Toe to Heel Spray Carve Kitesurfing Technique

Toe to Heel Spray Carve

Technique / Beginner

Introduction

There is something deeply satisfying in kicking up buckets of spray regardless of sports. Whether it be fanning deep powder on a mountain, annihilating the lip of a wave, chucking dirt on a bike or walling a slalom ski around a buoy, the inner kid in all of us can’t resist it and the ensuing look back to check, regardless of how bleeding awesome it felt. Pushing against water, generating your own prism, bending light, making rainbows, or simply soaking someone on the beach – the fun is ours to have.

This article arose due to a recent clinic questionnaire on which a guest asked to improve their carve so that they could throw heaps of spray. Turns out everyone in the group got equally excited, challenge set, gauntlet thrown. As a result we thought we’d share some hints in these very pages.

Before we start though, we should mention a few factors that will effect your spraying potential. First off any board designed to turn or carve, and therefore has some rocker will be considerably more rewarding and simpler to push through a turn than a stiff, flat light wind plank. Wake-style boards will be da bomb, and most freeride boards will have plenty of tail kick (rocker) to help turn. Secondly you need to be able to use your legs independently of each other so having a sufficiently wide stance is a must. We’re not talking baggy shorts split styley here, but if your straps are tickling your handle it’ll be a lot harder and you’ll be more likely to skid. Finally water state can make or break this move, the flatter the easier, whether that be behind a sand bar or in between waves. Chop will make you bounce and therefore will require more technique to pull it off.

Let’s have a look at the individual steps that’ll make you part the seas. First you have to set your edge and then you can put some power through it.

The Set Up Pic A

Coming into a toe to heel carve with intent is all about your set up. You’ll be wanting power throughout the move so have your kite positioned relatively low, around the 45˚ mark. The kite needs to move quickly when it’s time, you need tension in the lines so a good edge on your toeside is a necessity and it’ll enable you to ride with the kite low without it pulling you off down wind. If you look at Pic A. you can see Christian’s toe side position. He’s looking upwind to where he wants to go, the bar is trimmed in so that he can comfortably reach it with both hands, which means that he can commit his weight and shoulders upwind of the board. His hips are twisted forwards and away from the kite, whilst both knees are bent, putting weight onto both feet so Christian can drive hard against his edge through the balls of his feet, which gives him good speed, glide and resistance. This isn’t cruising, this is dynamic and energetic! From this position, if you get the timing and order of events right, spray is yours for the taking.

Kite 1st Pic B

Once you’re edging well, the first thing to do in order to start the carve is move the kite. Chances are that most of you will currently flatten the board before moving the kite, but here just as on a surfboard we’ll move the kite before giving away our edge. The reason? With tension in the lines the kite will respond quickly. The other point worth pondering is where do you want the kite to fly? Your aim is to turn the kite quick enough so that you chop off the top of the window. That is to say you don’t want the kite to drift up to 12 o’clock, but want it to fly in a relatively straight line across the window. In the Pic B. you can see that Christian still has all his weight, shoulders, hips and knees, committed upwind of the board and is therefore edging. However he has steered the kite aggressively with his back hand. Note that Christian has released his front hand and is not pulling his back hand in towards him. This is because he is steering the kite from the sweet spot using his wrist. With two hands on the bar and his weight committed upwind, he’d end up stalling the kite.

Weight Back Pic C

Once you’ve steered the kite, but before it starts to pull, it’s time to move your weight back onto the curved tail section of your board ready for the carve. Rock your hips back, extending your front leg whilst bending your back leg so that you feel all your weight over and through your back leg and foot. This will lift the nose of the board, place you on the turn orientated tail rocker, and flatten the board off the edge. However as you can see in the picture Christian still has his head, shoulders and back knee leaning upwind…

Carve Ho Pic D

As your weight goes back it’s time to get your carve on. You need to be balanced so that the kite doesn’t pull you over and into the water. Use your free hand, get it out and upwind to stabilise you. Drop your bum to the inside of the turn as your back leg bends even more, as this will allow you to weight your back heel and initiate the carve as you turn your shoulders and head downwind. Christian still has his shoulders upright, he is broken at the waist, lower body committed to the turn, upper body committed to staying balanced. He has officially set his edge and the carve is full steam ahead. This is however the moment that it may go wrong. If you turn your head and look back towards where you want to go over your shoulder, you will drop your upper body weight behind your hips and the kite will pull you, whilst the board keeps going the other way.

Hammer Time Pic E

Now that the kite is moving, the board turning and you’re balanced, it’s time to put your foot to the floor for a ferocious carve and the resulting spray. As you carve downwind the board will start to push back against your foot. The more you resist against this, the bigger your spray. However to resist and push against the board you must get your body in the right position. Have a quick look at the Pic E. You can see that Christian has now turned his head and body through the turn, looking towards where he’ll go and is bringing his free hand forwards and back onto the bar. In this position he can push hard with his back leg, creating a smooth turn with oodles of spray, without the risk of skidding out or stalling.

The Result Pic F

Hidden behind your own cloak of nature’s finest. Get it right and you’ll have plenty of plumage chasing you out of your turn. Feels great, looks good – win, win!

Finish the Job Pic G

Now assuming that you’re not just going for the photo opportunity but want to come out of this carve still motoring back from whence you came, there are a couple more pointers to guarantee a complete success. Power. You gave the kite plenty so that you could jam against it. With so much edge you need to keep the power on throughout the entire carve. If you go back through the previous photos you’ll see that Christian had, and still has the bar on the sweet spot the whole way around. Let the bar out, even just a smidgen, and the kite will fly to the edge of the window and you’ll be left wallowing. That said, pull the bar in too much, the kite will stall, and rather than breathing through and across the window the kite will stop downwind and you’ll sink. Think sweet spot. You need to resist the temptation of a cheeky look back. Come on we’ll all admit to looking back as we push against our back foot to see our spray in all its glory. However looking back will interrupt the flow of your carve and stop you turning smoothly. As a result you’ll be able to jam some hefty spray but you’re far more likely to stop as well.

Top Tips

Build up to this as you would with any other move. Concentrate on the steps in the order above, decent toe side edge into a good chopping off of the window, making sure you don’t look over your shoulder too early and get a nice flowing carve. However start with the kite at 45˚ and aim to chop from 11 to 1 or visa versa, better too little than too much.

  • Remember to trim your kite so that you can reach the bar easily with two hands when you’re edging toe side.
  • Steer your kite through the turn using your wrist, don’t just yank the back hand in and upset the kite.
  • Have a good look at the sequence and videos while pondering the points above.

Common Mistakes

If the kite turns slowly even though you’re giving it plenty of welly. This is the signal that you’re flattening the board off, releasing your edge before turning the kite.

If you’re getting yanked backwards by the kite as you steer it back. As with so many things, timing is everything. Although the order of play is edge, steer the kite and then carve the time between steering and carving can be the blink of an eye. It’s dependant on your speed and how hard you steer the kite, but by no means should you steer the kite and wait for a count of three – this would be more akin to jumping from toe side!

If you’re falling to the inside of the turn. Don’t lean your shoulders back, just your hips and don’t look over you shoulder but turn your upper body. Keep your shoulders forward and turn your head from there.

If you’re skidding as you apply pressure. Chances are that you have too much weight forward and on the front foot, so that as soon as you push against the back foot the board can slide. Make sure your hips are right back and you’ll be able to push like crazy.

If you’re stopping. Either it’s a cheeky look back getting in the way, in which case turn your head and shoulders as you exit the turn and try to get your back hand back on the bar. Or you could be stalling the kite, so keep the bar on the sweet spot throughout the turn.

Keystones

  1. Good toe side edge
  2. Kite first
  3. Drop hips back, flatten board and carve
  4. Push back against board through back foot
  5. Look out of turn

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This technique article was in Issue 53 of IKSURFMAG.

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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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