A recent article I wrote for Kite Sista Magazine, here are my 'Tips for First Hitting Features with a Kite'...
"There is no avoiding it, wakestyle is in at the moment and it seems like everyone is getting into sliders and kickers. As it can be a bit daunting we thought you might like to know what the queen of sliders has to say about hitting features for the first time with a kite." - Kite Sista
STAY WITHIN YOUR LIMITS.
Have an honest conversation with yourself and ask…am I comfortable being unhooked while staying in control?
Can I consistently complete basic unhooked tricks? Do I feel good riding without fins and in bindings?
RIDE AT THE CABLE PARK.
It may not be possible for everyone but if you can, go take some laps at a cable park. Most parks will have a variety of beginner to advanced features and give you the chance to focus only on what your doing with your board, taking the kite out of the equation.
Not to mention the ability to consistently hit the same features repeatedly, you’ll be rewarded with rapid progression from day 1.
BE PICKY ABOUT THE CONDITIONS.
Try to go for a day when you’re comfortably powered on your mid or large sized kite and the wind is steady. On a bigger kite, the pull will be more consistent when trying to line up the feature making it easier to successfully get on and across the feature.
FIND OR BUILD AN EASY FEATURE.
Ideally you can first try with a smaller feature that is only a short distance off the water, is at least as wide as the width of your board and has an easy entrance onto it. Don’t have this dream box at your local spot? Gather a crew and get to building! Just make sure that there are no jagged edges or exposed nails to potentially encounter.
CHECK YOUR ANGLES.
Most features are setup about 45degrees off the wind give or take a little depending on personal preference. If you’re riding with a group of experienced riders and most people aren’t consistently completing the full length of the feature, take the time to adjust the angle to make it easy for complete hits. The more you ride features the easier it will be to find the best angle from the start and to know when you need to adjust it. If you’re not sure, start with a basic 45 degrees and tweak it from there.
SPEED IS YOUR FRIEND IN MANY WAYS.
While its critical to stay in control, maintain a moderate speed. You’ll need this in order to slack the tension of your lines and keep your kite pulling you across the feature at the same time. Having good speed also means that if you fall, often it will be over and off of the feature instead of onto it. It is also much easier to balance if you have steady momentum. It is a common mistake for people to first approach sliders with as little speed as possible.
AS WITH ANYTHING, GO ALL IN OR GO HOME.
Commitment will be one of the keys to your success. If you need to cruise by the feature just to scope it out before your first attempt, that’s cool but once your making your approach commit to it 100%.
WATCH OTHER RIDERS OR VIDEOS.
This is advice for the newbie or park pro alike. Whether your just trying to line up the feature for a complete hit across it or trying to get tech, watching other riders can aid in your own progression tenfold. For your first times pay particular attention to how fast the other riders approach the feature, where they unhook and the edge they take into the feature. See if you can follow behind someone who’s out there getting good hits and try to mimic their line.
WE ALL LIKE TO LOOK GOOD SO WHY STOP HERE.
Do your best to stay composed, keep the bar low and close to your body and if you’re feeling extra fancy try getting into a basic press. Even simple hits done with style can be instant crowd pleasers.
WEAR A HELMET.
Hook to your flag out line in the beginning and have fun!