Hand Wash Back Loop Transition Kitesurfing Technique

Hand Wash Back Loop Transition

Technique / Intermediate


We’ve had a bit of demand for this one. There’s probably another name for it, maybe a hand drag BLT or some such, but we’ll keep real to our windsurfing roots where the hand wash gybe was a firm favourite among some of our European neighbours, strap to strap of course but that’s another story and we digress.

The idea of this move is to complete a low but long and swinging back loop transition with your front hand firmly planted in the water, throwing up spray and both supporting you and resisting the kite whilst holding the board up off the water. The grand finale requires a late kite loop to stop the kite and you from crashing into the drink, which will pull you smoothly back from whence you came. So how do you do it?

Entry and Take Off

This is the closest that many of us will ever get to break dancing, casually spinning whilst gently inverting over one hand - the joys of kiting indeed. To learn this move you need speed so that you’ll glide, plenty of lift to hold you up and a flat spot will certainly help. Larger kites will support you better, but you’ll need to be on it with the late kite loop or else it won’t get around.

Christian comes into the move with his hands centred on the bar so that the kite won’t move too quickly for the first part. Carrying speed is important so he doesn’t edge to hard in his approach and comes in across the wind or very slightly off it. Then dropping his weight low and leaning back towards the tail of the board he carves back up and drifts the kite from 1 o’clock towards 12 whilst planting his front hand in the water close to his front hip on a straight and stiff arm.

Once you are in this position, as long as you keep the bar in on the sweet spot you can lift your feet up and therefore the edge of the board out of the water, so that you’re suspended under the kite, even if only for a split second. Much like going into a back loop without using your back leg, so that you spin under the kite with very little air.

Hold On

To make the moment last and stop you from swinging under the kite and plopping in you need, as always, some resistance – an edge. This is where your hand and to be honest your whole arm come galloping into the equation. You need to dig your hand in underneath you, not upwind of you, so that you can hold it in whilst keeping your arm vertical and therefore create enough drag to oppose some of the downwind pull from the kite.

Christian has his arm straight, locked out underneath him, in a very bad impersonation of a hydrofoil. If he had planted his hand further upwind, he wouldn’t be able to resist and his hand would just drag along the surface behind him. As a result of turning into the wind and leaning back before lifting his edge out of the water Christian initiated a slow back loop. To make the move look more stylish you want to get some inversion involved. To do this, Christian rolls back in his harness and lifts his feet and knees. To take it even further he could throw is head back.

All the time whilst slowly spinning Christian makes an effort to keep the bar in enough to keep tension on the lines, without pulling too hard so that the kite moves too quickly across the window.

Lift and Loop

The other benefit of keeping the bar in is that once the kite travels sufficiently past 12 o’clock it will lift you off the water, which is your signal to loop the kite and prepare for the pull. The loop itself is a very late kite loop, such as you might use to save an air gybe if your kite drifted too far back. This means that there shouldn’t be too much of a pull, but if you let the bar out the kite will loop low and you won’t have time to get back up over the board before you plough into the water.

You can see here that Christian’s hand has been lifted out of the water as the kite lifts him up. In answer Christian gives it some beans by pulling hard on his back hand. The pull on the bar has to be very hard to get the kite turning with your hand close to the centre and to stop the kite from sheeting out which will slow the loop and possibly cause you to over rotate.

Your aim here should be to get the kite through the bottom of the loop so that it will lift you as you come around, and pull you back in the other direction.

Undercarriage Down

As the kite pulls you should try and look at it so that your body is prepared for the pull and goes with the kite. The good news is that as you’re performing a transition by only having one hand on the bar, you automatically pull your back leg towards the bar when you pull on it, and therefore set your body up for the landing as you turn to face the new direction of travel.

Still pulling hard on his back hand, Christian’s new front hip and leg have “followed” the kite, so all Christian needs to do is drop his legs and take the landing.

It’s important that you pull early enough and hard enough, this way the kite will loop from high and lift you our of your rotation and gently set you down again. If you loop late you will finish your rotation but land on your bum and edge, which rather takes the showmanship out of this move.

Top Tips

As already mentioned we’d recommend learning this on a bigger kite in lighter winds first as the support is crucial. Without the consequence of a 7m spanking you’ll be far more willing to sit back in the harness and lift your board out of the water rather than pop it.

If you’d like to break it down further, try lifting the board and rotating without worrying about looping the kite loop! Just rotate and splash to get a feel for flying without jumping or popping.

And remember to start across the wind, so that as you carve up the kite lifts whilst you still have speed.

Now have a butchers at Sequence 1 and the videos to get the whole move.

Common Problems

We’ve pretty much covered them but if you’re not getting lift and don’t complete your rotation, chances are that you’re coming in too slow and waiting too long before lifting the board out of the water.


  1. Come in with speed and across the wind.
  2. Drift the kite up from 11 or 1.
  3. Lean back and turn upwind.
  4. Plant your hand and lift your board out of the water.
  5. As the kite lifts you, loop for a soft landing!

This technique article was in Issue 37 of IKSURFMAG.


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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