When you decided to take up kitesurfing, it was probably because you went to the beach and saw kitesurfers launch themselves up to improbably heights, throw in a couple of rotations, and then land smoothly and move on to set up their next move.
So, if you've had a few kiteboarding lessons, got through your first few solo sessions and have mastered the basics, then it's time for you to start working on your air-time...
Jumping is a real buzz, and the great things about kitesurfing is that 1) it doesn't take long for you to reach the stage where you're ready for that first jump, and 2) most moves are based around the 'basic' jump, so once you've got it dialled you can move straight on to some more creative kiteboarding moves.... and there are enough of those to last you a lifetime!
Is today the day?
Before you try your first jump, you need to have a few things sorted. You need to be able to relaunch your kite if it goes down, and you should be comfortable staying upwind. These are essential for a safe kitesurf session and for trying your first jump.
When you get to the beach, think about:
.How much wind is there? You don't want to be overpowered (or underpowered!).
.Choose your spot. If there are other kitesurfers out, then head well downwind of them.
.Find some flat water. Jumping is harder in chop, and don't try if there is powerful surf coming in.
.Wind direction. Cross shore is best - don't try your first jump if it is dead onshore, as that could be where you end up!
.Water depth. At least waist-deep water - preferably deeper.
.Leash. Hopefully you can now kite back upwind to retrieve your kite board so you're not using a leash. If you are then definitely take it off when you try your first few jumps.
.Footstraps. You might want to tighten these a bit from your cruising/learning setting.
Time to boost
If you think you're ready, you've found a perfect quiet piece of water and you've been listening to Rage Against The Machine on the way to the beach to get yourself amped, then now's the time...
Have a read through our step-by-step guide and try to visualise the stages. Maybe even practice in the garden to get your coordination right...
We've broken it in to two phases: take off and landing.
The Take Off
1.Set your kite right. It should be at around 10 O'clock. If you've having to move the kite to keep planing, then it's not windy enough. If it's very windy then set the kite closer to 11 O'clock so that you generate less lift.
2.Keep your speed steady. You should be travelling as fast as you normally do.
3.Choose your spot. If there is any chop then look for a flat patch, and begin initiating the jump when you're a couple of metres away. As you improve, you can aim to take off on the ramps that chop produce.
4.'Send' the kite! This is where physics take over. You need to move the kite quickly up to 12 O'clock, or a bit beyond. As you improve, now's the time to pull the bar IN as well.
5.Hold an edge. Don't bear away when you send the kite, keep holding an edge and keep tension in the lines. Dig the rail of your kiteboard in to get help "load" up the jump.
6.Wait for it. You shouldn't need to 'jump', wait until the kite is above you and then just lift your kite board off the water (if you have time to think about it, then try to lift the nose slightly earlier). You should feel when the kite is ready to take you.
7.Legs. Tuck these up. This will help you keep your board on your feet (and will also make you feel like you're higher up!).
8.Stop the kite. Don't let the kite go beyond 1 O'Clock: you'll just swing under it. While you are in the air think about where the kite is: it should be steady at 12 O'Clock.
9.Start bringing the kite forward. Once you reach the top of your jump (and feel gravity begin to kick in), start powering your kite back up.
10.Spot your landing. Check how far you've got to go and visualise where you'll touch down.
11.Bear away. Head your board downwind (towards your kite) to soften your landing.
12.Bend your knees. As your kiteboard hits the water let your knees absorb the landing.
13.Power Up. Move the kite back up and get yourself going again.
Job done - wait for the cheers from the beach!
What we've outlined here is a 'basic' jump. Depending on the conditions and your technique, you might go a couple of feet up, or you could find yourself looking down from a bit higher!
Either way, once you've managed to get airborne it's just a case of honing your skills and getting more of a feel for it.
I'm not taking off!
You need to be committed to jump, especially if you've got a bigger kite up, or the wind's under 20 knots. Try sending the kite more aggressively - pull HARD on the bar to move the kite, and make sure that you keep the edge of your board in the water. When you get it right, you will know when to lift off.
I land without any speed and sink.
You must power the kite up as you start coming down. Without your kiteboard's resistance, the kite has no power at all so you must throw it back through the window as you start coming down, otherwise you will just sink when you land.
I swing around under the kite, or the kite starts to fall out the sky.
You are sending the kite too far. Move it aggressively to get you up, but then stop it when it reaches the top of the window.
There's too much going on?! Help!
Break the move down. Think about where you're looking: you should have your eyes on the spot where you want to lift off, but if you can't get your head around it, try watching your kite for a couple of attempts: make sure that it's going upwards QUICKLY from 10 O'clock.
Once you've mastered where the 'sweet spot' (when you take off) is, you can start developing your skills. The first thing to work on is your pop. Start edging harder (pushing the kiteboard up into the wind) as you send the kite, and you should start getting a feel for the 'sweet spot' (where the kite lifts you).
When you've got this, you can start jumping (although it's more of an Ollie really) at the same time: enabling you to get to initiate bigger or quicker jumps. The pop is also the stepping stone to the 'powered' kiteboarding moves, where you don't send the kite.
Once you've got your jumping wired - and especially once you've honed your 'pop' - you're away: all other kitesurfing tricks start from a jump or a pop, so take your pick...
Most of all enjoy .. some folks are hardcore, and can't jump high enough from the moment they have their first taste, all the way down to Mr Conservative who never gets really high.
Remember kitesurfing is all about fun - in challenging yourself in life, it's about what you
can do compared to what you
are capable of, rather than comparing yourself to someone else, be it a world champ or the local hotshot.