Kitekahunas - Learn Wave Kitesurfing: Lesson 2

How to start wave kitesurfing - turns with the right timing

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Prerequisites to Learn Wave Kitesurfing

Almost all wave kitesurfing novices are intermediate or advanced kitesurfers who are coming from riding a twin-tip board. They can ride comfortably, ride upwind, ride toe-side, which is also called switch, they can do at least basic transitions or change of direction and many can perform jumps. Maybe they can even perform rotation jumps.


How you start wave kitesurfing - Your first practices

Properly performed turns or carving transitions form the basis of wave kitesurfing. The technique for these types of turns, which you will later need to perform on your directional wave board, are so called carving transitions.

wave kitesurfing

You need to practice four different carving transitions and, although for wave kitesurfing you eventually use a directional wave board, you can practice initially with your twin-tip board. So you can prepare to get into wave kitesurfing at your home spot, even if there are no waves.


The four different carving transitions are: Carving transitions from heel-side into switch, and from switch into heel side. You need to be able to do both maneuvers going on your strong side, so for instance with your left foot forward, and on your weak side, with the other foot forward. This makes four maneuvers: On your strong side to the right and to the left, and on your weak side to the right and to the left.

To perform carving transitions, you need to move and control your kite and you need to steer your board through the turn. Timing is crucial for successful transitions. The timing to move your kite and to steer your board need to be carefully co-ordinated. You first move your kite into the other side of the wind window, by giving your kite a strong pull with your back hand, and shortly thereafter you steer your board into the other direction, with your board’s nose moving downwind and your board following your kite.

wave kitesurfing

First you move your kite, then you follow your kite with your board. It may help to remind yourself during the maneuver: “First the kite, … then the board”.

In general, keep your kite low, during the carving transition maneuver. Don’t fly your kite over 12 o’clock, from the one side of the wind window to the other, but fly it low through the power zone. You might be worried about the power that your kite will develop, and that the kite will pull you off your board while flying through the power zone. But don’t, because your board follows your kite and is pointed downwind during the maneuver. You will simply accelerate and ride it with some speed powerfully downwind through the maneuver.

When you move your kite into the other side of the wind window, really try to give your kite ONE strong pull with your back-hand. Learn how hard to make this pull, so it is strong enough to fly your kite into the new position.

A common mistake is to not pull your back-hand strong enough, and your kite flies back up to 12 o’clock. If this happens, you will overtake your kite and your carving transition will not be a smooth movement.

So it is really important to give your kite a strong, determined pull with your back hand to start the maneuver. Shortly after sending your kite, you start the carving maneuver with your board. Make the right timing your second nature. “First the kite, … then the board”.

Change over to the directional wave board for wave kitesurfing

Once you have mastered the four carving transitions on your twintip board, to the left and to the right, both on your weak and your strong side, and once you have acquired some feeling for the timing, it is time to get used to the directional wave board.

wave kitesurfing kapstadt

Starting to ride the directional board is easy. When you replace your twin-tip board with the directional wave board, you should be aware that your directional wave board has long fins, and they can break, if they touch the ground. Therefore walk knee deep into the water, before you get onto your board.

Your directional board will feel a bit wobbly in the beginning, but you will quickly get used to this. Riding upwind is different; you don’t ride the board on its edge, like on the twin-tip board, but on the fins. You will see riding upwind feels a lot more effortless than with your twin-tip.

You will have more weight on your front foot. This is different from riding your twin-tip board, where you have more weight on your back foot. You will notice this, when you ride your twin-tip again, as you may nose-dive your board.

As the name says this is a directional board, therefore you can only ride into one direction. Because of this, changing direction will be different. When you perform a transition from one direction to the other, you will either end up riding toe-side or also called switch. Or you have to change your feet, your front foot becomes your back foot and vice versa. This changing of feet, while changing your direction, you can do in the beginning simply by stopping, falling back into the water, changing your board by hand and then waterstart with your new front foot. Later you will learn to gybe (the US spelling is “jibe”), rendering it unnecessary to stop your movement and fall into the water. But don’t worry about this now, and simply enjoy your first steps on a directional wave board.

Like on your twin-tip, you have four types of carving transitions on your directional wave board. You can carve from heel-side into switch, and from switch into heel-side riding. Remember that timing is essential. First move your kite into the new direction, then turn your board’s nose downwind to follow your kite, and thereafter turn it fully into the new direction. Remind yourself: “First move your kite … and then your board.”


Your weak side in wave kitesurfing

Don’t neglect your weak side. You will need this later in wave kitesurfing, to be able to ride in conditions with wind from the right or wind from the left. Practice both maneuvers on your strong and your weak side, so it is four maneuvers in total.

Your wave board has less drag in the water than your twin-tip. So it is easier to fly your kite low during the carving transition, because when you fly the kite through the power zone, the increased power will simply accelerate you downwind, provided that your timing is right and you follow your kite with your board in a relaxed way. Once you get comfortable, add the carving transitions directly together, one after the other, and ride a nice, smooth slalom line downwind. This should become a smooth harmoniously flowing movement.


The importance of downwinders for wave kitesurfing

When practicing this slalom maneuver and your turns, it is of great advantage, if you are on a downwinder. You will go a significant distance downwind when you ride a slalom line, and it will be exhausting to ride back upwind. In particular, you will not really learn a lot, while riding upwind, at least not towards your training goal: To learn smooth elegant turns, with the right timing, controlling your kite and steering your board, while keeping the kite low.

wave kitesurfing course

When you get back to the beach, remember that your board has some depth, with its long fins. Stop a few meters before the beach, in knee-deep water, and fall back to prevent breaking your fins. Carry your board to the beach. And enjoy the moment of mastering your entry into the magic and joy of wave kitesurfing!


- There are four types of carving transitions: From heel-side into switch, from switch into heel-side. Both on your strong and your weak side.
- Move your kite and then the board, in a timed, coordinated way during the carving transition.
- Fly your kite low during the carving transition.
- Finally add the carving transitions together, and ride in a smooth elegant slalom line downwind.

Hints to other kitesurfing Video Lessons:

Lesson 3: Your furst turns with distancing and usage of the entire wind window
Lesson 10: How to gybe - basic gybe / jibe
Lesson 11: How to gybe - advanced gybe / jibe

wave kitesurfing instructor

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