Body Dragging is a skill that all kiters should know and use, it is the best way to get around the water if you need to retrieve your board or get out over wavey/dumpy seas.
When learning to kitesurf, body dragging is one of the skills your instructor will usually focus on. It is a fundamental skill that you’ll need as a kitesurfer allowing you to develop your kite control and help you remain calm in situations where you may be without your board.
Before attempting a board start you should be happy with all stages of the body drag, and feel calm and comfortable when entering and exiting the water with your kite.
There are 3 key skills to learn when body dragging – all of which are covered in our 14 minute Progression Body Dragging video, part of the Kiteboarding Beginner Collection. To get you started here are so tips for each of the stages:
Downwind Body Drag
This will be the first stage of learning to body drag. The downwind body drag allows you to feel the power of the kite without a board getting in your way. Make sure when you do body drag downwind, that you are not close to the waters edge.
- Both hands on the bar and slowly move the kite from left to right.
- Keep the bar held in so all 4 lines are under tension, be careful not to pull the bar all the way into the chicken loop
- When you have a bit more confidence try moving the kite faster and lower through the wind window, if you can manage this in a continuous movement it will help with muscle memory for when you are trying board starts
- Keep an eye on your surroundings as it could be hard for other water users to see you
- Be careful when slowing down from your body drag, as you are being pulled towards the kite you are taking wind out of it which may make it unresponsive.
- Keep your mouth closed as to avoid swallowing water
Upwind Body Drag
Every kitesurfer should be able to body drag upwind, it will allow you to get past any waves at a dumpy beach, and also allow you to get back to your board if you lose it. As a beginner upwind body dragging will give you an idea of apparent wind and how you can use your body in the water to help move you in the direction you want to go.
- Keeping the kite between 10-11 or 1-2 on either side of the wind window, let go of your front hand and point it upwind perpendicular to the kite.
- Keep your back hand towards the centre of the bar, to stop unwanted movement
- Push your hips towards the chicken loop to increase resistance against the kite and drive you further upwind
- If you are on a wavey beach keep you kite slightly higher to avoid it dropping in the waves due to a lull in the wind or being pushed towards the kite
- Remember to keep your mouth closed to avoid swallowing water
Change of direction
To allow you to move on each side of the wind window you will have to learn how to change direction, if this is not done in a slow manner you can get pulled downwind. As a learner doing this in your lesson will aid with kite control but also give you the basic kite skills you will need when starting your first sliding turns.
- Slowly bring the kite to 12
- When the kite is moving to 12 bring your front hand back on to the bar.
- Bring your legs underneath you
- Slowly change the direction of the kite releasing your front hand to allow you to body drag back upwind again.
- The key to doing this successfully is a slow movement of the kite so you do not get pulled downwind to far
- Make sure you keep that mouth closed
Even some advanced riders will not have these key skills but knowing you can retrieve your board will give you the extra confidence to try new tricks so its worth the time practicing.
For someone who has just finished their kitesurfing course, our advice is not to rush straight out on the board, take 10 minutes or even a whole sessions to have a body drag so you can learn the water conditions and allow yourself to relax when taking your board out in the water for the first time. And never be ashamed to go back to body dragging, if the conditions or locations are new to you, as it’s the perfect way to re-establish confidence.
Check out our Kiteboarding Beginner Collection on our Progression Player App for iOS and Android to get in-depth instruction on the body drag, along with a further 2.5 hours of video covering all the core skills needed to master the basics of kiteboarding.