Let’s get off the hook! Unhooked tips from professional riders

OVERVIEW
Most important unhooked-tips

 

PREPARATION:

  • Skills: If you want to start unhooking you should be able to kite alone safely, know how to ride upwind and master standard tricks like basic jumps and simple rotations like a backroll. Also you should have a good kite control for practising unhooked tricks.
  • Check the conditions: Flat water and stable, light wind – those conditions are the best for practicing unhooked tricks. A big kite (10+ sqm, not overpowered) makes unhooked practice easier and less dangerous.
  • Safety leash: Don’t forget to attach your leash in (semi-)suicide mode (some call it just “suicide”). That means to fix it both in the safety and chickenloop.
  • Depower: Trim your kite for unhooking – it shouldn’t backstall when you pull the bar.
Linda Viktoria Olofsson: “Commit! You have to go all in for it to work.”

TRAINING:

  • Pre-railey exercise: Go with speed and practice hooked-in gayleys to get a feeling for a proper pop. (But there are also inveterate gayley-opponents who claim that practising gayleys screws up all the style you need for a railey).
  • Unhooking-hooking back in: Try it first without jumping to get comfortable with the move. Wether you practice it on the beach (with light, stable sideoff wind and without any obstacles) or on the water.
  • Keep distance: When practising unhooking or doing tricks you should at least keep two line lenghts distance to the shore, to obstacles or other kiters/people on the water downwind.
  • Remain stable: Keeping the kite at 10-11 (or 1-2) when you unhook is super important. Placing your hands very close to the middle of the bar reduces the chance for missteering.
Takeoff for a railey  – go slightly downwind, unhook, load and pop.

WHAT ELSE?

  • Straps, not boots: A board with footstraps is better for first unhooked attempts as you can easily seperate from it if necessary. Crashing with boots is often harder and more painful as due to the boots the board acts like an anchor in the water.
  • Let it go: In case of there’s too much power in the kite to hook back in, head more downwind or grab the chickenloop with one hand, let go the bar and hook in again. When you feel like losing control, always let go the bar!
  • Unhooked steps: Practice the sequence  – heading slightly downwind, explosive edging (loading), pop, takeoff – and stick to it. Edge and pop immediately after unhooking, cause if you ride unhooked to long, you’ll lose the body tension needed for a trick.
  • Stay focused: Try every new trick you are working on at least 10–20 times per session (as far as the conditions are ok for it) and don’t get frustrated by crashing – it’s part of the game!
  • Support: Ask friends or other kiters for advice, watch videos or tutorials or even ask someone to make a video of you practising. All this can be very helpful for your progress.
Mike Mayer: “The pop is essential for landing a trick successfully.”

Titelfoto:
Rider: Andrea Luca Ammann, (c) Riccardo Locci/Kite Village Sardegna

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[…] what about the next steps? Basic jumps. Backroll, Frontroll, Grabs. First unhooked attempts. And so on, and so forth. Some go for strapless riding. Or foiling. […]