Bonking solid features is not very hard in the technical sense, but the risk can be high depending on the circumstances and the conditions. Before you make your first attempt, you always want to scout the scene and ask the important questions. Is the wind clean? Are there any objects in the area or dangers lurking under the water? Are there sharp points on the feature that you should avoid hitting? You have to identify all the possible ways in which it could go wrong and ease your way into the bonk in order to control your risks.
One of the biggest mistakes is coming in fast and slamming into the feature itself with too much force. To err on the safe side, I intentionally come up short on most of my first bonk attempts. Conservatively, I’d estimate that seven out of 10 times, I don’t even touch the feature. Another key to reducing risk is to ride with more kite power. Any time you are jumping with a kite, you are using a combination of board speed and kite lift. If you are low on kite power and don’t have as much canopy lift, then you need more speed, and this tends to add risk. If the setup isn’t providing clean wind, then your lift will be more variable, and that should flash the warning lights on your internal dashboard.
“Another key to reducing risk is to ride with more kite power.”
Once you have sussed out all the logistics, then it’s time to decide if you want to do the bonk as a transition or as a stall in the middle of a conventional air. Transitional bonks tend to be safer because you will be using the kite to stop your forward momentum by redirecting it back in its path to pull yourself away from the feature after the bonk. Once you have some experience, you can keep some forward momentum and continue the kite through the window like a regular jump, assuming the feature allows it.
Bonks can offer an extra degree of challenge and build technical skills, but they should also be approached with care and awareness for the dangers of kiting near fixed objects. You should always be sure to know your limitations and be respectful of the terrain around you.
This article was featured in our summer 2021 issue, Vol. 18, No. 2. To read more, click here.
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