Welcome to the wonderful world of sliders!
Kickers are the easiest feature to start sliding across with a kite. Therefore you’ve chosen a great place to begin your journey. Below I outline the 5 crucial steps in making your first (and any!) kicker hits a success.
Read on for my essential tips on how to hit a kicker with a kite.
0. Make sure you’re comfortable unhooking
This is step 0 in the series because you should be a strong intermediate kiteboarder before attempting to hit any sort of obstacle. That means you’re comfortable unhooking, you can ride fully in control and you’re wearing boots. Sorry, it just doesn’t work that well to ride features with footstraps. Not to mention, it’s super dangerous.
Now that we’ve established that you are a hard-core rock star getting ready to make some moves, let’s learn how to hit a kicker!
1. Inspect the obstacle.
Make sure the kicker you’re about to play around on is free of any nails or sharp objects sticking up. Safety first!
2. Do a drive by
Practice edging to the kicker and then bearing off and unhooking right before you get to it. This will get you comfortable riding up to the obstacle without actually having to go over it. Work on controlling your speed, keeping your kite low and having a clean “un-hook”.
3. Go for it! After a few drive-bys, it’s time to commit.
You don’t want to ride by any obstacle too many times and freak yourself out. After a few warm-ups, you’re ready! Approach the feature at about 45 degrees and unhook and bear off a few yards upwind. Head down wind at the kicker with your board flat and your kite at about 45 degrees.
4. Make it up and over
Keep your knees bent as you approach the obstacle, your arms loose and your center of gravity low. As you near the top of the feature, start springing up into the air. Straighten your legs and boost off the top of the kicker. This is an essential part to getting any sort of air- time.
5. Coming in for a landing
After you leave the kicker, keep your core tight and your arms engaged and controlling your kite. Spot your landing and land with your board flat on the water and your shoulders square. Don’t lean back. Ride downwind and hook back in.
Things to remember:
- Approach the obstacle with speed. If you don’t have enough speed, you won’t make it up and over the kicker.
- Usually the worst thing that can go wrong with hitting a kicker is that you get knocked off axis as you go over the top. Keep your knees bent as you ride up and your core tight to maintain control up into the air.
- Keep a strong angle of attack until just before the kicker when you bear off and unhook. This will help you maintain speed. However, keep in mind that hitting an obstacle is always dependent on the wind conditions in your location and you may need more or less edging to get across your feature.
- Do not do drive-by’s on the far or upwind side of the kicker.
Special note: Kickers are forgiving in that you do not HAVE to unhook before hitting them. They aren’t long obstacles and so the chances of falling directly upwind of them are very slim. If you’re still uncomfortable, you can hit the feature hooked in. However, this is highly unadvisable as you will not have the same control, body positioning or ability to progress if you hit a kicker hooked in.
Written by Sensi Graves