Popped Front Roast Beef Kitesurfing Technique

Popped Front Roast Beef

Technique / Intermediate


There is something hugely satisfying in trying to improve or perfect things that you can already do, whether necessary or not. There’s probably more than one of you reading this that spent time as a youngster fashioning their signature into what it is today, who had an extra “hour or two” of driving lessons to convince the examiner of your worthiness to be released onto the country’s roads, who step by step demolished their sideburns in an effort to get them the same length? The list goes on, but the point is that although it wasn’t always fun, often frustrating, sometimes even completely pointless, once you got there it was worth it. The same goes with changing up your grabs on moves. Sure you can smash out a bucketful of tail grabs each session, but doesn’t it get old? Hopefully you’ll agree and we can get on with this issue’s very own chili pepper, the popped front roast beef.

In case you’re not sure of the roast beef grab, it’s the back hand grabbing your heel side edge, just in front of your back foot with your arm reaching down through your legs. What makes these grabs tricky is adding the required body position to a move that you’re so used to doing in a particular sub conscious way. As a result, a big part of these moves is doing them consciously. If you throw yourself into your usual rotation you won’t reach the grab.

Before attempting this one, we’d strongly advise that you’re happily popping your front rotations. At least this way you can concentrate on what’s required rather than pondering the up before the round! So as we’re accustomed, lets pick apart what’ll make the difference and lead to a claim.

The Approach Pic A

If we only had a pound for every time that we have said this! Your approach and pop go hand in hand. You have to get everything lined up and then you’ll get pop. Coming into this like every other pop trick requires a shift in weight, moving your hips back over or even behind the back strap/boot. This way you’ll be riding on the back of the board, the tail with it’s rocker which will help you turn. To further increase your chances, you’ll need to suddenly bear away a bit off the wind, so that you can carve up without stopping, and so that the kite drops back in the window (more downwind of you) which will give you something to pop against and help you land downwind. Karine has her sweet spot trimmed in close so she can keep her shoulders back, her kite is around 11 o’clock, her hands centred on the bar. From this approach position she only needs to turn her head and shoulders and she’ll end up nice and low with tension on the lines, with a solid carve and enough flex in her back leg from which to explode.

Up & Over Pic B

You need to resist the urge to initiate your front rotation. As you are popping your first concern is getting up off the water. You must stamp away against the edge of your board. If you throw yourself across it, you won’t get the height. Even though you want and need to rotate you have to get the up first. As you kick against the board and it throws you up the bar will become light and as a result you’ll be able to release your back hand early, which is handy as you need to get the grab in quick.Karine has not thrown her head and shoulders forward and down towards the nose of the board to initiate her rotation. The only give away that she’s going for a front is the lifting of her front knee. This added with the pop should be enough to initiate the rotation as she rises.

The Difference is Why Pic C

This is where it all gets complicated. You need to rotate but you need to set up for the roast beef. Rather than throwing her shoulders down Karine has turned her head, which along with her pop and front knee should give her enough rotation. It’s almost the opposite of a normal front rotation as Karine is leaning her shoulders back, whilst tilting her head back towards her trailing shoulder as if she was holding a telephone between head and shoulder. This upper body movement is essential for making the grab as it moves her towards the back foot. If she were to throw her shoulders down the board will end up too far away. Also note that Karine is already lifting her back leg immediately post stamp. She needs to get it close enough before she rotates. So don’t leave it extended. With her hand already hanging down, there’s not far to go.

Medium or Rare Pic D

It’s pretty obvious from this photo why the head and shoulders need to be leaning back and the back leg lifted to reach through for the roast beef. Looking at Karine’s position as she reaches the grab, her head and shoulders are back over her back knee and as such she is both near the board and behind the bar. Nothing is in the way and everything has moved towards it’s goal, hand to edge, board to hand.You can see why, realistically Karine has not yet turned 90 but she’s already got the grab. In a pop move there isn’t much time so making it happen quickly is the only way.

Patience Pic E

Once you’ve got the grab hold it tight. Theoretically you’re in the hands of your take off. With enough pop and sufficient rotation, you’ll have the height, time and momentum to make it all the way around. The earlier you get your grab the easier it is. If you’re late you’ll already be thinking towards the landing and not make it. By keeping herself small in the grabbed position Karine will keep her rotation speed going, so hold it for as long as you dare! If you feel the need to rotate quicker, this would be the moment crank your neck and peer over your back shoulder, leading the rotation with your eyes and head.

Automatic Pic F

If you hold the grab this is the position that you’ll come around to. Karine’s shoulders are downwind as the board follows them around. As she drops she releases the grab so that she can get her undercarriage down. Karine is looking at the water, preparing for her landing. Once again this will all be a result of your take off. If you turned off the wind sufficiently on your approach the kite will be pulling you downwind, so you’ll come through the rotation and drop gracefully down onto a flat board.

Top Tips

Making the effort to concentrate on changing your popped front take off to fit this grab is the secret here. Much like the sent variant there is no better place to start than trying a lorry load of popped fronts with your shoulders and head tilted back rather than forward. The good thing is that you can always see where you want to grab, so even if you’re not taking a hand off you’ll get an idea if the body to board positioning is getting better. Imagine that you want the board to start the rotation, whilst your upper body waits for it before joining in.

Learning this on a small kite will be trickier. The kite will want to move more when you release your back hand early and you won’t get as much float in your pop, so you’ll no doubt rotate quicker. If you can, learn this on something you’re comfortable with and is stable, not the sporty little speedster unless that’s your fave.

To see it all in real time check out the sequence and video, so you can visualise what is going on.

Common Problems

Not reaching the grab. We’ve covered this pretty extensively, but you can’t roll down into your rotation as you normally would for no grab or a tail grab. If the board is miles away concentrate on keeping the shoulders and head back in the telephone holding position.

If you’re not making it around there are two probable causes. Firstly, you’re going into the rotation too quickly rather than popping up. Secondly you’re stalling your rotation whilst concentrating on the grab. To make life easier start with the kite a little higher. This way you’ll still be popping, but you’ll have the confidence knowing that the kite will support you and give you a bit more time.


  1. Good solid pop
  2. Front knee up to help rotate
  3. Release back hand early
  4. Head and shoulder into phone position
  5. Lift back leg and look for grab

This technique article was in Issue 61 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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