Last month we learned about the wind window which is critical to have a good understanding of. As it is the basis for most of the Kite theory to follow. Once a Kiter has grasped the theory of the wind window and can comfortably navigate the Kite around the edge of the window. It is then time to learn to use the Kite to be propelled through the water without a board this process is known as body dragging.
Body dragging, is a critical step in the learning process as it can be used for both board retrieval and for navigating back to dry land if needed. The first form of body dragging we will discuss is known as upwind body dragging. This is mainly used for board recovery. Typically, after a fall/wipeout a Kiter will be dragged out of and downwind of their board. Being that there is no way to swim against the Kite, one must use the Kite to sail back upwind to their board. This is done by keeping the Kite at the 1:30 or 10:30 position. Then laying on their side in a semi rigid and hydrodynamic body position they will point 15 – 20 degrees upwind of the kite. Basically the Kiter becomes a sailboat keel and uses their hands and legs like a rudder to steer themselves at the appropriate angle.
They will then tack back and fourth until they have gone upwind enough to Intersect their board. The next thing a Kiter will learn is how to do a downwind body drag. Although this can be a useful tool for getting back to the beach quickly with a board. The main purpose of this exercise is to teach the Kiter how to do a proper power stroke. As discussed in our last article, the power stroke is what actually provides the initial lift/pull that gets the Kiter up and riding.
To practice this, the Kiter will first lay on their belly facing downwind with the Kite at 12:00. If the Kiter wants to simulate riding to the right, they will dive the Kite from 12:00 to 1:00 and then back again while allowing the Kite to drag them through the water. The kites flight pattern should resemble a figure eight. As the Kiter becomes more comfortable they will dive it deeper and deeper into the window. Naturally, if the Kiter wanted to simulate riding to the left. The powerstrokes would then be performed on the left side of the window.
We have now discussed all of the disciplines leading up to our first ride on the board. I am already excited for next month when we get to put everything we have discussed to the test and conquer the board!
As always, remember nothing can replace training with a professional instructor and no one should ever attempt to kiteboard without taking proper lessons.