Popped Backloop Kitesurfing Technique

Popped Backloop

Technique / Beginner


Some time ago in issue 6 we introduced you to the back loop. Those of you who followed it will remember that we advised you to learn the jumped version. Hopefully now you have that in the bag, the actual rotation should come fairly naturally. So let’s move on to the popped variation, which simplistically should just entail a bit of sweet harmony between the back loop and a pop, whilst keeping the kite still. Should be a doddle.

Points of Sail

If you cast your minds back to popping there are a few key points that must be followed.

  1. You’ll be needing speed, or else the board will stop when you carve onto your edge.
  2. To gain this speed you will momentarily need to point the board slightly down wind. This means standing up ever so slightly and flattening the board off.
  3. You will be physically jumping up off a coiled back leg, whilst edging the board, corking yourself up and out of the water.
  4. You are not using the kite for lift, so get your hands close together on the bar and park it.

This means that you will sail across the wind with your kite parked between 11 o’clock and 11.30 or 12.30 and 1 o’clock. For your first attempts having the kite higher will give you more lift. Then bear off onto a faster more down wind direction before cutting hard upwind. It is well worth practising this before actually going for the pop and back loop together as Karine is in Sequence 1.

Following Sequence 1

  • Pic 1. Karine is riding upwind on her edge.
  • Pic 2. Karine relaxes her legs so that she is no longer pushing her feet away from her.
  • Pic 3. This allows the kite to pull Karine up and over her board, and without an edge the board now runs ever so slightly down wind.
  • Pic 4. Keeping her weight over her back foot to prevent the nose of the board from catching, Karine stands up onto the ball of her back foot.
  • Pic 5. This turns the board further off the wind, almost 45˚ further than across the wind. You can see where the nose of her board is pointing. In sailing terms this angle off the wind is known as a broad reach, and it has potential to be pretty quick.
  • Pic 6. Karine does not want to get too much speed and wants to change her direction back upwind. To do this she drops her weight back towards the water,
  • Pic 7. And she pushes the board away from her with her legs, whilst turning her shoulders back up wind.
  • Pic 8. Now with her front leg extended she is back on an edge, with the lines tightening as she turns away from the kite.
  • Pic 9. To get the power for pop Karine gently bends her back leg so she can kick off it.

Stop the Clock

The timing for popping yourself off the water is always crucial, and will be complicated even more by you effort to spin around into a back loop. It is too easy to put all your effort into turning around and upwind, that before you have a chance to push off with the back foot, you are facing right up into the wind and there is nothing to push against.

As well as creating the required speed, pointing further off the wind before you start will also give you the extra time you need to pop. If you start to carve the board when you are riding upwind, you will turn through the wind before you have a chance to blink, and by the time you extend your back leg you will be pushing air. If you start your back loop riding across the wind, you may just have a bit of purchase, but you wont really pop up into the air. However if you start riding about 45 ˚ further downwind from across the wind, on what is known as a broad reach, by the time you turn up and carve you will still only be pointing slightly into the wind and therefore have something to push up off, to really get some decent pop.


As ever it’ll all seem a world easier to understand if you look at the popped back loop during the 4 steps to completion; the approach, take off, in flight entertainment and the landing.

The Approach

Before you contemplate anything else remember to check that you have enough space to try this safely. You will need that speed, so bear-off onto a broad reach. If you don’t resist with you legs against your edge and soften your knees the power in the kite will pull you up over the board. Keep your weight back and you should be comfortable like this for a few seconds. If you can find it, flat water really helps.

The Take Off

To take off you will drop your weight back and away from the kite to get back on your edge and carve against the pull. The straighter you can keep the front leg, the easier it will be to hold your edge whilst you bend the back leg slightly. Your aim is to go up and around, so concentrate on extending up and looking up as you turn your head. If you just throw your head around over your front shoulder, you’ll spin and get no pop. The rotation should start much as for a jumped back loop, you start to turn by leaning back as opposed to throwing yourself around.

In Flight Entertainment

Assuming you get the take off right you’ll have time to ponder the outcome once you are airborne. Your aim will be to make yourself small, encourage the kite down if it’s lifted and spot your landing as you come around.

The Landing

As long as you are looking at where you want to go the landing will happen. Unlike a jumped trick where you need to time your kite dive and point your board down wind, in a popped back loop your take off will decide how you land. If you land too much across the wind hard on an edge you have given too much spin and not enough up. The more downwind you start the move, the more off the wind you’ll finish the move.

If you follow Sequence 2 Karine has already finished sequence 1.

Following Sequence 2

  • Pic 1. Karine is carving hard onto her edge with a slightly bent back leg and an extended front leg.
  • Pic 2. As the board turns up into the wind Karine drops her weight right over her back foot and leans her body over the tail of the board to initiate the back loop, she does not turn her head.
  • Pic 3. Whilst there is still power in the lines and pressure on the edge of the board Karine explodes up by suddenly extending her back leg. This will give her the height she needs to complete the loop. Karine has as yet not thrown her head around to look over her front shoulder
  • Pic 4. As Karine goes up she lifts her knees to speed up the rotation and give her more balance in the air. She now looks over her front shoulder, but is not trying to see right behind her.
  • Pic 5. Karine’s body is now facing dead up wind and she is at the apex of her loop. If she feels that the kite has moved back, this would be the time to pull on the front hand to bring it back down.
  • Pic 6. Karine comes around the loop she can now start to think about her landing, so she tries to focus on where she thinks she may land.
  • Pic 7. As Karine starts to drop she dives the kite with her front hand just to give her that extra bit of pull to help stop her rotation.
  • Pic 8. With the water fast approaching Karine extends her legs ready for the reception.
  • Pic 9. Karine lands back foot first on a flat board pointing slightly off the wind.

Top Tips

If you keep landing on your bottom facing into wind make a real effort to keep the front leg straight and the board on its edge. As soon as you sit, with both knees bent, the board will flatten and you’ll end up under the kite with no power to pop against.

If you spin uncontrollably under the kite you’re putting too much effort into the spin with your head. Just lean back on take off and look ahead of you. Let the board do the work and enjoy the ride.

As you come around and spot your landing, do give a the front hand a tug to dive the kite down as it will have a tendency to rise as you pop.

This technique article was in Issue 10 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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