11 January 2017

Unstrapped Back-Roll

Written by Ben Wilson, Posted in Kitesurfing How To

A step-by-step guide to landing your first strapless back-roll

The unstrapped back-roll is a great starting point if you’re new to aerials as they’ll help you practice control through the air and develop your ability to land moves.

CONDITIONS: back-rolls are easiest in side-shore or side-onshore wind as you can head directly at the chop or wave and get a really good launching pad. But you don’t need a wave to practice on, just a decent bit of wind chop. 



  1. Spot your launch pad and build speed as you head towards it.
  2. Sheet out as you get closer and start to lower your centre of gravity even further so your hips almost touch the water.
  3. Load up your kite by edging hard against it and bring it as far up into the wind window as possible.
  4. The crucial point is when you first leave the water; you need to have pushed hard into your board’s tail to get height, plus you need to ensure that as your board leaves the water, the bottom points directly into the wind. The longer it can be pushed into the wind, the longer you have before you need to grab.
  5. You will need to grab your board before you start your rotation because to begin with it’s much more technical to keep it pointed into the wind at all times. If you don’t grab the board it will blow off your feet halfway through the back-roll. Hold onto the board until it almost touches back down as you land.
  6. To get a really good clean rotation you really need to be looking over the shoulder in the direction that you want to spin and really focus on that. If you take your focus off the direction you’re heading, the rotation will stop midflight.
  7. Before you land, spot your landing, release the board and extend your body so it’s as long as possible and centred over the board. This length will give you the space to use your legs, knees & hips as shock absorbers, bending them as you land to soak up the impact.
  8. As your body rotates, the kite should be pretty much be right around 11 or 1 oclock, but ready to turn back down as you return to the water. 

So the most important things to remember are:

  1. Make sure that when you launch out of the chop or out of the ramp/wave, that you make the grab as fast as you can and that you turn your board into the wind.
  2. When you rotate, you need to make sure that you’re looking over your shoulder in the direction that you want to go or else it will stop your rotation in midair.
  3. Be careful to not put too much pressure on the hand you leave on the bar as this will turn the kite back in the opposite direction you are going.

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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Ben Wilson Coaching 2017

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