Unhooking Kitesurfing Technique

Unhooking

Technique / Beginner

Introduction

Having watched with great amusement the bursting veins of many friends as they wrestled to hold their “classics” and “surfboards” down, we patiently waited, deep within our subconscious, for the advent of the 4-line kite, and the luxury of a chicken loop. As kit developed, the odd maverick such as Lou Waiman showed the up and coming talents what would be possible. Now many years down the road, with more tame-able kit, riders (particularly young ones) all over the world are unhooking within moments of learning, and enveloping themselves in a world of fancy tricks and radical riding.

Don’t let the wake style badge put you off, because unhooked tricks are very much a part of our sport. They lend themselves to certain conditions, and even give you something to try when the wind is insufficient to throw a 30 foot deadman….

Unhooking is a skill with no real purpose of it’s own. The early days showed us that riding around, holding onto to the bar for dear life was over-rated. However as a tool it can open many doors to a variety of tricks, a bevy of waves and will even teach you a fair bit about your equipment. The fact is you unhook to do something, and once you’ve finished you hook back in.

Balancing Act

Before you even consider sliding out from the sanctuary of your chicken loop you’ll need to consider the best possible way to set your kit up. We talked at great length about “trimming” your kite in the last issue (No. 5), so with that in mind you’ll need to make sure that you set your lines on the necessary pig tails and knots so, even when powered up on the water, you will be able to pull down on “the strap” and trim the “sweet spot” right down to where the bar rests above the chicken loop as in Pic A. The epitome of this will be when there is equal tension on the front and back lines.

As tempting as it may be to try and unhook with the sweet spot further away from the chicken loop, this will only result in the kite falling back in the window (flaring), as there will be too much tension on the back lines. Trimmed like this the kite will pull you off down wind. However it’s a fine line, if you trim the kite too much you’ll end up with too little power, as the back lines will be slack, and you’ll grind to an unintentional halt.

Eating Peas in an Aeroplane

We know from many of our clinic guests that when they first trim the kite this far down, they feel there is no power in the kite. This is more often than not because they try and keep the exact same body stance that we’ve drummed into them. With their arms extended, the bar will be pushed away and therefore in the de-power area above the sweet spot. Once you trim the kite, you’ll have to make a huge effort to control the bar on the sweet spot, above the chicken loop. It’s a mighty fine idea to get used to riding like this, feeling where the power is and adjusting your body accordingly.

In Pic B you can see how Christian’s elbows are tucked in close to keep the bar in and on the power. Just imagine that this morning you mistook the carpet adhesive for your deodorant, or that you’re the freak off the telly keeping fish alive. Your elbows should be close into your sides, but the rest of your body should be as normal – loving the bar, looking upwind and driving through you back foot. In Video 1 you can see Karine trim her sweet spot down and then relax into riding with the power here.

Mirror Image

The last big issue for unhooking is where you put your hands. You will need to hold the bar in the middle with both almost touching the chicken loop line. With your hands centred, you will not get any involuntary movement of the kite. On the flip side if you need to work the kite to get some extra power, with your hands offering no leverage and your arms squashed into that mile high culinary position, you will have to work hard, using both hands together. When you pull on one, push on the other.

If you look at Pic C & Pic D you can see how Karine is still very much loving the bar, her shoulders are back and twisting to face the kite, hips are up, but her elbows are glued in close. In both pictures she is unhooked, yet she looks much the same as Christian in the first two pictures riding hooked in.

Dropping Out & Slacking Off

Once you’ve got the correct trim of the kite and your body position dialled its time to think about unhooking. The two main players here are the actual body movement to slip out of your chicken loop, and the ability to loose enough tension from the lines to allow those of you not built like Arnie to do this.

Assuming that you have enough power to be gliding across the ocean, with the bar trimmed down, holding a good edge with a smug grin on your face, you may well have noticed that it’s a lot easier to hold this new position with the kite flying lower, let’s say around the 10:30 or 01:30 mark, or 45°. You can lean out, twist round and edge hard, which helps the kite flying further around towards the edge of the window (further in front of you in the direction of travel, as apposed to down wind of you).

To slacken the lines you need to head down towards your kite. In theory this sounds great, but the nagging memory of all those downwind death runs in the early days remains. The trick is to change direction suddenly, almost wrong footing the kite, which gives you a window of opportunity.

Look at Video 2 and you can see how Karine suddenly comes off her edge and bears away down wind. This can be done in much the same way as carving. Allow yourself to be pulled up over the board, by bending your knees, leaning slightly forward with your shoulders and applying a bit of pressure to the toes of the back foot. All the time looking down wind where you want to go. Once you’re in this position Pic E you will be able to hook out. Once again you can practice this hooked in which will give you a feeling for when the bar goes “light” as the lines slacken, brilliant.

The motion for getting yourself unhooked is straight out of an MC Hammer video. In Video 3 you can see in slow motion how Karine pulls the bar in and pushes it down in a circular movement, whilst keeping her shoulders back. Once again it’s all about the love – hands to hips and grind it down.

Health and Safety Executive

Now you’re ready for the off let’s conduct a quick pre unhook risk assessment

Firstly you’ll need a strong leesh. Most modern kites come equipped with such a beauty ready for the task. If you’re still using something that attaches with a plastic clip, it’s time to splash out on a new one. Modern leashes will have a Quick Release on the end, which attaches to your harness and a fairly solid type of fixture, which will not twist off from your kite.

Secondly you should attach your leash to your 5th-line if you have one, or on your chicken loop line, below the bar, on a de-powering bow. If you have a stopper to prevent the bar from disappearing on your bow, loosen or remove it. When you are learning, if you loose your bar you’ll be so much better off if your kite de-powers. Under no circumstances attach your leash to your chicken loop. The apt name and possible consequences of the “suicide leash” hardly need explaining and should be left to the pros.

Thirdly attach your leash onto your harness where you can reach it. It may look rather cool hanging from the back, but trying to reach the safety here when you’re getting dragged backwards up a beach, or submarined in the water is something the great Houdini would have been proud of. If you're right handed stick it on the right hand side, and if you're left handed, stick it on the left. Some harnesses come with a built in safety. One would hope not to have to release the kite, as this would put others in danger, but in certain situations it may be the only option.

Finally don’t forget to take out your chicken’s toe or donkey’s whatever, otherwise you could be wasting a lot of effort.

The whole shebang

Following the sequence of Karine this is how you’ll be doing it.

Finishing the Job Off

It’s all good and well joining the unhinged fold, but getting yourself back into your comfort zone and locked into the chicken loop is a must. The best way to practice is to unhook as described but rather than drop down onto your edge and ride unhooked, just continue downwind and hook back in before carving back onto your edge as Karine demonstrates in Video 4.

Whether you’ve been on your edge or have just landed some breathtaking move with the board flying down wind, your movements to get back in will be identical. If you look at Sequence 2 you can see the similarity between hooking out and hooking in.

And When it all Goes Pete Tong

There will be times, particularly in gusty or choppy conditions, when you may have unhooked to try something, or have just finished a move, and find yourself overpowered. This could be due to a gust or a wind shift, but it could also be the result of your kite being somewhat higher than you expected, or even a combination of all of these. In any case it’s not game over, it just time to for a variation of how to hook in.
If you have a look at Sequence 3 you can see Karine is up to something. With her kite high, she will be unable to hook back in as the bar will be pulling up. Instead she releases her back hand from the bar and grabs the top of the chicken loop with it. With her front hand holding the bar near the centre, the kite should not move much, but if it does it will move down, which is better than up. Once she has a firm grip she can let go with her front hand, which can then grab alongside the other above the chicken loop. As the bar moves away the kite will de-power and this is when Karine can pull the chicken loop down and onto her hook. Once it’s in, she can carve round and regain control.

The Winds of Change

Like many a new skill, the best way to learn and practice all of what we have advised will be in marginal conditions, when you are confident to hold the power in the kite and nothing to surprising should happen. Flat water will make a world of difference as you’ll be much more stable when you flatten the board off and it stops cutting through the chop.

When you feel the confidence to try unhooking in stronger winds and launching yourself into raleys and the likes you will need to tweak you technique ever so slightly. If you look at Karine unhooking in powered conditions in Sequence 4 (we promise it’s the last sequence) you can see that she is still committed against the pull of the kite when she steers the board off the wind. She has not actually stood up over the board, but rather pointed her toes and physically pushed the board off down wind. This way she can maintain control at speed on choppy or flat water. It also allows her to carve into a very dynamic unhooked position with the bar held low. From here she is primed to pop or jump into whatever takes her fancy.

Excellent Stuff!

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!

Support IKSURFMAG

This technique article was in Issue 6 of IKSURFMAG.

Related

Related

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 fu...

Beginner
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 wor...

Beginner
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...

Beginner
By Christian and Karine
www.ckperformanceclinics.co.uk
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

Giles

Issue 71 Fri 7th Dec, 2018

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

Gary

Issue 70 Mon 8th Oct, 2018

CrazyFly Raptor LTD Neon Board

Martin

Issue 69 Tue 7th Aug, 2018

GoPro Hero 6 Black Action Camera

John

Issue 68 Tue 12th Jun, 2018

GoPro Hero 6 Black Action Camera

Simon

Issue 67 Wed 11th Apr, 2018

Mystic Majestic X Harness

Andrew

Issue 66 Fri 9th Feb, 2018

6m Flysurfer Stoke

Ross

Issue 65 Tue 12th Dec, 2017

7m Cabrinha Drifter + Fireball Bar Set Up

Chris

Issue 64 Wed 18th Oct, 2017

Board You Desire From Shinn

Dave

Issue 63 Tue 8th Aug, 2017

GoPro Hero 5 Black Action Camera

Adam

Issue 62 Sat 10th Jun, 2017

CrazyFly 2017 Sculp 9m and Sick Bar

Dale

Issue 61 Mon 10th Apr, 2017

GoPro Hero 5 Black Action Camera

Sam

Issue 60 Sun 5th Feb, 2017

GoPro Hero 5 Black Action Camera

Steven

Issue 59 Mon 5th Dec, 2016

GoPro Hero 5 Black Action Camera

Edward

Issue 58 Thu 13th Oct, 2016

Fireball Set Up with an Apollo Kite from Cabrinha

Paul

Issue 57 Tue 11th Oct, 2016

Blade Trigger 10m Kite

Andrew

Issue 56 Sun 12th Jun, 2016

Board and Boot Set Up from Liquid Force

Peter

Issue 55 Sat 9th Apr, 2016

Nobile NHP Split Kiteboard

Andrew

Issue 54 Sat 6th Feb, 2016

Wetsuit and Harness from Manera

Gary

Issue 53 Tue 10th Feb, 2015

Ride Engine Harness!

Grahame

Issue 52 Wed 7th Oct, 2015

Prize Pack from TSHOTSH

Guy, Vince

Issue 51 Thu 13th Aug, 2015

Wainman Hawaii ManiaC Kite

Rich

Issue 50 Thu 4th Jun, 2015

Liquid Force Legacy Board

Daniel

Issue 49 Fri 10th Apr, 2015

Slingshot Vision Board

Michael

Issue 48 Fri 30th Jan, 2015

Blade Mist Kite and Bar

Gary

Issue 47 Mon 8th Dec, 2014

2015 Core GTS3 8m Kite and Bar

Wayne

Issue 46 Wed 8th Oct, 2014

Ozone Reo Wave Kite

Daan

Issue 45 Mon 4th Aug, 2014

Brunotti Board and a Pair of Sunglasses

Sean

Issue 44 Mon 9th Jun, 2014

Dakine Harness and Travel Bag

Matthew

Issue 43 Wed 2nd Apr, 2014

Manera EXO Harness and Goodies!

Ruben

Issue 42 Thu 30th Jan, 2014

North Gonzales Kite Board!

Johnny

Issue 41 Mon 2nd Dec, 2013

Best Spark Plug Kite Board

Christophe

Issue 40 Wed 9th Oct, 2013

Kiteloose Fatty Surfboard

Ben

Issue 39 Fri 2nd Aug, 2013

GoPro HD Hero 3 Silver Edition

Dave

Issue 38 Sun 2nd Jun, 2013

CrazyFly Sculp 9m Kite and Sick Bar System

Clara

Issue 37 Mon 1st Apr, 2013

Kitesurf Holiday Experience with Kirsty Jones

Vix

Issue 36 Sat 2nd Feb, 2013

2013 F-One Bandit 6 9m Kite

Paul

Issue 35 Mon 3rd Dec, 2012

Soul Drysuit by Ocean Rodeo

Ian

Issue 34 Mon 1st Oct, 2012

2013 Mystic Wetsuit and Harness

Mike

Issue 33 Sun 5th Aug, 2012

Wainman Joke Kitesurfing Board

David

  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 - Unhooking

×