By Adam Super/Kitty Hawk Kites
Unhooking will bring a whole new dimension to your riding experience. To many, unhooking seems dangerous, unobtainable, and can only be done with superhuman strength. Lucky for you, it’s easier than you may think and a new challenge is always exciting. Most importantly, it’s fun!
Unhooking the kite from your spreader bar adds full power and a whole new level of maneuverability to your riding. Wakestyle, surfstyle, and freestyle are the three most popular disciplines in which the kite can be unhooked to increase the rider’s experience.
Choosing the right conditions will help ensure an easier and more comfortable transition into unhooking. Ideal conditions are flat water and consistent wind. Unhooking for the first time in very choppy water and high winds may reduce your comfort level. Having confidence in your ability is an essential element before attempting any new maneuver.
It is also essential to tune your kite for unhooked riding. When you are planning to unhook, your lines should be even when the control bar is fully sheeted in. Tuning your kite for unhooked maneuvers will allow the kite to produce the correct amount of power without any back stalling. The easiest way to tune your kite on the fly is by using the depower line or trim strap. This is the first step before you unhook the kite.
The second step to unhooked maneuvers is achieved by pulling out your donkey stick, aka keeper tube, chicken finger, trim finger, etc. This is the tube that keeps your harness loop from inadvertently coming unhooked. With that out of the way, now you are ready to unhook.
Build up your confidence and take a deep breath. You can do this. Exhale as you release your edge and bear off downwind. Doing this takes the tension off the lines allowing you to unhook your kite. Make sure your hands are positioned in the center of the control bar. Now, in one swift motion pull the bar all the way in and push down with your arms. These three motions, bearing downwind, pulling the bar in, and pushing it down should happen in a quick smooth succession. Keep your arms down, shoulders back, and hips forward. You are unhooked!
Do not edge hard at first! This is the most common mistake after unhooking. Unhooking will fully power your kite. This is typically the aspect of unhooking that deters people from trying it. Edge slightly upwind and gradually increase your edge pressure. This will increase the amount of pull you feel in your arms. Remember to keep your shoulders back and do not bend forward at your hips. Bending forward can cause you to be pulled over your front edge. The less you edge, the easier it will be to remain under control. To hook back in, bear off downwind and hook the loop onto your spreader bar. It is best to look at your harness loop while hooking in. You may need to use your back hand to position the harness loop correctly. Regain your composure, get excited, and try it again.
The more you build your confidence, the more you can increase your edge. Edging and unhooking swiftly will increase power and pop. Freestyle and wakestyle are not the only disciplines in which unhooked riding is being utilized. Because unhooking gives riders a large range of motion, kite surfers are also finding it to be another way to further their riding experience while barreling down the line.
Unhooking can change the way you ride forever. Whether it is a water start, your first jump, or a kiteloop, there is a fist time for everything. All new maneuvers seem like a daunting task at first and unhooking is the same. Small controlled steps can lead to a career of exciting new possibilities. Take your riding to the next level: UNHOOK!