The Upwind Body Drag - One of the Most Useful Maneuvers in Kiteboarding

The upwind body drag is something that your kiteboarding instructor probably focused a lot on, and it is a very useful trick to know.  Some things she probably covered are also in this page – they are:

  1. What is it For?
  2. How to Drag Upwind or Across the Wind.
  3. Changing Directions
  4. Retrieving Your Board
  5. Dragging with Your Board
  6. Dragging Downwind
This is a very important skill to have, so I created this page in case you wanted to brush up!

What is it For

The body drag is an excellent way to get around the water.  From beginner to advanced, you will use it for many different things, such as:
  • Getting around if you can’t ride on your board.
  • Dragging yourself upwind.
  • Retrieving your board if it falls off (and that happens a lot).
  • Helping other riders get home if their equipment fails.
You have probably found yourself in more than one of these situations, so I’m sure you understand how important this skill is.

How to Drag Upwind or Across the Wind.

  1. Positioning the kite for the body drag

    Park the kite at 10 or 2 o’clock, depending on which direction you want to travel.  As shown in the picture, a kite parked at 10 will pull you to the left, and one parked at 2 will pull you to the right.
  2. proper body drag body position

    Lie on your side and extend whichever arm is in the water.  Keep your body straight and steer the kite with your free hand.  The extended arm acts as a rudder and is used to steer as you drag through the water.

  3. Steer yourself in the direction that you want to go – using your arm and body to angle yourself in that direction.  Your body should be pointed at, or slightly upwind of where you want to go. 

    • Correct angle upwind for body drag

      If you want to go upwind – To travel upwind, angle your body 10 -15 degrees upwind, but no more than that.  Any more and your body creates too much drag in the water, and you won’t travel upwind at all.

    • If you want to travel across the wind – To do this, just aim yourself slightly upwind of where you want to go.  Don’t worry if you travel too far upwind – it’s much easier to go downwind!

Changing Directions

When you decide to change direction:

  1. Steer the kite slowly up to 12 o’clock – along the way you can put both hands on the bar. 

  2. Straighten your body vertically in the water.  This is easy to do if you tuck your knees into your chest. 

  3. Steer the kite to 10 o’clock (if you started at 2) or 2 o’clock (if you started at 10).

  4. Straighten your body horizontally in the new direction of travel and extend your arm – you should be off in a new direction! 

Retrieving Your Board

The time will come when you loose your board and need to retrieve it.  Getting it back is an easy thing to do if you can body drag upwind, just do this:
  1. Body drag upwind, away from the board - about 10-15 meters.

  2. Turn and come back.  Look for your board; if you are still downwind of it, repeat steps 1 and 2.

  3. If you come back to your board, grab it!  If you come back upwind of the board, park your kite at 12 o’clock and drag downwind towards it.

using upwind body drag to recover board

Dragging with Your Board

To drag with your board, hold it with the arm extended in the water by its grab handle or foot strap.  Brace it with your arm and ensure that it is kept in line with your body.  Angle the board in the water so you have some extra upwind push. 

upwind body drag position with board

Body Dragging Downwind

Body dragging downwind is easy.  You can park your kite at 12 and drift downwind.  If you want to drift downwind and slightly to one side, park your kite at 11 or 1 o’clock, depending on which direction you want to travel.

bodydrag downwind faster

If you want to go downwind quickly, fly your kite back and forth on the edge of the wind window. 

To go downwind and to the right, fly your kite between 1 and 2 o’clock.  The faster you do this, the faster you will go downwind. 

Also, the deeper you dive the kite into the wind window, the faster you will travel downwind – you can do full blown power-strokes if you like, but be sure to start small.


That is all that's required to master this skill.  If you don't have much practice doing this, it's worth practicing.  You never know how often you will have to call on it, but I'd wager quite a bit!

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