Slide Turn Kitesurfing Technique

Slide Turn

Technique / Beginner


There are many life-changing moments in kiting, from the first planing runs, through coming in with a dry kite, to the virginal moment of silent airtime. Once we’re up and running, being able to change direction without dipping our bums into the ocean means that we’ve reached a milestone. Here is a stylish and practical move for all seasons. Whether you are just up and riding or confidently flying up wind, once you’ve tamed this turn it will do you years of service. What’s more it’s a beautiful lead in to riding toe-side, and carving turns. If you can water-start in both directions, you can slide turn.

Multi-tasking is the order of the day, as you will need to co-ordinate your board skills with your kite skills. So ladies carry on, and gents go find your feminine side.

The Board

The idea of the slide turn is to actually slide the back of your board away from you so that it is almost pointing down wind. In fact, in this position the board is ready to travel back in the other direction.

Practice on a chair. Sit with you feet in the straps, close your eyes and imagine you’re cruising across the wind, warm turquoise water rushing beneath your board and a heavily palmed beach fast approaching – it’s time to turn.

In your riding stance you should have more weight over the back foot, your back leg soft and the front leg will be slightly extended out in front of you, shoulders and hips twisted forwards, your board edging effortlessly through the water. We will cover this in much more detail in a future issue.

Your intention is to move so that you will adopt the same stance but facing the other way. Now open your eyes and try this. You will have subconsciously gone through the motions for the slide turn. Brilliant.

What you have done is pushed your back leg out, whilst placing your body over the front leg, twisting your hips, shoulders and head to face downwind and then in the new direction, therefore mirroring your previous position.

The Kite

Now that the body is well versed, let’s ponder the kite. You will want to loose speed, so whilst you try to cut upwind the kite needs to slowly move up from it’s forward position, say 11 o’clock, towards 12. If you stop the kite here you would sink, so once at 12 you will want to dive the kite in order to pull you along the other way. This means pulling hard on the new front hand, otherwise the kite will slowly move around the edge of the window giving no forward momentum.

So how does it work on the water?

Following Sequence A

  • Pic 1 & 2. We can see that after a quick glimpse to see that there is space to turn, Karine has started to move the kite slowly up by pulling gently on her back (right) hand. She still has her weight over the back foot, that is to say her bottom is over her right foot and her front leg is slightly extended, whilst she looks upwind to keep her board edging as hard into the wind as possible.
  • Pic 3. The kite is still moving slowly up, and you can just see how Karine’s front knee is starting to bend. This means that her derriere is moving over to the middle of the board, putting weight onto both feet as the board slows down.
  • Pic 4. Karine’s front knee is bending more, so her weight is now on her front foot. With both knees bent she is able to push her back foot away from her by extending her back leg. The kite is nearly at 12 o’clock. Because the board has turned so far into the wind she does not have to slide it far to point away from the wind in the new direction.
  • Pic 5. So the board slides out, her back leg is nearly straight.
  • Pic 6 & 7. Karine’s hips have now turned along with her shoulders to anticipate the change in direction. Now that the board is pointing away from the wind she can dive the kite to generate power. Because the board has slid away from the wind and is not actually edging against the pull of the kite she can be quite aggressive on her new front (right) hand to get the kite across quickly.
  • Pic 8. As the kite dives Karine follows it with her head allowing her body to rock back over her new back (left) foot. This allows the board to pivot around with the pull from the kite and prevents Karine from getting pulled over the front.
  • Pic 9 - 10. Now the kite will pull Karine around as it travels to the other side of the window. As long as she keeps her weight over her back foot, and the board between her and the kite she will carve round.
  • Pic 11 - 13. As the kite continues to pull Karine around she drops into her upwind stance, by dropping her leading shoulder low to the water, which helps twist the hips, looking upwind where she would like to go, she pushes her back foot into the board to make sure that it starts edging.

Looking at sequence B from a downwind perspective, you can see how the front knee really bends, with the body now over this foot the back leg can push away and bingo, we’re sliding. Also see how the head, shoulders and hips follow the kite round the turn.

Top Tips

The further you can turn the board upwind, the less you have to slide the board around.

Anticipate the change in direction by leading with the head and body.

The more you bend your knees the easier the board will slide.

As soon as you get the slide, pull the kite quite hard on the new front hand. If you are stopping and sinking just be more aggressive with the kite.

As your confidence rises, try entering with more speed, and dive the kite across in front of you rather than taking it up towards 12 o’clock.

Spice it up with a cheeky under turn (Coming soon)!

One thing is for sure, as the sea temperature starts to drop, it will be a pleasure not to drop our favoured possessions into the drink every time we need to turn. Bonne Chance.

This technique article was in Issue 1 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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