Depending on your background in other sports, riding blind may mean something to you, or maybe not. In a far less youth cultured world we could well consider merely calling it “riding toe side backwards.” So let’s stick with blind. Now if riding forwards on a kite still seems a challenge, then maybe blind should wait a while. If however you can claim the ability to pop off the water enough to clear your fins, and are happily riding toe-side, game on.
As with kiting forwards, our body position, stance, will determine how easy we find it to actually stay on the board and prevent any edges catching, while still maintaining control of the kite. As good a place as any to start is on land.
Hook up a bar to something solid and get yourself into your toe side stance. From here we will be able to manipulate ourselves, and all relevant body parts, into a perfectly honed blind waxwork, worthy of a place at Madame Tussauds.
Pic A. Karine’s toe-side stance.
She’s twisted her body around to face upwind which helps keep an edge whilst driving through the balls of her feet, she has dropped her weight over her back (right) foot, driving the board upwind and keeping the nose up. She may well drop a hand to help lead the body into the necessary upwind commitment. Note also that by wearing a waist harness the hook can twist around to face the kite therefore making it considerably more comfortable and potentially easier.
As we see the picture, Karine would be motoring along in the direction she is facing.
. . If she were riding blind she would now be heading the other way. Her right foot leading, followed by her bottom, head then shoulders. Also the kite would be pulling from behind.
Although there are similarities between toe side and blind, we do need to tweak our stance into a full bore blind style, or else we’ll just bury the board and slap onto our back!
Pic B - Karine’s Blind Stance
Assuming that the kite lines are actually pulling from the top left hand corner of the picture! Karine is keeping her weight over the trailing (left) foot, therefore driving the board from here. We can see that she is still looking the same way (hence the blind bit), but with her hips over the trailing foot and an ever so slightly extended leading leg the new front end of the board will be lifted clear of the water. She is still trying to keep the board between herself and the kite/tree, so she drives the knees upwind and drops her trailing arm.
So if we can get to blind, we can position our body correctly.
Unfortunately getting to blind is not at all related to going toe side. The similarity ended once we understood what our body parts needed to do. Actually you will be required to pop off the water for a fraction of a second, turn your body through 180˚ and mould yourself into this new fangled stance.
Huge pop is unnecessary, just enough to see a slither of daylight under the board will suffice. In fact in the learning stages getting too much air will make the landing tricky. To guarantee some pop you’ll be best off with a bit of speed and the kite parked around 11 or 1 o’clock. Speed will also keep the board moving once it makes contact with the water. Just remember, head across the wind with speed, stand up over the board, carve suddenly into wind, bending the legs and then stamp down on the back foot to cork the board out of the water.
This is when it all gets very interesting. There is a tendency to throw the shoulders round to create a sort of forward rotation, as if we were going for a standing 180. If you do this, the board and legs get left behind and you’ll come down on your back.
What you need to imagine is that as you pop, a rather attractive mermaid/man taps you on your back shoulder. The natural reaction of turning head and shoulders, whilst looking down into the depths behind you will tilt the body backwards. That is to say rather than trying to jump around on the spot, you actually want to throw your feet out in front of you like some demented kung fu legend and get the head and shoulders leaning back from whence they came. It is both the commitment behind and upwind of us, which enables the board to carry on as if nothing has changed. You can practise this on a bar too, but best leave the board off this time!
The old backhand will be released which helps keep the body upwind of the board, so centre your hands around the chicken loop. At first don’t worry too much about the kite, use your approach speed to glide along once you land.
Following Sequence A
- Pic 1. Karine approaches with comfortable speed, kite not too high around 11 o’clock. She’s had a good butcher’s hook to make sure she’s in the clear, and has searched out some flat water.
- Pic 2. She suddenly carves hard into wind.
- Pic 3. Bending her knees ready to pop off the water.
- Pic 4. She stamps down on her back foot and as she rises releases her back hand.
- Pic 5. Note how Karine’s shoulders are already leaning back, her knees are bent as she crunches up small for balance. This also helps her turn more quickly. The board is pushed out in front of her.
- Pic 6. As Karine comes in to land she is looking behind her, she has started to straighten her new back leg (left) and is keeping the new front leg bent up near her bottom and the knee pointing upwind.
- Pic 7. As the board touches down Karine aims to have her weight over the back leg and on her toes. This should help the board bite, and help it accelerate.
- Pic 8. Now that she’s cruising it’s important to keep the board between her and the kite so Karine is driving her feet away from her, pushing the power from the kite into the board. Her knees are both pointing in the same direction.
- Pic 9. To help with balance Karine is pointing her free hand at where she has come from.
- Pics 10 - 12. Once all is set keep going…
If we now look at the second sequence taken from downwind we can see how:
From take off onwards Karine is looking behind her, staring down into the water. In pic 3 you can see how her new front (right) knee is tucked up and pointing upwind. Once landed, both knees are working together, driving the board away from her towards the kite. Also we can see how Karine comes back from blind.
Following Sequence B
- Pic 9. The board is on an edge and Karine starts to lean her hips over towards her front (right) foot.
- Pic 10. Making sure that her weight is on her toes she starts to look around towards the kite and where she is going.
- Pic 11. Karine drops her weight over her leading foot by really bending her right leg. She then pivots over her right foot as she lets her head and shoulders twist around after the kite.
- Pic 12. As long as Karine keeps her weight back she will turn the board to follow the kite, replace the back hand and kite off smugly.
The flatter the water the easier it is to land and ride blind.
If the kite always crashes down into the water, it may well be worth moving your leading hand to the other side of (above) the chicken loop. This will favour the kite rising rather than falling.
Once you are comfortably cruising blind, try getting both hands back on the bar for added kite control, and the ability to style out a sly transition or jump. You will need to trim the bar near to the chicken loop to do this, so that you can easily reach it with your back hand.
Try popping higher, adding grabs as you go around, or landing front and back loops to blind.
Riding blind looks fabulous, feels even better and can lead on to a succession of magical moves. Don’t be put off by better riders not being able to ride blind; it’s a matter of practice. In fact on one of our clinics a certain Mr Mo, who had only recently learnt to go upwind, managed to clock up a few metres blind. Now there’s some motivation for you.
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This technique article was in Issue 1 of IKSURFMAG.