Kitesurfing, kiteboarding shop & school. Lessons - Durban, PE, J-Bay, Cape Town
Now that’s a worthy subject title. Broken down it goes something like this.
Yesterday was a landmark day for me at Lamercy. I arrived there to a fairly decent wind but more impressive was the solid east swell that was rolling in, something that I have not seen since the last summer and even then I don’t think we had an east swell as good as it was yesterday. The tide was right and it was good to go. I took both twin tip and surfboard onto the beach which once again is my usual routine these days.
Normally I will focus on surfing and then dabble in some freestyle but this day there was something different about and for the first time in many years the pull of the ocean on me was weak. (It will return in full force.)
I had committed to sharing some popping skills with Andrew “Beenie” Larkan because I am a “nice” guy but also as part of the testing of the Artschool program which was supposed to have been rolled out now in July. Read below to find out more about Artschool. I had also made a personal commitment to landing my first handlepass. Quite strange as the instruction out there for handle passing is that you should learn to do surface passes before you start landing anything. I am however proudly diagnosed with ODD (Oppositional Defiant Disorder) which means that I do things purposely opposite to how “they” tell me to. As my brother puts it “I am a sucker for punishment and like to learn the hard way”. True, but when learnt it is solidly embedded even if it means getting dragged out the water and through the sand half a dozen times.
Back to candidate Larkan though: Andrew was my top choice for trying out some teaching exercises as he is superbly driven to better his freestyle skills and all that I feel is needed with Andrew, is a bit of pointing in the right direction. He has a beautiful pop but up until now has used old school kite technique to get in the air, like so many of us here in KZN, who are not exposed enough to what is really going on in the world of freestyle.
So with some very quick instruction on the beach I filled Beenie in on how to pop without boosting the kite. “Park and Pop” in other words. It’s not a difficult concept to grasp. The wind on the lagoon wasn’t great so we had to work on it just a bit. But then there was this moment; and I am not sure when it came into play. Andrew knew I was working on handle passing and I knew Andrew was keen to go unhooked. I am not sure whether or not it was before or after I gave him some guidelines on unhooking, going “unplugged” as I like to call it but Andrew made a critical miscalculation which had me rolling in the sand but also a bit concerned.
So there’s Beenie heading out on his strong goofy foot stance away from the safety of the bank towards the reeds. As is often the case with a lot of us, we like to execute our moves in the shallowest water and at the last possible moment. For some reason Andrew unhooked, need I say more, reeds, end of the run??? Well I was just waiting to see Weaver Eggs come flying out of the reeds. I have never seen anyone penetrate the reeds as hard and as fast, it was surreal. By some miracle while in the reeds he managed to hook back in, keep the kite in the air and exit the reeds intact with his board. Skills dude.
The lesson here: There is this assumption that if you pop, you need to be unhooked. The assumption is totally incorrect and is probably the one thing that stops most people from progressing down the pop road. The correct assumption is that if you want to handle pass you need to be unhooked. Fairly obvious and a whole different level of progression. Popping hooked in, is the way forward.
I was determined to pull off some kind of handle pass and I must confess if it was not for Aaron Harlow’s personal instruction in Mauritius, courtesy of Quick Time Player’s slow motion viewing on my pc, it would never have happened. Watching Aaron over and over again I realized that one of the secrets to the handle pass is bent elbows. For me it was the missing link and it was not long before I was getting it right. Presently my handle pass looks like this: I pop into an upright position with elbows already bent from when I unhook. This is very opposite to what comes naturally in an unhooked pop, which is almost always an outstretched arms Raley. It is extremely difficult to recover from this to pass the bar.
If I took advice from the pro’s I would do a surface pass but it just seems lame to me and I did try but the kite pulled too hard and I ended up on my face not making the pass. Popping first, then landing on my switch stance just seems right and it prepares you for actually passing the bar in the air, eventually. Something also happens to the kite when you land after a pop. The lines seem to be slacker which is what you want and you also have downwind momentum which helps.
So that’s pretty much my handlepass at the moment, I land switch stance (toeside) pass the bar, spin around very slowly, almost forcing it and then run out of water. I do it right on the bank so that if I crash the kite I am not swimming and I do it all on a safety depower line. I let go a lot, it’s cool. (Suicide leashing for the records is hazardous and inconsiderate of other kiters.) Next time out I go aerial. Oh, I also pass the bar from my right hand to my left so it is essentially a “Backroll”and why I chose that way I can’t say, it just happened and it turns out with the left foot forward it is the correct way to go into the surface pass.
Then lastly for yesterday I have to comment on this one and I may be getting it totally wrong so Sin or Bruce correct me. There was a new face on the water, a face I had met previously in the Kitesports store if I am correct. I asked after his name yesterday and what I heard was Tempa. I must assume that his name is Themba but my head was frozen from hours in the bitterly cold lagoon and my ears were full of sand and water from being dragged up the beach. I was not sure if this character could kite but dam not only can he kite but he has massive endurance. I am known for staying out too long but this dude was pushing hard, fast and continuous. Now here is a guy (check out the power in his legs) who takes the beatings of an old school C kiter, but gets a Bow kite to do that to himself, so you must know the speed he is putting into his riding. To be quite honest I have not seen anything like it since the mighty Allsopp, prior to his knee tweak. But then again I have not seen Craig lately, I think he is avoiding the invite to Artschool.
So as it is with the Kitesports crew, if you hang around them long enough they will give you a new name. So if he does not have a nickname yet I propose that we give this “Themba” the nickname Tempa, as in temper, because he kites as if he is continuously furious. Apparently a downwinder with Tempa is somewhat exhausting, I can’t imagine why.
That’s it from me. I have a Newsletter that I owe to the KZN crew with some nice video and stills to go and the second Popstar Instructional, so look out for them and for the launch of Artschool.
Advanced Rider Training is an initiative by Dean Bottcher in conjunction with Kitesports. The goal behind ART School is to raise the local level of kiteboarding through Free Clinics and to have fun all along the way. Focus will initially be on Freestyle (which includes Wakestyle) but Sliders, Wave, Race and Speed are not to be ignored.
…………..ART School is not a course you come on once and then forget about. It is there for you to come on as many times as you need. We look forward to seeing you at the clinics, progressing from level to level while enjoying the ride.
Dean and the Kitesports Team.
Artschool was supposed to be launched this month but there have been some delays on my part. Most importantly I need to iron out the creases in the program and for that I need some volunteers. I have approached a few people but I would like to open it up to everyone who on seeing me at the Lagoon should just approach me and say that they want some training. You will be doing me a favour by asking and it will not be an inconvenience at all. It will help us get the program off the ground a lot quicker. Thanks to Beenie for getting the ball rolling yesterday.
However as laid out in the program there are some:
Requirements for ART School
The Golden Rules of ART School
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