Photo by Steve Slaby
Flat water jumping will even the playing field somewhat by allowing all of the
kitesurfers to have fun practicing advanced aerial moves without having to be at some of
the perfect spots on earth with the perfect wind and wave combinations.
So how much wind do you need to jump? Personally, I have never been able to
jump decently (more than 5') in 5-10 knots wind (couldn't jump at
all from 5 - 7 knots). I have done a number of 10' floaty jumps in 10-15
knots; however, it's 15+ knots that allows for
20' - 30+' jumps.
The following equipment and conditions are recommended for jumping:
- A fast and powerful kite that you can control the power easily on the water such as a
flat LEI, a 4 line inflatable, or a foil with depowering system.
The ability to control the power is important as it makes you be more confident to kitesurf in a more powered up conditions.
Generally the classic inflatable kites are easiest to jump due to the
"Sled Boosting" effect; however, most of the newer Flat Inflatables
(SLE Kites) also have comparable "Sled Boosting" effect.
|Hung's current jumping kite:
Best Waroo (Flat LEI) and KiteLoose Patriot
- A small board (with no sharp edge or point) that you can easily control
with your 2 feet while being air born. If it is a bidirectional board then it should
be 140cm or less. If it is a directional board then it should be
around 10cm shorter than your height or even shorter. The board should be as thin and as light as possible. This
does not mean that you can not jump with a larger light wind board; it's simply easier and
safer to jump with a shorter, lighter board.
current bidirectional and
directional jumping board
- 15 - 20 knots of wind. You can jump in much less wind as long as you are powered up;
however, it simply easier to learn flat water jumping in 15 - 20 knots (I have done a
number of 10' jumps in 10 knots winds; however it's 15+ knots wind that makes 20'+ jumps
- A helmet to protect your head and a wakeboard impact vest to protect your body
during the numerous "crashes" which likely to happen when you first learn jumping.
- If you kitesurf in a colder climate, wear a wet suit thicker than you normally would (as
you will be in the water more often; furthermore, a thicker wet suit will protect
your body better during the "crashes")
Flat Water Jumping Technique
Similar to windsurfing, it is very easy to jump in wave. You
only need to approach the wave with some decent speed. The momentum of the board
will get you air born once you pass the lip of the wave. In the case of kitesurfing,
you need to move the kite up (70 to 85 degrees vertically) when approaching the wave
otherwise the down wind force of the kite will make you jump horizontally more than
vertically. If you move the kite up just before hitting the lip of the wave, the
upward momentum of the kite will make you jump much higher than a windsurfer on the same
Flat water jumping is much more complex than wave jumping. As there is no ramp to
send you skyward, you need a very strong force to lift you out of the water. To
jump in flat water, you simply send the kite upward/backward (85 degrees vertically backward) while continue to move your board forward. When that happens the
combination of the following forces will send you skyward:
- The upward component of the force of the kite will eventually send you skyward; however,
this is a transient force and by itself is often absorbed by the lines and not enough to
lift you out of the water.
- The backward component of the force of the kite acting in conjunction with the forward
momentum of the board will create a very strong transient force causing a very high
tension on the lines to assist the upward component of the kite to lift you out of the
water. The faster you move forward and the faster the kite move backward will create
stronger line tension; in such case, the upward component of the force of the kite can be
utilized more to send you skyward. Also, the faster you move forward, the more you can
send the kite upward (you don't need as much backward force) to jump higher. In
stronger wind, you can move much faster that is is why you can also jump much higher.
- The force of the kitesurfer edging the board to resist the down wind component of the
force of the kite (did somebody mention to you that kitesurfing is 3D?) to continue to
move the board forward and then suddenly release the edge (when the line tension is high
enough), flatten the board and extend the legs to jump
Once being air born, the kitesurf need to move the kite from 85 degrees
vertically backward to 70 degrees forward. Such movement will create a
"pendulum" effect that will sustain the air time of the kitesurfer and also
prepare the kite for landing.
To jump, you need to be in a powered up situation where you can
lock the kite in at 60 degrees vertically or making a small sine wave between 45 to
75 degrees vertically. If you have to make a larger sine wave, you simply don't
have enough power to jump.
- While moving on a beam reach very fast with the kite locked in at 60 degrees vertically, turn the kite upward/backward to
85 degrees vertically in the backward direction (the stronger the wind, the
higher you can send the kite - i.e. closer to zenith).
Once you have checked that the kite is moving toward the right direction, continue to look
forward and move the board in the same direction (don't look at the kite as that will make
you go down wind and loosen up all the line tension necessary for jumping). You must
have the feeling of "I am going crazy" as you have sent the kite through the
power zone while moving fast forward and not looking at the kite.
- Once you feel the line tension is strong enough (the same feeling when you are
overpowered), flatten your board and extend your legs (simulating a very light jumping
action) to jump. This will be your last contact with the water so it is also the
time you may want to create any needed momentum to do the trick you want (table top, backward/forward
loop/spin, etc.). When to release the edge and jump is dependent on how fast you are
moving forward and the kite is moving backward. In the beginning it helps to start
counting (one, two three, etc.) after you have sent the kite backward/upward. You
will find the right time to release the edge after a couple of trials. If you
release the edge too soon, you will slide down wind instead of jumping. If you
release the edge too late the kite will probably yank you right out of your board.
- Immediately after being air born, move the kite forward to zenith (and
then slightly forward)
to create the "pendulum" effect to sustain your air time and prepare for
- Do whatever trick you like to do (grab, table top, spin/loop, etc.).
- Try to move the board in front of you for landing. Flex your legs upon landing to absorb
any shock. Read the Landing section before trying to make
any high jump.
- Move the kite forward/downward to get going.
When you first learn flat water jumping, remember to keep your inputs small such that
you don't over turn the kite which could lead to some drastic situations (too backward a
jump or too fast a landing)
Let's take a look at a photo sequence of a very basic flat water jump.
The kitesurfer has sent the kite backward / upward (notice the direction of
the lines), while continue to edge the board and face forward to keep moving the board in
the forward direction.
The kite has started lifting the kitesurfer. The kitesurfer is on
the way going up and is moving the kite to zenith.
The kitesurfer is on the way going down and preparing to land. The
board is nicely in front of the kitesurfer and he is moving the kite slightly forward for
These photos were taken by Jan Pina for the Kitesurfing School web site.
How To Land Smoothly
Read the Landing section to learn how
to land smoothly once you can jump consistently.