The dream of flying has been around since the beginning of mankind. Even in Greek mythology Icarus and Daedalus tried to escape with the help of artificially manufactured flights of the island of Crete. More than 2000 years later, this dream of flying has not changed. However, we have come a lot closer to this dream through sports such as kitesurfing, "armed" with a board and kite. Flying fascinates and astonishes at the same time. If you watch a kiter at the spot flying through the air you are tied up. The one who flies the highest draws the attention of the astonished spectators automatically - he is the King of the Spot!
First, I would like to anticipate a few important aspects! Kitesurfing can be a dangerous sport if one is careless and / or overestimates one's own abilities. So, before you catapult yourself to the next King of the Spot you should pay attention to the two most important "rules":
- Keep enough distance to other kites
- Keep enough safety distance to the shore
How do you become the next King of the Spot?
Basically, the following statement can be made about a high jump, the higher the energy the higher the jump! Kitesurfing offers you two possibilities to build up energy:
The faster you are the higher you jump
The better your timing the higher you jump
Step by step guide to become the King of the Spot!
Build up speed
Depending on the wind conditions you have to adjust your direction of travel to build up speed. Therefore, drive a half-wind or space wind course.
Keep the kite at 10 o'clock or 2 o'clock
Load & Pop
Edge the board as hard as you can (as if you want to go directly against the wind). This "maneuver" is called "loading" the edge or the lines.
Steer the kite aggressively back to 12 o'clock. It helps if you leave the bar outside while you charge and steer the kite to 12 o'clock. When the kite is at 12 o'clock you have to aggressively power up your kite and actively jump off (over the back leg), at this point the kite has the most energy for the lift upwards. The more aggressively you steer your kite back, the higher you jump. Here the timing must be right. The step of the jump, or the pop, of the release ... call it what you want. The whole thing runs off in a fraction of a second, you let go of the edge, pull at the bar and jump off. Just try it. Important: Do not jump after the kite, so do not jump downwind. This costs height (in the sense of lift) and you give away the energy that you have charged with the edge. Jump “against” the kite.
Phase of flight
Keep the kite powered up for as long as you have reached the peak of your flight! If you're in the air, you'll have to push the kite forward with your front hand. A punctual (not too early and not too late) forward steering or looping of the kite converts vertical airspeed (rapid sink) into horizontal airspeed. In addition, during the descent, you can partially push your bar outward and then put it back in, 1-2 meters above the water. This promotes a gentle landing.
The key to success at high jumps in kitesurfing is the timing. This requires practice, practice and practice!
Typical mistakes when jumping
You can edge aggressively and steer the kite back fast, if the timing is not correct you won’t jump high!
Not enough energy
To jump high, it is very important to "charge" enough energy. Therefore, build up a lot of speed and set the edge hard!
It happens that one wants too much and thereby can no longer hold the edge. So, make sure that you can hold the edge safely and still have a little bit of air upwards so that you can rebuild energy right before the jump
Kite control too slow / inaccurate
If you steer the kite to 12 o'clock before jumping off, you have to do this aggressively. Do you steer the kite too slowly you will be lose energy because of the hard edgeing. The optimal kite position for the jump is the 12 o'clock position. If you fly the kite too far back, it will tear you out of the water but you will not gain height
Exchange fear for respect! An important part of kitesurfing is the respect and the reverence, after all we play with Mother Nature (rather she lets us play with her). But fear is out of place here. This inhibits you only in development and also promotes the risk of crash. See and react! Do not think too much
Tips & Tricks
- To jump really high, you need a lot of pressure in the kite, so much pressure that you want to trim the kite. Do not trim it, you need every power you can get
- To jump high, you want to ride a kite with a high aspect ratio (long and thin). A kite with a low aspect ratio (short and thick) is not really suitable for really high jumps
- A lot of wind and a small kite are better for high jumps than little wind and a big kite. This is due to physics! As the wind speed increases linearly, the pressure in the kite increases quadratically, i.e. double wind speed results in quadruple pressure
- To tickle a few bonus meters for your jump, use a wave as a kicker! Here the timing applies not only to the normal steps for a high jump, but also for the wave
- Do not perform high jumps in shallow water. A crash landing can cause serious injury here
- If something goes wrong during the jump or you slip out of a strap, disconnect completely from the board! Don’t try to land with only one foot in your straps
- Slide up your knees during the jump! This increases the stability during the flight phase
Big promoters like Red Bull regularly organize events to select the best Big Air rider. The most famous event is the King of the Air, to which only the best riders are invited. Here the crème de la crème of big air kitesurfing competes against each other to ride out the king. At this year's King of the Air 2018 in Cape Town, Dutchman Kevin Langeree triumphed! You can watch the highlights in the video below. In addition, Kevin offers a VLOG on his YouTube channel with which he regularly provides you with current kite videos and tips & tricks!