Kiteboarding: Water Start Basics

The basics of the kiteboarding water start


I remember when I was just learning how to kite surf. I remember the hardest part was really getting the feel for the water start.  Maybe you are like me and into extreme sports.

The problem was that as soon as I did the downward stroke or “power stroke,” it would pull me onto plane but then I would lose momentum and sink back down into the water.

The problem with this is that as you are struggling with it you’re also losing ground and being pushed down wind.

You can lose so much ground just learning how to get up onto the board that it often makes it almost impossible to learn. This is because you have to get out of the water and walk back up wins in order to start the process over.  This also known as the “walk of shame.”

One guy told me that he really learned the most when he participated in a downwind a race.

At the beginning of the race, he struggle just to get up on his board. He actually learned how to do it during the race and ended up winning the race because he learned how to go straight down wind while everyone was tacking.

And usually the problem occurs because you’re board isn’t wide enough to enable you to plane for long enough to get the upward stroke for the kite completed and ready for the next power stroke.

So, I found it helps a whole lot if you have a pretty wide board when you’re first starting out.

That is of course if you don’t have a ton of wind. If you’ve got a ton o’ wind then the size of the board will matter less.

The other thing that I found absolutely helpful is that you need to lead with your head. The Water start should always have your head and shoulders come out of the water first and allow your body to follow.

A lot of people do the power stroke and allow the pull to happen but fail to push their head forward and so it causes them to skip out on their butt.

So the order out of the water should be power stroke, then head and shoulders, then legs, then waist and butt. This doesn’t mean that you leave the board behind you incidentally.

It might take some time to learn exactly how much of a power stroke to poll in the first moments of trying to water start. If you have a lot of wind and a lot of power, then you’ll need less of a stroke.


A lot of times I will simply do a very light downward stroke to get a feel for how much wind I’m dealing with then bring it back up to 11 o’clock or 1 o’clock depending on which direction I’m going in and then dive it 50% harder.

I have actually seen some guys come up out of the water using the upstroke. This is relatively easy to pull off once you’ve done a downward stroke through the power zone and failed to get out of the water.
You simply bring the kite back up to the start position a little more aggressively than you normally would and you’ll find that it will pull you up slightly and then you follow it with an immediate and intentional power stroke to create momentum.

I admit that most of this is a very feel oriented process. But, maybe a couple of these tips will help you.
Thanks for reading!