Making a move look good, especially for that Kodak moment to be frozen in time eternal is about sticking that extra tweak or grab in. With that in mind here our guide to a popped front roll with a Crail or Nose grab thrown into the mix for extra spice. The grab itself is done with the back hand reaching forward and touching, stroking or preferably holding either the nose of the board or as near as possible on the toe side way up near the fin. It goes without saying that you’ll already need a competent popped front to nail this beauty, as the more powered it is performed the better the axis of rotation will be and thus all the sweeter the grab will look.
Let us remind you of a few vital key moments for a decent popped front whilst also sneaking in the grab.
If you want pop you need to approach in the right way, as it will not only aid in getting up and off the water, but also the rotation and the landing.
In Pic A. Karine is perfectly set up for some hefty pop. With her kite parked just below 11 o’clock she pushes the nose of the board off the wind and flexes her back leg to flatten the board, increase speed and move towards the kite, allowing it to drop back a bit in the window. At the same time she has all her weight, hips, head and shoulders dropped back over and behind the back foot. Her hands are centred and she has her bar trimmed in enough that she can get into this position without pulling too much tension onto the back lines. It is advisable to move your front hand over the middle of the bar, centre line between your first two fingers if you can. This will allow you to keep the power on throughout the move without the kite diving down.
Going into a popped front rotation it is all too tempting to drift the kite up and wait for something to happen, which will inevitably lead to a dangly and uncontrolled spin under a very high kite. It’s a must to keep the kite flying forward and get your height from a very aggressive pop. Breaking the pop and rotation apart, even just by a millisecond will make all the difference. If you concentrate on going up before throwing your head around and shoulders down you will get enough height. If you dive straight into the rotation you’ll not extend up and rather fire yourself down towards the water.
Pic B. shows Karine popping up hard. Having carved quickly back up onto her edge with her weight still back, she has now stamped down hard, pushing her back leg down against the edge of her board and extending her body upwards for maximum pop. She keeps her front elbow tucked in and bent to prevent the kite from drifting up and the bar is still angled towards the kite as if she were riding. The only give away showing a prospective front rotation is the bending and lifting of the front knee.
Rotate and Release
Once you know that you’re on the way up you need to get spinning and think about the grab. You wont have long in the air so it’s chop chop. To initiate the rotation lean the head and shoulders forward, so that you are going with the pop. By lifting the front leg and allowing your body to be kicked up you will start to rotate from the back leg’s impetus. Turning your head to guarantee spin will help, but if you whip around too quickly it’ll be tricky to get the grab in early enough. As for the grab you need two actions, release the front hand and start to reach forwards, and you must bring the front knee up and across your body to bring the nose of the board within reach.
Pic C. Karine is just off the water and she already has her front knee up and across in front of her. She resists the temptation to pull her back leg up and keeps it straight - with it extended the nose of the board will tip even closer to her. She allows her head and shoulders to tip down and forward into the rotation as she fully extends up and keeps the bar pulled in. Her back hand is reaching down towards the already well-positioned board.
Getting the grab in early has two advantages. The first is purely aesthetic, you’ll be able to hold it for longer and thus it’ll be more noticeable. The second however is more functional – once you have the grab you can pull the board in, making you small and then concentrate on getting around the rest of your front roll. Theoretically at least, if you get the take off right the grab should fall into place.
Pic D. As a result of all the hard work Karine has got a pleasantly satisfying pop, good height and controllable slow rotation. This allows her to get her hand onto the nose area before she has rotated 90˚. Keeping the front knee up and releasing the back hand early were key. Keeping the bar in and power on guarantee that she wont just drop out of her rotation, but will continue to be pulled forward.
The Money Shot
Once you’ve got the grab, hold it. As stated before, this isn’t just for poseur status, massaging your ego or blatant show boating, but with a solid hold of your board you can pull it in and turn your head and therefore finish your rotation.
Pic E. With her grab held Karine turns her head to spot the landing. To speed up her rotation she has pulled both knees up whilst still holding the bar in, keeping the kite moving forward and pulling.
Aim to hold your grab for as long as possible, until you complete the rotation. You’ll find the timing quite natural, as you’ll need to let go to allow your board to drop under you as you start to drop. Assuming you went off the wind in your approach you should come around to a comfortable down wind landing towards the kite, which will kill the power in the kite and make for a comfortable stomped landing.
Pic F. You can see that Karine has released the grab and lets her legs and the board drop down beneath her for a solid reception. She still has the bar pulled in so will land following the kite with her weight squarely over the board.
A good pop and confident front are key, so before throwing yourself up into one of these get warmed and ready with a few two handed front rolls. When you’ve knocked out a few high and controlled ones you’ll be more confident to go for the grab.
If you’re struggling to reach the grab there are two solutions. Firstly if you can already nose or nearly nose (crail) grab the board in sent jumps or front rolls try popping with the kite higher, or even drift it up a tad. With a higher kite and a more vertical rotation it will be easier to reach the board. Secondly if you’ve never tried a nose grab before and you’re finding it tricky here, revert to getting the body movement right in a sent jump and then a sent front roll.
Videos and Sequence for the entire visual path….
- Bear away with weight back for god pop
- Extend up fully
- THEN release back hand and start rotation
- Bring front knee up and across
- Hold grab and turn head
This technique article was in Issue 42 of IKSURFMAG.