How to Kiteboard Upwind in Lightwinds
Technique will help to kiteboard upwind in lightwinds. Other factors that play a role are equipment, rider weight and conditions. The focus of this post will be on the technique to kiteboard upwind in lightwinds.
Other variables play a role in the effectiveness of kiteboarding upwind in lightwinds. For example, the size of the kiteboarder and the equipment they are using. Another thing to consider are the conditions.
The ultimate lightwind weapon is a hydrofoil. Hydrofoils are much more efficient than traditional twintips. These boards will provide the best lightwind performance.
The bigger the twintip, the easier it will be to kiteboard upwind in lightwinds. The reason for this is because there is more surface area on the water. With more surface area, it is easier to generate more speed with the board. More speed can be converted to increase the apparent wind. We recommend board sizes between 150-165cm.
A bigger kite does not necessarily mean that it is possible to go upwind. Technique is the most important factor. And the rest of this blog post will cover the technique needed to ride upwind. At 160 lbs with a bigger twintip board and the right conditions, it is possible to kiteboard upwind in 7-11 kts. The kite size we recommend for this weight is a 15m. The bigger the rider, the bigger the kite. For example, someone over 180 lbs should consider a 17m or 19m kite size.
We know the winds are light, but what about other factors like density of the wind or currents. Density of the wind is a real thing and plays a factor. A basic rule of thumb for this is that dry air is more dense than humid air. Current may be the most important other variable to consider. First determine if the current is going with the wind or against the wind. If the current is going into the wind, then that works out in the kiteboarder’s favor. If the current is going with the wind, the kiteboarder will lose apparent wind. In this situation, lightwind will feel even lighter. Another way to determine if the current is going with the wind is if the kite feels like it has more bar pressure than normal. This will occur if the rider is working harder to generate speed and has to keep more tension in the bar.
The most important variable for kiteboarding upwind in lightwinds is keeping the kite deeper into the wind window. The next most important variable is maintaining a balanced edge with the board. These two variables together and in sync with each other will make it possible to kiteboard upwind in lightwinds.
Kite Positioning: Deeper in the wind window
Position the kite deep into the wind window to capture the most amount of wind. An effective waterstart will position the kite deeper into the wind window. If riding to the right, bring the kite to the left then dive the kite down. The kite should be around 11 o’clock when initiating a kite dive to the right. This motion of bringing the kite to the left to go right brings the kite deep into the wind window.
Maintain tension in the bar once kiteboarding. If the bar is pushed out, the kite will push to the outside of the wind window. This will cause the kiteboarder to sink in lightwinds. The process will have to begin all over again by bringing the kite up and diving it down again. Moving the kite up and down creates power but is more likely to pull a rider downwind. Maintain tension in the bar early on to generate power and build speed. A moderate amount of speed will be used to go upwind.
Board Positioning: Balanced edge
Initiate a waterstart like normal. Be aware that in lightwinds, micro adjustments are important. What this means is that the rider should not ride downwind too much or upwind too much. As soon as the rider stands up from a waterstart, ride crosswind to develop speed. Once a moderate amount of speed is created, use that speed to edge slightly into the wind. If a rider edges too hard, they will cut their power and stop. If a rider rides downwind too long, they will lose tension in the kite and stop. Find balance between going upwind and downwind. The key point is to ride crosswind then slightly into the wind.
Kiteboarding upwind in lightwinds takes skill but creates better kiteboarders. It forces the rider to be as efficient as possible between kite handling and board handling skills. The more efficient a kiteboarder is, the better and higher they will jump. To fast track your progress, schedule an advanced lesson to better your skills.