06 April 2016
Learn to Kite Unhooked
A simple technique to practise unhooking
One of the most common things I hear in kitesurfing is, “I want to unhook but I can’t get my head around it. I feel like I’m going to get my arms ripped off and I just don’t think in reality it’s a possible thing for me to do.” Well I’m here to set you guys straight; unhooking’s not about strength and it’s not about getting your arms ripped off. It’s all about technique once you nail that technique, it can really open up your body and help you tear into turns with much more freedom.
STEP BY STEP CHECKLIST
1. You need to have your kite set up correctly. If you’re somebody who likes to fly with their bar halfway up the depower line, you need to change that if you want to unhook. Because more than likely the way that you’ve got your kite set up is that it’s in its optimal position and at its full power at this point. So if you do pull all the way in, it’s going to back-stall your kite and it’s going to fall out of the sky. You need to either adjust your depower line, wherever that may be on your bar, so that your kite flies perfectly when it’s pulled all the way in or change where you attach your lines to your pigtails on your kite to make your front lines shorter and back lines longer.
2. When you’re riding unhooked, as long as you’re going at the same speed as your kite, then it’s never going to pull you off your board. You need to get that straight in your head, because that’s the thing that people struggle with most of all. They think “Okay, when I unhook it’s going to rip my arm out of my shoulder and I’m just going to get dragged and ripped down the beach”. But if you can get your head around the fact that as long as your kite’s going at the same speed as you, then everything’s going to be sweet.
3. Start out in really light, you don’t need to go out there on a 40knot day and try and kill yourself, just start out when it’s a nice 10 to 15 knots. Find a nice big open beach where there’s nobody else around, nowhere where you can hurt yourself. Start by practicing on the sand, walking down the beach at the same speed as your kite. When you’re moving at the same pace in the same direction, unhook and just walk with one arm.
4. Now practise hooking back in; grab your chicken loop, pull it away and hook it back into the harness. By grabbing your chicken loop when you go to hook back in, it’s going to depower the kite and make it easier to do. If it is really windy and you don’t do that, at some point when you’re going to hook back in you could potentially be fighting with the kite and trying to wrestle it back in. So all you need to do when you’re ready to hook back in is grab your chicken loop, pull it down, hook it into your harness, and then you’re ready to go.
5. Do it 10 or 15 times, do it until you get really comfortable, try it at a number of different speeds, turning the kite more downwind and just play around with it. The more you practise the more comfortable you’ll feel when you hit the water.
6. Once you’re feeling really happy doing it on the beach, test it in flat water. Removing the dynamic of the waves makes it gel together in your head so much quicker. So don’t even think about catching waves at this point. Go right out the back, away from everybody and do exactly the same thing on the water. Turn your kite downwind in the direction you’d want to go if you were catching a wave, unhook, and just travel down with it. Do it 10 or 15 times. Maybe do it 30 times. Practise as much as you need to get yourself comfortable. Once you’ve got comfortable and once you’ve practiced that a lot, it’s just going to happen automatically in your head when you go to do it on a wave – all the same principal will apply.
- Practise in light wind – 10-15knots on a long open space or beach
- When you're ready for unhooking on waves, side-onshore conditions in light to moderate winds are best