How to Strapless Kitesurf – Part 2 – Carving turns

Carving turns require a strong commitment of movement both with the kite and the board. One of the main issues people have with carving turns is that they do not maintain their speed and power throughout the turn.

This can typically be attributed to not moving the kite aggressively enough across the window and not positioning their stance on the board to maintain the board’s speed throughout the turn. 

We’ll start by covering the fundamentals to each carving turn before fine-tuning for a faster and more powerful carve.

Strapless-Kitesurfing-Carving-Turns-thekitespot.comMatchu-Lopez-Duotone
Rider: Matchu Lopez | DUOTONE Kiteboarding

HEEL TO TOE CARVING TURNS

Before you initiate the carving turn, move your back foot so that it presses up against the rise of the tail pad and shift your weight into your front leg. This will allow you to have maximum turn control without having to put your weight into the back foot and keeping your weight in your front foot is crucial to maintaining board speed. Both feet should be balanced across the centreline of the board.

Start your carving turn by moving your kite across to the opposite side of the window. If you try to carve before moving the kite, you’ll lose line tension and ability to steer the kite. As you first practice your carves, keep both hands on the bar.

As you move the kite move your head and front shoulder to look where you want to go, this will help you to flatten the board off and initiate the carve.

With your back foot, move your weight towards your toes to initiate the carving of the board. To help with this position, lower yourself into a crouch with the back knee bent, overhanging the toeside rail and pushing away from you. You will now be in a position to drive through the ball of your foot, engage the fins and the rail and push against the water for a strong carve.

Keep the back knee low over the water and continue to commit through the inside of the turn. Continue to look where you want to go and lean your upper body into the inside of the turn.

Coming out of the carve, open your chest to face upwind by taking your front hand off the bar and reach it upwind. This will allow you to turn the board fully into the new direction of travel and go upwind. Keep applying force through the balls of both feet to engage the fins and rail and focus on moving weight into the front leg to flatten the board to maintain speed as you exit the turn to continue on toeside or proceed into a toe to heel carve.

strapless-kitesurfing-carving-turns-thekitespot.com-Match-Lopez-Duotone-Carving
Rider: Matchu Lopez | DUOTONE Kiteboarding

As you move the kite move your head and front shoulder to look where you want to go, this will help you to flatten the board off and initiate the carve.

strapless-kitesurf-carving-turns-thekitespot.com-james-carew-duotone
Rider: James Carew | DUOTONE Kiteboarding

The Breakdown

  • Position your feet balanced over the centreline while you continue to edge upwind and press the back foot against the tail pad rise.
  • With both hands, steer the kite across the window. Look where you want to go.
  • Keeping your body low, and using your knees and ankles, carve the board and lean into the centre of the turn.
  • Release your front hand to rotate fully upwind and press your weight into the front foot again as you complete the carve

TOE TO HEEL CARVING TURNS

What many people achieve in their early attempts to perform a toe to heel carve is actually more of a tail pivot which results in a loss of speed and does not have the flow of movement that we desire in a rail to rail carve. Once again this is a matter of weight distribution on the board. Before carving, move your back foot to push against the rise on the tail pad and shift your weight into your front leg to get the best turn control while keeping speed.

Initiate the carve by first moving the kite to the opposite side of the window. This can be done with one hand using the second for balance. As the kite pulls, disengage your toeside edging by moving your weight to be more centrally balanced between toes and heels. This will get the board to start moving downwind.
Point your chest towards the nose of the board and look towards the nose of the board. While keeping your weight forward on the board, you now need to press through the heels of the back foot and front foot.

Top-tips-for-starting-strapless-kitesurfing-thekitespot.com-Danny-Morrice-RRD
Rider: Danny Morrice | RRD

Keep your body low using your ankles and knees to control the board as you lean into the centre of the carve.  As you reach the end of the carve, you may bring your second hand to the bar for additional control.

Keep your weight forward to ensure you do not stall the board; you may now either look upwind of your board to continue the upwind movement or transition into another heel to toe carve.

Top-tips-for-starting-strapless-kitesurfing-thekitespot.com-Andre-Phillip-Tona
Rider: Andre Phillip | Tona

The Breakdown

  • Position your feet balanced over the centreline while you continue to edge upwind and press the back foot against the tail pad rise.
  • With the backhand, steer the kite across the window and look towards the nose of the board.
  • Keeping your body low, and using your knees and ankles, carve the board and lean into the centre of the turn.
  • Engage your second hand to rotate fully upwind and continue to press your weight into the front foot as you complete the carve to exit with speed.

COMMON ERRORS IN CARVING TURNS

  • Not having your feet balanced over the centreline of the board. If your toes and heels aren’t balanced either side of the centreline, you won’t be able to transition your force from rail to rail, and the board won’t carve.
  • Leaning into the turn without using your knees and feet to engage the fins and rail. This will result in you falling off the board as it doesn’t turn with you. To fix this, bend at the knees and ankles and drive through the board. The lower and closer to the board you are, the more control you will have throughout the carve… so don’t stretch.
  • Letting the bar out through the turn. This allows the kite to accelerate to the edge of the window where it will not generate enough power to maintain your speed through the turn.
  • Too much weight in the back foot. This will stall the board, and you will lose speed. Move your weight forward into the front foot to flatten the board and regain speed.
strapless-kitesurfing-carving-turns-thekitespot.com-Oswald-smith-airush-kiteboarding-heelside-carve
Rider: Oswald Smith | Airush Kiteboarding

ADDING SPEED AND POWER

Once you have your carves dialled, it’s time increase the power. The ability to generate more power through your carving turns and come out of them with speed can be the difference in executing a powerful top turn and accelerating down the wave or under-committing to the carve and letting the wave pass you by.
Here’s how you do it…

Set up your stance ready for the carve. A wide, low stance with your back foot pressed against the tail pad rise is needed to ensure you are stable and have maximum control over the fins.

Fly the kite low then, with the bar sheeted in, steer aggressively with your back hand to initiate the turn. When done right, the kite will turn in a very tight arc.
In such a tight turn, the kite will not yet develop so much power making it easy for you to transition your weight to start the carve.

The kite will gain power as it flies across the powerzone. You need to use your low body position to help you drive with your feet and knees into the fins and rail while you lean hard into the centre of the turn to resist the greater amount of power you have developed. Do not let the bar sheet out too much as you will lose power as the kite flies to the edge of the window and maintain your front foot pressure throughout the carve to maintain speed.

Fly the kite low then, with the bar sheeted in, steer aggressively with your back hand to initiate the turn. When done right, the kite will turn in a very tight arc.

strapless-kitesurfing-carving-turns-thekitespot.com-Oswald-Smith-Airush-Kiteboarding-Carving
Rider: Oswald Smith | Airush Kiteboarding

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Jen is a co-founder of thekitespot.com. When Jen isn't researching locations or writing articles for the knowledge centre, you'll find her managing The Kitesurf Centre in Camber Sands, UK, or writing equipment reviews for The Kite Mag. Jen rides and coaches most kitesports disciplines but her favourite are waveriding, freestyle and hydrofoiling.

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