This is a fun little addition to your toeside box of tricks which works equally well on flat water as it does off chop and kickers. If you’ve ever felt, yourself bereft of things to try on a downwinder this is a sure smile inducer. For starters having a small ramp, such as a piece of chop will make life easier as it’ll give you a target with which to help with timing.
Needless to say, you need a fairly solid toeside to make this work, but the beauty is if you don’t have one, yet this will force you to get more dynamic. If you’re riding with a seat harness, either a sliding bar or something like a Fireball (shameless pimp but it really did make a massive difference here) will enable you to get more locked in on your toes. So what do you need to do?
The Approach & Carve Pic A.
For the set up of this move you will want some speed, but not so much so that you can’t control your toeside. It is a pop trick so you don’t want your kite any higher than 11 or 1 o’clock. In fact, if you have the kite too high it’ll make it tough to edge against it. Finally, you need to have your sweet spot trimmed in close so that the bar doesn’t seem a stretch away. If it is, you won’t be able to drive upwind off your toes. We’ve covered a lot of toeside moves and the same always applies; you need to be driving off both feet with both knees bent and your weight forwards. From this position, you can then move your weight back to carve up, as in this picture. If you already have your weight back, you can’t then pop as there’ll be too much pressure against your back leg. Going into this picture Christian was pushing himself upwind of the board with both legs, now he’s spotted a bit of chop so he’s let the bar out slightly, dropped his weight back and is carving upwind and up-chop. Notice how his shoulders are twisted forwards, not upwind, and his free hand is extended upwind but also out in front of him. This will keep his weight from falling too far back when he pops.
Pop Time Pic B.
Popping from your toes shares a lot with its heelside cousin, but if we were to point out one significant similarity it would have to be that you make it happen. When popping there is a huge tendency for many riders to wait, expecting the heavens to open, a few rainbows to appear and the magical unicorn to lift you up and off the water. Now unless you’ve had too much nutmeg the reality is that you, the rider, make it happen. So once you carve, you have to stamp. Wait too long, and you’ll slow down, which will then encourage you to use the kite in your next attempt.
Here as soon as Christian carves up into his chosen stunt ramp, he stamps down hard against his edge with the ball of his back foot, trying to kick the board away and himself upwind. This sudden explosion of energy will force the board up and off the water. As you pop you can also pull the bar back into the sweet spot, the added tension should help. You can see that Christians shoulders are still facing forwards and his free hand is still leading him. If he were to turn his shoulders more upwind and move his hand back, he would just rock onto the tail of the board, kill his speed and get wet.
Compress Pic C.
Seeing as you’re popping, once you’re off the water, you won’t have long so you must get everything ready for the grab. As your front hand is already free, reaching down for the board shouldn’t pose too many problems. However, you need to get the board up within reaching distance sharpish. Aim to bring your front knee up towards your chest and let the back leg follow. That said this is part 3 – you must extend fully to gain maximum pop before you compress for the grab. What’s good here is that you can see how the body position of arm and shoulders forward with chest open fits perfectly with what you’re trying to achieve, the pieces are the right shape to fit…
The Indy Pic D.
The proof is in the pudding. With the chest open there’s plenty of room for you to grab the toeside of the board in between your feet, even if you have the flexibility of a park bench. Once you’ve got the grab give the board a tug with your hand and as long as the bar is in you’ll have balance in the air. Keeping yourself together also means that you’ll travel with the kite and won’t get left upwind, which would make the imminent landing considerably more challenging. Hold the grab until you feel yourself dropping, which in real time won’t be that long:) You can see with the kite in the right place, a bit of a ramp, full extension, and then bringing the board up you can get a nice bit of air.
Touchdown Pic E.
Being a pop trick there shouldn’t be any need to dive the kite, which is quite fortunate as it would be more than a tad tricky with your front hand otherwise engaged. You will find that as soon as you release the grab and extend your legs, your weight will pull you back slightly. Hence it’s good form to hold the grab as long as possible. Try to keep your arm forward, and of course, your chest open, as this will encourage you to follow the kite downwind for a smoother landing. Landing on the tail will also help and remember to compress your legs to absorb the impact. The chances are that you will land with speed, but if you have trimmed the sweet spot close, you should be able to push the bar away to give you an instant to get back on your edge and regain control.
There is really no substitute for a solid toeside, so making sure you have one is really your number one priority. Find the flattest water you can and really work on getting both knees bent, facing forward and working together so that you can then push off the balls of your feet, driving the board onto a solid edge while keeping the board trimmed fairly level from nose to tail, reducing drag and increasing speed. This will also enable you to get more speed and a better edge without the need for silly amounts of power in the kite.
It’s also worth mentioning that probably the easiest way to carry speed into any toeside move is to pop to your toeside already carrying a lot of speed from your heelside. Have a good look at the sequence and videos to see how it all pans out while noting that the sequence has been stretched out so that you can see each part.
The two most common errors here are the toeside issue, which we’ve pretty much covered, and the actual pop. The pop relies heavily on both the speed that you carry and your body position. If your weight is too far back on the board pre-pop, you will lose speed, and you can’t pop against a slow moving board. Make sure that you keep the chest open and the free arm forward and only move your weight back as you’re about to stamp.
- Solid toeside with speed
- Drop weight back as you edge upwind and stamp hard to pop
- Keep chest open and lift board
- Bar in and sweet spot and hold grab
- Drop legs and release bar for a controlled landing
This technique article was in Issue 59 of IKSURFMAG.