I remember going down the beach with my powerkite, flying around having a great time on land, while guys were out on the water going big and throwing some amazing old school tricks, which were not so old school at that time :-)
Riders such as Steve Kelner, Jason Furness and Brian Kelner were the local hot shots at my beach, and at that time kitesurfing was about sending it hard and getting that board off your feet.
It took a few years before I took the plunge and got on the water. When I came to learn my first tricks the spotlight was on nailing unhooked tricks and kiteloops. These took me a while to do, but i managed to add raleys, s-bends, surface passes, krypts, f16s and dangle passes into my trick list, any urge to learn board offs had disappeared with the experience of unhooking.
Unfortunately last year I had a nasty accident and dislocated my shoulder quite badly. It took 12 months of physio and a full on operation to get things working again. However, my arm no longer sits in its original place and I have found unhooking is putting too much stress on my joint.
The reason I love this sport is due to its versatility, and the fact I couldn’t unhook anymore was upsetting but I can still work on my hooked in style and wave-riding.
First Attempts: The One-Footer
The foot out was a simple starting point for me, the trick itself isn’t too hard. If you can jump and grab the tail of your board you can try these out with ease. We have a great video available that will show you the progressions that lead up to a board-off, including this important one-footer step.
My main struggle was the mentality barrier. I kept imagining getting my foot out and not being able to put it back in, thus ending in a knee jerk landing. The fact I had previously been off the water for a year didn’t help, but with a nice 20 knots hitting my 11m I sent the kite on my first tack and got the trick, and the stoke was back. A bit of confidence really does make a big difference!
Top Tips for one-footers
- Edge hard and boost big
- Use a larger kite for extra hang time and stability, you don’t want to be on your 7m worrying about its position in the window.
- Break the trick down.
- Get used to releasing your back hand off the bar and grabbing the tail of your board as quick as you can.
- Try holding the grab for as long as possible and redirect late and hard, to give you that extra bit of air time
- Try these on a down winder so if you need to kick your board off you can don’t have to worry about kiting back upwind.
After I’d started building confidence with the single foot out the time came around for a board off.
Both feet – The Board Off
Later that week I was blessed by the wind Gods with a 30 knot flat water session so out came my 9m and a big grin on my face!
As soon as I was up on my board I spotted the perfect kicker and sent the kite hard, this time grabbing the tail and taking both feet out. It was an amazing feeling not being locked into straps, so good I actually forgot I needed to put the board back on to my feet!
Unfortunately, a trend then started of me getting the board off and not back on. No matter how hard I tried or how high I jumped, I couldn’t get my board into the correct position to get it on to my feet.
Frustrated by my half completed or failed trick, I went back to the board off chapter on my Progression Player, and practised in front of the tv flicking the board on and of my feet by using my wrist to correctly position the board. This helped a lot!
It took a few more sessions on the water for me to nail the board off, I found the wind hitting the board itself made things tricky but I can proudly say I now have board offs down, and am excited in how I can progress in this style of kiting. Definitely, a fun session when the wind is strong and you are hanging with too much power to try anything more technical.
Board off top tips
- As with one footers you need to be powered up, edge super hard, get a clean take off and get a big floaty jump
- Practice taking the board off sitting on a chair and then getting your feet back in.
- Always get your front foot back in first
- Making your foot straps ever so slightly larger can help when getting the board back on your feet
- First attempts; hold the board on the back, heelside edge, gripping the fin and rail, this will give you more control when positioning the board
There are lots of different ways to grab the board and make a board of a little more fun and interesting. Here are a couple of variations:
Board Off – Tail Grab
Board Off – Tail Flip
Board Off – Indie Grab
Board Off – Indie Flip
Board off – Superman
Even though I am employed by Progression I have been using their products from the beginning, and continue to use them both for myself and with my students during the summer season. If you are interested in watching some great footage during the transitional stage of kiting where the handle passes became the top trick for comps, have a look at A.C. This was our first and only action kite movie and is free to watch online (all 45 minutes of it!). You might even spot a certain 5x World Champ back when he was just 14 years old and throwing down some massive board offs!