Dark Slide with a Back Roll Kitesurfing Technique

Dark Slide with a Back Roll

Technique / Intermediate


If you’re mildly infatuated with dark sliding, spending endless sessions trying to eke out an extra few milliseconds suspended under your kite, indulging yourself in fantasies of sliding yet further, it could conceivably be time to take a step back, press reset and try something else using the skills that you’ve honed so well.Enter the dark slide back roll. It’s a champion add on that’ll help mend your ways, rekindle your stoke and of course impress your peers.

The movement of a dark slide lends itself well to a back rotation, as you’ve most likely encountered with some element of surprise, particularly if you’re grabbing the board with your front hand. The time has come to make it both deliberate and painless. Note to reader, we will take it for granted that you can already dark slide and therefore miss some basic elements of the movement, rather focusing on getting around without a snag. We will also be finishing this move with a late kiteloop, so if you’re accustomed to this mode of exit it’ll stand you in good stead.

Left Hand Free Pic A

If you’re going left that is! We didn’t want to put anyone one off but this should be named the grabbed dark slide back roll. Therefore, if you haven’t grabbed a dark slide yet, now is your moment. It’ll become obvious later why having the front hand off helps so much, but for the moment let us say that with two hands, although very possible, your hit rate will be considerably higher with one mitt (your front one) impaled on a fin. Therefor you’ll be committing from the off, on your approach as Christian is here, although the James Haskell face is optional! Because your front hand is off the back one needs to be up close to the chicken loop. Other than that it’s business as usual, come in with your weight back and low, kite high and a good solid edge, before turning the board up underneath you, letting the bar out and tripping your lower half over.

Fin Grab Pic B

If you can dark slide this is well within your reach. That said the grab can be tricky, and if you’re struggling have a quick look at this image. From the previous position Christian turns the board upwind and completely relaxes his legs so that the board steers underneath him. Having turned the board up Christian has pushed the bar out so that he doesn’t get pulled downwind, this will make the grab way easier as he won’t immediately be extended. Also as he falls, it’s just with his back knee and hips, his shoulders stay upright. Yet again he’s not falling away from the grab. And finally he’s pulling and lifting his front knee up towards the bar, not letting it bend behind him. Once more keeping everything together and increasing his chances of reaching the fin.

Why the grab Pic C

As soon as you’re tripping you should aim to grab the front heelside fin. This will give you a good grip on the board and help support you as you slide. Once you’ve got the grab pull the bar back in to the sweet spot. If all goes to plan you should be in this position. And this is why you grab! With his front hand off the bar Christian cannot pull himself forwards, so gravity takes over and as a result he falls behind the bar. See how the bar is facing the camera as Christian literally rolls backwards. The end result is that you’ll be both sliding and very gently losing your balance into a slow back rotation.

Rolling Pic D

By the very nature of the slide, combined with the kite moving back behind you, eventually you will be off balance and falling downwind of the bar. If this was happening to you by accident you’d pull yourself up and forwards on the bar with your front hand. However now that it’s intentional you’re going to let yourself go with it, actually, by releasing your grab. With no support from your front hand your back shoulder will drop and start to swing you around. You have started your rotation. You only want to start this part once the kite has drifted past 12!

Lift Pic E

Ideally we’d all prefer to be lifted up and away from the water, rather than dragged across it. So you must pre-empt your kiteloop with a hefty pull in on the bar. This will not only lift you and your board off the water, decreasing the chances of you losing the board, or worse still, one foot coming out of the strap. It will also put tension on the lines, so that when you do loop the kite should respond and whip around, rather than take the lazy long lolloping low route down through the power. Here Christian replaces his front back onto the bar and pulls in to get off the water and out of the slide. This part could also be done with one hand. Although you’re then likely to get more power from your loop as you’ll have less control of the kite.

Loop & Look Pic F

Once you’re up you need to commit to the loop, pulling and pushing with opposing hands. You’ll be better prepared if you bring your knees up, as in this compact position it’ll be easier to keep your balance as the kite pulls. You also need to ensure that you can complete the rotation. Here Christian has turned his head, leading his body around the rotation. As the kite pulls it should lead him around and out of the back roll. It’s important that you don’t rotate too far before looping the kite, as it will then tend to over rotate you, forcing you to land on and edge, or further round still!

One Handed Pic F2

The previous part can also be performed with just the back hand, if you’d like to complete the move one handed. You can see how much more Christian is steering the kite with the bar. The reason being that as the power comes on the kite may pull the bar out and away, slowing the kite and increasing the radius, equalling more pull. To make sure it goes around quick a hefty tug with the back hand and a cocking of the wrist as if lifting the kite during body dragging is required. Here Christian uses his thumb to push the front of the bar up.

Safe Arrival Pic G

For a smooth touch down you want the kite to be on it’s way up. This way it will both pull you downwind, so that you can land softly on a flat board, and it will lift slightly, softening the impact which is never a bad thing. To make sure of this keep the bar steered until the very end. You can clearly see here that Christian is still pulling with is back hand and pushing with his front hand to make sure he lands softly with the kite on the right path.

One Handed Pic G2

The same applies if you’re going for the rodeo one handed spectacle. This variation leads better into a transition, as you can more easily bring your back foot through for a toeside landing:) Yet again you can see the front of Christian’s bar as he’s pulling like a barmaid at the last orders bell. Same idea, same reason. Kite must go around and you want a soft landing. One thing of note here is that although Christian’s free arm has been left behind, he makes a point of trying to keep his shoulders parallel to the board. If you open your shoulders to much it’s very possible that the kite will pull you by your back hand, spin you and cause you to over rotate!

Top Tips

We’re big fans of baby steps. If you’ve never grabbed a dark slide before, there’s no sense in looping your first attempt. You need repetition to get the timing right, so rather than nailing yourself with both guns blazing, get the grab and slide until you sink. It won’t be long until you’ve got the timing and therefore can almost guarantee a marshmallow landing.

If you feel yourself rotating too quickly, bailing the kiteloop is also a good plan. Otherwise you’ll end up facing downwind before the kite has come through the power and you’ll be in for some unwanted excitement.

Finally, and what should be most obviously, but that’s coaching for you folks, choose the right conditions to learn this. If you’re maxed it could hurt, so wait until the conditions offer less consequence and then any mistake will merely be a pleasant dunking.

Take your time and have a good gander at the pictures, sequence and videos. This move is all about timing, or more precisely doing everything at the right time. Do that and it’ll be a corker.

Common Problems

If you’re not rotating into the back roll. This will millions of years of evolution trying to keep you safe. It’s a result of holding yourself up. Instead try and relax so that your trailing shoulder drops down towards the water. Also if you get your hips further back on the approach you’ll fall further behind the bar which will help no end.

If you’re being pulled through the water when looping. Two possible causes, either you’re looping way too late, so the kite is very low, or you’re loping to gently so the kite travels low. Try feeling the kite and once you start to slow make sure you pull the bar in before pulling the trigger.

If you’re getting nailed in the loop. If you loop too early, you’ll have too much resistance from your slide and you’ll kiteloop rather than late kite loop. This is often a problem if you’re concentrated on the loop and not the slide, so patience is a virtue. If you are waiting but still getting launched, chances are that you’re either too gentle with the bar, or letting it out as the kite pulls. So commit and keep it going until you land.

  1. One hand off before lifting kite and turning board underneath
  2. Bar out, grab and slide
  3. As kite goes back, release grab to initiate back roll
  4. Pull bar in for lift
  5. Commit to the late kite loop

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 61 of IKSURFMAG.



Kitesurfing Technique - Air Gybe Nose Grab
Kitesurfing Technique - Air Gybe Nose Grab
Air Gybe Nose Grab

Another splendid way to make the essential art of turning around both exciting and aesthetically pleasing. There must surely be enough transition variations to keep you busy during a reasonable session, ensuring that you never need to pull off the same move twice. Now that’s something we can all appreciate. Before adding this feather to your bow, we should perhaps…

Kitesurfing Technique - Air Gybe to Toeside
Kitesurfing Technique - Air Gybe to Toeside
Air Gybe to Toeside

Rather than being an extension to one of the most popular transitions, the Air Gybe landed to toeside is in fact a very good way to learn an Air Gybe. Why? The answer is all about playing to your strengths. Most of us have a stronger or preferred side, the foot that we like to have leading. This side was…

Kitesurfing Technique - Air Gybe with Late Kite Loop
Kitesurfing Technique - Air Gybe with Late Kite Loop
Air Gybe with Late Kite Loop

This move is really as much a cheat as it is a trick, and a very useful one at that. If the title doesn’t give away what it is have a look at Video 1. A late kite loop in this case means that the kite loops once you are on the water, not in the air. You’ve probably seen…

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 - Dark Slide with a Back Roll