We’ve all been there, standing on the shore, looking at kitesurfers glide on the water and then, whoop, up in the air they go. While they go up up and up, your jaw drops down, down down. Chances are you got into kitesurfing because seeing other kitesurfers jump made you feel all kinds of excited and jealous. We’ll probably all agree that there’s just nothing quite like airtime.
So how do you get there – how do you do your first jump, and more importantly, how do you land it? In this blog post we’ll give you some tips that will help you nail your first jump.
Are you ready to attempt your first jump kitesurfing?
Before you attempt your first jump you need to have the foundations down. You need to be able to ride upwind and have good control of your kite, and most of all, you need to be confident in your riding.
We always recommend you learn in a safe environment. As you jump you will drift downwind so make sure that there’s no obstacles in your way (this includes other riders and things under water), that the water is deep enough and that you can safely get back on shore should things go wrong.
Kitesurfing is a fine game of power and control.
Performing and landing your first jump (or any kite trick really) takes a lot of fine tuning. If you want air time, your kite needs enough power, but if you want to land it, you need to be in control of that power!
Step by step to perform your first jump:
1. Speed. You need to generate power in order to jump but make sure to only generate as much power as you can control. If you’re not confident going fast, practice this first and really gain control over your kite, board and speed.
2. Edge. Edging will build the tension in the lines which will in turn generate the power your kite needs to pull you up. Edging is where the fine tunning really comes into play. You need to make sure you don’t edge too much or too little as this would kill your speed or make the kite flare.
5. Airtime! The moment you were waiting for is finally here. When you have enough speed and you’re edging just enough, you will feel the power building up. This is you clue to fly your kite from about 11 or 1 o’clock (depending on your direction) up to 12 and pull your bar. The kite will lift you up in the air and boy is that an awesome feeling! Don’t physically jump but rather wait for the kite to lift you up then bend your knees.
6. Land. That’s the tricky part, isn’t it? While in the air, fly the kite forward, spot the patch of water where you’re about to land and pray to God. I mean, turn the board downwind and land softly on your back leg before getting the board down all the way. If you did this correctly the landing should be soft and the kite will lower you down and absorb most of the shock, however it’s important to protect your joints and further absorb the landing by bending your knees.
What are you doing wrong and how can you improve your jumps?
You feel like you’ve been doing it all; you got comfortable with your speed, you edged, you pulled, you bent your knees you turned your board downwind… yet you barely left the water surface or you ended up nose deep in the water. Chances are, you’re making one of the 4 common mistakes we often see when learning to jump.
1. You don’t get enough speed. This is often the number one reason why you’re not jumping as high as you wish you would. Speed can be scary, we know, but if you don’t go fast enough you won’t get enough power to jump. We recommend you take some time to practice going really fast without attempting any jumps. This will give you the confidence you need to add some airtime further down the line.
2. You don’t edge enough. Edging goes hand in hand with speed. Only when we edge we truly feel the power of the kite and no wonder some of us chicken out the first time we feel the pull. To build up confidence you could practice edging without attempting any jumps. Play the power game with the kite and see how much you can edge without loosing control. You need to build up tension in the lines for the kite to pull you out of the water, but careful not to kill the power, which takes us to the next common mistake.
2. You edge too much. If you edge too hard you will kill your speed and your kite will loose its power, making airtime impossible. Often you’ll go between edging too much or too little before you’ll find the right balance, and that’s ok.
3. You don’t fly the kite quickly enough or you don’t pull the bar enough. The kite needs this extra boost in power to pull you up. The faster you fly the kite, the more power it gets. And the longest the distance you fly your kite for, the more power it gets. Sometimes if you don’t have enough power it’s worth flying the kite a little bit past the 12 o’clock mark and then back, this will give you that extra kick you need.
4. You push off with your legs rather than using the power of your kite. No matter how strong your legs are, you will never be able to jump up high this way. Let the kite pull you up instead and if you did the previous steps right you will get a decent jump. You should still bend your knees tho as this will help with your landing too.
Hope this helps you on your kitesurfing journey and makes it easier to learn your first jump. If the above sounds too overwhelming consider booking a lesson with one of our kite instructors. They will definitely get you up in the air and safely back down on the water with a soft landing.