When learning to board start its best to start using the baby steps philosophy. Start by getting up and riding 2ft / 1 meter and then bringing your kite back to 12 and sitting down then start again and ride 2-3 feet bringing the kite back to 12 and sitting down again.

What you want to avoid by doing this is riding until you crash as you will have to recover your board and typically have to relaunch your kite which takes time, energy and you will loose your learning flow.

To get up safely and quickly on the board its all about learning how to control the power of the kite. Too much and you will go flying forwards and too little power means you will not get up.

It’s always better to build up the power slowly. Start by being highly cautious and diving the kite very gently. When you don’t get up, no problem, do not rush the learning process simply bring the kite back to 12, sit down then start again but this time diving your kite a tiny bit more into the power zone.

But before you get to the board start there are some preparations you can make that will help you to get riding so much more easily, safely and much faster.

Board start preparations

If you are having troubles board starting or you want to speed up the learning process, take some time to prepare before your session by watching some Kitesurfing movies or watching other Kitesurfers.  This will help you to understand the process and to visualise yourself riding the board.

One of the best exercises to practice before you board start is balance body dragging.

Balance body dragging will help you to learn how to keep your body pointing downwind to the left or right, help you to stop spinning around by keeping the wind directly on your back and holding your kite at 12.

This has to happen all at the same time and are all essential skills for successful board starts.

Balance body dragging is the best way to prepare for your board starts. Keep your kite at 12, sit back and lift your feet up, use a hand to scoop the water to keep your back to the wind..

How to balance body drag

  • Start with your kite at 12.
  • Put your hands in the centre of the bar but either side of the depower rope.
  • Lay back in the water and put your feet up and keep them together so they are pointing directly downwind.
  • If you spin to your right, take your left hand off the bar, paddle and turn your body so your feet continue to point downwind.
  • If you spin to your left, take your right hand off the bar, paddle and turn your body so your feet continue to point downwind.
  • If you are pointing directly downwind then relax, don’t do anything and keep both hands on the bar.
  • Use your hands to steady you, not your feet as when you have your board on you wont be able to use your feet to steady your position.

The secret of the exercise is to keep your kite at 12. To do this most effectively, keep your hands in the centre on the bar. This gives your bar less leverage and helps keep your kite at 12, even if you pull accidentally on your bar while paddling with your other hand. 

When you can balance body drag comfortably your board starts will be much easier. 

What you need to know before you attempt a board start

  • Board start practice requires much more space than the minimum two kite line lengths of 50 – 70 meters as potentially, you will be traveling much further.
  • Your first board starts are much easier and safer if you are in water that is above your knee and below your waist. 
  • Never attempt a board start or ride in water that is below your knee.
  • You must have the right size kite for the wind conditions. Not enough power 
  • will make a board start much more difficult or even impossible. Too much power will be extremely difficult to control, will pull you downwind much more quickly and can be dangerous. 
  • Aim to practice in light winds with a large kite if possible. Large kites are slower and have more consistent power. High winds can be dangerous and small kites are very fast which can be difficult to control. If you have to use a small kite then hold your bar nearer the centre to slow it down. 
  • Adjust your board straps to be loose when you are learning. This will make it easier to get the board on your feet. Foot straps do not have to be tight in the beginning. 
  • You must have the wind directly on your back before you board start.
  • Practice first on the side you feel will be your strongest side so you have the best chance of standing up.
  • To learn faster, build the power gradually so you are not crashing your kite and falling off your board after every attempt. Be cautious to start with. 
  • Your kite does not pull you out of the water. You must learn forwards, extend your legs and stand up on your board. Similar to standing up from a chair. 
  • To come to a controlled stop, move your kite to 12, push your bar away and sit back in the water. Not knowing how to stop in a controlled way is similar to driving a car without any brakes. 
  • To stop immediately, if you are pulled out of the water or are out of control in any way, let go of your bar, if you are still being pulled do not hesitate to activate your main safety system. 
  • You must reset and start from the beginning of the board start process after every attempt. 

Board start preparations made simple

  1. Practice balance body dragging before your board starts.
  2. You must have the wind directly on your back before you start.
  3. To stop in a controlled manor, bring your kite to 12 or simply let go in an emergency or if out of control.

The Board Start

Your first attempts to put your board on your feet and stand up, may seem impossible and that there is a lot to think about. The truth is, there is a lot to think about. Don’t worry, try to relax and enjoy the learning process. After around twenty or so board starts, much of what you have to think about will become unconscious and everything becomes much easier. 

Putting your board on the easy way

Before you ride the board, you first have to put it on your feet. If you put your board on in the same way every time, it will become a habit that you do not have to think about. One of the easiest ways to put your board on is as follows: 

  • Stand in the water with the wind directly on your back.
  • Move your kite slightly past 12 nearer 11.
  • Put your right hand near the centre of your bar just next to the depower rope, pull it in so it is in the sweet spot where you have a little control but no power. 
  • Take your left hand off your bar.
  • Hold on to the handle in the centre of your board and hold your board on your left with your left hand out to your left side. 
  • Sit back in the water and take both feet off the ground.
  • Resist pulling on your bar while you put your board on so your kite stays at 12.
  • As soon as your feet are off the ground, put your board on as quickly as possible to minimise spinning around and unwanted kite movement.
  • To put your board on as quickly as possible, lift up your right foot, move your board towards your right foot and put your right foot in the right foot strap. Note your feet do not need to be in the foot straps tightly to start with.
  • After your right foot is loosely in the foot strap, take your hand off the board handle and put your left foot in the left foot strap. You can hold the back of your board to help you to put your left foot in your left foot strap.
  • You must put your board on. It will not magically float onto your feet. Try to keep your board in front of you as much as possible. 
  • Keep your kite at 12 while putting your board on by using very gentle movements of your bar. 
  • Remember to help stop you spinning around and keep the wind on your back, take a hand off your bar and paddle. If you spin to your left, paddle with your right hand and if you spin to your right, paddle with your left hand. 
  • When you get your board and with the wind on your back, keep both legs bent and Relax!
  • Don’t rush. Stay as you are for now. Get used to being in this position. 

Putting your board on made simple

  1. Put your board on in the same way every time regardless of what direction you will be riding in so it becomes an easy habit.
  2. Hold your board by the handle and put your board on, it will not magically float onto your feet.
  3. If you hold your kite with your right hand, hold your board handle with your left hand and put your right foot in first.

Board start theory

The plan now is to build the power gradually. This will help to slow everything down. When board starting remember that you want to be standing up and riding off slowly. Slowing everything down will make your board starts easier and more fun.

It important that you understand that the more you dive your kite in front of you, into the power zone, the more power and the more speed and pull that you will experience. The less you dive your kite and the further to your sides that you move your kite, the less power and pull you will feel.  

To ride to your left, you must move and fly your kite on your left and to ride to your right you move and fly your kite on your right. Kitesurfing is actually very simple. Next it is important for you to understand that you are going to move your kite into the power zone and then back out of the power zone. If you keep pulling on one side of your bar your kite will crash in the water. 

Let’s say you are going to ride to your left, you will pull on the left side of your bar to initiate the board start, then at the same time as you stand up you will pull on the right side of your bar to move your kite out of the power and to keep your kite in the air.

If you pull on the left side of your bar too gently you will not have enough power to stand up. If you pull too hard you will go flying forwards, you would have to let go of your bar, crash your kite and fall off your board. While flying forwards in a spectacular superman position is all part of the learning process and is actually quite good fun, you can minimise it and save your energy, if you simply build the power slowly. 

To build the power slowly you must be cautious and move your kite into the power zone little by little. Put simply, this means that for your first board starts, you pull very gently on the side of your bar, in the direction that you want to board start in. If you do not have enough power to stand up the first time, don’t worry, just start from the beginning. 

Board start theory made simple

  1. Each time you board start you must be positioned with your back to the wind.
  2. Your kite does not pull you up out of the water. You learn forwards, extend your legs, and stand up slowly.
  3. Be cautious to start, build the power slowly and aim to get to the level where each attempt does not end in a crash. 

Standing up on the board

In the most basic format possible this is how you board start to your left….

  • The wind must be directly on your back.
  • Move your kite to 1. 
  • Pull your bar in.
  • Bend your legs and keep them bent. 
  • Pull the left side of your bar firmly so your kite moves to the left from 1 to 10.
  • As you feel the board being pushed towards you, lean forwards, extend your legs and stand up.
  • As you stand up pull firmly on the right side of your bar.
  • When you stand up, do not fully extend your legs, lean backwards and put more pressure in your heels.

In more detail, this is how you board start to your right

  • Before you start, you must have the wind on your back, check the area in front of you is clear.
  • Face slightly to your right, keep your knees bent and put pressure in your heels.
  • Slowly move your kite to 11.
  • Pull your bar in enough so you feel a little pull and keep your bar pulled in.
  • Pull firmly on the right side of your bar to move your kite into the power zone from 11 to 2.
  • As you feel your board being pushed towards you, extend your legs, lean forwards and stand up.
  • As you stand up, pull firmly on the right side of your bar to keep your kite in the air and to move your kite out of the power zone. 
  • Do not fully extend your legs, stay low, lean back and keep your body weight over your heels so your board is not flat on the water but at a slight angle. 

If you did not have enough power to stand up properly…

  • Take your kite back to 12.
  • Make sure the wind is directly on your back, take a hand off the bar and use it to paddle yourself back into position so the wind is on your back.
  • Start the board start process again but this time, to get more power, pull your bar in slightly more and keep pulling for slightly longer so your kite moves slightly faster and slightly lower into the power zone.
  • Have patience and continue building the power gradually until you stand up for a few meters

Board start summary 

Kite position – Start with your kite positioned at 11 or 1 in the wind window then move it down in the direction you want to go. Start from 12 if you have lots of wind or lots of power. Remember that you must move your kite low in the window so you are pulled across the water in the direction you want to go.

Board position – Your board is roughly at a 45 degree angle in the water, fins pointing across the wind but more towards the pull of the kite to start with. 

Body position – You know by now that you must be facing directly downwind with the wind on your back and have both your legs bent throughout the whole board start. Keep your weight over your heels and lean back.

Bar position – If you have a lot of power in your kite then it is advisable to have your bar pulled in around half way but you need a good amount of power to get you up on your board so don’t be afraid to pull your bar in and keep it pulled in. If you push your bar away you lose power very quickly however consistent power is key to making your board start as slow and as easy as possible. 

If you board start with your bar in a different position every time, then your progression will be slower and more difficult. There are two ways to control the power from your kite. Firstly, how much you pull the bar in and secondly how far you move your kite into the different areas of the power zone. 

When you board start, if you pull your bar in all the way and keep it there while you board start, you will have maximum responsiveness and maximum power. This means you will have to move your kite much less. Less movement of your kite means it will be easier to keep your kite in the sky and the less you have to concentrate on flying your kite leaving you to focus on standing up and riding. 

Board starting with your bar pulled in and keeping it pulled in throughout every board start can also help if you are struggling with your balance. This is because you can push your bar away to help shift your body weight if you lean to far forwards. Pushing your bar away will also slow you down. 

If you are rising up out of the water even just for a few seconds Congratulations, you are officially now Kitesurfing. (Just)

The board start made simple

  1. Wind on your back, check in front of you that it is safe to board start.
  2. Kite to 1 or 11, pull your bar in to get some tension and some power.
  3. Dive your kite to the direction you want to go, lean forwards, extend your legs and stand up but do not fully extend your legs.

Similar Posts