Take it to the Next Level: An Introduction to Kite Loops
By Jeremy Lund
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Although an accidental kite loop can be quite dramatic, one done purposefully can be exhilarating. Kite loops are a useful tool in many aspects of kiting. They can be used to enhance a big air, create massive pop, or even used to pull you aggressively down the line of a big wave. When attempting a kite loop for the first time there are many things to consider, including kite size, kite type, board size, wind speed, and proper progression.
Equipment Choice and Riding Conditions:
When you decide that it’s time to learn kite loops, it’s important to first make sure that you are on the right gear and in the proper conditions.
Kite Size: You will want to start with one kite size smaller than what you would normally use. This will keep you at a safe power level. In addition, a smaller kite loops faster and this will help get the kite back to the riding/landing position.
Kite Type: Although you can perform loops with any kite, C and Delta shapes will often give you a much smoother loop compared to a bow or flat kite.
Board Type: Whether you will be using kite loops for freestyle or wave riding it will be easiest to learn them on a twin tip. It is recommended to use a smaller board to help control your speed.
Riding Conditions: Before you go blazing down the line or traveling to new altitudes, it is important to learn in the right conditions. Ideally you will want to learn the first stages of kite looping in light-medium wind in flat water. Once you get used to looping the kite, higher winds will be preferred. Higher winds are ideal because the kite will loop faster and the lines will stay tight. However, overpowered kite loops are not forgiving, so you must be well practiced and 100% committed before attempting a loop in really high wind.
Steps to Learning:
First Goal: Surface Down Loop: This is a useful tool that will take your wave riding to the next level. Hold the kite at 45°. Point the board slightly downwind and pull the bar hard with your front hand to dive the kite. Continue turning the kite until it does a full loop returning the kite to 45°. While the kite is returning to the edge of the window, you will notice that it hesitates.
To help it climb, edge hard while sheeting out. To get the kite through the loop as quickly as possible, sheet in on the down stroke of the loop and sheet out slightly on the up stroke. Practice these steps until you are comfortable performing the loop without looking at the kite or bar. Once you are well practiced with an underpowered kite you will want to experiment with a normal-size kite.
Second Goal: Surface Back Loop: To perform a surface back loop follow the same steps as a down loop, except this time pull hard with your back hand. During this exercise you will notice more power due to a faster build up of apparent wind. Most of the power will come during the first 20% of the loop as you accelerate downwind, so remember to commit. Again, you will want to practice this until it can be done without looking at the bar or kite.
Third Goal: Aerial Down Loop Transition: Begin with the kite slightly above 45° and pop your board off the water (you should know how to do a load and pop jump first). At the apex of your jump, sheet in and let go with your back hand while pulling hard with your front. Land heel side and ride away in the opposite direction as the kite makes its way back up to 45°. With each attempt, work on jumping higher and engaging the loop sooner. Start on an underpowered kite and switch to a normal size as you progress.
Fourth Goal: Kite Loop/Mega Loop: This is the most exhilarating of all the loops and should only be attempted by expert kiters. For this trick it is crucial to pick the right day. Look for 17-25 knots of wind and choose a kite one size smaller than what you would usually ride in the same conditions. Practice goals one through three. Once you feel dialed in, go for a sent jump, and sheet in and pull hard with your back hand as you near the apex of your jump. Commit to getting the kite all the way around and back up to the top of the window.
Remember to sheet out slightly on the upstroke of the loop. Just prior to landing, sheet in and pull with your front hand to dive the kite forward and bring it back in front of you. If done correctly, this will give you a fast yet floaty landing. If you think that the landing will not go well, just focus on getting the kite to the top of the window. To progress, try looping the kite sooner so that you are looping the kite on the way up as opposed to on the way down from the jump.
- When it comes to learning any aerial kite loop, make sure to jump high enough so that the kite has time to complete the loop.
- A lack of commitment is the most common mistake. Halfway through the loop is a bad time to decide you’re not ready! Make sure you get the kite all the way around no matter what. Even if you are going to crash, this will save you and your gear!
- Although low to medium wind is a good time to practice surface loops and down loops, it not a good time to learn a mega loop. Maximum power along with a smaller kite is what makes this move possible. A lack of wind will cause slack in the lines just before landing leading to a rather painful crash.
Jeremy Lund is the CEO of New Wave Kiteboarding and is a team rider for Wainman Hawaii.