The Dark Slide is definitely one of those tricks that appeals to a lot of folk, whether kids in boots or the more laid back lady and gent usually content with some boosting. Perhaps there is an element of show boating that lies concealed in all of us, and who can argue that gliding effortlessly over the water with but a corner of your board resisting doesn’t look at least vaguely cool - rest assured a glimpse of a Dark Slide can bring out the exhibitionist in any of us.
We’re going to dive into the one handed variation here. There are of course pros and cons to executing any trick with all your weight potentially committed to one side of the bar. Concentrating on the positive, using one hand to grab can really help you get you body and board into the correct position. Hence although we’ll take you all the way through to the landing (and there are many, deliberate or otherwise), consider this article as much as how to learn the position and gain confidence without even sailing away and claiming it. From this foundation you can then add on all the various incarnations to your heart’s content.
For this purpose we’ll concentrate on getting into and maintaining the slide with images A to F and Video 1, and as a finale add on the ending with the sequence and other videos. This means that you can learn to slide and then sink to a halt without the need for a kiteloop from a possibly unbalanced position - good news.
First off lets consider kite position. We’ll opt for our usual 1 or 11 here. If your kite is too low you’ll plough straight into the water as you “flip” the board, if it’s too high you’ll get lifted either as you commit or as soon as you’ve got into position. So your best bet is a happy medium where you’ll have enough lift to stop you falling into the water, but enough pull that you can stay on your flipped edge and resist for longer.
Next question is trim. You do need some power in the kite to learn this, as it’ll support you better. Hence we won’t be going straight into the looping part. You also want to be able to release your front hand without the kite sending back. For this having the sweet spot trimmed out away from you will help. If you have your sweetspot close you’ll have to pull on your back hand to keep the lift and this will make the kite move quicker – not ideal.
And finally your course, which way should you be going? You need some speed on your approach so you don’t want to be hacking upwind on a huge edge, rather a relaxed across the wind. This will also allow you to turn up into the flip, without loosing all your speed.
So back to Pic A. On entry you can see that Christian has speed and has already taken his front hand off the bar, which is trimmed out and away from him. He has turned up onto his edge, hence the spray, with his front leg extended, so weight back over the tail of the board. His back hand is centred on the bar so as not to move the kite too quickly as he’s on a 9m.
The Sit & Hang
This is where it starts to get more dynamic. You need to get your weight off your feet and hanging off the kite, fully committed into the harness. This is because you will flip and trip the board into the slide, you won’t be popping. When you do this you must get your hips back over or behind your back foot. The simplest way to commit is to suddenly bend you knees and sit into the harness. As you do this you must keep the power on in the kite, so now having your sweet trimmed away from you really helps. By un-weighting the board you will be able to move into the next stage without having to pop the board off the water which would make it difficult to resist against the edge when it digs in.
Toe Edge Trip
The previous two stages allow you to get here – this is the moment that you’ll move across. Before thinking about what you must do, take note of Christian’s position in this image. His weight is way back, lifting the nose of the board into a wheely. His shoulders are leaning back over his back foot too. His bum is down low over the back of the board. And his knees are now across downwind of the board! At the moment however his body is still upwind of the board.
Your aim here is to trip over onto your toeside edge, but with the front of the board lifted so that only the rear toeside will be left in. This means that you’ll only have a bit of resistance, which is manageable to hold. If you don’t get your weight back, you’ll roll onto most off your toeside edge and come to a rather abrupt halt!
Being fully supported in the harness here is key. Christian has dropped his weight lower and lifts his feet to completely un-weight the board, thus he can move his weight across the board by pushing his knees and hips across and literally tripping himself on his toeside edge. If he still had weight on the board, he would end up carving downwind – so if your board starts to carve take more weight onto the harness and if need be your back hand.
Flip & Grab
You can see here how the back of the board digs in as Christian rolls across the tail and this trips the board onto the other side – the Dark Slide side! At the same time Christian pulls the front of the board up towards him with his front leg and grabs the heelside front fin. This will make it easier to hold the “slide” position as he is pulled by the kite. Once you’ve got the grab hold on tight and the rest should be fairly automated. It is worth noting here that Christian has not thrown himself forwards towards the kite. He is using the edge of the board to trip him, and from there the kite will pull him.
Hold and Pull
This is the moment that the hand comes in handy, if you’ll excuse the pun. If you’ve got a good hold on the fin then you have two points of resistance. You’ll be stretched here, with the kite pulling you, whilst the board will be dragging behind you. Using your hand to keep the board pulled in close will keep the minimum of board in the water and make the whole trick simpler to control.
On your first attempts it is quite likely that you may pull too much on your back hand and thus the kite will go up quickly and you’ll either loose power or get pulled up off the water. In both cases your best bet is to just let the bar out and drop softly into the drink. You can of course loop the kite, but if it’s gone a long way back it may come through very slowly and with a lot of power. So bailing by letting the bar out until you know where you are is a good way to start.
Enjoy the Ride
If however your kite hasn’t drifted too far up you now need to relax and go with it whilst supporting yourself on the bar. You can see that Christian has been pulled over and extended into the slide with just the tail of the board edging through the water. He’s pulled the bar in for support, which will speed the kite’s journey up and across the window. This will hold him up but there is a point when he’ll feel the support go. This then is the escape stage of the dark slide.
To get the full visual up to this point have a good look at Video 1.
What to do next?
As we mentioned when you’re learning this there is no need to go straight for a loop, step by step will give you the feeling and timing, and with practice you’ll be balanced and ready to loop. So to start enjoy the slide and see how long you can make it last and as you feel the support go sheet the bar out and drop.
As you get more confident you can get the front hand back on the bar and redirect the kite forward, so that you get lifted out of the slide and land going in the same direction. Crikey with more practice you can even add a front or back rotation.
However for the classic bona fide Dark Slide you’ll be gagging to add the kite loop to pull you up and out. It’s the timing and your wrist that will benefit you here. Timing wise it’s that moment you feel the support going. Too much after that and the kite will go a long way back and can lead to some fruity loops! To get the kite looping a tight arc to reduce power you need to not only pull hard on your back hand, but also twist your wrist. Imagine that your trying to push down with the outside of your palm and push up with your palm – this way you’ll get some good leverage on the kite. If however you are very powered up it can be a good idea to get the front hand back on the bar to help.
Whether you transition or keep going is up to you! To transition loop the kite a moment later and keep the kite looping for longer so that it pulls you back. To carry on stop pulling as the kite comes through the loop.
It’s all been said but we’ll add flat water and space. This won’t work without speed so you need power in your kite, hence work on the first steps and forget the loop until later.
Also work on the balance of where you start your kite, as if it’s too high you’ll be lifted too early and stop very quickly.
Now have a good look at the Sequence and Videos.
If you’re falling onto your chest. Chances are that you’ve got all your edge catching in the water, pull that front foot up and get your weight back on the approach.
If you can’t trip the board. You are standing on the board, so sit back into the harness.
If you start to rotate into a back rotation. You’re either turning too far into wind or your looking upwind – look down to where you’ll be going.
If you get pulled across the water onto your front when looping the kite. Looping too late.
If you get pulled up into a large kite loop. Looping too early:)
- Speed across wind
- Sit back and edge up
- Drop into harness and un-weight board
- Push knees across board and trip tail
- Grab board and support weight on bar
- Either sheet out or loop!
This technique article was in Issue 43 of IKSURFMAG.