F16 Kitesurfing Technique


Technique / Advanced


True or False? The F16 is aptly named as a result of the horrendous G forces the body must endure whilst attempting it. Well to be honest it is surprising a certain Mr Bertrand Fleury, or his peers such as Tobias and Vari took so long to calm their insane, ahead of the game, riding styles in favour of the long term health benefits afforded by today’s more evolutionary forms of kitesurfing.

Fortunately for us spectators the likes of Ruben still fly the mentalist flag with pride, and even more fortunately today’s everyman/woman’s F16 is unlikely to blow your whiskers back in again. In fact the F16 would feature fairly early on in the “I’m happy doing unhooked raleys, what shall I try next” chart. You are no more likely to surprise yourself learning this than you were learning the front loop, unless of course you just learnt the front loop in the last few pages and decided to carry straight onto the next instalment, if so, think again.

What is it?

The F16 is in essence an unhooked backloop kiteloop, a kiteloop being when the kite is sent against the direction of travel. Its main difference from the hooked in version, or in fact the purest unhooked version is the way that you hold the bar. As we shall see both hands will be holding onto one side of the bar, which forces the kite to turn very quickly. This in turn means that there is very little input from the rider once it’s all begun, and that the kite will not generate g-suit necessitating forces. A real grin and bear it move, which is well within the reach of anyone who can backloop kiteloop and unhook.


Unbeknown to him parts of this move would have been child’s play to J. R. Hartley. Your chances of success when learning will improve if you hold the bar much as you would a fishing rod, golf club or stick!

In Pic A. we can see that Karine is holding the bar, both hands centred in her normal position riding to her right.

She now has two choices, and it is up to you to see which you use. Knowing that you will need to get both hands on the back of the bar you could either:

Pic B. leave you back hand where it is, release your front hand and move it under your back hand and grab the end of the bar with your palm facing up. Or

Pic C. move your backhand down to the end of the bar, release your front hand, and grab the bar just the other side of the chicken loop, in front of your back hand, also with your palm facing up.

Both of these methods work, although the first one requires less movement. Grab your bar and straighten your arms above your head to see which feels most comfortable.

The Kite

The kite is very much dictating what is happening in the F16. It will pull you up, it will rotate you, and it will gently drop you back down once it finishes the loop. Trimming you kite with the centre line adjustment strap so that you are in control is vital. Bowsexuals could leave a little more power in the kite, as they do tend to turn quicker.

Going into an F16 you will need to try and position your kite very close to 12 o’clock, right up there above you. Like many powered moves starting whilst travelling slightly downwind will help. For the F16 there are to reasons for this, other than the fact it will be easier to unhook.

Firstly once you have unhooked, if the lines are not totally taut the kite will not move too quickly as you change you hands. This is doubly important on small kites.

Secondly you need to do the entire rotation in the air. Most of us are used to doing the first half of a backloop by carving super hard into wind, which means that we’ve already turned 180 before taking off. If we do this for the F16 we will over-rotate. By cruising slightly off downwind, it enables us to carve for pop without turning too much into the rotation.

The You

The other secret weapon to an applause worthy F16 is an early take off. If you wait until the kite yanks you off the water, it will already have turned too far, and therefore pull you around too early, making landing balanced tricky or leading to a bad case of over-rotation. The best thing to do is to physically jump up into your backloop off your edge just before you think the kite will pull. By doing this you aim to complete half a rotation. If you can stare upwind whilst being at the apex of your jump the kite will take over and bring you round for a nice smooth landing. This may however take a bit of practice to get the timing.

Real Time

The approach for the following sequence is identical to that of the downloop s-bend featured in the last issue: having had a very good look around to check that the coast is clear and that you have miles of space downwind, slowly drift the kite up towards 12 o’clock, flatten the board off to bear off the wind slightly and unhook. As soon as you have unhooked, change your hands.

Following Sequence 1

  • Pic 1. Once the hands have moved it’s time to get back on your edge so that you have some resistance to pop off. Do this by dropping your weight low and getting your shoulders out and upwind of the board. The bar is now vertical, this will happen automatically.
  • Pic 2. Just before the kite pulls, carve hard bending the back leg ready to spring upwards. Your head should be looking forwards, in an effort not to create too much rotation.
  • Pic 3. Blast off, jumping up into the air with as much effort as you can muster. Keep your head square to your shoulders. Your aim is to do half a back loop.
  • Pic 4. The kite has now travelled far enough behind that it pulls, so up you go. This is the time to just hold on tight and enjoy the ride.
  • Pic 5. As the kite starts to loop, the power will extend you… The turning of the kite should pull you around.
  • Pic 6. When you feel the power subside, look over your shoulder and pick a landing spot.
  • Pics 7 to 9. Remain focused on where you expect to land. The kite will have little power, and as a result you will drop back towards the water. Try and pull the bar in towards your hips to get your legs back underneath you.
  • Pic 10. With your legs dropping underneath you concentrate on pointing the board downwind.
  • Pic 11. On landing try and keep your weight over the back of the board.
  • Pic 12. Check where the kite is. If it is not travelling forward let it continue to loop until it is, then release your upward facing palm (original front hand), place it back on the front of the bar, hook in and give yourself a hefty pat on the back.

Top Tips

Going into this move with speed will make the pull from the kite seem far less violent, give you more control and a smoother landing.

If the bar is getting ripped out of your hands, try not to edge too hard for too long, go downwind a tad more.

Try to visualise the F16 as a game of follow the leader. As the kite loops you follow it around, just one step behind.

Dropping the backhand as you come down can help slow your rotation, and also makes landing with speed easier.

If you keep over-rotating without getting any height try not to throw a backloop, but ease into it but jumping up.

The more power you have in the kite, the higher and harder you will go. Take it easy when learning!

This technique article was in Issue 2 of IKSURFMAG.


By Christian and Karine
Christian and Karine have been working together as a coaching team, running improver to advanced kitesurfing clinics since 2003.

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