The day that you come back to the same place that you started from and no longer have to walk is a very satisfying day in Kitesurfing. As you progress further, you will be able to travel anywhere you want across the water and your whole life will improve. 

The secrets of riding upwind are

  • Having enough power in your kite.
  • Know that when you board start you must first bear off downwind, towards the pull of your kite and gain a little speed before you can attempt to ride into the wind. 
  • To be able to ride consistently in both directions.
  • To be able to change direction in a controlled way.
  • To be able to control your speed and ride slowly.
  • To have the right body and kite position.
  • Riding far enough in each direction. 
  • Putting more pressure in your back foot.
  • Looking upwind and turning your head and shoulders to face upwind.

You have to have plenty of power in your kite to be able to edge into the wind. Every time you send your kite back into the window to look for more power by power stroking, you will generally be pulled downwind. 

You want to have enough power so you can keep your kite low in the wind window at either 10 or 2 and just pull in your bar to speed up or slow down.

Consistency is everything when riding upwind. Less movement of your kite and only small adjustments of your body are required as the changes in your kite and body position are subtle. 

With your kite low in the window at 10 or 2 then you can lean back further, turn your head and shoulders away from the kite and put more pressure in your heels and back foot. This will slow you down as you are resisting against the pull of your kite by turning away from the kite and in to the wind. The slower you can go the further you will travel upwind. The ideal speed is to be moving fast enough to be able to stay up on top of the water without sinking.

You must consistently travel around 100 meters in each direction, to successfully ride upwind. 

Turning is also crucial to stay upwind. To begin with, it is easier to practice coming to a controlled stop than to link your turns. Coming to a controlled stop is the perfect practice for linked turns and it will give you the best chance of staying upwind as well as having more time to practice rather than continually walking back upwind.  

Come to a stop slowly by moving your kite to 12, slowly sit back down in the water and then simply board start in the opposite direction if you haven’t mastered your linked turns yet.

Your body position is also important. Both legs should still be bent but your front leg can now be slightly straighter. You can apply more pressure on your back foot as you are now redirecting the pull of your kite. Your head and shoulders can be turned away from your kite and facing away more into the wind. 

Pick a point on the horizon that is further upwind than you think you can go and turn your head to face it. Doing this will turn your shoulders which will then turn the rest of your body into the right position.

Remember the saying “Aim for the starts and you might just get to the moon”.

Taking one hand off your bar while riding can help you to get the correct body position. Take your right hand off your bar if you are riding to your right and take your left hand off your bar if you are riding to your right. 

In extreme light wind or if you are underpowered, lean forwards slightly so you have less of your heel edge in the water and turn your body so your board is pointing upwind. This means that you will be using your fins more to get upwind rather than the edge of your board. Coming off your edge and leaning slightly forwards means that you will have more surface area of your board on top of the water giving less resistance, more float and use less power from your kite.

Lastly you should know that your board can make a big difference to your upwind performance. Flexible boards and small boards can suck a lot of power from your kite. The larger and stiffer your board, the easier your upwind progression will be.

Lastly to know for sure that you are riding upwind without the difficulty of looking at landmarks, look at the spray from your board.

If no spray then your board is too flat so you are not riding upwind.

If you have 2-3ft/just under one meter of spray coming from your board then you are riding upwind like a boss.

Riding upwind made simple

  • Make sure you have plenty of power so you can keep your kite low and hold it at 10 or 2 without moving it.
  • Ride slowly, control your speed, change direction slowly by moving your kite slowly through 12 to the new direction.
  • Pick a point a long way upwind, turn your head towards it, lean back and straighten your front leg slightly.

Walking with your kite on the land

Every Kitesurfer has to be able to walk on the land while holding their board with one hand, usually it’s just to get to the water but even experienced and pro Kitesurfers have to walk back up wind if the weather changes and the wind drops.Walking on the land while holding your kite can be risky as well as taking time and energy so here’s how to minimise your time walking on the beach.

  • Set your kite up as near to the water as you can.
  • Practice coming to a controlled stop and practice riding in both directions to minimise how far you have to walk back upwind while learning.
  • Put up the right sized kite, this will mean you have plenty of power so you have every chance of staying upwind. 
  • Be aware of your location and how far you are away from where you started

If you are not staying upwind and are clearly drifting downwind each time you go out and come back again. Stop. Cut your losses. Start walking back before you have a huge walk back upwind that could be dangerous.

If you have to walk back upwind with your kite

  • Make sure you have previously practiced one handed flying in the sea and are confident flying your kite with one hand.
  • Remember the golden rule of one handed flying that if your kite in on your right take your right hand off your bar and if your kite is on your left, take your left hand off your bar.
  • When flying with one hand know that pulling your bar in helps your kite move up and pushing your bar away will make your kite move down.
  • Hold your board by its handle with your free hand.
  • Fly your kite towards the water and stay as far away from obstacles and dangers on the land as much as possible. 
  • Dont be afraid to let go of your bar and use your safety systems as the beach is statistically the most dangerous place to be while flying your kite.
  • If gusty and your kite looks like it might fall or power up then sit down on the ground immediately. This will help prevent any injury from being pulled over.

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