The dark slide is one of those tricks that everyone wants to learn at some point, it’s one of the most common requests during my advanced lessons or clinics, and I personally love doing them, so lets talk through the basics of how to learn them.
There are a few key skills needed to do a dark slide but they’re actually not that difficult, just different from a lot of other tricks. Bear in mind to do a full fledged darkslide then looping the kite is going to be essential at the end, but it isn’t a fully powered megaloop so don’t worry if you’ve never tried one before.
The entry into the dark slide is fast, like, way faster than you just tried. Ride as fast as you feel comfortable to ensure the longest possible slide and the best lift from the kite during the slide. Start with the kite at 45 degrees and start moving it up towards 12 o clock. As it passes 11 or 1 (depending what way you’re riding) is the time to actually start the slide itself.
The actual bit where you go from riding to sliding is really key, as it’s not really a pop, more just moving the board out of your way so you can smoothly lie forwards. You want to quickly edge the board upwind but instead of a normal pop you’re just trying to slip it out the way upwind of you as you transfer your weight over the front edge of the board.
So the slide is pretty straightforward, as long as you got the entry right you’re just keeping the kite moving in the same direction, bending your front leg and straightening your back leg to drag the rear toe side tip in the water. I usually do my dark slides going to the left, so during the slide my kite is traveling slowly from 11 over to 1 o clock in the window. I use the bar to control my height during the slide, so if I get a little low to the water I can pull in the power to lift myself a little, or vice versa.
THE EXIT/THE LOOP
This is another bit people can come unstuck with, but is fairly easy once you’ve got the timing down. I always suggest to people to practice the slide bit first, and add the loop in later, as getting the loop too early can result in a big wipeout!
So as the kite reaches the other side of the window you should feel it lift you a little bit, and you should come up enough that you can get your board back underneath you. To start with this is perfect, just slide and pop back up onto the board, don’t loop it just yet. Once you’re consistently coming up onto your feet and then sinking into the water because you don’t have the power, then it’s time to start looping. Just be sure to wait until the kite reaches 11 or 1 before initiating the loop, as you just need enough power to pull you out riding again, you don’t need a full powered loop on this one. As with all tricks aim your board downwind and ride out like it was nothing, it ain’t easy being steezy.
Too slow: you’ll just catch your knees and sink straight away.
Popping hard into the trick: it’ll only make things more difficult if you’re trying to land from a full on raley into a dark slide, and I can pretty much guarantee a bunch of face plants.
Looping too early: you’ll get ripped out of the slide hard and if you’re not used to looping probably ditch the kite and have a hefty crash yourself.
As I say this is a common request in my advanced lessons, and people are always surprised at how easy it is once you understand the trick, and having an instructor or coach there to tell you your mistakes will make a world of difference. Our week long clinic packages are great for this type of thing as you can learn with a group of friends and all progress (and wipeout!) together, so we’ll hope to see you soon to nail those darkslides!