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What I pack when in a foreign country

Four things I travel with when traveling around in third world countries: toilet paper, duct tape, peanut butter, and a flash light. You will need these, probably not in that order. I also like to carry some repair material that comes with the kite along with the loctite repair kit that I will go over in a separate video. Also if you are using bridled kites then carry a few stainless sail makers thimbles to replace blown out pulleys as well as a few extra screws for the straps and pads as well as fins. If you’re going on a very long trip then take two bars.

When I travel just to go kite in the states then I can usually fit all I need to kite in just a golf bag. I put one board in the bottom, you shouldn’t need a big board since you’re traveling for the wind and I can fit two bars, two kites, harness, wetsuit and repair material also an extra leash. I usually try to put all my cloths that I’ll need into a back pack and use that as carry on to skip getting charged.

If you are traveling with a bunch of gear like I usually do, then make sure to have the duct tape ready and show up early. I do the same thing for cloths being in my carry on, but I’ll also roll up an extra duffle bag and bring it along in case I need to put some stuff into a separate bag. I’ve had to use the tape to secure the bags since some board bags don’t last too long, also make sure to bring your own tie downs. I’ve never been to another country where they have anything better than twine.

Beginner Skills and Drills

  • How to Fall

If you can’t hear me due to the wind, I’m saying that when you fall while kite boarding, you should put your arm that you’re falling on, out so to deflect the water from hitting your ear drum. Also if you fall and immediately start body dragging, then by the time you slow down and switch directions, you’ll be up wind of your board. Many people fall and try to steer the kite with both hands while sending themselves down wind, and usually whacking the side of their head into the water.

  • How to Launch and land a kite

In this video I’m explaining that when you launch or land a kite that one hand should be steering the kite near the middle  of the bar while the other hand should be on your safety. I had my bypass leash on so it didn’t flag the kite, beginners should have their leash attached to the flagging line. By having your hand on your release, you will be able to flag the kite before getting yard-ed in case your kite should fly out of control. Remember that if a kite yanks you hard and you have both hands on the bar, you will not be able to look down and activate the release in time to prevent getting hurt.

  • Kite Anchor

I have been using these in my school for years and have had no problems with them. I highly recommend getting one to help with launching and landing your kite. Also great for kiting off a boat since it keeps the boat free to do rescues. Contact kiteanchor.com for more info. Just remember to use the silver to yellow technology and the anchor will always hold.

  • Proper way of holding a bar, walking with a kite, where to look when riding

In this video, I go over some of the basics of holding a kite properly with your hands close together. Walking with the board and having the kite take you where you want to go and also where to look for transitions and jumps to bring them up to the next level.

  • Toe Side

When trying to learn to ride toe side, I find that most people try to learn it by doing a heel side carve transition into the toe side position. That actually makes it harder to get into the toe side position. So start off with just sliding the board into the toe side position. A few things to think about before going into toe side. You want to take your front hand off the bar and keep your back hand in the middle of the bar and maybe even have a finger or two on the other side of the depower line. Kite should be at 45 degrees or a little higher and have a controlled speed. Also as you are riding heel side, take note to where your board is going and think of there being a line that you are following. So when you go toe side, you want to try to line up on that imaginary line. Now as you bring the back foot forward and put pressure on the front foot to slide the back foot around, look at the water or away from the kite. Once you get into the position, look away from the kite if you haven’t already. Remember to just ride with one hand on the kite. Try to lean over and touch the water. You will crash about 8 times before having this trick down. You’ll fall forward, backward, stall, and slide out but don’t worry about crashing the kite. It will just be sitting at the edge of the window or up at 12. Another thing you can do is try to go into toe side and then come right out of it. Go for short runs at first and back to heel side so that when you do feel like you’re going to wipe out on a long run, you can get out of it and the fear of crashing will be erased. Once you learned this in one direction, start going for the other direction. Then try that carving transition into and out of it and even try a small jump from heel side to toe side.

Beginner tricks

  • Transitions

To transition you need to be able to stay up wind and I recommend using a big board to learn this.

First an over view of the transition:

I’ll explain this as going from right to left. Ride with the kite at above 45 degrees. Come into the trick with a moderate speed but not too fast, you want to be changing direction so enough speed that if you let off the power of the kite, you would skim across the water for a few feet. You will make the transition using your speed, not the kite. As you get to where you want to turn start to bring the kite up to 12 slowly and start to look to the left. While doing this bring your back foot forward and point it down wind. Keep diving the kite and head down wind till the kite comes into your line of vision and once you have speed then edge back up wind.

A couple of things to understand before going into transitions. First, the kite can always speed up but if you try to slow it down, it will stall. Second, the kite always goes first and then you react at the proper moment to catch up to the kite. Third, never look at the kite, and fourth is to always head down wind to keep your speed and prevent stalling.

To perform a basic heel side to heel side transition. Ride at a moderate to slow speed. Let’s say to the Right, you’re going to have the kite up at about 2. Look away from the direction you are going and look down wind or in the opposite direction, or even at your board. Start to bring the kite up to 12 with the back hand while bringing your back foot forward and putting weight on your old front foot. You’ll butter slide a little with the kite at 12 but it’s fine since you want to keep the speed by heading down wind. Keep pulling on the back hand which will now become the front hand until the kite comes into your line of vision and you can then get an edge and ride away from the kite.

You have to trust the kite and not look at it, when you look at the kite, you lean back and fall on your butt. If you look at the board then you’ll focus on the edging and you’ll feel the kite pulling you. If you end up moving the kite too fast then you’ll get a little boost followed by a falling into the water. Try to fly that kite over very slowly, you can always speed it up afterwards to get some speed to ride out. Also remember to head down wind, if you don’t then you will stall and sink. A technique that helps a lot is take your front hand off while performing this trick and you will forget about trying to control the kite and force yourself to ride with the pull of the kite. It will also get you to fly the kite fluidly.

So here’s the break down. The kite will make a fluid motion with no change in speed from one side of the wind window to the other side. Your head will look in the opposite direction and not at the kite. Your hands will be in the middle of the bar and you might take the front hand off the bar. The board will have pressure on the back foot then the transfer of pressure will go to the front foot as the board heads down wind. Put all those things together and you’ll be doing down loop transitions in no time.

If you are stalling and sinking, you are edging too much and need to go down wind more. If you are making the transition but not riding out, same thing as stalling, go down wind more. If you are sliding out onto your butt, you’re looking at the kite. If you tend to get whipped then you are flying the kite too fast. People seem to focus a ton on the kite, it’s big and slow and they all re-launch so don’t worry about it. If you’re not crashing then you’re not learning.

  • Body dragging with your board and getting past waves

This is something that many schools don’t teach. This method will help you to get out past the waves, get back in if the wind is dying out and even get out off shore enough to ride on shore winds. You want to lay on top of the board with your top hand on the bar and the bottom hand holding the front foot pad. You will be able to extend your arm out to increase your surface area. Your chest should be resting against the other foot pad. This will get you moving very quickly. If you are trying to go too far up wind, your feet will start to curl forward so point the board towards the kite and you’ll speed up again. Don’t try to fight the pull of the kite, just go with the flow and you’ll get pulled right off shore in no time.

When dealing with waves, give yourself a good 100 yards to get out past them, you’ll do one tack and make it right up wind anyway once you’re past them. Now this method works for riding out and body dragging out. Go with the waves. Don’t try to bust out past them. While riding just do little hops and keep going with them till you make it out, keep in mind that the white water has no traction to it so try to steer clear of that stuff. The advantage of body dragging is that you can duck dive through the waves at times. Just keep the kite high and let it slowly pull you out. If you fight the pull of the kite and the flow of the waves, you’ll end up downwind the same as going with the flow but you’ll still be on the inside of the waves getting a pummeling.

  • Rules for all tricks

I have a few rules that hold true for all tricks that I’ve learned over the years. The kite is always first, never look at the kite, and always head down wind. This can be seen from every motion in kite boarding from going up wind to back rolls with kite loops. The kite is a slow-moving object and if you wanted to change direction with your body then it would take you a second to change your body stance. The kite on the other hand needs time to pass to the other side of the wind window so always let the kite go first and then just wait till you feel the pull before throwing your trick. You will always be able to catch up to the speed and pull of the kite. The next rule is to never look at the kite. Kite boarding is all about the feel of the wind and water. Once you look at the kite, then it’s all over. If trying to go up wind and you look at the kite, you’ll go down wind. If trying to do a back roll and you look at the kite, you’ll be drinking a lot of water. This is because your body follows where you look. So looking up wind brings you up wind and looking over your shoulder makes you perform back rolls. Get used to the feel of the kite and stop looking at it. Believe me, you will not crash. The last rule is that you always need to head down wind. Try to get up on a board and go up wind immediately. You’ll stall and go down wind or just sink. Try to go right up wind in a transition and the same thing happens. Try to land a trick on edge, you’ll fall over and drink some water. All these tricks are accomplished just by going down wind a little. So keep in mind that down wind is just as important as up wind.

  • Jumping to boosting

Start off by riding with the kite at 45 degrees and just hop off the water. You can pull in on the bar as you perform the hop from the water. Don’t look at the kite, keep looking at the water and when you land, head down wind. You want to do this hop by pushing down with your back foot and lifting up with the front foot as if doing an Ollie on a skate board. After you get a few little hops, don’t expect to go bigger than 2 feet in the beginning; you are ready to boost. Ride with the kite a little above 45 and get some speed. Keep looking at where you are going, not at the kite. Pull on the back hand to send the kite to 12 and as it reaches, 12; you’ll feel the lift from the kite. At this moment, pop off the water and start to pull on your front hand. Now your hands should be placed in the middle of each side of the bar up to a thumbs length apart. After you get a few of these in, try taking your back hand off once you pop off the water and you will get the kite to come forwards nice and smoothly. You can also try to tag the tip of your board with the back hand to stop the pendulum effect that you will experience with bigger jumps.

  • Riding blind

This is a very stylish, but easy trick to learn and it stems into blind rewinds and prepares you to land tricks to blind. Some things you have to know before going into this trick are how to ride toe side and that you are going to crash a lot before you can do this without thinking. Riding blind is the same as riding toe side in reverse. That being said it took me almost a week to learn this trick but once I figured out the dynamics all my friends learned it from me in less than thirty minutes. So hopefully you will not get the beating that I received and just reap the benefits of knowledge of the trick.

Here’s the breakdown of the trick. If you ride toe side going to the left then you’ll be going blind to the right. So let’s work on the right side. Ride to the right at a good moderate speed. You’re going to pop and watch the front of the board as it lands and becomes your back-end. Don’t pay attention to the kite. Your hand is going to twist at the wrist and bend at the elbow to bring the bar behind you. The bar does not have to come to your back. So that’s it. Easy!  A little more info to help land it in a few tries. When you look at the board you want to watch the new tail of the board make the landing into the water. Then look at your foot and then your knee. This will put your body in the upright stance to ride away in the blind position. Once you can see your knee then you can look up at the horizon behind you. If you try to look at the horizon before spotting the landing and your knee then you’ll be too far over your back foot and you’ll slide out and into the water.

Some things to keep in mind, the lower the kite is, the easier it will be. Keep it low or it will pull you out of the blind stance. Try using a bigger wider board to learn this trick. I really liked the Aggression Fatty for learning this trick. It’ll let you mess up a little without making you come out of the trick and you don’t have to be very powered up to ride out on a bigger board.  Don’t look at the kite. Pay all attention to the board and the landing. Keep your one hand near the middle of the bar so you can pull in after the landing to power yourself up.

  • Front roll

One of the basic spin tricks that is fairly simple to learn. I tend to find the biggest issue people have with this trick is that they try to go for the roll before getting the pop. To perform this trick, you want to go into it with a little speed in the beginning. Once you learn the trick, the faster you go, the higher you will go. But even if I’m going to be jumping over a boat, I’m still only going about 20 miles an hour. So we’re going to do this trick going to the right. Ride with the kite at above 45 degrees and you want your hands to be in the middle of the bar but not over the center line. Watch the water and where you are going, never look at the kite or your rotation will stop. Pull on the back hand to send the kite to twelve and as it gets to neutral, you’ll feel the lift from the kite. At this moment you want to pop the board and jump in a straight up position. Once you have done the pop throw your head forward-looking over the front right forearm and at your left knee. As you throw your head, take the back hand off the bar. This is a key point in this trick, it will get the kite to fly forward and get you to go into the proper position to spin. You will come around and just keep looking over the forearm at the back knee and you will land it and ride off.

If you are not landing and ending up on your back then you are not getting the pop first or you are not keeping your head looking over the forearm. Don’t worry about getting around, get that pop and you’ll have plenty of hang time for the rotation. Also don’t look at the kite, all tricks involve feeling for the kite, never looking at it. When you take the back hand off, the kite will fly perfectly into position to keep you lifted long enough to perform the trick. You can also try to touch the end of your board while going for the spin to get your mind off of trying to control the kite.

  • Pendulum effect

This is something that you will experience when you first start to go big. This feeling of swinging is actually initiated when you take off from the water, but the kite has so much power on it that you don’t feel it until the power of the kite weakens after your apex in the jump. This feeling usually causes you to fall on your back or butt. This can also be caused by not letting the kite fly in a fluid motion. Maybe you go for the jump and then you pull on the front hand then a little on the back hand then the front hand in an effort to save yourself. So this is how to get rid of that feeling of swinging and build a little style in the process.

The easiest way to do this is to take the back hand off. So set up for a big jump. Go into it with speed, both hands near the middle of the bar with in a thumbs distance or less of the center. We’ll be going to the right for this explanation. Kite is above 45 degrees and you send it back fast, feel the lift and pop the board. Look at the water and keep a look out for the landing. Once you pop off the water try to take that back hand off and bring your feet up under you like a bird perching. You want to try to tag the tail of your board with your left hand, while your right hand just pulls down on the bar. Now when you put those legs back out for the landing, you will actually be throwing your body weight into the landing and the swing effect will be under your control. Eventually you’ll be throwing all your spins with one hand and going for board grabs at the same time. Start off with just trying to do the grad or just touching the tail of the board quickly but watch out for the fins. Eventually you’ll get comfortable and you’ll be holding and tweaking the grabs.

  • When in doubt loop the kite

This is something that I have taught to many riders that has opened changed their style and advanced them to riding at a very high level. Don’t be afraid to loop the kite. When you’re coming out of a trick and you are disoriented and don’t know where the kite is at, and you have a feeling that you’re going to eat shit. Just keep pulling hard on the one side of the bar and let the kite loop, more than likely it will pick you up and place you on your feet. When in doubt, pull the trigger and loop the kite. It’s very rare that it’ll crash and way more likely it will shoot back up to twelve. This simple thing will get you to turn many tricks into a transition and add some style without even trying.

  • Low to high, high to low

This refers to the kite and how it will affect your jumps. When you bring the kite from 45 degrees or lower up to twelve, this will give you little height but long distance of hover above the water. When you bring the kite from above 45 degrees to twelve, this will bring you more height. Most people experience the low to high jump first. You go out and think you’re super high and the world looks like it shrunk to the size of a basketball. You come in stoked and your friends let you know you were about 3 feet off the water, but you hovered there till you crashed on your butt. These two methods of jumping are used for different types of tricks. If you want to boost really high then you’re going to go from above 45 degrees to twelve which is what most people want to do in the beginning. Then you see someone throwing some hand drag or low spin across the flat water and you want some of that action next. That’s when the low to high comes in to keep you near the water surface while you perform your tricks. Keep in mind that the low to high method usually ends in a loop or a transition.

If you are wondering why these methods do what they do, it’s due to how the kite is loaded in relation to the wind window and yourself. If the kite is low and you load it up, the kite is going to be further back in the window when you release the edge which will swing you more to it. While if the kite is high up when you load it, you will not have the kite as far back in the wind window so the force will be more of a lifting up  above  the water. Any time a kite goes up, you will be pulled about the length of the distance between you and the kite in relation to the kites distance into the wind window.  Confusing, but it’s like when you hot launch a kite, the kite doesn’t come to you. You get dragged down the beach till the kite comes to twelve. So if it depowers and shoots up along the way then it’s a small drag, if it’s a slow foil trying to get up there then the dragging distance can be several yards long.

  • Taking a hand off

This is covered in many parts on this webpage. This allows your kite to fly more fluidly and gives you a hand free to perform a grab. If you are having problems with a spin or kite loop trick, taking the back or front hand off might help you complete the rotations or the loop.

  • More reason to let the kite go first

Many people have this concept when they are learning that you need to have constant control over the kite when learning new tricks. It’s far from the truth. Look at someone throwing a crazy kite loop handle pass or maybe a slim chance. For half the trick they’re too busy rotating and passing the bar to even try to control the kite at that moment in time. That’s because they set the gears into motion before the trick. Think of it as you’re on a path and the kite is on its own path and you will both meet up at the right time in the end to ride off. This knowledge is going to help you to learn front rolls, dangle passes, kite loops with spins and passes, pretty much all tricks. Something for you to think about is when you are going from right to left; it takes a split second to change your body stance. The kite takes several seconds since it has to fly from one side of the wind window to the other. So even if a person is learning to do a transition, if they try to turn before the kite gets sent then the hub caps are going to come off and a crash is inevitable. I will give a few examples to how this method is used. Keep it in mind when reading other content in this website when it refers to send the kite first.

So I explained something basic with the transition, now let’s go a little into a back roll kite loop. If you go for that pop before letting the kite come across twelve then you will have no lift and you’ll end up on your back or side. If you wait a second longer for the kite to load then you will be pulled around with the power of the kite and it will place you right on your feet.  Another example I figured out for throwing dangle passes is when I go for the jump, right before I go for the pull up to pass, I yank really hard on my front hand to send the kite forward. This keeps the kite in line above me and allows me reach the bar as I spin my body.

So you can see that this is something you will always use. Try to jump big by sending the kite and jumping right before you get the lift, it’s not going to end well. So slow down a little when learning tricks and let the kite go first.

  • Fear is a bitch

Kite boarding requires getting over your fears. Whether it’s a fear of something going to eat you in the water or going down wind, these things will inhibit your learning and enjoyment of riding. If you fear the water then you’ll never relax enough to ride and pay attention the wind. If you’re scared of crashing and getting hurt, then most likely you’ll mow the lawn for years and if you do try something then you’ll hesitate and hurt yourself. Respect the sport and wind but keep your head clear of fears on the water and you’ll have a much more enjoyable session. If you are not a strong swimmer, then take a swim class or go swim out in the ocean on a no wind day. Same goes for fear of sharks, get out and swim in the surf a little. If you’re going to get bit, it’s going happen no matter if you’re on a kite or not. If you’re worried about losing your board, easy fix. Leave the board on the beach while you go out and practice some body drags. If you’re worried about what might happen if you get out of control, then go on a light wind day and body drag off shore a little and pop that safety, see what happens and deal with it. I bring this up because when I first started to kite I was scared of something eating me and I was riding one day, saw a little black tip, freaked out and fell in. panicked to get to my board and got up finally to go and then saw some guy out just swimming along. The guy was old and looked like he did this swimming in the open ocean a lot, so I realized that if he can be out there not getting bit then I’m not going to get bit. Ever since then my riding has gone way up. Yes, I get that eerie feeling when body dragging across some murky channel but if it’s meant to happen then it’s going to happen, can’t have fear ruining my session. I believe most of the fears in kite boarding are due to the lack of basic knowledge of the sport. Practice your basics and you’ll get rid of a lot of those fears that are holing you back.

  • Kite boarding is easy, fun and equipment is meant to be abused

Nothing in kite boarding is impossible. All you need it the knowledge of how to do the trick and a positive attitude. I make sure when teaching that there is never a “maybe” said. It is always positive reinforcement and no expectation of failure. When I was first learning to kite board I had a friend that was sort of showing me the ropes. Back then no one really knew what they were doing. So my buddy was riding a little longer than me and that made him an expert at the time. Well my buddy would always say how hard the sport is and how I needed to practice flying my kite more on land before getting out on the water with a board. This went on for month. I was body dragging, riding land boards, hitting up the cable park and knew my kite inside and out. Eventually I said screw him and went out on my board, got right up after a few tries, rode down wind, hit some waves, came in and walked back up wind. Not so hard. Well my buddy’s attitude was still negative towards how easy the sport was. Eventually I had some wake boarding red necks join my kite club and they had a totally different attitude. My buddy Joe and I would ride out to the beach in his jacked up Suburban and Joe just picked up a brand new wake board and bindings. He goes to take it out of the truck and throws it across the parking lot. “What the hell was that for”, I said. He said “now there is nothing that I can do to make it worse, so I don’t have to worry about fucking it up.”

This attitude was very different from my other buddy that was so worried about putting a scratch into his board. Joe would go out and just go down wind, but he didn’t care. The kid would be un hooked the whole time and throwing back rolls, handle passes and an assortment of wake tricks. He would end up on the other side of the canal way of the 520 slick. He wasn’t the only one though. My buddy Mike was floundering right behind him so they would be able to walk the four miles back together in the shallow muddy waters. Joe put it very simple, “if something is going to happen, and might as well have fun till it does”. In a small amount of time of riding with Joe, I was riding at a much higher level. I didn’t care so much about the outcome of the day as long as I was safe and had a fun time.

I’m not saying to not give a shit about your gear or to do something stupid. But enjoy being out on the water. Don’t worry about what others are throwing and remember that this is one of the easiest, laziest sports out there. In what other sports can a person go from a total beginner to a pro rider in a month? So take your time or go balls to the wall, but stay safe and if you’re not crashing, you’re not learning and if it’s not fun then why bother doing it?

  • Back roll

Usually the first spin trick people learn and defiantly not the last. Being this is what I find people learn the first; I’m going to break it down into very small parts. This trick can also be done with the lift or without the lift of the kite. I’m going to explain it with the lift of the kite. I’m going to explain the trick going to the right. First thing is some pre board practice. Stand on the beach and try jump and do a 360. Haven’t done one of these since a kid huh? So do that a few times to the left and right. See how you put your head over your shoulder and hold it there till you land? You throw yourself with your arms and hips? Now get the kite in your hands and have it at twelve. Do the same thing; maybe yank in on the bar to get a little lift as you do the trick. This will get you to be able to rotate with your hands in front of you.  Now you’re ready for the board.

Go into the trick with the kite above 45 degrees. Watch where you are riding and you don’t need to be going very fast. You want to focus at first on just getting the pop and rotation in one fluid motion. Don’t worry about falling and don’t even worry about landing with the board on your feet. Go into this learning situation with the intent to crash about eight times. So the kite is above 45 degrees and you are riding, hands a thumbs length or less from the center of the bar. Look at where you are going and pull on the back hand to send the kite to twelve. This doesn’t have to be very fast, you just need a little lift. As you feel the kite start to lift you, throw your head over your right shoulder and pop the board. To do this pop you want to bend your front knee as you push down on your ball of the left foot. Like doing an Olli in skate boarding or popping in wake boarding. You’re going to be throwing your head, then the shoulder, and lastly the front hip. So think of as you push down on the back foot is the same time to be throwing your head over your shoulder. Now lots of people like to bring their shoulder to their head. The shoulder goes back and the chin tries to go past the shoulder. This will keep you from looking at the kite. Keep the chin over the shoulder till you land.

Now what about the kite in all of this? Who cares? Let it just stay at twelve. You want to get the rotation done a few times. Don’t even worry about keeping the board on your feet. If you can pop off the water with the kite at twelve, spin, land on your feet and still have the kite at twelve then you’re on the right path. Now try it again and, this time try to land with the board on your feet. Remember to head down wind when you land so you don’t catch edge. After you have this part done, your brain and body will be getting used to the rotation. Next step is to control the kite a little and to get it back down in order to ride off.

Throw the kite back and wait to feel the lift, go for the pop and rotation in one fluid motion. As your tail of the board is coming off the water and you are looking behind yourself, start to pull on the front hand by just pulling that front elbow to your ribs. I like to have student stake their back hand off at this moment. Instant fix and you will fly the kite perfectly forward and the landing will be smooth.

Some issues you might have is not getting the pop, this can come from trying to just jump with the board on your feet. Think about pushing that tail of the board into the water as to compress the water beneath the board. Also bring that front foot up in the direction of the rotation by bringing the front knee up as if you are trying to knee your hand.

If you’re stopping during the rotation and landing on your back then one of two things are happening. You’re looking at the kite and it’s stopping the rotation or you’re not keeping your head over your shoulder. You don’t need a lot of air to do this trick and the rotation takes less than a second to perform.

Landing it but not riding off or maybe the kite is falling out of the sky? Take that back hand off the bar and try to tag the board with it or just hold it off the bar for a second or two. I had a friend that tried to learn this trick and couldn’t get the kite forward so he eventually would just take the back hand off and hold it there so at first he looked like he was trying to high-five the bar when he did the rotation. Yes, I made fun of him for it but; by the end of the day he wasn’t doing the high-five to the bar and he was landing every back roll. Another thing that might keep you from riding off is that you are trying to get on edge too soon. Follow the kite after landing all tricks, go down wind with the kite till you are stable enough to go back up wind.

Remember to not try to go big with this in the beginning. You just want to get the rotation down and then move along to eventually riding off with it. After a few sessions you’ll be landing this to toe side and throwing grabs and eventually doing it wake style.

  • Hand drag

This seems to be the most sought after trick that I teach. It’s stylish and easy to learn no matter what your age is. It’s a trick that involves a few different tricks but once the gears are in motion, just hang on for the ride. The thing to know before going into this trick is back rolls. Yep that’s all you need to know. The rest is going to be forced upon you. If you know kite loops then it will make it easier but it’s not necessary. Let’s do this trick to the left, go into the trick with moderate speed, left hand off the bar and the right hand near the center of the bar. You’re going to ride and lean back a little as to skim the water with your left hand’s fingers. Start the kite at about 45 degrees and start to bring it up as you are riding, watch the water, not the kite. As the kite comes to twelve, you’re going to feel a lift from the kite and at that moment just lift your feet up in front of you as if you were going to just sit in the water and look a little over your front left shoulder. Your hand will still be skimming the water and it will pull you around. Don’t forget that once the kite starts to lift you as it goes past twelve, you need to pull in as hard as you can to make the kite loop. Don’t worry about being yarded. Your weight is going to counter react against the kites pull and you’ll just hover. Keep looking over your shoulder till you are landing. This trick can be done without looping the kite but it requires much more power in the kite. Also it is way easier to loop the kite. The loop just puts you back on your feet to ride off.

Some things about this trick that will help is that you don’t need to be lit up and a 12 meter or bigger kite is fine for learning this. This is also like doing a back roll with a kite loop but not as intense and you’re not popping off the water. You’re just going to lift your feet off the water and hover over the water with the harness and kite’s power holding you up. Remember to not look at the kite. Also remember to pull in as hard as you can on that bar. Most of the time people mess up on this trick is because they chicken out and don’t commit to the loop. The loop makes everything all better. Remember not to pop off the water, just lift your feet as you would to fall on your butt.

Many tricks that I teach work out better if you loop the kite. So when in doubt, pull the trigger. You will increase your chances of landing most tricks if the kite gets a loop.

Here is a link to an article I did with Mark Rush from Emerald Coast Kiteboarding http://kiteboardingmag.com/how-to/2009/12/08/hand-drag-backroll-kiteloop-transition/ with some pictures.

  • Blunt slide

This is another stylish trick that you see many of the pro riders throwing down and it is very easy to learn. The trick to this trick is to remove your toe side fins before attempting this trick. Also you need to be able to ride toe side. So if you ride toe side to the left, it will be easier to learn it to the left first. If you ride toe side to the right then learn it to the right first. Let’s go with the trick to the left.

Ride to the left on your heel side with some moderate speed. Power in the kite makes it easier so if you don’t have a lot of power in the kite then get that speed up. You’re going to focus on the board and not the kite. Keep your right hand near the middle of the bar and take the left hand off to use for balance. Watch the water and your board as you start to go into the same motion of going toe side from heel side but you’re going to lean hard to the water like you’re going to touch the water with that left hand and stop the board half way between the heel side and toe side. Keep that kite low so it keeps powered up. It’s a balancing act but just a few tries and you’ll get it.

Think about turning the board so that it is cutting through the water with its edge. The more pressure you put on that left foot, the easier it will be. This trick is really easy with boots on since you can lean as hard as you want and you will not come out of the boot but I learned and perform this all the time with straps so it’s very possible with both types of foot pads. Try to go for a little run at first and then see how far you can hold it. The key elements to this trick are speed and power in the kite. Also not having those toe side fins will help a ton.

Info about the compressor set up that I use

Over the past ten years of my kiting career I have advanced in every aspect of the way I kite including the way that I pump up my kites. First it was the hand pump then I moved on to using dive tanks. Now I have gone that extra step and installed a duel air compressor system. This allows me to have an unlimited amount of air at my disposal and to never have to waste time filling up a dive tank or dealing with a broken pump.

I started off with using the OB1 system from Air Zenith but due to the need for more power I opted this year to go with two Air Zenith OB2 air compressors. I connect them with hydraulic hose to water separators and then to a 5 gallon stainless steel air tank. From there I run one hose to a second 5 gallon tank which also has the air tool hose that I will use to fill my kites with.

One of my tanks has a blow off valve as well as the automatic pressure shut off on it. This allows the tanks to never get over 145 psi but incase the sensor malfunctions, the blow off valve will let the excess air out.  The air compressors I used, run off of 12 volt power so you don’t need to have inverter and all you need to do it keep the engine running while blowing kites up, so that the engines alternator keeps the  battery charged. I also put an on/off switch so that I can pop it on only when I want it to be running.

For commercial use I recommend having 10 gallons of air but if this is going to be for personal use then a five gallon tank will be efficient enough. Hornblasters.com of Tampa provides all the equipments needed except for the hoses and quick release hose fittings.  This setup can be adapted for use in trucks as well.  The set up time takes about a day to perform.  The guys at horn blasters provide schematics for the set ups of the compressors and are always there to answer any question you may have. They also provide all the wiring needed. For the set up that I have would cost around $1400 but that sure beats lugging air tanks around and running out of air at times.  Please contact me or hornblasters.com if you have any questions.

compressors side by side with a tank and water separator along with some of the wiring

Most common bad habits I tend to correct in a lesson

  • Holding your kite properly with two hands

This seems like such a dumb thing to go over but I tend to see most people on the beaches and that come out to ride holding their kite inaccurately. The kite needs to be held with the elbows down. It’s like steering a bicycle, in with one hand and out with the other hand. Also keep your hands only a thumbs length apart from the center of the bar. The length of the bar is to make the kite turn, but you don’t need your hands on the ends of the bar. Your kite will fly more fluidly and you’ll be more in control with your hands near the middle of the bar.

  • Flying your kite with one hand

A kite should being flown with one hand is a common activity in the world of kite boarding. It’s how you body drag up wind, it’s how you get your board and walk up the beach. Many tricks are done with one hand. So learn to fly it correctly. The hand being used to fly the kite should be in the center of the bar up to a thumbs length away from the center line. Do not put your fingers over the center line. If you hit a gust and don’t have a sheath over the center line, you will get rope burn. Now the thumb should be in the center of the bar under the center line. The motion used to steer the kite is the same for opening and closing a jar. Knuckles down pointing your thumb down will get the kite to go down. Pulling in on your pinky finger and pushing the thumb up will bring the kite up. This is like giving the Hawaiian Shaka. Remember the top back line does all the controlling of the kite so if it’s not going up, look at the back line and if it’s slacked then you need to pull in a little on the bar to put tension into the back line. This technique might be a little difficult in the beginning but it will get better and easier with time.

Keep in mind never fly the kite one handed with your hand at the end of the bar, you will not have control of the kite and it will eventually fly out of control on you. Also keep in mind that it is always safer for the kite to go down than it is for it to shoot up to 12 or over to the other side of the wind window. If the kite should ever start to shoot up, throw that other hand back on the bar and pull it down. One last thing to keep in mind, the bar is always level with the horizon. Don’t look like you’re shooting a bow.

  • Launching your kite

Here’s the wrong way. Two hands on the bar, pulling in all the way on the bar. The bar is vertical with the kite and you’re walking away from the kite to get more wind into it. That is what is seen on beaches all over the world and it makes me wonder why the death count isn’t higher.

Proper way to launch a kite is to launch the kite with one hand on the bar, the other hand on the safety release. Now once you’ve given the thumbs up, get that hand back on the release and keep the bar level with the horizon. Also push out on the bar a little. You want the kite to come up with little to no power in it. The side of your body with the hand on the release should be facing the wind. Don’t ever walk backwards! It will pull the kite out of the wind window. If you can’t stand in one place and launch the kite, then it’s blowing off shore, is too light to be riding or is going to be too gusty and nasty to be out riding. The proper thing to do is to walk into the wind but since you’re learning, the wind window will not be where you think it is so just stay in one place and use your one handed skills to launch the kite.

Now I’m not going into the position of you and the wind window, it’s 90 degrees to the wind and you should learn this from your instructor.

  • Body dragging with your board and getting past waves

This is something that many schools don’t teach. This method will help you to get out past the waves, get back in if the wind is dying out and even get out off shore enough to ride on shore winds. You want to lay on top of the board with your top hand on the bar and the bottom hand holding the front foot pad. You will be able to extend your arm out to increase your surface area. Your chest should be resting against the other foot pad. This will get you moving very quickly. If you are trying to go too far up wind, your feet will start to curl forward so point the board towards the kite and you’ll speed up again. Don’t try to fight the pull of the kite, just go with the flow and you’ll get pulled right off shore in no time.

When dealing with waves, give yourself a good 100 yards to get out past them, you’ll do one tack and make it right up wind anyway once you’re past them. Now this method works for riding out and body dragging out. Go with the waves. Don’t try to bust out past them. While riding just do little hops and keep going with them till you make it out, keep in mind that the white water has no traction to it so try to steer clear of that stuff. The advantage of body dragging is that you can duck dive through the waves at times. Just keep the kite high and let it slowly pull you out. If you fight the pull of the kite and the flow of the waves, you’ll end up downwind the same as going with the flow but you’ll still be on the inside of the waves getting a pummeling.

  • Getting up on the board

Come to a Kite House school and learn this technique. I can’t give out all the secrets.

Things to think about to avoid getting hurt

  • Know your limits

Many people get hurt just because they try to catch up to everyone else around them. Stay within your limits and you will not get hurt. Yea some kids pick up a kite and within a week are throwing mobes and riding un-hooked in the waves. But these are people that probably grew up wake boarding and surfing so it’s just another board sport. Many injuries that I’ve seen are due to people trying to show off for a camera or attempting a trick that is way out of their league. So try to learn to do a back roll before going into handle passes. Kite boarding is a solo sport and as long as you’re having fun, that’s all that matters. Everyone is into what they’re doing and too busy to be checking everyone else out or are so stoked when riding that everyone they are on another planet when riding, so don’t worry about showing off. Besides the peanut gallery on the beach is just that, they’re going to give you props or break your balls no matter how you ride.

  • Go test your safeties on a light wind day to see what actually will happen so that you’re not scared to do it when you need it or surprised at what happens

So many people come out to learn and are scared to pull their safety system. Or they don’t even know how too. Take some time out from trying to ride and learn that piece of your equipment. It will be the thing that saves your life one day.
  • Don’t worry about losing your board, the kite is number one and it can kill you, the board will just float back to shore

Many of the accidents on the beach are due to people putting the board first over the kite. The board will not break and will not get away from you. The kite on the other hand can kill you or others. So when launching the kite up or after a crash get that kite under control before even thinking about the board. I’ve seen it too many times where the board became priority number one and the kite took someone out. One case was at the beach and my buddy wiped out, no big deal but when he fell one of the back flying lines went over the bar. Easy fix if he would have looked at the bar and took it off, but he went for the board instead. This allowed the kite to power up, re-launch itself and loop. He was dragged but so lucky that the kite came crashing down on top of a jetty and not on the other side of it. I ran out and deflated the kite and he was not harmed at all but it was a close call.

There was another incident on the beach where someone was launching their kite up and before they even had the thing in the air, they began running towards their board and the water, the kite looped and sent them flying. The outcome wasn’t as good as my other buddy and he was off the water for a season due to injuries. Same thing goes for when you crash, just get that kite up even if the board is 2 inches from you. You can’t go anywhere without the kite being in the water and the board isn’t going to work unless the kite is pulling you. So make this one of the most important things you keep in mind, the board is nothing and the kite is priority number one always.

  • Don’t ride with music unless you’re not going to be riding around other people
I think music bring a whole new element to riding. It also shuts you off to the world even more than kiting alone does. This is great if there are no fellow kiters near
you or if you are going on a down winder. I see people on the beach that have been riding for about a month and riding with head phones, cutting people off and getting in the way. Only a month into it and you are so bored with riding that you need head phones on? Learn some tricks and stop mowing the lawn. I have also seen head phones get people into some bad situations. I was down in the Dominic Republic and a buddy of mine that was a new kiter decided to have his head phones on and follow me into the waves. Being it was his first time in a wave ever, he was eaten up. The headphones came off and he ended up making them the priority and let his kite stay in the water to get eaten up by the next wave. Yes he did save Jack Johnson from sinking, but I also ended up having to save him and his kite from becoming food for the reef. So use headphone with responsibility and at the proper time.
  • Cold Weather Riding

    Here are a few tips to help keep the chill to a minimum. When wearing gloves, put a pair of latex gloves on first. This will keep the wind chill off and keep the heat in your hands from being taken away from the wet gloves.

    When picking out a wetsuit make sure it is one designed for wind sports. There is a difference between a wind specific wet suit and one designed for diving. A dive wetsuit is made of just neoprene while a wind specific suit has neoprene rubber along with many new materials. The rubber keeps the suit from drying out from the wind blowing on it and allows your body to warm that water against your skin and make a warm barrier between you and the suit. A dive suit doesn’t keep the water from dissipating from the wind. So the suit will start a cooling effect just like the coils on the back of a refrigerator cause. The water will dissipate out and suck the warmth from your body. If you ever go diving, you will notice that divers usually remove their suits as soon as they get out of the water.

    I prefer a suit with the zip in the front, it keeps the water from going down your back when you crash but that’s just a preference of my own. I also like suits with a drainage vent at the ankles. If only the companies would put one at the elbows then it would be a perfect. There is also a material call Poly Fleece. Companies like NPX and Hyperflex makes tops and suits out of this material. You put one on under the suit and a 4/3 will keep you as warm as a dry suit in my opinion. I also like to layer 1.5 mil tops under my suit for a little extra warmth.

    Another way to get some more use out of your suit or if you have a dive suit and don’t want to drop a few hundred on a new suit is to wear a wind breaker over the suit. This will keep the wind from allowing the water to dissipate from the suit and will keep you toasty warm. Put the liners, wind specific suit on with a wind breaker on top and you’ll be sure to break a sweat in the coldest of conditions. I usually just use a cheap $20 wind breaker from West Marine for this.

    Hypothermia is something to look out for and be aware of the symptoms of. I don’t like the cold and I try to keep myself in an endless summer but for most people out there you have to endure the cold weather. So limit your riding time and make sure that you are comfortable enough in case you should have to swim in.  If I can’t feel my feet or I start to shiver, my session is over and I’m on the beach and looking forward to a nice hot tub. Also look out for others; people don’t always know when hypothermia is setting in. I have stopped several lessons due to a student starting to shiver or lips turning blue. Yes it does get cold sometimes in Key West.

  • Things you should learn in your first few lessons before being on your own

    All schools teach differently and people in those schools might teach differently as well. Life experiences are usually what makes up the instructors lesson and how it is given. Some key things to learn though are flying a kite with two hands; this includes making it fly slowly and in control. Another is flying the kite with one hand and re-launch of the kite. I prefer to have my students keep their hands in the middle of the bar. This is how I ride so it’s how I teach it. Students should also learn to body drag up wind. As well as body drag with their board. Finally is the water start and moving on the board. If you aren’t learning these techniques then you need to find an instructor to teach these basics of kite boarding.
  • Don’t try to be the biggest kite on the water

    Just because you’re 240 pounds doesn’t mean that you need to be on a 14 meter kite all the time. Look around you and see what others are riding. If you need to be on that 14 when it’s blowing 25 knots then you need to reevaluate your riding. You’re not being efficient. I’ve had a buddy buy a brand new thirteen meter kite. He took it out on the water for the first time and it was blowing in the high 20’s, low 30’s. I was wondering why he wasn’t out with us on the flats. I come to find out he went out with a few buddies to ride some distant islands. I told one of my instructors that if he rode the new 13 today that it’s going to be in 2 pieces considering the biggest kite we had out was a 9 and that was for someone weighing about 250 pounds and he was lit!

    Later that night I got the phone call that the kite was blown in half. Of course it was the biggest kite by 5 meters where he was riding at. He had to be the one with the
    biggest kite. Well now he had two 6.5 meter halves. I tried to get it warranted, but the company laughed when they heard he took that low wind kite out in almost gale force winds. Lesson learned and he ended up buying a new kite the next day. So don’t have an ego, nature will kick your butt if you do.

     

     

     

How to avoid being a kook on the beach

  • Right of way

Whoever is on the beach has the right of way to get off the beach. The beach is a dangerous place for a kite so if someone is trying to get off the beach, take another
tack and let them get in the water. When riding, the person downwind has the right of way. So the person upwind should keep their kite higher and the person downwind should keep their kite lower when passing.

  • All chicks on the beach look hot from the ocean so don’t show off

    This is a lesson from surfing. Anything in a bikini from 50 yards away is hot. Don’t put yourself or the cougar on the beach in harms way by trying to throw something
    really close to the beach. Believe me, a big jump off shore is going to look way more impressive than someone falling or crashing a kite on them.

  • If there is a camera and you are not advanced with riding, stay out of the way so that you don’t try something that you might regret later
People all the time try to get in on photo shoots. Probably why companies pay to have their shoots done way off on deserted beaches in the middle of nowhere. I know that if I’m out getting footage and someone keeps jumping and crashing in front of me, I’m going to have a few choice words with them and they are not going to get any of the footage. So if you see someone shooting, ask them if they would mind taking some shots of you. More than likely they’ll say something along the lines of sure, let me get this shoot done and then I’ll get a few of you.
  • Double check your lines
A simple thing to do. Check them as you walk back from the kite to the bar. This will save you from looking like a kook while someone is trying to launch you and you have lines all intertwined. People don’t mind catching and launching kites, it’s part of the sport and interaction with people. People do get annoyed if you didn’t’ take the time to properly hook up the lines and now they have to stand there waiting for you to figure out what you’re doing.
  • Helmets and runaway kites

I can’t say I practice what I preach. But I’ll be the first to ditch a kite and not even bat an eye at it if it gets shredded in a tree. Most people seem like they would
give their lives to save their kites. The kite is going to go where ever it wants to go with or without you. So unless you’re fully prepared to take your kite and put it in the trash can, wear a helmet.

Also if someone is getting dragged down a beach by a kite and you grab them thinking that you are going to stop them, think again. All you are going to do is load the kite and then send the person flying into the air. If you are in a situation with a kite dragging you out of control weather the kite is looping, or the lines are hooked up wrong, if all your safety systems have failed and you are still attached, run towards the kite to try to relieve tension and ditch the kite.

If a kite is running away from someone and you want to stop it, grab and wing tip or the leading edge. Grabbing the trailing edge will usually rip the kite and send it on its way.

  • Detach the Velcro from the flagging system
Many kites come with a safety system that involves hooking a leash up to a rear flying line which is a proven way to flag a kite. The only problem is that these rear
flying lines usually have some Velcro holding a handle down from flopping around. Undo the Velcro or cut it off. Velcro is made to come undone by being ripped apart in an out ward motion. When attached to a rear flying line, the activation of the safety wants to pull the Velcro apart in an up and down motion. This only makes the Velcro hold even more. In turn your kite will pin wheel and take you for a ride. I had a buddy on the beach one day that picked up some new kites and I saw the safety system he had with the rear flying lines. I told him about my thoughts on the Velcro and since he wasn’t the best of riders that he should tweak his bar. Being that my buddy knew best he didn’t do that. It wasn’t two weeks later when he launched the kite up and something went wrong, too much wind, steering line snagged, gust….who knows? He pulled his release immediately but the kite didn’t depower. It pin wheeled off the Velcro and threw him into the air. He was lucky to have hit the leash release while mid air and just hit a tree with the speed he was at. If not I don’t think he would be here today.
  • Learn to launch your kite properly

This is with one hand on the bar, one hand on a safety and keeping the bar level with the horizon. I always see people launching with both hands on the bar and the bar is horizontal with the kite. These people just get lucky that the kite goes up. Kites react by pull and the proper way to steer a kite is with the bar level with the horizon at all times. Steer by having the elbow come into your ribs. Keep one hand on the center of the bar and the other hand should be on your safety release. This will allow you to shut the power of the kite off immediately without even getting lifted off the ground when something should happen. It’s not a matter of if, everyone gets their kite mare, and they just like to forget about it. Notice in this I never mentioned anything about your board? That’s because the board will only get you into trouble when trying to launch your kite. Get the kite up first, then deal with getting your board once the kite is secured in the sky. Or put your board near the waters edge so you can grab it while you’re on your way to enter the water. Keep in mind to adjust your straps before you even concern yourself with the launching of your kite.

I have seen people get tossed across a beach and into object because they tried to get their board before the kite was fully up in the sky, don’t be a statistic.

Also when landing your kite to someone, make sure that once they have your kite in their hands that you walk towards them. If you stand there waiting for them to walk towards you, it will be difficult for them and you will have less people willing to catch your kite.

  • Come in before the wind dies completely

If I’m kiting off a beach, I keep a location on the beach as my reference. So if the wind gets too light and or the current picks
up and I can’t keep in my area that I want to be in then I come in before having to swim in or having to hike back up the beach. Also if it starts to get light then I’m on the beach so I don’t have to the kite boarding triathlon of kite, swim and walk up the beach.

Keep at least a 200 yard between you and downwind obstacles while learning. You will need to swim in eventually and it will take a lot of real estate to get you in. Keep this in mind in case the wind should cut out on you and a swim in is necessary.

  • Don’t be in a rush, if the wind dies, it is better to be on the beach than swimming in

    I see this all the time at the beach. People trying to get that session in as the wind is dying out. Don’t waste your time. You’re going to rush and end up swimming it.
    Get out a paddle board or do some slack line. Putting away a wet sandy kite sucks and you’re not going to have a great memory of a killer session that day.

  • Take some lessons from a respected school

This can’t be stressed enough. Everyone knows who has had lessons and who hasn’t. People that have had lessons are out on the water enjoying their time. Those that are learning on their own are the ones tangling kites, launching wrongly on the beach, being frantic during set up on the beach. Yes everyone has seen these kooks and talks about them. These are also the people that take over a year to learn to go up wind. Do yourself and the other local riders a favor and take some lessons. You’ll save money in the long run. You’ll put less wear and tear on your kite and you’ll make friends with the local crew.

  • Don’t worry about losing your board, the kite is number one and it can kill you; the board will just float back to shore

Many of the accidents on the beach are due to people putting the board first over the kite. The board will not break and will not get away from you. The kite on the other hand can kill you or others. So when launching the kite up or after a crash get that kite under control before even thinking about the board. I’ve seen it too many times where the board became priority number one and the kite took someone out. One case was at the beach and my buddy wiped out, no big deal but when he fell one of the back flying lines went over the bar. Easy fix if he would have looked at the bar and took it off, but he went for the board instead. This allowed the kite to power up, re-launch itself and loop. He was dragged but so lucky that the kite came crashing down on top of a jetty and not on the other side of it. I ran out and deflated the kite and he was not harmed at all but it was a close call.

There was another incident on the beach where someone was launching their kite up and before they even had the thing in the air, they began running towards their board and the water, the kite looped and sent them flying. The outcome wasn’t as good as my other buddy and he was off the water for a season due to injuries. Same thing goes for when you crash, just get that kite up even if the board is 2 inches from you. You can’t go anywhere without the kite being in the water and the board isn’t going to work unless the kite is pulling you. So make this one of the most important things you keep in mind, the board is nothing and the kite is priority number one always.

  • Go test your safeties on a light wind day to see what actually will happen, so that you’re not scared to do it when you need it or surprised at what happens 
So many people come out to learn and are scared to pull their safety system. Or they don’t even know how too. Take some time out from trying to ride and learn that piece of your equipment. It will be the thing that saves your life one day.
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