Kitesurfers School | Kiteboarding Lessons

A Pioneer Kitesurfer’s Log – How Hung Vu Learned to Kiteboard

Following are the learning log entries of Hung Vu, a pioneer kitesurfer who start learning kitesurfing by himself in 1998. 

Hung founded, but has now moved on to new adventures in life, while we continue to develop this website for you. We are proud and excited to share Hung’s story below. 

Table of Contents

Wipika Classic 5.0 in 1998. 

Wipika Classic Kites vs. Inflatable

Note that the Wipika kites 5.0 m2 and 8.5 m2 mentioned in this log are the Wipika Classic (there was only one type of Wipika kite back then).  Due to the way kites were labeled and built in the early days, the Wipika Classic 5.0 m2 and 8.5 m2 are somewhat equivalent to the modern 8 m2  and 12 m2 inflatables.
So for an average weight kiter of 175 lbs, the 5 m2 and 8.5 m2 Wipika Classic mentioned in the log should be equivalent to modern 11.2 and 16.8 m2 inflatables.  Furthermore, the author was using a very large directional board, the FOne 230cm.  This large board allowed him to use much smaller kites than modern standard.

Jibing A Directional Kiteboard Upwind

The entries in the log are non-consecutive (i.e. one day to the next could be days, weeks or months a part).  It took the author around 40 sessions to be able to jibe a directional kiteboard and to go upwind; however, it may take you considerable less time to achieve the same thing, especially if you use bidirectional board. 
When the author started learning kitesurfing in 1998, the equipment was not as good as it now is and the sport was so new that the author had no clue of what to do or expect. 
The log is divided into a number of sections as follows:

Learn to Control the Kite

Day 1 (Ottawa) Trying And Pumping The Kite

I tried the Wipika 5.0 m2 for the first time. I was impressed with how fast and with very little effort you can pump the Wipika into shapes with such a small hand pump (probably around 1-2 minutes). I tried the Wipika on the beach at 3 to 4 knots offshore wind. The Wipika could not fly decently due to a lack of wind. It did take off once in what seemed to be 5 knots of wind. No wind! No fun! I packed up and went home.

Day 2 (Ottawa) Kiteboarding In Gusty Wind

The forecast called for gusty 60 Km/h (35 knots) of wind in the afternoon. I tried the Wipika 5.0 m2 in the morning in 5 to 15 knots of wind. The wind was slightly cross offshore therefore very gusty from 5  to 15 knots. Following are my thoughts for the day:
  1. When the wind was adequate (around what seemed like 8 knots, I could launch the Wipika from the beach unprepared, unassisted. In around 10 to 12 knots of wind, the Wipika launched itself. I will try to launch the Wipika in the water tomorrow.
  2. To put the Wipika into the vertical half-crescent, I needed to pull more on the bottom line (why?). Once the Wipika was in the vertical half-crescent position it would slide to the wind window (yes, even on land). Once the Wipika was at the wind window, I pulled more on the top line to launch the Wipika.
  3. I was amazed by how much pull the kite can generate when it flew across the power window. I was dragged across the beach by the kite each time this happened.
  4. Since the wind was very gusty, the Wipika seemed to stall (and then fell) more often at the edge of the window than it supposed to. I need to verify this on a day with more constant wind.
  5. I got all the basics nailed except for launching the Wipika in the water (this should be easier than launching the Wipika on land).

Day 3 (Ottawa) Launching The Wipika Kite In Water

I tried the Wipika 5.0 m2 again today. The wind was stronger in the morning (15 to 25 knots) but by the time I tried the Wipika, it was around 7 to 12 knots (which was perfect). Following are my thoughts for the day:

  1. The Wipika did not stall at the edge of the window like it did yesterday (item 4 in the previous day’s log). The wind was very gusty yesterday. The Wipika had stalled due to lack of wind.
  2. I was very impressed by how easy it was to launch the Wipika in the water (much easier than to launch it on land).
  3. I confirmed item 2 on yesterday’s log that by pulling more on the bottom line (or the line you want it to be the bottom line), the Wipika will get into the vertical half-crescent position. Keep pulling on the bottom line to move the vertical crescent to the edge of the wind window. From there, all you have to do is to pull the top line to launch the Wipika.
  4. I tried and successfully launch the Wipika both from the left edge and the right edge of the wind window. I had the impression that my right line was a little bit shorter than the left line (it could be due to the weight of the safety leash, attached to my right wrist, and the wind was too light).
  5. I tried but unsuccessfully turn the Wipika in a complete circle in the sky. The Wipika turned very slowly and the lines (20 m) were not long enough for it to make a complete circle on the sky.
  6. I successfully tried body dragging (it was fun!). I forgot to try to generate the sine wave while body dragging.
  7. I tried the safety release system and it worked very well. All you have to do is releasing the control bar; the safety leash (which was attached to my right wrist) will disable the kite and bring it down to the water. Pull on the safety leash to retrieve the control bar.

Learning to Waterstart on the Kiteboard

Day 4 (Ottawa) Preparing The Wipika Kite

I tried the Wipika 5.0 m2 with 20 m lines and the FOne 230 board today in what seems like 9 to 14 knots of wind. Following are my thoughts for the day:

The Wipika literally launched itself on the water in this wind. I found that launching the Wipika in the water was both easier and safer than on land. Here are the steps I took for preparing the Wipika and the board:
  • Bring the board and the Wipika to the water edge.
  • Pump the Wipika into shape and put away the pump and the bag
  • Attach the board to your right foot and carry both the Wipika and the board into the water.
  • Let the Wipika float on the water and release the lines from the winder on the control bar (the 2 lines were previously wound with 3 loops out-of-sync, the left line was 3 loops, or 9’ longer than the right line). This was done so that the Wipika will not launch while you are releasing the lines.
  • After the left line is fully released, attach the safety leash to your wrist before releasing the last 3 loops of the right line.
  • Wait for the wind to blow the Wipika downwind to tension the lines before starting to launch the Wipika.
  1. I found that it’s easier to water start (by lying in the water, with 2 feet in the foot straps) than to beach start (standing in the water with 1 foot in the foot strap). Also, I prefer to learn water starting now (while still in shallow water) before having to water start in deep water.
  2. I barely had enough power to water start in this wind (is this true?) I should have used the Wipika 8.5 m2 instead. I will do that tomorrow in 30 Km (10 to 15 knots) of forecasted wind.
  3. I had to make a pattern on the sky with the Wipika 5.0 m2 to generate enough power to lift me off the water.
  4. Once I was off the water, the kite lost power and I had to make a pattern with the kite across the power window to generate enough lift to sustain me on the board. Sometimes, I got the kite to the back part of the board and that would make me fall.
  5. I had the impression that the power window was too small (I used 20 m lines) for me to maneuver the kite to generate power to keep me on the board. I should try 30m lines in this type of wind next time.
  6. I could not stand on the board for more than 5 seconds (not enough power). I wasn’t yet proficient in controlling the pattern making of the kite (while trying to control the nervous board under my feet) to generate power.
  7. My foot straps were too small for my water shoes. I need to make it slightly larger. The straps would have been perfect for windsurfing (i.e. it seemed that I prefer a larger foot strap setting for kite surfing than for windsurfing).
  8. My general impression in the last two times trying the Wipika 5.0 m2 in 7 to 12 knots and 9 to 14 knots of wind was that: the Wipika 5.0 m2 barely generated enough power when stationary and generated more power than I could smoothly control when it was diving across the power window. What a dilemma!

Day 5 (Ottawa) Kitesurf In Very Gusty Wind

I tried the Wipika 5.0 m2 again today in 10 to 20 knots of wind (very gusty, more 10 knots than 20 knots; however, the highest gust was 27 knots). I did want to try my Wipika 8.5 m2; however, I was a little bit scared of the gust (I didn’t want to be paragliding instead of kite surfing!). Following are my thoughts for the day:

  1. I change the lines to 30m and it made some differences. I felt that I had more room in the power window to play with the kite now. I would recommend all beginners to try longer lines than normally used by more advanced kite surfers. However, I’ve been told to use shorter lines (20m for a 5.0 m2 kite) if I want to go upwind.  Shorter lines have less drag, therefore, make the kite more efficient.
  2. I body-surfed first. I generated the sine wave while body surfing and it worked very well. I managed to launch the kite and body surf in deep water.
  3. I felt that I can stay on the board longer (maybe 7 to 10 seconds); however, I still had to generate a pattern on the sky to have enough power to stay on the board.
  4. I fell off the board a couple of times due to lack of power. My pattern-making hadn’t yet generated smooth continuous power.
  5. I was capsized (fell forward) a couple of times while trying to generate power to stay on the board. I should remember to keep a low body position.
  6. Sometimes, the kite got into a wrong position (too far backward) and pulled me off the board (board moved forward, kite pulled backward).

Day 6 (Ottawa) Difficult To Unhook In Gusty Wind

I tried the Wipika 8.5 m2 today in 8 to 13 knots of wind (with gust up to 20 knots). The wind was cross offshore and actually was 10 to 20 knots in the open water but only 8 to 13 knots inside the bay. Following are my thoughts for the day:
  1. The Wipika 8.5 m2 was rather BIG. It took much longer to pump it into shape (around 5 to 8 minutes).
  2. The Wipika 8.5 flew much more stable than the 5.0.   I liked it  (I was using 30m lines and the 95cm control bar for both kites)
  3. The wind was very gusty and I still didn’t have enough power most of the time and when I had enough power, it was a little scary. At something like 17 to 20 knots gust, the kite lift me out of the water and dragged me across the water for a few seconds.
  4. I found that once you are hooked in, it was extremely difficult to unhook during gust. I was using a seat harness without a quick release system. I will get a waist harness with a quick release system tomorrow (just to make sure I can free my body off the control bar such that the safety leash can disable the kite).
  5. I still could not stay on the board for more than a few seconds. I though this was one of the first few “plateaus” that a beginner has to overcome (the ability to generate continuous and smooth power to stay on the board)
  6. I water launched in deep water again today. I found that to speed up the process, you have to swim to windward while trying to launch the kite.
  7. Since the wind was cross offshore, I was a little bit reserved and did not try long. I walked back to the beach and packed up after 1.5 hour session. I will try the 8.5 m2 again tomorrow in 10 to 15 knots of on shore wind.

Learned to Tune the Surfing Equipment

Day 7 (Carabete)

Carabete bay in Dec 1998. 
Photo by Jan Pina. 

I went out kitesurfing with Jan:

  1. The foot straps on Jan’s board were more forward than on my board. I needed to move the back strap on my board more to the front of the board. Right now, I had the feeling that my board wanted to point to windward. I had to remember to move the back strap backward once I became more experienced.
  2. I got on the board for more than 10 seconds. One of the secrets was to get out of the harness before trying to get on the board. For the first time, I felt the kite generate constant pull (a little on the lighter side) to keep me on the board.
  3. My 5.0 m2 kite was a little bit nervous (more than I liked). I had to tune the bridle (loosen up the bridle) a bit to make it less nervous.

Day 8 (Carabete) Water Launching In Light Wind

Jan went out with his 8.5 m2 kite today. The wind was so light that he could not even water launch his kite. Jan needed to put a bit more pressure on his kite to facilitate the water launching.

Day 9 (Carabete) Practice Controlling The Kite On Land

Jan and I went out and tried to tune our kites (the wind was around 6-8 knots). I found that by loosening up the bridle, my 5.0 m2 kite became less nervous and easier to control. Jan and I practiced a bit more with the kite and we felt more confident now. I would recommend all beginners to practice kite controlling (a traction kite, not a simple dual-line stunt kite) on land at least 3 or 4 times before trying it on the water.

Day 10 (Carabete) Body Dragging In Light Wind

I went out kitesurfing with the 8.5 m2 kite and 20 m lines on an 8-knot day (no windsurfer). I body-dragged first and there was not enough power to lift me out of the water. I tried the board and managed to get on the board but after that, there was not enough power to keep me on the board for a long time. I feel more confident now and ready to try in a stronger wind (maybe tomorrow).

  1. I used Jan’s technique of moving the kite a little bit toward the back before diving it forward (to make the fly window slight larger while water starting). This technique worked wonderfully on a light wind day like today.
  2. I have been too cautious with the kite and normally in various under-power situations. I had to be more adventurous to try the kite in a stronger wind.
  3. My foot straps were more toward the front of the board now and I felt more in control and being able to point the board in any direction I wanted.

Day 11 (Carabete) Trying To Self Launch The Kite

I went out again today with the 8.5 m2 kite and 20 m lines in another light wind day around 8-10 knots (none of the windsurfers could plane). The launch was a nightmare with a strong shore break, a crowded beach, and not enough wind. It was impossible to launch the kite by oneself in such a situation.  I managed to launch the kite and do body dragging across the bay.

I walked back and tried to launch the kite again with the board all by myself.  I launched the kite and went out with the board. At first, it was good and I plan for a while; however, after that, the wind dropped and I had to wind the lines in and used the kite as a sail to get back to the beach. All beginners should learn this technique. When the wind dies, this is the best way to get back to shore without any exhaustive swimming.

Day 12 (Carabete) Confident Kiteboarding In Stronger Wind

I went out using the 5.0 m2 kite on a strange day with wind ranging from 5-20 knots. The 5.0 m2 seemed to generate a lot of power for its size. I felt more confident with the 5.0 m2 and stronger wind now and ready to go out on a strong wind day (20 knots). I gave Brian a quick lesson on kite controlling and he managed to body drag across the bay. By the time he finished, the wind dropped to almost nothing. I am ready to try the kite and the board on a stronger wind day.

  1. The 5.0 m2 Wipika was definitely more alive and generate much more power than the 8.5 m2 proportionally.
  2. A thought suddenly came to my mind that once you got on the board, you control the board the same way as a snowboard. I.e. press on the front foot and flatten the board to move downwind/downhill; press on the back foot and edge the board to move upwind/uphill.
  3. The dilemma I found was that you need the power to stay on the board but how would you handle such power when you launch the kite on the beach and try to attach the leash to your foot.

Learning to Get Going With The Kite

Day 13 (Carabete)

Yahoo! What a day! I got on the board and was planning for a long extended period while generating the sine-wave pattern; however, from my perspective, it’s more like figure 8.

  1. For me, the feeling to be on the board with the kite pulling was much more like snowboarding than windsurfing. This further confirmed my earlier theory that similar to snowboarding, you press the front foot to move downwind/downhill and press on the back foot to move upwind/uphill. I had to test this theory when I became more efficient with the kite and the board.
  2. Terry, another kitesurfer, told me that with your left hand controlling the kite and right hand grabbing the board, always insert the left foot into the strap before inserting the right foot. The right hand should only release the board just before the right foot got in the strap. The kite must be fully stationary at zenith during the whole process.
  3. Furthermore, Terry confirmed Jan’s theory of moving the kite backward a bit before diving it down forward during water starting (while you are trying to get on the board).
  4. Terry had a very wide harness strap set up similar to windsurfing. I had to remember to set mine back to a wider strap set up on the control bar.
  5. I changed the safety release system from right hand to left hand and it seemed to work just fine.  The reason I changed the safety release system to the left hand was that I am more comfortable with the left hand always on the control bar and the right hand grabbing and aligning the board.
  6. One incident happened and confirmed one of my concerns was that the safety release system that I had doesn’t work while I was hooked in. I was dragged, turned, and tossed around the water for something like 5 to 10 seconds during a gust. I had to remember to land the kite in the water as quickly as possible by putting the control bar in an extreme position either to the left or to the right.
  7. When I got to the landing beach, a big shore-break wave came and banged the board (which was dragging behind me) to my head. I had to remember to either put the board in front or hold it with one hand when getting back to shore.
  8. Terry used the straight-ahead launching method (with an assistant holding the kite straight downwind). This method fits a small, busy beach more than the land launching or the water launching method described in the Wipika video. I will try it the next time I go out.
  9. Now that I can handle the 5.0 m2, I may consider tighten up the bridle on my 8.5 m2 so that it can turn faster.

Day 14 (Carabete) From Windsurfing To Kiteboarding

I windsurfed first while waiting for Jan. The wind was probably around 8-12 knots and I saw Terry went out with his 8.5 m2 Wipika. He seemed to do OK and managed to go out and come back almost to the same spot.
  1. Jan and I tried the straight-ahead launching method and it worked fine in a lighter wind day like today.
  2. My 5.0 m2 kite was too small for this wind. I got on the board but barely had enough power to do anything else. I returned to the beach, left the board on the beach, and body-dragged across the bay.
  3. The more I tried the kite, the more I became more efficient in determining how much power one need to learn:
  • First, you need to feel excited when flying the kite on the beach (feel the power, be dragged across the sand, etc.)
  • Second, you can water launch the kite easily in deep water (more difficult than in shallow water)

Day 15 (Carabete) Self-Launch The Kite On Land

The wind started blowing at 15-22 knots. I went out windsurfing using the 5.5 m2 and 5.3 m2 sails. The bay was full of windsurfers, too crowded to even think of kitesurfing. By late afternoon, the wind dropped to 15 knots so I went in and prepared my 5.0 m2 Wipika. The wind line moved further out and launching by myself on land was extremely difficult.

I had to go to the extreme windward end of the bay to be able to launch the kite by myself. The launching was successful, however, after that, there was not much wind and I could not get out to the wind line further out. The kite dropped twice and I decided to call it to quit.

Day 16 (Carabete) Trying To Kitesurf In Very Strong Wind

I went out windsurfing again in 5.3 m2 sail and the wind was like the last time, 15-22 knots. The wind was too strong for the 8.5 m2 Wipika so Terry and Jan could not go out with their kites. I came back around 4 PM and went out kitesurfing (in the middle of the bay) with Jan with my 5.0 m2 kite.

  1. The wind was so strong that the kite flew so fast for my kite handling. I was in a little-power to too-much-power positions
  2. I should have been in a more crouching position with my knee bent and ready for the kite when it pulls.
  3. Jan went out with my 5.0 m2 Wipika and he confirmed my observation that the 5.0 m2 Wipika was much more alive and therefore harder to control than the 8.5 m2. Jan had a problem controlling and getting on the board with the 5.0 m2 kite even after having been proficient with the 8.5 m2 kite!
  4. I am not afraid of stronger wind anymore after today.
  5. One thought suddenly came to my mind that the control bar with reel would make kitesurfing look more professional while launching. I can just attach the board to my foot, bring the kite and the board to the water and then launch the kite on the water instead of on land.
  6. The other thought was that a bigger board with more volume would make life easier for beginners like me. Maybe something around 240 – 250 cm and around 60 to 80 litters in volume. I had to try Jan’s board on a light wind day to confirm this thought.

Day 17 (Carabete) Getting Overpowered And Underpowered

The wind didn’t pick up until the late afternoon. It was too late to kitesurf. Suddenly a thought came to me after the last session. I normally got in underpowered or overpowered situations and then got dumped by the kite. In an underpowered situation, the board tended to sink under my weight. My tendency was to move into a more upright position on the board (to keep myself from falling) and at the same time tried to make the figure 8 pattern to generate more power.

When the power came, I normally wasn’t well prepared and the kite pulled me falling forward from the weak upright position. I had to remember to bend my knee to keep balance and lean my body backward when the kite starts diving and generating pull. Also, I need to document all the techniques I have learned so far and be mentally ready before trying them out on the water. So here are the various techniques that I have learned so far (either by reading, learning from others, by experience, or simply by imagining)

Launching The Kite Without Assistance:

  1. Attach the safety leash to your left wrist and the board leash to your right foot.
  2. Grab the kite and the control bar with the left hand, the board with the right hand
  3. Walked the board & kite into the water, pass the shore break.
  4. If you have a reel control bar, just launch the kite and then release the lines to the desired length.
  5. If you do not have a reel bar, unwind the lines from your control bar. The lines should be previously wound 3 rounds out-of-sync (e.g.,  wind the right line 3 rounds and then wind both of them until finish).
  6. Launch the kite when the lines are fully unwound.
  7. After the kite is launched using its power to drag you and the board out to deep water or the wind line.
Please note that some kitesurfers may prefer to have the safety leash attached to the right wrist while the board leash attached to the left foot. This is just a matter of preference.

Launching My Kite With Assistance:

  1. Have someone standing on the beach to hold your kite either straight downwind (if the beach is narrow or the wind is light) or at the edge of the wind window (if the beach is not too crowded or the wind is too strong for the straight downwind method).
  2. Attach the safety leash to your left wrist and the board leash to your right foot.
  3. Walked the board and the control bar into knee-deep water.
  4. Launch the kite.
  5. After the kite is launched, use its power to drag you and the board out to deep water or the wind line.

Getting Ready To Surf:

This method is applied for a board with 3 straps only. This method is written for a right-handed person – with the safety leash attached to the left wrist and the board attached to the right foot. Reverse the left/right designation for a left-handed person:
  1. Attach the control bar to the harness and control the kite with the left hand. The kite should be at zenith during the whole getting ready stage.
  2. Grab the board leash and move the board to the front with your right hand. If going to the left, hold the board by the back foot strap. If going to the right, hold the board by the front foot strap.
  3. Insert the left foot first then insert the right foot. The right hand should only release the board once the right foot is about to insert into the strap (or once the right foot is fully inserted).
  4. Hold the control bar with both hands and release it from the harness.
  5. You are now ready to go to step 1 of water starting.

Water Starting:

  1. Move the kite slightly backward.
  2. Dive the kite forward (the depth of the dive is dependent on the wind and your weight – the deeper you dive the kite the more power it generates). At this stage, it is better to be underpowered and fall backward than to be overpowered and fall forward. Once you fall forward, you have to start the Getting Ready stage all over again!
  3. Try to get on the board when the kite is in the middle of the flight path. If not successful, repeat step 1 (this time, move the kite slightly more backward in step 1).
  4. Once on the board, press slightly on the front foot and move the kite upward once it almost reaches the bottom or the edge of the wind window.
  5. If the board start sinking, you are losing the balance or the kite pulls too much upward, bend the knee to move the body more to the center of the board (this will lower the center of gravity to have more balance)
  6. When the kite reaches a good height (70 – 75 degrees vertically), dive it down forward to generate pull. If you are losing balance, dive the kite down sooner (once it reaches 55 to 65 degrees vertically).
  7. When the kite starts pulling, lean the body backward (extend your knees if they were previously bent).

Get Going:

  1. If the wind is strong, you can keep going by locking the kite at 35 – 45 degrees vertically in a forward-moving position.
  2. If the wind is not very strong (the board slows down, the pull of the kite becomes weaker), you need to move the kite up & down to generate more pull. Move the kite up and down using the sine wave pattern within 15 to 75 degrees vertically.

Steer the Kiteboard:

  1. To steer the board downwind (away from the wind, leeward), flatten the board and press more on the front foot. Your body may need to be shifted slightly toward the front of the board.
  2. To steer the board upwind (toward the wind, windward), edge the windward edge of the board – keep the windward rail slightly under the water – and press slightly more on the back foot. The more you press on the back foot, the more the board will go upwind. You will need a strong pull from the kite to assist going upwind. So you only be able to do this with the kite locked in at 35 – 45 degrees vertically on a strong wind day or while the kite is diving down.

Kiteboarding Upwind In Strong Or Light Wind:

  1. If the wind is strong, just lock the kite in at 35 – 45 degrees vertically, edge the windward rail, and press slightly more on the back foot. The board will go upwind. If you are going too much upwind and the board starts losing speed, you may need to temporarily steer the board downwind to gather speed before steering the board back upwind.
  2. If the wind is not strong, you need to make the sine wave pattern with your kite. When the kite goes up, you should steer the board slightly downwind to gather speed and when the kite goes down, you can steer the board upwind. The board will make a figure S, which goes downwind and then upwind, where the upwind leg is more pronounced such that you will end up going upwind.

Jibe The Board:

  1. Press slightly more on the front foot and keep the board slightly flatter to go downwind.
  2. Move the kite backward/upward to 75 degrees vertically in the other direction.
  3. Take the back foot out of the foot strap and press on the downwind rail of the board to turn it.
  4. Once the kiteboard gets past the wind arrow (the board starts moving in the other direction), move the back foot just behind the front foot straps with the toe pointing downwind.
  5. Remove the old front foot off the foot strap, turn your body and insert the old front foot into the back foot strap.
  6. Slide the old back foot (new front foot) into the front strap.
  7. Dive the kite in the new forward direction to get going.

Day 18 (Carabete) Kitesurf Wave-Jumping

Hung Antonio and Jan

The wind was good. I went windsurfing and did a lot of jumping with a 5.5 m2 sail. By the time I came in, the wind has dropped quite a bit and I was too tired after all these wave-jumping to kitesurf. I watched Terry went out with his 8.5 m2 Wipika and the F-One 230. This was the first time I ever watched a more experienced kitesurfer in action with close-up binocular.

  1. In an underpowered situation, Terry rather had the board sink (tail and windward rail first) than put his body in the weak upright position.
  2. Terry always leaned his body to windward almost at the same angle as a windsurfer does while planning.

Learning to Lock the Kite

Day 19 (Great Kiteboarding in Salina)

Wow! What a day! Jan, Antonio, and I went out with our 5.0 m2 and 8.5 m2 Wipika and everybody was doing a wonderful job.

  1. Since the wind was very strong in the morning (20+ knots), Jan and I made the new 10 m lines. We used the bowline knots and stop knots (without sleeving). One bowline knot was broken half an hour after Jan went into the water. WRONG KNOTS WITHOUT SLEEVING DRASTICALLY WEAKEN LINES.
  2. I used the 5.0 m2 kite with the 20m lines and it was wonderful. For the first time in my life I was able to do the following:
    • Lock the kite in at 35 – 45 degrees vertically in the forward-moving direction. The feeling after locking in the kite was great! I felt completely in control of the kite and the board and was able to do other things such as a hook in the harness and going upwind.
    • Hook in the harness. If the kite was locked in, hook into the harness was no problem. But hooking in and generating a sine wave pattern was a disaster. My arm was not in a very comfortable position. The harness line was simply too short and we need to extend it
  1. Steer the board upwind. I confirmed my steering the board upwind technique that I noted in the earlier log by pressing the windward rail and slightly more on the back foot. One problem was that I could not point the board upwind for long. After a while, I started losing control of the board and the kite started pulling with too much lateral force.
  2. I landed at the hotel perfectly and then went out again. This time the wind has dropped to about 10 – 15 knots so I used the 30m lines instead of the 20m lines used this morning. I managed to go out OK but it was much harder than the morning. Strong wind is easier to learn because you can lock the kite in and do not have to worry about making patterns while keeping balance on the board.
  3. We came in, had lunch, and went out again at the tip of the bay. The wind was very light now (no white cap!) and I was a little reluctant to go out with my 5.0 m2 Wipika. I went out nevertheless and I was amazed that I could plane with my 5.0 m2 kite and 30 m lines in such little wind around 12 – 13 knots. There were only a couple of windsurfers and they were using a 6.0 m2 sail or bigger. This was probably possible because the water here was very flat.
  4. My pattern-making skill was very good now. Now I knew the difference between the sine wave pattern and the figure 8 pattern. The sine wave pattern is more like a stop-and-go pattern. You dive the kite down to generate power and then move it up slightly just to pause and then move it down again. You use the sine wave pattern when the wind is sufficient. The figure 8 pattern is a more pronounced backward up, forward down pattern. You use the figure 8 pattern when the wind is light and you are way underpowered. Antonio was amazed that I could keep going with my 5.0 m2 Wipika (30 m lines) while he had trouble (not enough wind) with his 8.5 m2 Wipika (20 m lines).
  5. The knee bending technique I described earlier worked wonderfully in light wind situations like this. The only time you should fully extend the leg is when you can lock the kite in (or generating the sine wave pattern).
  6. Antonio used the jibing technique I described earlier and he said that he had almost made it.

Day 20 (Salina) Getting Overpowered

Jan and I went out kitesurfing on a very light wind day. The morning was around 10 – 11 knots and there was no white cap and no windsurfer. I went out with the 8.5 m2 Wipika and the 30m lines. This was my first real experience (standing on the board) with the 8.5 m2 kite and I was doing fine.

  1. The 8.5 m2 Wipika was a SLOOOW kite compared to the 5.0 m2 such that the 8.5 m2 kite got its power more from its size rather than from flying. Kitesurfing with the 8.5 m2 Wipika felt more like windsurfing (rather than kitesurfing).
  2. The pumping (sine wave up & down flying) of the 8.5 m2 kite was very slow such that I had to bend my knee to stay on the board while waiting for it to turn. Once the board started moving fast, the 8.5 m2 kite became faster and more alive almost like the 5.0 m2 kite.
  3. Once the board reached sufficient speed, I could lock the 8.5 kite at 45 degrees vertically in the forward-moving direction. I tried to lock the kite at various vertical angles and found that the more horizontally I locked the kite, the more power I got. So to have more power, lock the kite at 15 degrees vertically; to have less power, lock the kite at 75 degrees vertically with 45 degrees vertically is the middle point. I actually felt very good at 45 degrees with 30 degrees was the power zone and 60 degrees was the relax zone.
  4. I made the harness line longer (wrist to elbow length, similar to windsurfing) and I was able to control the kite while hooking in. I could take one hand off the control bar.
  5. The wind picked up to around 12 – 13 knots. There were some white caps at the end of the bay but there was little or almost nothing in the middle of the bay. I went out this time with my 5.0 m2 kite and the 30m lines. Jan went out with the 8.5 m2 kite and the 20m lines. I was slightly underpowered during the water start but after I pumped the kite (move up/down) 2 or 3 times, and when the board starts moving, the kite gaining more and more power. I was able to lock the kite in after 3 or 4 pumps. That was amazing at 12 – 13 knots of wind.
  6. I locked the kite in at 5- 10 degrees vertically and I was overpowered (at 12 – 13 knots of wind!) The kite and the board were probably was moving at twice the wind speed (20 – 25 knots). The kite and the board were moving so fast that I was both amazed and scared at the same time.
  7. Once overpowered, I tend to fight it with my feet by putting more pressure on the rail. I leaned backward too much that my body was almost right on the water. I had to remember to move the kite to the relaxed zone (60 – 70 degrees vertically) in an overpowered situation. Another way to think about it is to imagine that the kite has 5 gears. Gear 1: No power at 75 – 90 degrees. Gear 2: Low power at 55 – 75 degrees. Gear 3: Normal power at 35 – 55 degrees. Gear 4: High power at 15 – 35 degrees. Gear 5: Max power at 0 – 15 degrees. Move the kite to a higher gear (fly lower) for more power and move the kite to a lower gear (fly higher) for less power.

Day 21 (Carabete) Underpowered Kiteboarding

I came out kitesurfing late in the afternoon. The wind was light, around 10 –11 knots. A lot of windsurfers using 5.7 m2 sail came in. I went out with the 5.0 m2 kite and the 30m lines. I was way underpowered but was doing OK. My knee bending and pattern making skill was very good now that I could kitesurf in an underpowered condition.
  1. I always move the kite up immediately the moment I get on the board. I had to remember to let the kite dive lower in light wind conditions like this.
  2. In very light wind conditions like today, I put too much weight on the front foot (to push the board moving forward) and fell forward couple of times. I had to remember not to do that, just bend the knee and move the kite to generate power and then push on the front foot only when I feel there is enough power. The wavy condition also makes staying on the board in light wind conditions tricky.

Learning to Hook in the Kite

Day 22 (Carabete) Overpowered Kitesurfing

I went out kitesurfing again today with the 5.0 m2 kite and the 20 m lines in 15 – 20 knots wind (average windsurfers went out today with 5.0 to 5.5 m2 sail). I was doing quite well and had good control of the board and kite. Terry tried my 5.0 m2 kite and he ran into the same problem that Jan had: the 5.0 m2 kite was too nervous for the kitesurfers who are used to the 8.5 m2 kite.

  1. I was overpowered a number of times, especially when the kite was locked in gears 4 and 5 (0 to 35 degrees vertically). I found that I went mostly downwind in gear 1 or 2 (why?). Gear 3 and 4 were the best to go upwind. Gear 5 was just too much.
  2. I had almost successfully jibed the board. The board lost momentum at the end of the turn and I felt. Nevertheless, it was a good experience and I think I can do it.
  3. I am still very much at the stage of exploring the power of the kite and try to hook in while controlling the kite. I need to feel completely in control of the kite and be able to put the kite in the proper gear before being able to do anything else.
  4. Each time I hooked in, I started losing the feel of the kite after a short period of time and therefore either had to unhook or lose control of the kite.
  5. The board moved very fast and in choppy water, I felt that the foot straps are not tightened enough. I tightened the straps and they seemed to be better; however, I need to tighten them more for tomorrow.
  6. I tried to go upwind and was more successful on the first try than on the second or the third try. I will see tomorrow if I need to move the straps further toward the back of the board.
  7. My priority was trying to permanently hook in and to go upwind. These 2 techniques will extend the life of each trial (each time I go out). I tried the upwind technique and it seemed to work except that I always felt overpowered each time the kite dive down. I had read somewhere someone mentioned that it’s easier to go upwind when the lines are shorter because of less drag. I should continue using the 20m lines (my shortest) as much as I could.

Day 23 (Carabete) Tighter Foot Straps

I went out kitesurfing in what seemed like 15-18 knots of wind (average windsurfers went out with 5.5 m2 sail). The wind was slightly less constant and gustier than in the last session.

  1. I tightened the foot straps and they felt OK now. However, I need to move them toward the back of the board to be able to control the board better. On a number of occasions, I felt that by pulling or extending the back foot I could change the direction of the board easily (once again, very much like snowboarding). My F-One 230 board has 3 straps and I will need to try a narrower 2-straps board to feel the similarity with snowboarding.
  2. By the end of the day, my hook-in was very good. I followed Antonio’s advice of having a very narrow harness strap set up (around 7 – 8 cm or 3 inches apart) and a slightly longer harness line (with my hand grabbing the control bar, the harness line extends just past my elbow.
  3. The wind dropped quite a bit by the end of the day to around 13 knots and I felt a bit uncomfortable with the 5.0 m2 Wipika and the 20m lines. The 30m lines were probably better. The 20 m lines in this light wind did not give a lot of margins for errors and you had to be almost perfect in your pattern making to move the board and the kite. I had improved my pattern-making so much that I actually did well (a lot of hard work but the outcome was OK). Also, my feel for the pull of the kite was very good now. On several occasions, after a fall, I could get on the board again with my eyes closed (full of salty water) and the kite was going backward.
  4. I felt that the kite was much more manageable at 45 degrees vertically than anywhere else. This should be the angle of choice for beginners to learn most techniques.
  5. In choppy water, the board simply bounced up and down too much. I kept my knee bent and absorb much of the bouncing. I was not sure if this was the right technique or should I extended my leg to press the board firmly on the water.
  6. For the first time, I felt that the F-One 230 was a bit too large for my size. I probably wanted something smaller between 1.85 m and 2 m (6’ to 6’1/2) as oppose to 7’1/2 or 2.30 m. However, how would you jibe on such a small board? Maybe the FOne 215 could be the compromise between the two extremes.
  7. I was playing with the power of the kite too much. I should instead lock the kite in and focus more on practicing hooking in and going upwind. Things to do for tomorrow: hooking in at 45 degrees, pressing on the windward rail to go upwind, and experimenting a bit with extending vs. bending the knee.

Day 24 (Carabete) Trying A New Light Surfboard

The wind was on and off. We spent most of the time waiting on the beach. By 5 PM, the wind picked up somewhat and Jan went out with the 5.0 m2 Wipika and the 30m lines. Jan was way underpowered; however, he was doing not bad. Jan tried the new board and he said that it felt like there’s nothing under his feet. I will try Jan’s board next time to get the feel of being on a smaller board (220 cm)

Day 25 (Carabete) Trying Surfing With 30 m Kite Lines

The wind picked up but still was very light around 10 knots. Occasionally, you would see some windsurfers with very large sails (6.5 to 7.0 m2) planing for a very short period of time. I went out with the 5.0 m2 kite (I left the 8.5 m2 kite at home) and the 30m lines. I was way underpowered in this light wind but managed to do not bad. I stayed on the board most of the time and was moving at a decent speed. I used Jan’s new board and this made it worse. Jan’s board has much more rocker than my board therefore not suitable for light wind conditions like today.

However, I like Jan’s board a lot. It seemed pretty nimble (at 220 cm) and I can move it anywhere I want with my 2 feet. I need to try Jan’s board on a stronger wind day to see how it behaves then. On a light wind day like this (10 knots) I should have used the 8.5 m2 kite and my board. I could do wonders with them.

Day 26 (Carabete) Kiteboarding With 20 m Lines

The wind was very strong in the morning but by the time I was ready, it has dropped to around 12 – 13 knots. I went out with the 5.0 m2 kite and the 20m lines. It was OK but I could barely lock in the kite. Later on, the wind dropped considerably so I pumped my 8.5 m2 Wipika and went out twice with the 20m lines in 10 – 12 knots of wind. At the end of the day, I attempted to go out with the 8.5 m2 and the 20m lines in 8 knots of wind. I was way underpowered and could not move the board after water starting (I should have used longer lines maybe 40 m instead).

  1. The 8.5 m2 Wipika was much slower than the 5.0 m2. Wait for it to turn and move up and down takes an eternity. However, the 8.5 m2 kite did generate a decent pull even when it moved slowly so I could keep the board moving while waiting for the kite to fly.
  2. At 10 – 12 knots of wind, I could lock the 8.5 m2 kite in a number of times. The 8.5 m2 kite is definitely a better kite to learn on as it behaves more like a windsurfing sail, generating pull from its size rather than lift from flying.
  3. I felt that Jan’s board was not as fast as mine; however, it’s definitely a better upwind machine (due to more rockers at the tails?) However, when I reviewed the video of the day’s session, I was moving rather fast in the video. I had to retry my board to see the differences.
  4. I could go upwind better now. Normally, I could only do 1 going out and 1 coming in before I had to walk back. Today I could go out and come in 3, 4 times before walking back.
  5. Reviewed the video again. I was very impressed by how fast I moved on the water with both the 5.0 m2 and the 8.5 m2 kites. This was impressive given the fact that the water was very choppy.
  6. I noticed that knee bending was definitely the technique to absorb bumps in choppy water. However, when encountering a large chop, it was easier to jump instead of absorbing the bump (once again, very much like snowboarding).
  7. Jan’s board (at 220 cm) was much more manageable than mine. I thought I was ready to try a smaller board around 200 cm – 215 cm or even a smaller 2-strap board. It’s definitely easier to control and to jump with a smaller board than with a bigger one. The problem is controlling the board once it is in the air. Since the width of one’s stance stays the same, the shorter the board, the more control one has over it. I might want to consider a wider stance on my 230 cm board.
  8. One thought suddenly came to my mind – why do you need the nose of the board at all? Right now it’s ½ of the board length. Why can we shorten the nose of the board such that one stands on the middle of the board (like a snowboard or a wakeboard) instead of the back half of the board?

Day 27 (Carabete) Switching Kite Line Length

The wind was very gusty with gusts to 20 knots. I went out early in the day with the 5.0 m2 kite & the 30m lines and subsequently with the 20m lines (windsurfers used 5.3 m2 to 5.7 m2 sails)

  1. I moved the foot straps of my board all the way to the back and its upwind performance was better but could not match that of Jan’s board. My board, however, was a better planning machine than Jan’s board.
  2. During gust, the 5.0 m2 kite with the 30m lines generated too much power while the kite was diving. The 20 m lines were probably more manageable in this case.
  3. I found that you go upwind better while hooking in with the right power. So the trick was to lock the kite in at the appropriate power zone. I found out that while locking in, the kite still had the tendency to move up or down slightly. Given enough time, it would change from 1 gear (power zone) to another (let’s say from 3 to 5). You would end up falling due to too much power. To fix the situation, always observe the vertical position of the kite and move it up or down slightly to keep it in the comfortable zone.
  4. My hooking-in was very comfortable right now. It’s just a matter of practice and having the right setup (width = 2 – 3 inches, length = hand to elbow, shorter if you use waist or chest harness; I used seat harness).

Learning a Different Kiteboarding Setup

Day 28 (Baja)

Hung, Andre and Cory
I met Cory and Teresa for the first time. Very impressive kitesurfing couple!
  1. I played around with the small reel bar and a training kite. I liked the reel bar, it worked very well; however, the brake should work the other way around. Right now, you press on the brake to stop the lines from releasing. I want that you press on the “brake” to release the lines. This will truly enable multiple line length kitesurfing. The current brake strength should be able to support this.
  2. Cory’s Open Ocean board was almost like a wakeboard but longer and narrower. According to Cory, it’s very hard to go straight and fast with a standard wakeboard. That’s why he had Open Ocean shaped the board for him.
  3. Cory’s kite looked rock-solid (very durable, more than my Wipika), but the trade-off was that it was a little bit on the heavier side. Cory & Teresa went out at around 10 knots of wind. Cory went out with the 22’ or 7.5 m2 kite and Theresa used the 20’ or 6.5 m2. She had used the 16’ or 4.5 m2 kite earlier but there wasn’t enough wind for her. Cory was around 160 lbs. and Teresa was at 120 lbs. (my weight).  Cory went way upwind.  Just one going out and coming in, he was a couple of hundred meters upwind.
  4. I played around with the KiteSki kite on land a bit. It looks like lifting the kite & water starting should be easier than water starting in windsurfing. The kite was much lighter than a windsurfing rig.
  5. I practiced a bit (with the training kite) with the feet in a toe-down position. It’s a little bit clumsy at first but the more I tried it, the more comfortable it became.

Day 29 (Baja) Training Jibing And Water Starting On Land

I got all the land training from Cory, mostly regarding water starting the kite and jibing.

  1. I tried the 16’ kite and body dragged myself across the bay. The feeling I got was that this kite (4.5 m2) was of the same or more power range as the Wipika 5.0 m2 because it seemed to generate more power while diving down.
  2. I was doing great until I dropped the kite and had to water launch. Water launching the kite definitely required a bit of practice. After being released, the kite tends to go tail-down into the water. One need to:
    • Hook in before releasing the kite.
    • Yank the control bar twice immediately after releasing the kite.
    • Release the lines around 10’ immediately after yanking the control bar.
  1. Following are the steps used to water launch the KiteSki kite:
    • Hold the kite up with your right hand over your head.
    • Hold the control bar up with your left hand; 2 or 3 fingers should be on the brake.
    • Push your feet down on the water to move your body up slightly, then immediately release the kite (throwing it over your head).
    • The right hand grabs the control bar and yank the kite twice down/up, down/up
    • Release the lines 10′
    • Yank the kite twice (down/up, down/up)
    • Release another 10′.  The kite should be high up right now for a control release without yanking the kite.
  1. I managed to water launch the KiteSki once by accidentally hooking in.  All the other times, the kite lost control and turn to the left.  This was due to the fact that my right hand was too slow in grabbing the control bar.
  2. Following are some of the experiences Cory shared with me:
    • To go upwind:  The moment you start feeling the board going very fast and downwind, turn the board upwind immediately.  If the board has already gone downwind very fast it is too late.
    • Jibing:  Move the kite to the other direction before turning the board.  If the wind is strong,  move the kite up before moving it down in the other direction.
    • Jumping:  While moving fast, turn the kite upward.  Edge the board hard on the water and when you feel the pull of the kite is strong enough, suddenly release the board edge and extend your knee to jump.  Move the kite forward while in the air to prepare for power in landing.
  1. I tried the monoski with binding and got cramps in both hamstrings.  I found that the binding was hard to get into and that started the cramp on my legs.
  2. I took a break and came out again.  This time, I was more successful; however, there was not enough wind for the 16′ kite.  The monoski was too small and tent to sink under my feet in this light wind.

Day 30 (Baja) Unresponsive Kite In Light Wind

The wind didn’t pick up until 2:00 PM; however it’s still very light (around 10 knots).
  1. I went out with the 20′ kite and the Open Ocean board (an old board with more buoyancy than the current board Cory was using). The wind was very light and the 20′ kite was not doing very well until Cory tightened the tail line to make the kite fuller.
  2. I was doing great after that, I was able to water start and plane on the Open Ocean board even with light wind. This board was around 20 liters in volume.
  3. I found that the 20′ kite was not very responsive in this light wind like it used to.  In this case, you had to predict the movement of the kite instead of reacting to the kite’s movement by observing it.

Day 31 (Maui) Going Fast Upwind

I was windsurfing with a 4.7 m2 sail in 20 – 30 knots of wind and saw a guy going out kitesurfing in an expert manner. He seemed to go upwind very well and very fast. His jump was fabulous, very high up in the air, and very soft landing. He used a very strange move to go upwind. I would call it tacking. Following are the steps he used:

  1. While going, he moved the kite up.
  2. When the kite reached around 75 degrees vertically, he jumped and rotated the board 180 degrees toward the back.  The board now pointed to the new direction; he was facing the wind and the kite was at zenith.
  3. He turned around by moving his front leg just before the back straps and then inserted his back foot into the front straps.  He then slid his new back foot into the back strap before diving the kite to get going in the new direction.
I thought he was Flash.

Learning to Jibe

Day 32 (Ottawa)

Britannia bay, Ottawa in 1999. Photo by Steve Slaby.

Read the Landing section to learn how to land smoothly once you can jump consistently.
  1. I started the kite all by myself using the technique described in the Wipika video (put the kite parallel to the wind and bury one of the wing tips).
  2. I landed the kite all by myself by landing the kite at the wind window edge and wrapping the bottom line 3 full rounds before wrapping both lines in.
  3. I rigged the 5.0 m2 kite with the 20m lines and it seems to be the right kite for this type of wind. I was a little under-power in the lull and slightly over-power in the gust.
  4. It was the perfect wind for learning. I managed to turn the board in a complete turn but failed to change my feet. The board lost momentum when I turned my feet therefore it sunk before I completed my maneuver. I had to remember to change my feet earlier, just after the board nose get past the straight downwind position (while it was still planning).
  5. I found that the perfect angle of the kite for going upwind was 30 – 45 degrees vertically. If the kite was too high, it pulled me more upright, therefore harder to press hard on the rail. If the kite was too low, there was simply too much lateral force.
  6. I was doing not bad. I only had to walk back 3 times for 2 hours session.

Day 33 (Ottawa) Using A Windmeter And Gybing

I went out again today in much less wind than the last session. My wind meter only measured 6 knots of wind with 8 knots gust. I pumped up my 8.5 m2 Wipika and went out with 30m lines and then subsequently changed to 40m lines.

  1. I used 30m lines first and felt slightly underpowered. I changed to 40m lines and things got much better.
  2. To kitesurf in such a light wind and very long lines, I had to keep the kite moving all the time (to generate its own wind) and to anticipate the “unresponsiveness” of the kite. Therefore I had to give the kite almost 1/2 of a second before it could react to my command.
  3. I managed to move the board very fast: probably around 15 knots (with only 6-8 knots of wind!)
  4. As long as I kept the kite moving, I had sufficient power to plane. The only time I didn’t feel sufficient power was when the kite turned.
  5. I managed to jibe successfully once. The trick was to change the feet immediately once the board nose gets past the wind needle (180 degrees downwind).

Day 34 (Ottawa) Gybing Using 40 m Lines

I went out today on another light wind day. Just before I started, my wind meter measured 5 knots with gusts to 7 knots. I went out with 30m lines and then subsequently change to 40m lines.

  1. The Wipika could not fly with less than 5 knots of wind. I guessed this is the lightest wind you can go out with the Wipika type of kites.
  2. Changing from 30m to 40m lines did make a lot of differences.
  3. I successfully jibed once even though my bottom hit the water after I switch my feet at the end of the jibe, I was still able to “dive” the kite down and get going immediately after that.
  4. I almost successfully jibed the second time but this time I stayed too much upright to keep balance on the board. I had to remember to bend my knees all the time even during jibing.

Day 35 (Ottawa) Successful Jibing

I went out today in 7 – 11 knots of wind with my 8.5 m2 Wipika and 40 m lines.
  1. This was definitely the wind range where the Wipika 8.5 m2 was fully powered up for me. I was slightly overpowered during gusts (15 knots ?).
  2. I jibed successfully a couple of times. I am surprised that jibing was this easy.  The trick is to try to move your feet in small steps with lightning speed. Once your new front foot is inserted in the front strap, consider your jibe is successful (the rest is just cosmetics)

Day 36 (Ottawa)

I went out today in 10 – 18 knots of wind with my 8.5 m2 Wipika and then later on switched to 5.0 m2 Wipika with 40 m lines.

  1. 18 knots was a little bit too much for me with the 8.5 m2.  One time, I was lifting 3′ in the air and flew 10′ downwind. The 5.0 m2 was definitely a better kite than the 8.5 m2 Wipika. Flying the 5.0 m2 has more fun and more control.
  2. I could water launch the 5.0 m2 while having both of my feet in the straps and the board was blocking the view of the kite (water launch the kite without actually seeing it).
  3. I nailed a number of jibes and a two-consecutive one.  My successful jibing rate was probably 10 to 20 percent now.
  4. I can point the board at the same angle as a windsurfer. However, until I can nail 80 to 90 percent of my jibes, to come back to where I started was still rather difficult.  Each time I fell, the kite dragged me 20 to 50 m downwind.
  5. I was comfortable hooking in; however, to efficiently use the kite power during a lull, I needed to unhook to have perfect coordination between my arms, legs, and my body.

Day 37 (Ottawa) Slowing Going Upwind And Some Great Jibing

I went out in 10 – 16 knots of wind with my 5.0 m2 Wipika and 30m lines and then later switched to 40 m lines.

  1. I found that to go more upwind, you have to go slow.  At an angle slightly more upwind than a windsurfer, I was slower than him.
  2. Wow!  My jibe was improved so much.  The successful rate was now around 30 to 40 percent.  I have discovered a new jibing technique which I would call “snowboarding” jibe.  In a snowboarding jibe, you continuously carve the board until you are fully sailing in the other direction in a toe-down position.   To be able to carve the board continuously, you need to move the kite to 60 to 70 degrees vertically in the other direction (not to the zenith as in a normal jibe).  After you have been sailing in a toe-down, you can either continue or change feet whenever you like.
  3. Quite often, I sailed with my back foot placed just in front of the back strap.  I found that the back strap was only necessary for rough conditions.  Also, I can sail upwind easier with my back foot in this position.  Maybe I should move my backstrap forward slightly.
  4. I could not come back to where I started yet, but I was close.

Day 38 (Ottawa) Being Way Underpowered During The Surf

I went out in 15 – 25 knots of wind with my 5.0 m2 Wipika and 30 m lines. I came out at the right time for the 25 knots gust and was way overpowered. I came in, changed to 10 m lines, and then came out again. This time I was way underpowered. I came back in and changed to 20 m lines. When I came out again, the wind has dropped to around 10 to 15 knots. I could plan but did not have enough power to do much.

  1. I thought 10 m lines are too short for kitesurfing. I have seen Kane using 15 m lines. 15 m lines are probably the shortest line length usable for kitesurfing.
  2. I have been using longer lines (30 to 50 m) and found that 20 m was a little bit too short for jibing. I would rather use a smaller kite with longer lines than use a larger kite with shorter lines.  Longer lines give more margin of flying error for beginner to intermediate pilots like me.
  3. I managed to turn the board upwind while it was moving downwind very fast.  It was not easy as you had to fight with both the kite and the board. According to Cory, if you let it move downwind faster, you will never be able to turn the board upwind.
  4. I found that when the wind was sufficient, I could turn the board much more upwind.  However, I could only do that for a short period of time then the board started losing speed and I had to pump the kite up/down and pointed the board downwind to gather more speed.  Since it was very gusty,  I was not sure whether it was because the wind dropped or I was pointing the board too much upwind.

Learn to Stay Upwind When Surfing

Day 39 (Ottawa)

Yahoo! I COULD COME BACK TO WHERE I STARTED!  What a day!   I went kitesurfing in 12 to 18 knots of wind using 5.0 m2 Wipika and 30 m lines.  I was doing all right until the wind dropped to 10 to 16 knots.  I went in and changed to 40 m lines and went out again.

  1. Sailing with 40 m lines was probably most comfortable for me.  I could generate my own wind with these long lines.
  2. I was concentrating too much on trying to stay upwind such that I had not really improved much on my jibe.
  3. The wind was directly on shore to the bay such that if you could not go upwind you would be “trapped” inside the bay.
  4. Suddenly, I was in the open water (outside of the bay)!  This was a wonderful feeling!  The last time I had the same feeling was in 1985 when I was able to escape the bay and sail in the open water for the first time on my first shortboard.
  5. I did not know what exactly happened.  The only thing I remembered was that I started using the stand that Cory and Raphael used.  I have seen such pictures for a long time and suddenly it ticked that why wouldn’t I try the same stand.  It worked!
  6. To go really upwind, you need to stand straight (like Cory), lean your body 45 degrees (or more) backward, press hard on the windward rail (evenly on both feet ?).  Note the angles of the kite and the body.  The kite actually helps to dig the rail into the water.
  7. It is possible to stay upwind using long lines (40 m). I have seen Cory doing it.  Now even I could do it.  I don’t think I will ever sail with anything less than 30 m in the future.  Long lines are simply much easier.
  8. I actually had to go downwind to come back to where I started!
  9. I have actually challenged a number of beliefs that I had had:
  • It is easy to stay upwind with long lines.  The drag from the lines is negligible.
  • It is possible to stay upwind with a Wipika.
  • It is possible to stay upwind on a large board (the FOne 230 is a very large board for me – 130 lbs.).
  • Extend your leg to transfer the power of the kite directly down to the board.   Also, use the power of the kite to dig the windward rail into the water.
  • Having both feet closer makes going upwind easier.  I sailed most of the time with my back foot placed just in front of the back strap.
  • Press evenly on both heels (?)

Day 40 & 41 (Ottawa) Going Upwind When OverPowered

This was great!  I went out kitesurfing two days in a row.  On the first day (day 40) the wind was very light with an average (5 minutes average) wind speed around 7 to 9 knots with gusts around 11 to 18 knots. On the second day (day 41) the wind was slightly stronger with an average wind speed of around 8 to 12 knots with gusts from 13 to 20 knots.  I was overpowered with my 8.5 m2 kite when the gust reached 18 knots, so I went in and changed to the 5.0 m2 kite for a short while and then changed back to the 8.5 m2 Wipika. I used 40 m lines all this time.

  1. I could stay way upwind on both days.  Quite often, I was way more upwind than where I started.  On the second day, I had to go downwind to come back to where I started.
  2. The only time I could not go upwind when I was way underpowered or way overpowered.  When I was underpowered, I had to go downwind to get planning.   When I was way overpowered, the pull of the kite was too much for my 130 lbs. to resist the pull downwind.
  3. At the end of the second day, I figured out how to go upwind even when I was overpowered. All I had to do was just to relax my knee completely to let the kite lift most of my weight. I leaned backward to almost near the water and used whatever left of my weight to edge the windward rail of the board and pushed hard on the back foot to turn the board upwind (sometimes, my board was perpendicular to the pull of the kite).  The board would slow down (sometimes, I even dipped my body into the water to slow the board down) and the kite would fly fast to the edge of the wind window. I only had to fight the pull for a few seconds before the kite flew to the edge of the wind window.  Once it was there, the pull would become more manageable.  From there, as long as I kept going upwind and keep the kite flying at the forward edge of the wind window, I was OK.  So in a way, going upwind is the best way to kitesurf in an overpowering situation.
  4. Now I started to understand the “physics” of going upwind. Normally, when the kite pulled, it’s in the middle of the flight path to the forward edge of the wind window.  If you yield to the pull and go downwind, the kite and the board will travel fast (probably at the same speed) downwind such that the kite is constantly in the middle of the flight path to the forward edge of the wind window.  It’s a vicious circle: the more the kite pulls, the more you go downwind, the more the kite will continue to pull (because the kite would never be able to get to the edge of the wind window).  It’s worst when you are in an overpowered situation; you will move downwind faster in a constant overpowered situation!  The only way to “fight” the pull of the kite is to go upwind.  Fight the kite’s pull with whatever you have: your weight, your muscles, and your board.  Let the kite carry your entire weight; use your legs to edge the board very hard and turn it way upwind.  If you fight hard enough, your board will slow down and the kite will “reach” the edge of the forward wind window. Once it’s there, the pull will lessen and you can control both the board and the kite better if you keep on going in the same upwind direction.  Don’t point your board downwind or move your kite to get into another overpowered situation.  You will be in for another upwind fight again.
  5. I also started to understand why it is easier to go upwind with a faster kite such as the Concept Air or the FOne.  Regardless of how fast the board move, such kites would be able to get to the edge of the forward wind window much sooner than the Wipika.  So with a fast foil, the pull of the kite will lessen over a short period of time and you do not have to fight as hard to go upwind.
  6. My jibe was much better now. I was able to jibe successfully 70 to 80 percent of the time.  This definitely helped me staying upwind.
  7. I used mostly the snowboarding jibe right now. I made a small variation to the snowboarding jibe when I was overpowered. I moved the kite upward slightly (to 85 degrees vertical) while changing my feet.


When I first learned kitesurfing in October 1998, I was all by myself and there was very little (or none) instructional information available. I promised myself to keep a detailed log until I pass the beginner stage and am able to jibe and stay upwind. I am at that stage right now and this is the end of my log. I hope this log would help many beginners learning kitesurfing, an exciting sport for the new century.

Ottawa, June 1999.
Hung Vu.

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