The first moments in a kiter’s life: that magical feeling of standing on the board and beginning to surf over the water is a one-of-a-kind experience that brings with in an unforgettable euphoria, and may just become addictive. Learning this increasingly popular water sport, is not free from frustration, even when that fundamental step, waterstarting, the ticket to becoming a kiter, has been taken. Surfing in an efficient, comfortable manner in any weather or water conditions requires practice and, especially, proper posture in the rider. Those who focus on improving this aspect will certainly improve their glide and will reach another important goal which separates the beginners from the experts: catching the wind.
Leeway, a beginner’s nightmare
Naturally, a constant wind, between 18 and 22 knots, helps a lot and is a decisive factor to progress, however, notwithstanding this, good posture can make a lot of difference and help avoid the “walk of shame,” – returning to the starting point on foot along the beach because you were not able to limit the leeway during surfing, and lost water downwind. Those who know how to kite surf well, do not have this problem and in any conditions, can go with the wind, and go back to the beach from the same place they left it.
Important: watch where you’re going!
Let’s look at how this correct posture can be achieved. Let’s start from the head. This should be turned in the exact direction the kiter wants to go. A fundamental concept, which is at the base of many boarding sports, from surfing to skateboarding: the body follows the head, or rather where you look. Do you want to go right? Turn your head and look exactly in that precise direction and first the shoulders, then the chest with turn and follow where you are looking and allow you to curve.
Hands close, hips out and back back
Let’s move on to the shoulders. We have mentioned that they naturally align with the head. Besides this, we have to keep them open by slightly rotating them so that the chest is turned windward. In this case, it is fundamental to keep your hands on the bar in as close to a central position as possible. If the hands remain wide, rotating your shoulders will be practically impossible. Try it to believe it. Arms should be held straight. What is important is that the back stays straight and that the weight is held mostly by the harness with the hips pushing forwards. There are two elements that make a beginner stand out: hands held wide on the bar and a “hook” back, where the back is curved forward with hips going backwards; in this way, the body does not release enough traction into the harness, in fact, it makes the lumbar muscles work dangerously hard and can cause pain or sprains in this area, and it also continues to face the kite, jarring forward any time the moving kite pulls in one direction or the other.
Centred weight: the board is not a speedboat
Let’s move on to weight distribution on the board. One of the most common mistakes when beginning to kite surf is to put too much weight on the back leg. This weight distribution is correct during a waterstart because the board with most of the wight on the stern and a light bow acts like a speedboat and helps the kiter enter into a glide quickly. But during surfing the weight needs to be redistributed in a more central way. In general, beginners wrongly believe that keeping most of their weight on the back leg prevents them from falling forward. In fact, what stops them from catapulting forward is not the weight but the fact that the front leg remains nice and straight (just like in windsurfing). Anther disastrous consequence of putting too much weight astern is that the front of the rail goes too high instead of being well placed on the water, and therefore cannot go contradict the leeway and give the board direction, with the result being that if you try to catch the wind it is a lot harder to keep the board in that direction because it had no grip on the water.
In short these are a few but fundamental details that determine correct posture in the rider: head turned in the direction you want to go, open shoulders, chest facing slightly windward, straight arms, hands in the centre of the bar, straight back, hips forward, balanced weight on the board, straight front leg. At the beginning concentrate on each of these elements, and then you will see that the muscles and brain will memorize the position and it will all become automatic: beautiful, stylish and ready for some breathtaking manoeuvres.
22 October 2015