After you’ve mastered staying upwind and basic transitions you will want to think about building some core skills that are the basic building blocks of every freestyle move. Load and pop is the combined technique in which a rider builds or loads power and speed into their kite followed by popping the board out of the water with that stored energy.
LOADING THE KITE:
1. Start by edging across the wind while gaining as much speed as is possible. Sheet your kite in and hold your edge to build speed while maintaining control. You should be on a full plane and begin to feel increased power in your kite as your speed creates more apparent wind in the kite.
2. After you generate sufficient planing speed you will gradually increase your angle by edging harder into the wind and park the kite at 45° above the water. Your higher angle should increase the power in your kite, but be careful not to over-edge as you will actually lose power and feel the need to power stroke the kite.
3. The goal is to combine steps one and two until you feel fully powered with the board on a full plane skimming across the water. Once you can maintain this high-speed plane for a good distance, then your kite is loaded and you are ready to experiment with using your board to generate upward pop.
Pop refers to using the power in your loaded kite and the flex in your board to release the board out of the water for a jump. Pop requires you to use your front and back foot weight to initiate a clean upward release out of the water and is a key component of all freestyle moves.
1. Start with sufficient board speed and edge slightly upwind with a loaded kite.
2. With a carefully timed two-step motion lift your front foot and stomp on your back foot while looking over your forward shoulder. You want your board to edge slightly into the wind as you feel the board’s nose rising out of the water.
3. Before the board completely leaves the water you will want to unweight your back foot for a clean release and keep your head looking towards your front shoulder to counteract the back-spin generated from the pop. Your first couple attempts may only clear a few inches of air, but as you get your timing and technique down you will be able to use pop to get over obstacles such as waves and debris without slowing down or moving the kite.
COMBINING THE TWO:
It’s a good idea to practice the loading part first and when you feel confident then it’s time to experiment with pop.
1. Load up the kite with solid board speed and substantial pull.
2. With the kite loaded at 45°, find an angle of travel that allows you to maintain solid speed with even bar pressure.
3. Find something in your path to use as a release point like a small wave or piece of chop. This will help you time the next steps.
4. Approaching your spotted release point, aggressively edge your board, lifting your front foot and stomping on your back to pop the board out of the water. You can sheet the bar in for more power but don’t move your kite to the top of the window — at first you need to learn how to load and pop without relying on the lift of the kite.
5. Bend your knees as your momentum takes you up and forward. To stick the landing you should point your board downwind and land flat before re-initiating your edge.
• Do not head too far into the wind or over-edge the board while loading the kite. This will kill your board speed and force the kite forward in the window for less power.
• The edge and release technique must be extremely quick and snappy. If you are too slow you will lose your speed before you release your board and the kite will no longer be loaded due to the loss in apparent wind.
• To get the most from your load and pop you need to leave the water when your lines have the most amount of tension in them.
• Make sure you are on an appropriate kite size; too small of a kite will prevent you from building sufficient load and too large of a kite will make it difficult to hold a proper edge.