Posted on: July 31, 2021 Posted by: Eline Comments: 0

When your waterstart doesn’t work you might be puzzled… Each time you fly over your board or you don’t come out of the water you think: “What am I doing wrong?!”

Most often when students fail doing a waterstart when kitesurfing it’s something with the kite such as steering the kite too fast or too slow, something with the bar like keeping the bar sheeted in the whole time, something with the board such as keeping the board perpendicular to the kite or something with their body position like leaning back and straightening their legs.

I’ve seen students make many mistakes while learning the waterstart. These are the mistakes that are made most often. If your waterstart is not working you might be making one of these mistakes:

13 mistakes you might be making while learning the Waterstart

About the Kite:

  1. Steering the Kite too Slow/ too Fast

The balance between how fast and how slow you have to steer the kite depends on the wind, your weight and your kite size. Assuming you have picked the right kite for the conditions, you might still be flying over your board because you steer the kite too fast or you might not have enough power to pull you out of the water because you steer the kite too slow.

If you steer the kite faster, the kite will get more power and if you steer the kite slower, the kite will generate less power. 

How to fix it? 

Start by steering the kite a bit slower than you think you need. When you don’t come out of the water, try adding a little bit more speed to your steering. Your bum might come out of the water a little bit and sink back again. Then repeat this while adding a little bit more speed to your steering until you get out of the water all the way and start riding.

By adding a little speed every time you steer you’ll find the balance more easily, and you will avoid flying out of your foot straps by not steering the kite too fast.

  1. NOT Steering the Kite too 2 (or 10) But Only Sending it to 1 (or 11)

What I see people doing all the time is not sending the kite all the way to 2 (or 10). Therefore, not generating enough power to ride and thus not coming out of the water. Even if you are generating enough power by sending the kite with enough speed, you still don’t have a lot of pull to the side (and you are riding to the side, not up) which you would have if you sent it all the way to 2.

How to fix it?

Send the kite all the way to 2, maybe first a bit slower than you did before. 

  1. NOT Sending the Kite Back Up After Reaching 2 or 10

If you reach 2 but you don’t send the kite back up the kite will go on to 3 and land in the water. When this happens you won’t be able to ride and you’ll have to relaunch the kite.

How to fix it?

When you reach 2, send the kite immediately back up to 12. Especially when you have a bigger kite and less wind, start sending the kite upwards even before you reach 2. After you send the kite upwards to 12, send the kite back to 2 and then again to 12 and repeat this until you’ve got enough speed to park the kite in one place.

About the Bar:

  1. Keeping your Bar Sheeted in the Whole Time

If you are keeping the bar pulled all the way in while sending the kite for the waterstart, your kite will either backstall or you have no control over the power since there is no room for the bar to be pulled in a little closer. 

How to fix it?

You want to keep the bar somewhere in the middle of the power cord where you feel enough tension. Keep it fixed in that place.

  1. Sheeting the Bar Out When you Send the Kite for the Waterstart

You want to build up the tension when you send the kite to have enough power to let it pull you on the board. But if you push the bar away you will lose all the power you build up while sending the kite. 

How to fix it?

Keep the bar fixed in one place, somewhere in the middle of the power cord and don’t push the bar out while sending the kite. Keep it fixed in that place.

About your Board:

  1. Keeping your Board Perpendicular to your Kite

Not pointing your board downwind, but keeping the board perpendicular to the kite while riding will give you a bumpy ride. You will bounce on the water instead of riding, because you push all the water away with your board. There is a lot of resistance this way.

How to fix it?

When you roll up your board you want to push your front leg out and push the nose of the board towards your kite. Point the board downwind by turning your front hip more towards your kite. After you ride downwind and gain some speed, you can start edging upwind.

  1. Riding to the Opposite Side of Where You Send your Kite

Some people do a great waterstart, everything perfect, but the kite falls out of the air seconds after getting up and you sink back in the water. It may be that you sent the kite to the left but you had your right foot forward and your board was riding to the right. It mostly happens when students are focusing a lot on the kite and are forgetting the board.

How to fix it?

Think before every waterstart: “Which way am I going to ride?” If the answer is go to the left, your left foot is forward and you send the kite to the left. 

About your Body Position:

  1. Over-rotating Before You Start 

Over rotating before or while sending the kite is a common mistake I see when people are trying their first waterstarts. Your kite goes one way, your board turns the other way and you end up facing backwards instead of where you want to go.

How to fix it?

Keep your core tightened while you keep your kite at 12. If your board turns one way, there are two things you can do: push one leg out or take one hand from the bar and start paddling next to your board so it turns the right way again. 

When you still end up facing backwards, the best thing you can do is kick off your board and focus on not crashing the kite.

  1. Leaning Backwards and Straightening your Legs

If you lean backwards and keep your legs straight, the kite will have a hard time pulling you out of the water. You probably won’t come out of the water or you board will slide away in front of you.

You can try it out with someone on the beach: sit down on the beach with your legs straight and lean backwards, now let somebody try to pull you up on your arms. It’s probably pretty hard, right? Now try it while sitting with your knees in and your shoulders as much forwards as possible. It’s probably a lot easier.

How to fix it? 

You want to be as small as possible so it will be easy for the kite to lift you out of the water, so keep your knees bent and your shoulders forward. You can even practice rolling up like this at home without a kite.

  1. Keeping Your Front Hip (so your weight) to the Front of your Board

If you keep your front hip too much to the front, you will be pulled off your board. That’s because your weight is also over your board and you can’t lean back a little to absorb the power of the kite.

How to fix it?

Keep your hips a little to the back of your board and make sure your front hip is not too much to the front of your board.

  1. Trying to Stand Up by Straightening Your Legs too Early

If you try to stand up too early by straightening your legs, either your board will sink or it will slide in front of you. 

How to fix it?

Wait for the kite to pull you up your board instead of trying to stand up. Stay small so the kite can pull you up easily. 

  1. Straightening your Front Leg too Early

If you straighten your front leg, it will be harder to get up your board. Your board will probably slide away from you or you will over-rotate while you send the kite.

How to fix it?

Keep small, knees bent and shoulders forward. Only straighten your front leg on the last moment when your kite reaches 2 (or 10) after sending it. Only when you feel the pull upwards at the very last moment.

  1. Relaxing your (leg) Muscles and Holding no Tension There at All

Students sometimes send their kite and then just get pulled over their board like a ragged doll. They don’t keep their small posture but just get pulled by the kite over their board into the water. If you don’t keep a little tension in your leg muscles, this happens.

How to fix it? 

You want to roll up your board and keep a little tension in your quadriceps. Keep your knees in and while you send the kite tighten your leg and core muscles.

So what should you do?

  1. Start with kite at 12 and put on your board
  2. Keep small (legs bend and lean forward)
  3. Send the kite from 12 to 11 to 2 (or 12 to 1 to 10) and keep your bar somewhere in the middle of your power chord 
  4. Let the kite pull you and roll up your board
  5. Straighten your front leg when you are standing up and point the board downwind
  6. Send the kite back up to 12 
  7. Keep sending it between 12 and 2 ( or 10) for generating more speed
  8. When you have enough speed keep the kite at half past 1 and enjoy the ride!

Next step: Learn to ride upwind (so you don’t have to walk back upwind)

Always learn with an instructor, this makes it not only easier to learn, but also a lot safer. If you practice on your own it might also be very hard to see what it is that you are doing wrong. What you could do is let somebody film your tries, and then go over these 13 mistakes and see if you’re doing any of these things. If you can’t see what you are doing wrong by doing this, you can also send your video to me and I’ll have a look at it and give you feedback. 🙂

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