Learn how to jump higher kitesurfing & improve your Woo score
In this blog post going to talk about how to jump using the kite & then go onto improving technique and bettering your WOO score as the blog goes on. Scroll down if you can already do the basics well to the ‘How to jump higher kitesurfing’ section.
As I’m sure many of you have seen from YouTube videos, the heights that can be achieved through these jumps can be dizzying, and is one of the defining features that really sets kitesurfing apart from other water sports.
So much so that Red Bull have created their own sports event dedicated to a particular type of jump; the infamous megaloop. However, before we have you jumping higher than your house,lets start with the basics.
A few safety considerations to make before you head out or learn to jump higher….
Give yourself plenty of room, both from other riders and any obstacles. When you jump, you will travel with the wind, so it’s particularly important to make sure there are no riders downwind of you, and that you are well upwind of the beach.
Don’t jump beyond your capability and confidence. Like when learning anything in kitesurfing, stay patient, take your time, and enjoy the learning process. This will ensure you progress with a good technique whilst staying safe and most importantly learn how to land properly before going too high, or it can be painful!
Always make sure your equipment is in good order. It’s a good habit to get into to checking your gear for damage before you go out riding, especially your lines and bridles. And ALWAYS check that your safety systems are working before you head out.
So let’s assume your now riding confidently with good upwind ability.
Firstly, make sure you have a reasonable amount of power, enough to ride upwind comfortably but not so much that you’re likely to lose control or be pulled off your edge. We want to leave the water but not into orbit while learning!
Getting airborne is the easy part, maintaining control while in the air and landing softly is the key. Then you can confidently get higher and higher knowing you’ve the skills to land it without injuring yourself.
Creating ‘Pop’ – The Take Off
Once you’re happy with the power of your kite, ride across the wind as if on a normal tack with your kite at either 1 or 11 o’clock, increase your speed slightly and edge harder to check how much power you have from the kite. If you have plenty of pull then progressively edge harder still until you’re creating a big spray from the back of the board.
Take a look at this video to show the progressive edging and then final explosive thrust from your back leg. This is what makes the difference between going forwards and falling on your face, or going up into a jump. Without the edging and take off, there is no way you can jump no matter what you do with the kite. So spend some time practicing this progressive edging and release from the water. The board tends to create a suction with the water while riding so this ‘pop’ technique also breaks that suction. While edging, you’re also building up the tension in your lines, so when you do start to use the kite for lift, you’ve created a kind of catapult affect between yourself and the kite due to that high amount of tension.
The video shows why the board speed going into the trick is important as if you don’t ride fast enough with power then as you begin to edge you’ll come to a stop.
You’ll notice the rider does a little hop beforehand so he can jam the rail of the board into the water even hard, we’d suggest leaving this part out until you’re a little bit more advanced as it could end it a very fast crash!
The key to pop is pushing down hard with your back foot to create a spray from your board but in just a fraction of a second. The amount of pressure needed from your leg is high, so imagine you’re trying to push your back foot through the board while ‘loading it up’ and then when you can push no more, lift your front foot up to break the suction the board has between its base and the water. All in a moment, the tension you’ve been building up in the lines will suddenly catapult you forwards as the board leaves the water.
This is something that can be practised without moving the kite at all, and is worth spending some time on it as it’s the most important the part. The rest is just steering the kite and timing!
Common Mistakes While Learning to Jump High Kitesurfing
- Not Enough Weight On The Back Foot – Most kitesurfers struggle with pop because it’s hard to imagine how much pressure is needed through the back foot. Around 90% of your weight should be pushed through it with a lot of force from your muscles.
- Not Enough Speed – If you were to do this at your normal riding speed, you’d quite quickly come to a grinding halt, so extra speed / power from the kite is needed.
- Not Enough Power – We do suggest learning with minimal power, but you do need some extra pull as otherwise it doesn’t let you build the right amount of speed. Too little power and it will make the trick more difficult, it’s a happy medium that’s needed.
- Lean Back – To create enough the build up of tension in the lines, you do really need to be leaning back a fair amount as in the photo above. Trust in your harness to hold you and your fins to grip.
Once you’re happy there’s no obstacles downwind of you, send your kite to 12. This will create a
high pressure under the kite canopy, which will give you the boost you need to jump.
Pull the bar in, and you should leave the water.
Whilst in the air, keep your kite at 12, and the bar pulled in. Leaning back away from the kite will
increase your stability.
As you start to come down, the kite will act as a parachute and steady your decent.
Just before you land, bend your front leg to give yourself a soft landing. If one of your feet comes out
of a binding whilst in the air, it’s best to kick the board off before you land to avoid the possibility of
any ankle injury.
Dive your kite, apply your edge and ride off, feeling truly rad.
Obviously you want to steadily progress your way to higher heights. The following factors are what
affect how high you jump, so as a simple rule, the less you apply them, the lower you will jump.
– the speed you are riding
– how hard you are edging
– the speed you send the kite to 12
– the amount you pull the bar in
And that’s it!
Take a look at this video by one of our instructors which helps explain the process.
- Riding speed – it’s essential to go into the trick fast enough that when you edge to put you don’t just kill all board speed and come to a stop but it’s just as important to not ride too fast. If you ride too fast you’ll not be able to hold the edge for long enough and again will ruin the board release from the water. A comfortable riding speed (10 – 12 mph) is ideal to begin with.
- Pop & Board Release – Lets be honest, who hasn’t seen someone trying to jump that goes about 30cm into the air and 25m down wind? Everyone has! It’s the most common mistake when jumping and it’s all down to the take off. If you don’t hold the edge of your board in the water for long enough you can’t build the tension in the lines and upwards lift so the kite will swing across the window which will end with you being pulled forwards very fast and not going very high! To remedy this, ride a little slower, hold the edge for longer and only release when you feel the kite heading back over 12 o’clock, which will then be generating upwards lift. Using a small wave or kicker to aid this can also be very beneficial.
Check out this video for details on how to pop.
Rotating in the air – These rotations are generally caused by an uneven take off, so it is important to try and get the board to release from the water all in one. This is most easily performed by lift your front foot up quite hard so that it breaks the suction of the board to the water. The advantage this gives is that it allows you to control when you want to take off exactly. Another way to stop rotating once in the air is to tuck your legs up close to your chest, and tense your core muscles. This will give you a lot more stability and allows a lot better control. It should stop you spinning once air born and remove the ‘dangling’ feeling under the kite.
Falling out the sky! – It’s actually relatively easy to jump and get quite high, but the hard part is controlled and gentle landings. It’s better to get the landing dialed before going to high as we’ve seen some pretty horrific injuries from heavy landings! The redirect is as important as the initial directional pull to create the take off. As you come in to land, don’t be afraid to steer the kite reasonably hard as it has a long way to go across the window in a short period of time. That movement is what is creating the lift to soften the landing. As you improve and begin going higher you can introduce the downloop landing for even more lift, but that’s on another blog!
Developing your ability to jump will unlock lots of potential for tricks and fun.
So give it a go, progress steadily, and ride safe.