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Kitesurf Tips

Page history last edited by Alex Backer, Ph.D. 9 years, 11 months ago


Kitesurf Tips, Kiteboard Lessons


Disclaimer: No information is guaranteed correct; kitesurf is a dangerous sport; read at your own risk.


I recommend you pay more attention to the bottom lessons, as I was progressively less clueless the farther down you go, and the later lessons apply more to more modern kites. 


Lesson 1 (Carlos, Barcelona/Long Beach, 2002):

Kite setup

1. The chicken loop is tied first, to the inside (bottom) corners of the sail.

2. The attack lines are passed under the chicken loop line on the corresponding side.

3. For more power, tie the lines so as to make the inside (bottom) shorter and the attack lines longer, and viceversa.


Getting the kite up

1. Put the kite on a side of the wind window.

2. Fold the point of the kite that’s closest to the bar inward on top of the kite.

3. Put sand on it to keep it there.

4. Pull from the top side of the bar to get it to grab wind.

5. Pull from the bottom to get the sand released.


Flying the kite

1. Do not drive the bar as a driving wheel by rotating it; pull on one end or the other.

2. Keep the kite within the wind window.



1. Dive the kite and let it pull you up.


Turning around in the water

1. With a bidirectional board, you just get the kite toward the side you want to go to and go. No turning the board.



• Thumb up to release the kite.

• Touch your head to ask for help in getting it down.



Lesson 2 (September 19-20, 2003):

• Yellow lines must be tied to the black rim on the back of the kite (the part with a single air vent in the middle). Orange lines are tied to the front of the kite, which has many air-entry valves.

• Lines must not cross if the kite is placed with the front toward the bar, as it will be in the air.

• In good wind, inflate the kite by holding it high with the front facing the wind.

• To waterstart, first fly the kite downwind so that it is downwind of you, otherwise it does not have enough power. Then make it fall in the direction you want to travel to gain power and lift off.


Lesson 3 (based loosely on instruction by Bill Kraft, Best kite instructor at St. Croix, USVI):

• Equipment & Set-Up:

o Do not use kite leash; dangerous and you can fetch the board w/o a leash.

o Big U on bar can be removed for beginners, it’s for tricks.

o Leading edge is the main big rib.

o Always hold kite by main rib at the center.

o To inflate, kite should be concave: ribs facing downwind first, then curving up.

o Inflate main rib last.

o To inflate, use Inflate hole; make sure Deflate one is closed.

o While inflating, attach inflator ball to loop in the middle of the main rib to prevent kite from flying away.

o To rest kite on beach, kite should be convex: place the main rib on the sand, other ribs facing up first then curving downwind.

o To get kite to that position when kite is concave, hold main rib center with one hand, using that point as a pivot, and push the main rib end over and above the center, walking with it.

o Attach lines to kite before completely unwinding lines from bar? If there is no knot/mess to begin with, this will help avoid one.

o Red lines go from middle of bar (chicken loop) to the leading edge. Black lines go from ends of bar to the trailing edge. Best logo goes to the left of the bar (looking at it from the kitesurfer).

o Black line goes under the red line and the kite (when the kite is in the resting, convex position).

o Tie lines to the outermost knot in each attachment cord.

• Starting the kite:

o To start kite, have helper hold kite on the side of the window, 90 degrees from wind direction wrt kitesurfer, with leading edge facing the wind, and both ends facing the kitesurfer. Kite should look like a C facing the kitesurfer when watched from downwind.

o Always start kite toward sea. If you get dragged, you’ll get dragged out to sea, not to beach.

• Getting up on the board:

o Board’s letters should not be readable by kitesurfer; the board is asymmetric due to footpads.

o Start by flying the kite ever so little in the direction opposite from that you want to launch in, then diving the kite quite a bit (but not completely), then pulling it back up and keeping it there, or if there is little wind do one or two eights before.

o Start with the board facing slightly downwind.

• Riding:

o Do slight and slow movements!

o Always look at the kite.

o Eights’ turning is always in the direction you are going, i.e. the leading edge always keeps facing in the direction you’re going.

o Sit more (push ass back, not forward) while on board riding. Always lean back.

o Distribute weight equally on both feet.

• Fetching the board in the water:

o To fetch board to your right, put your right arm in water, hold bar with left, move kite to the right of the window, leave legs behind you and go fetch it. If board is behind you, you may have to do multiple zigzags trying to go as far upwind as possible in each. Never put legs forward.

o When the kite is overhead, you stand vertically instead of putting legs behind you.

• Water relaunching:

o If the kite falls on water, swim toward the kite. The loose line will make the kite turn from neutral (convex) to concave (pulling) position, the kite will then at some point pick a side to start going toward, and once it’s on a side, you can start it normally.

• Jumping

o While riding, let the kite go up to the overhead position, and you will jump.

o While coming back down, move the kite back toward the direction you are going to land and resume normal flight.

• Turning around

o Simply let the board come overhead and back toward the opposite side.

• At the end of the day:

o Tie lines as an 8 along long side of the bar, then wind ends around the bar shaft circumference and tie.

o Do not rinse seawater; freshwater can corrode board, so dry after freshwater use.


Lesson 4 (Fernando, Denia):

• Deflate main rib last.

• To start w/o helper, put kite in same C position a helper would put it in, tip the bottom end upward toward the center of the kite, place sand on top of that tip, make sure lines go on top of the tip so they don’t tangle, then run to the bar, pull the bottom lines to take sand off, and lift kite.

• To depower a kite on water, pull on the brake line on the wind side, or drive it to the edge of the window.

• Buy a ball to keep the bar fixed so it does not go up and down the lines, to save you from exhaustion.


Self-lesson 5 (Long Beach, CA):

• To get a Peter Lynn ARC kite up, face the front of the kite toward the wind, then alternatively pull one and the other end of the bar, one side to get the kite facing the wind and the other to get it to start going up across the wind window. Make sure the brake is off, i.e. that the bar is as far as possible from you, making the central (front) lines shorter relative to the outside (back) ones. This makes the kite go up.


Lesson 6 (by Vadim Polonsky from about a Best Kahoona 2011:

Body-dragging upwind:

  • Body sideways
  • Arm pointing upwind from 30 to 45 degrees from the direction perpendicular to the wind
  • Kite pretty low
  • Face up or back to avoid drinking water
  • Zig-zag if necessary, switch kite sides by quickly laying on your back


Don't keep the kite overhead on the beach much:

  • takes up space from other kiters in a crowded beach (all the upwind space)
  • if gust, lifts you
  • if less wind, kite falls on top of you and there's nothing you can do

Instead, keep it to a side. If the  wind falls, you can run away from kite and a bit upwind to keep tension.


Kiting upwind:

  • Pressure on back heel to dig the board in
  • Twist your hip forward upwind to orient board upwind


Proper position for balance:

  • Hip forward 
  • Lean back 
  • Don't hold bar all the way up --depower w/depower strap if needed 

keep your front leg straight. arms should be straight as well .. not locked in th elbows and knees, but close to it


Finding the proper power strap position:

When you bring the bar down, the rear lines should get tense just when you get the bar to the chicken loop. If sooner, depower. If not at all, power.

this has to be done with the kite at 12 , otherwise tension in left and right lines will not look even due to gravity  


Power strap requires pulling it several times to power all the way.


If the quick release releases accidentally, you can hold the chicken loop in one hand and the bar on the other and keep kiting, or you can grab the chicken loop, let the bar go, let the kite down and reconnect the QR.


about bodydragging in the waves 

When you cross a wave, let the kite go up a bit to get some more flotation.

if, while you're draging in the same direction as the waves are coming in (towards the beach) and you see that a large wave is about to catch up with you...try to swing the kite in the opposite direction before wave hits you...   if you get hit by a wave and kite is in the same direction , there is a large chance that lines will loose tension and kite will fall out of the sky.. this is not good because the wave will still be carrying you towards the kite and you can easily get tangled in those lines..

getting tangled can be very dangerous

it's important to have a small knife on you, especially when you ride in the waves

most harnesses come with these hook knifes attached.. but not all



Inflate the struts before the leading edge.

Hold kite parallel to wind direction to inflate struts, use sand on the upwind tip.

Then attach pump leash and inflate the leading edge.

when you inflate it, make sure to close all the velcos and bungees on the valves, especially the deflate valve on the leading edge 

it's important to do the deflate valve before you inflate it.. if it's not all the way in, when you start inflating it, it may be hard to put it in afterwards




To deflate the struts use the plastic sticks attached to the valve covers.

Make sure to take those sticks out when you fold the kite or it can damage the valve.

it helps if you twist the stick in, opens up the valve better



QR should be clean of sand.

Rinse bar and wetsuit with fresh water after every use.

Dry wetsuit in the shade.


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