The golden ticket to being an independent kiteboarder is being able to kiteboard upwind. What this means is that you can start from the beach, ride out and come back to the point where you started. The alternative is having the wind blow you downwind. Once you learn how to kiteboard upwind, you can then learn how to transition and jump. The better you are at riding upwind, the lighter the winds you can ride in and the higher you can jump.
There are a number of different factors that play into being able to kiteboard upwind. This post breaks it down into the two most important tips.
Tip 1: Control Your Speed
To go upwind better, you need to control your speed. If you go too fast, you’ll lose control of your board’s edge and will skip downwind. If you go t0o slow, you’ll sink and stop. Control your speed by controlling your board angle and bar tension. As soon as you make a waterstart, begin pointing the front of the board slightly into the wind. As you point the front of the board into the wind, push out slightly on the bar or balance tension in the bar. Think of yourself as an elastic band between you and the kite. As you point the front of the board away from the kite, you create more tension between you and the kite. Balance tension by controlling the in and the out of the bar. To create more speed, point your board crosswind, “work the kite” and begin slightly edging into the wind.
Tip 2: It’s All In Your Hips
There are so many different ways to breakdown riding posture. The most important thing is to point your belly button in the direction you want to go. If you want to go upwind better, you’ll need to point your belly button upwind. Think of your belly button like a headlight and point it where you want to go. A common bit of advice some instructors will say is to take your bottom hand off the bar. This allows you to open up your hips more to point in the direction you want to go.
Practice, practice, practice. Try different techniques to find one that works for you. The most important things are to balance tension in the bar and use your hips to point and get upwind better. The more efficient you are at going upwind, the higher you will jump and the lighter winds you’ll be able to go out in.
Common Mistakes for Kiteboarding Upwind
There are some common mistakes that we have seen when learning how to kiteboard upwind. Sometimes it is easier to visualize the mistake before making the conscious effort to correct it. From our experience teaching, here are the three most common mistakes we see.
Mistake One: Sheeting In Too Much
The most common mistake we see is pulling the bar in for too long. It is okay to start with the control bar pulled in for a waterstart. But it is important to balance bar tension once a medium speed is reached. If the control bar is pulled in for too long, then the rider will experience too much speed. The key point is balancing the tension in the control bar. Pushing the control bar out to the “sweet spot” will allow the kite to push forward in the wind window. This allows the rider to go upwind better. If the bar is pushed too far out, then the rider will stop.
Mistake Two: Riding the Board Flat
Another common mistake is riding the board flat. This happens as a result of not trusting the harness. If the rider rides the board flat, they will end up riding downwind. The ideal riding posture is to relax, lean back a little, and trust the harness. A bonus tip is to think of the belly button like a headlight and point it in the direction to go.
Mistake Three: Eding Too Far Upwind
A third common mistake we see is kiteboarders trying to ride upwind too much. This occurs when the front of the board points straight or close to straight upwind. This will cause the rider to either skip across the water or stop. The ideal scenario is to ride perpendicular to the wind and slightly go upwind. Think of cutting a block of cheese. Don’t cut the whole block of cheese off. Cut little slivers at a time, just like cutting the board slightly into the wind.
Want to kiteboard upwind better? Sometimes you need an hour or two of private lessons to make the necessary tweaks that are specific to you. Fill out the form below: