slightly, then attach your leash to suicide so the safety doesn’t pull each time you crash. Every bar has a different setup so check the manual that came with your kite. It’ll either be a loop you can hook onto, or hook straight onto the chicken loop.
Choose Your Trick
Choose either a back roll or a raley to land first. I think back rolls are probably easier but they don’t teach you the best technique. You could also learn flat 360s or unhooked kiteloops first but they don’t teach you powered trick technique.
Now Let’s Get Started
Gain a comfortable speed and keep the kite quite high to start with (60-75 degrees). Keep your body compact and elbows tucked in, most importantly move your hands to the centre of the bar so the kite is less responsive to steering.
Point your board downwind and keep pointing more downwind until you can unhook comfortably. The video below shows me pointing downwind. Because the water is so flat, unhooking is effortless. A beginner will want to point much further downwind for their first attempts.
Video: Bare Off Downwind
If you are viewing this tutorial in an email or RSS reader, click here to watch the videos.
Edge hard against the kite and then slide the board out the water just as the kite gives you a big yank. Have more weight on the back foot but keep the distribution quite equal. If you pop hard enough it should almost be second nature to fly the board up behind your head.
This is a little hard to describe in words, so check out the video below. You’ll see that you need to slide the board out the water in the direction you’re travelling while pushing off with your feet and sweeping your heels back towards your bum with the board behind you. In other words, the board gets released in two directions as illustrated in the image above.
Video: Pop Into a Raley
This is a very different pop. You want to edge hard against the kite with more weight on the back foot, not releasing your edge until you’ve almost done half a back roll. Time this edge release with the maximum pull from the kite and you’ll get a nice rip off the water. With the back roll you only really slide the board out of the water where your feet are pointing and then push off with your back foot to help the rotation. Keep looking over your front shoulder and tuck your knees in until you want to stop the rotation.
Video: This is a back roll to toeside to emphasize the back roll edge release
You’ll want to pull the bar into your front hip as you come in to land. This usually comes naturally, and will keep you stable and ready to land.
Land with your board pointing downwind. This will take the power out of the kite, letting you focus on your balance to land the trick.
6. Hook Back In
Keep pointing downwind while you hook back in. If possible keep both hands on the bar or take one hand off to guide the chicken loop in. As a last resort grab the chicken loop with both hands to hook back in quickly.
That’s the theory complete. It’s the easiest part to understand; now all you need to do is keep putting this into practice and eliminate any common problems you’re having. You’ll feel uneasy unhooking with no depower to start with, but it’s a case of unhook more and you’ll get used to it.
Don’t unhook while overpowered in the beginning. Make sure you can land a raley or back roll before trying in more wind. Make sure you pull a bit more trim line in first. When overpowered bare off downwind more and make sure you are fully committed. Don’t go into the trick half hearted as you’re likely going to mess it up and progress slower. Here are more tips for Overpowered Unhooking.
In choppy conditions, ride slower and pick your takeoff more carefully. Try to launch your trick off a piece of chop for a cleaner release.
Kite Drifts to 12 or to the Water
This is your hand balance. Make sure you counteract whichever side of the bar you naturally pull when unhooking. Eventually it’ll become second nature. If you’re sending the kite to 12 then try to get the kite flying slightly downward just before you unhook.
Over Rotation or Getting Twisted
Tense your core and pull the bar towards your front hip.
Being a Wuss!
You have to commit 100% to unhooking for it to work. My first raley I committed 100%, lost the kiteboard mid air and did a superman with perfect technique (minus the board). It didn’t take long to learn. When I learnt to land blind I spent months crashing kites and half committing, so it took me much longer than it should have to land.
You know you’re under committing in decent winds if you get a soft pop or let go of the bar each time you take off.
Board Comes Off
Release the board more to the side (the direction you’re travelling) rather than backwards, lock your feet and tighten your straps. Or just chuck on a pair of boots, they make unhooking feel great.
Don’t Practice This
In my opinion, don’t practice raleys hooked in, or doing small pops unhooked or just riding around unhooked. They don’t replicate much technique needed for a powered raley or backroll. You’ll learn much more by not putting it off and practicing unhooked raleys or backrolls straight away, I find raleys more comfortable than unhooked pops or riding around unhooked.
That’s all you need to know, now think less, practice more and start pushing your riding!!!
Let me know if this post helped you or if you have any questions in the comments below.
Charlie is an aspiring professional kitesurfer, dedicated to progression and pushing himself on the water in every session. You can follow his progression at: blog-charlieprice.com, or on instagram/snapchat/twitter: charlieprices or facebook.com/charlieprices.