After having bite off way more than I could chew- I decided it would be prudent to get back to the basics. I hired Gebi to do some coaching after the Kite Foil Gold Cup and learned more from a few hours on the beach than I have all season on my own. The opportunity was priceless in terms of making a few breakthroughs that should help my kite foiling progression in the upcoming months.
The 1st lessons were all about kite handling- or moreso how to fly the kite efficiently by using your weight on the center lines vs sheeting the bar in for power. Its amazing how much power you can get from the kite by keeping the center lines loaded.
Next up- downlooping. I'd never really put this into my quiver of tricks until it was too late. Most times on the foil board, you will need to downloop the kite to keep the speed through the gybe and not drop off a foil. Even in light wind, on a directional board you can downloop the kite to keep it moving vs falling out of the sky. I learned a great trick about reaching under the bar with your back hand and pulling the lines to start the loop vs using your bar to start the turn. You can control the pivot and power by how hard you pull the line and the weight on the center lines. The advantage is you come out of the turn- not having to spin your bar.
After that- regular looping seemed pretty easy- even spinning the bar to get the lines untwisted- No big deal!
We worked on stalling the kite and relaunching from every position to get comfortable once the kite goes in the water. From hot launching to rocking the kite onto its back- it all begins with a fluid pumping motion using both lines or even the center line to guide the kite back up into the air.
I'd gotten unhooked once or twice before on the water and freaked out- ending my session as the kite looped and crashed. Now becoming unhooked from the kite is still alarming but I know what to do- just grab the center line at the chicken loop to control the power and hook back in. Grabbing the bar- just adds more power to the kite when you are unhooked.
Next order of business was tacking. After having grown up sailing boats from the time I was 7 or 8, tacking was one of the simplest things you could do- just push the tiller over, duck below the boom and carry on to the other side. I had begun to try some tacks on the kite course board last season but the foil came and quickly set me back in terms of learning everything over again.
We essentially broke the tack down into a few steps to get from one tack, float through the eye of the wind, and carry on to the other side. Simple enough!
This maneuver- as simple as it sounds is very tricky to learn as ducking under the lines and into the wind is not an intuitive thing to do.
Step 1 begins by sheeting out and building up some speed with the board before you carve the board into the wind. The front hand comes off the bar to unweight it and steer the kite up and across the window. But then goes back on to bar to float through the turn. You push the board with your back foot essentially pivoting it around a point under your body.
Step 2 turns your body through the eye of the wind facing forward while the board turns through the wind below. Your feet and toes essentially steer the board and guide it across the window as you try to apply minimal downward force taking your body weight up with kite and keeping the bar unsheeted up at your head level.
Step 3 keeps the new front hand pulled down on the bar to dive the kite and create power coming out of the turn so as to resist the momentum to fall into windward by creating a balance with the kite power. If the kite doesn't have enough power coming out of the turn, you can go right into a downloop with the kite- gaining more power and time to get things going again
Step 4 - spin the bar to untwist the lines.
Simpler said than done. This will be one of those transitions I'll need to spend 10000 times doing to master. Along with the downlooping, I've got a lot to keep me busy in terms of practicing maneuvers on the water. Ultimately the next step is to get the transitions solid enough that I will be able to foil through my tacks and gybes.
One step at a time...