Kitefoil has no hidden secrets to Kentin, TAAROA’s ambassador from La Rochelle, France. Here, Kentin shares his best advice for beginners.
Step by step – Make sure you don’t skip fundamentals
Like with twin tip, we start with the lower body in the water and the board in opposition, with the feet in the footstrap(s). As soon as you start to feel the pull of the kite, you need to put all your weight on the front foot.
Once you’re up, it’s not a great idea to try to make the foil take off by leaning to the back of the board – this is a very common first-time mistake. Instead, you need to prioritize weighting the front foot and compensate by bringing the hips towards the back. While sailing, you need to engage the hips first and not the legs.
Only when the foil starts to take off (you’ll feel the board hitting the water less and less) you can move the hips slightly forward. Once you’ve accomplished this, you’ll start to stabilize your flight without losing the feel in your legs. As soon as you’re up, depower the kite as much as possible to slow down and control speed, and play with the feel of foiling at different angles to the wind.
To slow down, simply bring the kite back up to its zenith and depower as you would normally.
What is a point that requires constant attention?
The position of the back foot is extremely important. In principle, the back foot is positioned over the foil’s mast, so we need to pay attention to it to understand what direction we’re giving the board and control our flight.
What are the best conditions for learning?
Don’t rush into trying to learn in less-than-ideal conditions – give yourself the best situation possible for the first few sessions. The best condition is a stable wind around 15 knots, so you don’t have to focus too much on steering the kite, and flat water to make foiling easier.
I would normally recommend a lake for the flat water, but the downside is the potential for unstable wind. Closer to home, we have the spot Bonne Anse à la Palmyre which is perfect, but attracts a lot of people, especially in summer.
Is there any particular warm-up for best attacking the first session?
Just a quick salute to the sun to relax your brain and avoid getting burned. Stay zen!
What foil setup do you recommend?
First, remove the back strap from the board for the first session. This will help you understand where to put the back foot is placed naturally. Regarding equipment, it’s better to use a big front wing with lots of lift at low speed, and is less reactive and more forgiving to rider error. Also, don’t make the mistake of using a short mast; you will quickly discover the limits of a 60 cm mast. Prioritize a mast of at least 80/90 cm to have room for progression. For me, the ideal configuration for someone on the athletic side, who wants to progress without changing the equipment too frequently, is the Joy Carbon or Aluminum 90, depending on your budget.
A last piece of advice for our future champions?
If you can, train on a rolla bolla to learn how to position your hips – it’s a super exercise!