08 March 2017

Strapless Front-side Air

Written by Ben Wilson, Posted in Kitesurfing How To

Learn to land your first front side kitesurfing air

Strapless Front-side Air

Frontside airs are a lot of fun and are great to practice on small waves or wind chop. The best conditions are cross-onshore to onshore winds with smaller steep waves.

As always, kite position is critical and will vary depending on what kind of air you want to do; you might aim for a long, flat air or a high, vertical air. The conditions will really affect where your kite should be; on light days, if your kite is low it won’t provide much lift and will instead drag you sideways rather than providing height so you’ll need to keep your kite a little higher to get that lift. 

CHECKLIST

  1. Position your kite so it draws you down the line, drifting nicely so you don’t have to keep thinking about what it’s doing, around 45 degrees is your starting point always.
  2. Spot your section or piece of wind chop, the stepper the better as you will get more pop and launch higher. A a longer, more drawn out bottom turn will allow you to get more vertical which in return will make you go more straight up and down, where’s a shorter bottom turn will project you more out on the face and give you a more horizontal air that will cover more distance.
  3. As you hit the lip of the wave or wind chop, you should be driving with your back foot, and throwing your tail high.
  4. Once your board is out of the water, start moving your weight forward so your tail and fins can lift off the water too. You can move your front foot forward or even slide both feet closer to the nose so you’re centred over you board.
  5. As you’re repositioning your feet, you’re simultaneously bending your knees to draw the board closer. This allows you to make your grab or, if you’re not grabbing, this will give you the space to push your board into the wind and help keep the board on your feet.
  6. Spot your landing, ensuring your knees are bent, then before you land you can start to extend your legs to act like springs, absorbing the impact as you hit the water.
  7. As you land or just before, start to turn your kite down so you generate forward momentum and head out of the turn.

So key points for an unstrapped front-side air are: kite positioning. This is probably the most important out of all of them. You really want to have your kite in the right spot, got a constant pull, just so you get a clean release out of the water.  I like to sheet in before I launch and sheet out as I leave the wave to stop the kite pulling me forward or off my board, usually as I go up the kite goes up to create lift and then as I go down the kite goes back down, your kite always has to be 1 step ahead.

Second point is weight distribution. When you hit that lip a lot of your weight is on your back foot, once you’ve hit the lip and used your back foot to whip the tail  you need to move your weight forward to lower and even your centre of gravity to give you more control and keep you moving forward.

Third is spotting your landing. As you’re coming down from your air you’ve really got to be two steps ahead with thinking about reading what the wave’s going to do so you can ride out as smoothly as possible. Make use you look for a soft part of the wave to land, eg white wash and always land tail first.

About the Author

Ben Wilson

Ben Wilson

Ben Wilson, a big-wave kitesurfer and co-founder of BWSurf. A pioneer of the sport, Ben was one of the first to use a surfboard in harmony with a kite and he continues to drive the sport in new directions.

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