Rider Rescue Kitesurfing Technique

Rider Rescue

Technique / Intermediate


Without wanting to sound all sensible, we thought it worthwhile to add something that is both functional and fun. Functionally the rider rescue is probably the most practical method to get someone back to the beach if they’ve lost their kite or it’s already been taken in. You often see kiters body dragging each other in, which does work, but it takes time, energy, strength and usually, culminates with a hefty walk back upwind as the drag will, unfortunately, take them downwind. Fun-wise you can do it just for a laugh, towing your friends on any form of board. This is a classic Heliarde rescue method if someone has a complete kitemare, so who better to demonstrate it than the man himself.

This is pretty simple to do if both pilot and rescuee, or tower and towed as we’ll use here, understand the concept. Let’s have a look at both parts so that you’re able to both rescue and communicate to the kiter in distress what you’d like them to do.

Set Up Pic A.

If you intend to tow someone, it will be more comfortable for both of you if you have a long leash. In which case the tower passes their leash behind them so that they have it looping from one side of their harness, around the back and then back in front of them. The advantage with a long leash is that it will give a bit so that the tower won’t feel it as much and the towed won’t feel like they’re having their hands ripped off. And it’ll place a bit more distance between both riders, meaning less likelihood of bumping into each other. However, if you don’t have a long leash, it is possible for the other kiter to hold onto the handle or leash line on the back of the harness. The tower should tell the towed where to grab and to get their board on. It’ll be easier for the towed if the tower is not drifting downwind too quickly. Here you can see Heliarde patiently waiting as Christian fumbles to get his board on with one hand while holding Heliarde’s leash with the other.

Talk Pic B.

The tower should ask the towed to let them know when they have the board on and are ready. Once they are, the tower should trim their sweet spot out if they haven’t already and pull the bar in so that both riders drift down wind. This will stretch the leash, and the towed will feel resistance against their board, making it easier to keep balanced and lined up. It’s also worth checking that both riders know which way they’re about to go. Final word from the tower is to tell the towed that they just need to roll up on the board and that there is no need to edge hard, just follow.

The Off Pic C.

Once both riders are ready the tower says go and dives his/her kite, while the towed keeps his/her knees up in their chest, just like they were taught in the beginning. You can see here the advantage of a long leash. Imagine if Christian was hanging onto Heliarde’s handlepass loop on the back of his harness, he’d need to bend forward a lot more… If you’re the tower be prepared for the pull back on your harness as the leash tightens. If you’re the towed hold tight – if you let go the tower will go flying.

Work The Kite Pic D.

It’s fair to say that you’re unlikely to get enough pull from your initial dive as the tower, unless the towed is considerably lighter than you. This means that you’ll need to get the kite working. Now without wanting to teach your grandmother to suck eggs, some kiters aren’t great at this skill so we’ll have a brief recap. To work the kite efficiently and effectively you need to use as much of the window as you can, keep the bar in the sweet spot and use both hands. So, if you’ve just dived the kite and not much is happening pull on your back hand while pushing away with your front hand. This will make the kite turn and respond quicker. It will also help you keep the bar out on the sweet spot and therefore prevent the kite from stalling, which will happen if you just pull in. And finally, to get the most bang for your buck, take the kite all the way up to 12 o’clock or even just a smidgen past it before diving it all the way down again. If the kite goes up, it might take you with it, so as you rise, start to dive. Keep doing this until you get moving. As the towed just stay tucked up small and wait until you feel that you have enough pull to roll up.

The Roll Up Pic E.

Up until now, the tower has been doing all the work while the towed just hangs on grimly waiting for some pull. As the tower keeps working the kite, the towed needs to be patient and wait until they feel that there is enough pull to waterstart. One of the main differences here is that the pull won’t be coming from above, but rather from in front (unless the tower takes the kite too far back:). What this means is that there is no kite to lift you onto the board. Instead, when you feel that the tower is moving enough to get you both going you must bend your knees completely, lean forward and roll up into a Gollum like hunched position, staying low over your board until you build speed. You must not try to edge, lean back and extend your legs. Think about how someone can roll you up off the floor while holding your hands.

Chocks Away Pic F.

And they’re off! While the towed waits patiently in a crouched position, the tower works up some speed. Both will eventually feel their board planing happily, and this is the queue for the towed to straighten up and ride along in a more comfortable positon. The tower decides on the course and the towed merely follows, while trying to keep their board from snapping at their hero’s ankles.

Top Tips & Problems

Power in the kite is important. When you think that we generally kite with enough to move us and jump, adding an extra sack of spuds will make a big difference. If you’re feeling a bit under juiced you may well have trouble towing someone.

As for being towed. If it does get uncomfortable and/or you can’t hold on, then please feel free to let go. For sure this will jettison the tower upwards of forwards, but unless you’re stupidly close to any downwind obstacles, they’ll only land in water.

Now have a gander at the sequence and videos to see the boys in action.


  1. Communicate, how, and which way
  2. Leash behind
  3. Towed signals he/she is ready
  4. Tower signals the start and works kite
  5. Towed rolls up and doesn’t edge

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 67 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 - Rider Rescue