How To Truly Go Big
If you are wanting to learn to jump big let’s get the most critical part down first.
You’re going to have to learn to land. Often, I see people hucking big, highspeed out of control airs and crashing hard. Perfecting the landing motion for small jumps with a lot of practice will be essential before you go big. A basic big jump involves a load phase, popping off the water as you send the kite (the air time phase where the kite should be moving for most of it), and the landing phase where the kite should quickly move through the power zone similar to a water start.
The biggest mistake most people make when they are trying to go big is not loading, or just physically jumping off the water. You want to let the kite lift you off the water on takeoff instead of jumping off the water. The biggest mistakes I see while riders are in the air are pumping the bar, not moving the kite, or over sending the kite.
Pumping the bar in and out gives the illusion of better lift because you feel the pulses, but in reality you will go higher and longer if you’re holding it in or moving it slightly. The kite should be moving between 11 and 1 and only pause briefly at either side. If the kite stays still for too long you will pendulum in front of it causing you and the kite to fall out of the sky. Keep that kite to the 11 to 1 area because you will fall hard if it stays outside that zone. On landing, I do a downloop on pretty much every big jump. This will make for buttery smooth landings where you will almost hover as you touch down. You can just do a water start as you come in to land if you do not downloop.
Master Load and Pop!
Load and Pop are what will turn a medium jump into a huge jump. The mechanics of jumping are quite complicated and require some basic aerodynamic knowledge to fully understand. Loading is getting as much tension in your kite lines as possible. This is done with a combination of high wind speed, high board speed and hard edging.
Popping is leaving the surface of the water at the moment of maximum tension. This is done through body position, board angle and kite manipulation. Boosting is the effect created by proper loading and popping. A good boost is when you translate most of your horizontal momentum into vertical momentum. A good jump should maximize hangtime with low airspeed, a bad jump will have minimal hangtime and lots of horizontal momentum (and probably a hard and not so fun landing).
I like riding a very small board when I am jumping( in the 132-135cm range). I do this because I find I can hold and edge and get better pop on a smaller board in high wind. The Shift bar by Ocean Rodeo is my favorite because of it’s very long throw. I can be well overpowered but still able to hold it down because I can sheet out as far as I can reach. The kite you ride will depend on what kind of jumping you want to do.
I find freestyle kites to be the best choice overall. This will come down to personal preference, but I have to say that Ocean Rodeo’s Razor has to be my favorite. This is because it is very fast, has great boost and it leaves your stomach behind as you take off. You’re going to need a very active kite when jumping. It needs to move to get good hangtime and height. For looping, the Razor is in my opinion the money kite. Whether it is downloops or megaloops the it is the fastest and most loop friendly kite on the market.
I see people buying the kite that got the Woo height record because they think it will make them jump bigger. Not a great idea. The rider, conditions and jumping skills are exponentially bigger factors in big jumping than a kite would be. Learn to jump and land small jumps on a kite you are comfortable with first. Once you are over about 6 meters, the jump does not change all that much (it’s just more time in the air). When you are consistently jumping big on your regular kite, try different conditions and different kites. When I teach a lesson, we don’t even use the board for the first 15-20 minutes! Placing the focus on kite manipulation for proper use of the wind window and landing is far more important to get down before grabbing that board for some attempts.
What about the Woo?
I am a big fan of the Woo. If you want to jump higher, the best way to do it is use a Woo. It is humbling. The first thing most people think after using a Woo is “I don’t believe it, I KNOW I jump higher than that”. After using it for a while I have found a few things;
On a 20-25kn day a 10m jump is reasonable for most people with proper technique. 25-30kn hitting 15m will make me happy. Beyond that the water texture and the gusts play a large factor. If a group of great jumpers went riding on a 35kn day, somebody will get THE gust, somebody will get THE ramp and somebody might get both. This can turn a 15m into a 20m jump just like that. With all the best riders and all the best gear, luck still plays a minor 15-20% role in getting those massive jumps. So if you want to make it to the top of the leader board you need to play the odds and keep jumping!
If you want big air, you need big wind plain and simple. Flat water with over 35kn or ground swell making for big kickers are the things I look for. If you have decent ground swell you will often get 50-75m of flat water between the waves so you get a similar effect. This becomes tougher to load and pop as you need to time it with the peak of the wave. But if you want to go the biggest you can this is your ticket. A big ramp in 35kn+ can add 5-10m to your jump compared to flat water.
Where did I finally figure it out?
A big breakthrough for me was jumping on flat water at Goose Spit, in Comox, BC. I did not really get the concept of loading until I rode in high wind on flat water. Also when I started using the long throw bar that could ride very overpowered. Downloops were a game changer for me in terms of landing and hang time. Once I was consistently getting over 10m I was often coming down hard. Downloops took commitment, and I stuffed many of them, but once I got them dialed I was getting very smooth landings with some impressive distance. On a big jump you can sometimes get 2 or 3 downloops and cover a lot of ground.
My Best Moment?
My best big air moment was at Clover Point in Victoria. The conditions were perfect with a SE wind blowing from 40-50kn. Perfect port tack ramps were lining up which rarely happens in the area. I couldn’t even ride upwind without fully depowering the kite. I had already jumped my highest jump probably 3 times that day and I saw a big ramp coming in. I lined it up and got a gust at that exact right moment. Next thing I knew I felt like I was on a rocket. Sheeting in, I got up so high I could see all of downtown Victoria from the air! I had time to take in the beauty of everything around me and control my trajectory with the kite. Unfortunately this was pre Woo days so I have no idea about height or hangtime but I would guess I was around 20m high with 10 seconds of hangtime. I downlooped on the landing but I was so overpowered that I just got yarded. I crashed so hard that my eject activated. I was fortunate that I did not get hurt but was very shaken up and about 200m downwind from where I jumped. I came in right after that to a cheering crowd of non kiters onshore. It’s a memory that I can still retain every second of, and to this day no jump has come close.
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A tribute from KOTA ? We don’t have here super strong winds or big waves, but gapping some land in super shallow water full off shells makes it little bit more extreme ? @funkganglt @surfhouselt @2kitelt @oceanrodeo . . . #kiteboarding #kitesurf #loopit #bigair #funkganglt #extreme #gapping #egypt #dahab #oceanrodeokites