For kiteboarders going upwind is the skill that marks the end of being a beginner and finally being able to try those big jumps. However this is one of the skills that beginners find the most difficult.

Here I’ll relay the advice of an experienced kiteboarders using whose wisdom helped me put the walk of shame behind me forever:

  1. First start going slightly downwind on a broad reach till you pick up a little speed.
  2. When you have gained a little speed, dig in the heel side edge of your board and turn your body to look at a point about 30 degrees upwind from the direction you are headed. Your head and your shoulders should be squared to the upwind point.  As your head turns so should your board. It should be pointed slightly ahead of your intended point. Its very important to keep the board  between you and the kite.
  3. Move the kite in a small sine wave so that you can “feel” the changes in wind direction and speed.
  4. As and when you feel the wind change, adjust the direction of the board. If the wind lessens or if it veers toward the direction that your traveling then point your board slightly downwind – this will compensate for the slower pull of the wind. If the wind picks up or it starts blowing away from the direction of travel then you can edge the board harder to maintain your speed. These shifts in wind are called “headers”. You’ll soon realise that you can use the gusts of wind to go upwind at a steeper angle.
  5. Both your legs should be slightly bent and your upper body should be pointing towards the upwind point your trying to get to. Also, you should be going slower than when your going on a broad reach.

Soon you’ll realise that going upwind is all about using these wind shifts so that you are moving upwind most of the time. With practice your ability to keep the kite and you moving upwind will increase. Its all a matter of continously checking your direction and making changes on your board direction as the wind changes – ie in gusts you point the board more up wind and in lulls you point the board slightly less upwind.

When starting out you should really exaggerate squaring up yours shoulders to the upwind body. This is the key to being able to go upwind.

After learning to go upwind, you’ll be ready to jump which will make you even more addicted to kiteboarding.