Strapless Toe to Heel Carve Kitesurfing Technique

Strapless Toe to Heel Carve

Technique / Beginner


Continuing on from last issue’s heel to toe carve, we can now add the other half to complete the basic requirements of wave riding. Once you can link these two turns together you are wave riding, however mythically it may appear to onlookers, and all you need to add is a genuine curl of water chasing you and before you know it you’ll be the genuine article.

Interestingly enough although the toe to heel carve would be considered by many to be the easier of the two, to actually achieve a flowing arc as opposed to a brake and pivot around the back foot is not as obvious as it may first appear! So read on and we’ll discuss the hows and whys, which will make your carving look authentic.

Once again, as with all past surfboard theory, we do recommend that you practice this in the comfort of small waves, or if possible on the flat. With less working against you, you’ll have more time to feel the subtle differences in timing and board trim.

First off let us have a good look at the more important aspects of toe to heel carving. You do need to appreciate that not all the movements involved are the same as those for the heel to toe as you body and the board will react differently from a toeside position.

The Approach

Pic A. This picture defines the set up to Karine’s carve. Going into the carve you’ll require speed to carry you through the turn, tension on the lines so that the kite will turn and your weight positioned correctly so that the board will turn.

Karine once again has her feet in a relatively wide stance, her back foot back on the tail pad and her front foot up where the strap would be. In theory her feet should be where they were for the heel to toe carve, as you don’t want to be mincing around with your feet whilst concentrating on linking turns.
With her back foot back on the narrow part of the board Karine can easily change from one rail to the next, quite literally toe to heel. Like this Karine can maintain a strong toeside edge, and therefore keep the tension in the lines so that the kite will turn when she pulls on the bar.
With her front foot placed well forward Karine can keep the nose of the board down, as this wide stance allows her to twist her hips forward and get her head, shoulders and hips over her front foot. With the nose down and the board trimmed Karine will take more speed into the carve and can therefore allow the board to cave on its rail rather than pivot on the tail. You can clearly see that Karine’s board is pretty flat and that her weight is really quite forward. If you haven’t got this dialled yet, get practising.

As with all good toesides Karine has all her weight committed upwind of the board. This way she can push down on the ball of her back foot to edge against the kite, and she won’t get pulled up onto her board by any gusts.

Finally as this picture does show Karine starting to turn the kite, we should ponder for just a second that she is still looking forwards and not looking at the kite. The reason for this is that it is potentially tricky to hold a good toe edge. If she looks at the kite she may let the board come off its edge/rail and is more likely to lean back onto her back foot. Also if she turns to look where she wants to go before she turns the board she may well fall off the back.

One word of warning at this stage, not all surfboards will be happy to ride fast, whilst you are toeside with your feet wide apart, so this in itself may take some practice. A surfboard with plenty of banana rocker will turn very easily but will have a tendency to weave its nose from side to side should you dare to place too much weight back when travelling in a straight line.

Rail to Rail

Pic B. This picture shows the transition from one rail to the other. Commitment is the key here, as getting your weight across the board while maintaining your balance will result in a very positive carve.

Having steered the kite hard across the window, it will pull, but not for long. As Karine feels the kite pull, she goes with it and allows the kite to pull her up and onto the board. As she moves onto the board she can no longer edge and therefore the board will drift towards the kite. This in turn reduces the pull of the kite. Karine now needs to get the board carving.

To do this Karine releases her front hand, here the right one, and turns her shoulders across the board. Karine moves the hand that is still holding the bar so that rather than being in front of her, it now points towards the centre of her intended arc. Having her arms stretched open like this gives her both balance and dynamism. Karine also keeps her head forwards so that she keeps some weight on the front foot and will therefore turn the board with both feet, not just the back one. With her weight on both feet, her arms spread, knees flexed and her shoulders open Karine’s weight will move over to the inside of the board.

The Carve

Pic C. As a result of what Karine has done the board is now carving. This however is a point where many falter. It is forgivable to be lulled into a false sense of security that the board is turning. However you need to keep your speed up and maintain the board’s flat trim. As the board starts to turn Karine follows the nose with her head, this keeps her turning with the board. If Karine was to turn her head too far and look for the exit of her turn, all her weight would move over the back of the board. This would then either kill her speed, or she would potentially fall off the back. The flowing carve can only result from a well trimmed board.

Nearly There

Pic D. This is a great shot as it really highlights two things.

Firstly you can see how committed Karine has her weight to the centre of the carve, and as a result how much the board is banked over onto its rail. Karine is only able to do this because she did not try and turn her body and head too quickly, she kept some weight forward and kept her speed up. Having completed more than half the carve, she has only now replaced her hand on the bar, because it is now within easy reach, because she has carved far enough around to catch up with her other hand.

Secondly you can see how much of the inside rail is engaged in the water. The design of a surfboard allows it to carve by using the rail, keeping the board steady and moving. This yet again stems from having enough weight forward, so you’ve got one foot on the gas. On a wave this is often the difference between accelerating back down the face, or rolling off the back as the wave passes under you!

Heelside Out

Pic E. Karine is now exiting her carve, so she wants to come out on her heel side rail so she can keep tension in the lines. Because she committed her weight to the inside this should be par for the course. You can see that the kite is now leading again, so Karine pulls the bar all the way in and regains full control of the kite.

Exiting on heelside is much easier than it was on your toes so you should have no problem here. Once you’re comfy you can set yourself up for a heel to and let the wiggling commence.

Top Tips

Just in case we haven’t emphasised it enough, if you can keep some weight forward and turn your body slowly you won’t fall off, and the board will come around with you. Please note you can turn very sharply with all your weight back, but that would be more of a pivot/slash not a dreamboat carve.

Now let’s look at it the carve as a whole in Sequence 1

Common Problems

If you are falling off the back of the board as you go to carve you are anticipating the pull of the kite and leaning back over the tail of the board with a straight front leg. Try to flex both your knees and twist them into the turn, as this will help you move with the pull as opposed to fighting it.

If you fall to the inside of the carve you are turning your body independently of the board. You must go with the board, so make sure that it is turning before you make any dramatic movements with your head or shoulders.

If the kite is pulling you off the board you have either turned a small kite very hard, or more likely you have not committed your weight to the carve, so the kite is turning as required but the board is not.

If you are pivoting around on the tail of the board, and use the kite and bar for support towards the end of your turn you need more speed and more weight on your front foot.


  1. Trimmed Toeside
  2. Send kite
  3. Open arms
  4. Push on heels
  5. Look

Do you enjoy reading IKSURFMAG, using our App and website? We now need your support to keep IKSURFMAG going. Support IKSURFMAG from as little as £2 – and it only takes a minute. Thank you!


This technique article was in Issue 26 of IKSURFMAG.



Kitesurfing Technique - Air Gybe
Kitesurfing Technique - Air Gybe
Air Gybe

The Air Gybe done well is the King of smooth: just freezing mid flight, maybe throwing in a cheeky grab, whilst hanging in the wind then casually changing direction before powering off back out to sea. Once fully mastered even the biggest air can be a mere method of turning, and any obstacle a plant. If you have conquered the…

Kitesurfing Technique - Back Loop
Kitesurfing Technique - Back Loop
Back Loop

The backloop has often been the defining moment in many a riders kitesurfing history. The first genuine “trick” to really wow the masses and motivate ones belief to keep learning, keep tacking time off work and keep spending money. However it does not have to be the starting point. If you can already jump and have the front loop sorted,…

Kitesurfing Technique - Back Loop Transition
Kitesurfing Technique - Back Loop Transition
Back Loop Transition

There comes a time in every kiters life when suddenly all the hours of battling the elements really starts to pay dividends. Once you have mastered the many basic fundamentals you will have a solid foundation on which to build many blocks. The backloop transition is without a shadow of doubt the first funky add on to the beloved foundation…

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

Problems? Ask Below


Subscribe it's Free!

Win a Re Solve Split Kiteboard From Kitelement this issue in our FREE subscriber prize draw.

By subscribing you will not only be first to read the mag but automatically entered into the prize draw every issue!

Draw closes on Wed 10th Apr, 2019
First name is required.

By subscribing you are agreeing to our Privacy Policy

Subscribe Another
Re Solve Split Kiteboard From Kitelement

Issue 72 Wed 6th Feb, 2019

Compact Series Surfboard from ODO Kiteboarding


Issue 71 Fri 7th Dec, 2018

A 2019 Mercury 6/4 Freezip and Vex Harness from Prolimit


Issue 70 Mon 8th Oct, 2018

CrazyFly Raptor LTD Neon Board


Issue 69 Tue 7th Aug, 2018

GoPro Hero 6 Black Action Camera


Issue 68 Tue 12th Jun, 2018

GoPro Hero 6 Black Action Camera


Issue 67 Wed 11th Apr, 2018

Mystic Majestic X Harness


Issue 66 Fri 9th Feb, 2018

6m Flysurfer Stoke


Issue 65 Tue 12th Dec, 2017

7m Cabrinha Drifter + Fireball Bar Set Up


Issue 64 Wed 18th Oct, 2017

Board You Desire From Shinn


Issue 63 Tue 8th Aug, 2017

GoPro Hero 5 Black Action Camera


Issue 62 Sat 10th Jun, 2017

CrazyFly 2017 Sculp 9m and Sick Bar


Issue 61 Mon 10th Apr, 2017

GoPro Hero 5 Black Action Camera


Issue 60 Sun 5th Feb, 2017

GoPro Hero 5 Black Action Camera


Issue 59 Mon 5th Dec, 2016

GoPro Hero 5 Black Action Camera


Issue 58 Thu 13th Oct, 2016

Fireball Set Up with an Apollo Kite from Cabrinha


Issue 57 Tue 11th Oct, 2016

Blade Trigger 10m Kite


Issue 56 Sun 12th Jun, 2016

Board and Boot Set Up from Liquid Force


Issue 55 Sat 9th Apr, 2016

Nobile NHP Split Kiteboard


Issue 54 Sat 6th Feb, 2016

Wetsuit and Harness from Manera


Issue 53 Tue 10th Feb, 2015

Ride Engine Harness!


Issue 52 Wed 7th Oct, 2015

Prize Pack from TSHOTSH

Guy, Vince

Issue 51 Thu 13th Aug, 2015

Wainman Hawaii ManiaC Kite


Issue 50 Thu 4th Jun, 2015

Liquid Force Legacy Board


Issue 49 Fri 10th Apr, 2015

Slingshot Vision Board


Issue 48 Fri 30th Jan, 2015

Blade Mist Kite and Bar


Issue 47 Mon 8th Dec, 2014

2015 Core GTS3 8m Kite and Bar


Issue 46 Wed 8th Oct, 2014

Ozone Reo Wave Kite


Issue 45 Mon 4th Aug, 2014

Brunotti Board and a Pair of Sunglasses


Issue 44 Mon 9th Jun, 2014

Dakine Harness and Travel Bag


Issue 43 Wed 2nd Apr, 2014

Manera EXO Harness and Goodies!


Issue 42 Thu 30th Jan, 2014

North Gonzales Kite Board!


Issue 41 Mon 2nd Dec, 2013

Best Spark Plug Kite Board


Issue 40 Wed 9th Oct, 2013

Kiteloose Fatty Surfboard


Issue 39 Fri 2nd Aug, 2013

GoPro HD Hero 3 Silver Edition


Issue 38 Sun 2nd Jun, 2013

CrazyFly Sculp 9m Kite and Sick Bar System


Issue 37 Mon 1st Apr, 2013

Kitesurf Holiday Experience with Kirsty Jones


Issue 36 Sat 2nd Feb, 2013

2013 F-One Bandit 6 9m Kite


Issue 35 Mon 3rd Dec, 2012

Soul Drysuit by Ocean Rodeo


Issue 34 Mon 1st Oct, 2012

2013 Mystic Wetsuit and Harness


Issue 33 Sun 5th Aug, 2012

Wainman Joke Kitesurfing Board


  1. The Promotion is organised by IKSURFMAG and the participating brand stated on the subscribe page. You are providing your information to IKSURFMAG, not the participating brand. The information you provide will only be used for the purpose of facilitating the Promotion and notifying you when new issues of our totally free magazine are released. We will never sell or supply your details to any 3rd parties.
  2. You can opt out of any future emails by clicking the unsubscribe link within the footer of the email at any time.
  3. The winner will be notified by email shortly after the closing date shown. Previous winners will not be eligible to win again until at least three new Promotions have run.
  4. Winners must reply to our email within two weeks or a new winner will be drawn. Please check all spam folders to avoid loosing out.
  5. Participants only need to enter once in order to be eligible for all future prize draws.

Share - Strapless Toe to Heel Carve