I’m FINALLY at that stage—on the verge of breaking through kitesurfing upwind. When you start in the sport, many will tell you that there are benchmarks, or a set of learned skills that push you to the next level; kitesurfing upwind is a major one. And while I can’t wait to consistently ‘get it’, what motivates me most is not having to walk up the beach when I fail to keep kitesurfing alongside my peers, back to the stretch of beach where we all started. It’s a long, hard, lonely walk… every time. So, in honour of all those fighting to break the kitesurfing upwind level (or those who will soon try), here are some pointers that I have learned along the way, as I master kitesurfing upwind.
1. Master the Kitesurfing Upwind Technique
When I finally got the hang of water starts, and could actually ride for a good length without crashing into bruise city, that was exciting. As I developed my confidence, I was able to really start thinking about what I was doing. And when I paid particular attention to my body, testing different positions, and making slight adjustments, I could feel the difference. Here are few position pointers, and basically the audio tack that plays in my head when I’m kitesurfing upwind:
- Keep your weight on your back foot.
- Straighten your front leg. Straighter.
- Curl those toes up. Damn, my pedi looks fantastic.
- Look in the direction you’re going.
- Twist your body in that direction. Turn more. Wait, who’s that on the beach?
- Curl. Toes. Leg. Straight.
- Push your hips forward.
- And lean back, lean back, lean back, lean back (I sing that one— cue Terror Squad, Lean Back)
2. Talk to Your Friends about Kitesurfing Upwind
Whether you’re learning to go upwind, or learning anything else at all, talking to your kitesurfing buddies or other kitesurfers at the beach is super valuable. I can’t take credit for all the tips above, cause they were all given to me in various conversations, or in passing comments about my progress at the beach. Everyone has their own tricks, so take the time to chat with other people who are kitesurfing upwind, and find the techniques that jibe best with you.
3. Watch Upwind Kitesurfing or Make Your Own Video
When you’re not busy chatting or kitesurfing, spend some time at the beach watching others. I mean, really, sit down and study them. Even though people told me to loosen my hips and lean back, I didn’t fully understand it until I began dissecting their techniques. I would notice others, and my fellow KiteSirens, almost skimming the water sometimes on the backside, and that created a sharper edge on the board to slice through the water (that’s where the toe curl comes in so handy too). If you don’t have the opportunity to kitesurf often, check out online tutorials for kitesurfing upwind. There are a ton of videos, including some great ones from Progression Sports, which offer best practice tips. Finally, consider making your own videos. Sometimes seeing what we are actually doing can help us correct faulty techniques.
Keep at It! You’ll Be Kitesurfing Upwind Soon
Whatever you do, don’t give up! Kitesurfing upwind is one of the biggest benchmarks to break through. But when you do, (apparently), everything else comes easier. Stay confident in your abilities, and keep pushing through. One day, you will be kitesurfing upwind, and the tiresome walks up the beach will be a distant memory. I’m learning transitions next (which also help keep you upwind), so stay tuned for more tips from the water.