The Water Start -  You Can't Kiteboard Without Knowing This One!

Can you water start?  It is the move that gets you out of the water, and being able to do it quickly and fluidly is important.  There can be many situations in kiteboarding where you need get up and get outta there – and this is the move that will do it.


Proper Body Position

Before attempting a water start, make sure you have the proper body position:

    Water Start Proper Posture 1
  1. Bring your knees to your chest and pull your heels to your butt.
  2. Water Start Proper Posture 2
  3. Extend your front leg* and point your foot in the direction you want to travel.

    • Keep your back heel* tucked as close to your butt as possible.

    • Keep the front tip of the board out of the water.


*The front leg will be the one in the front while riding; the back leg will be at the back!

Performing the Water Start

To water start you need to power stroke the kite in the pattern shown below.


Pattern to fly kite for waterstart

  1. Fly your kite from 12 o'clock to 1 o'clock (or 11) on the edge of the wind window – this positions the kite for the power stroke.  As you do this, you will rotate slightly in the water, but don't worry – the closer your board is to pointing 45 degrees downwind, the easier the water start will be.

  2. Rotation as kite moves for water start

  3. Power stroke – fly your kite through the wind window to the other side.  If you are unsure of how much power you need, start with a small power stroke and increase the power if needed.

  4. As the kite begins to pull on the bar, drive your chest towards your knees.  When you feel your board coming out of the water, stand up – you can pull on the control bar if you need a little extra help, but make sure not to over sheet the kite.

  5. Once out of the water, straighten your legs (both your legs should be mostly straight a lot of the time), and put weight on your front foot to accelerate.  Ride downwind to build up some speed, and then you're on your way!

    When riding, you should have your legs straight. If you have to lean back to balance the kite, don't bend your knees and sit on your board. Instad, keep your legs and body straight, and lean back. More on proper posture can be seen here.

Here is an excellent video I found on YouTube that does a good job demonstrating how to get on the board.  It does not show how the kite is flown, but you know that from above.  As you watch the video, try and identify where the kite is based on how the person moves.

Like what you see? We have the full Kiteboarding Progression DVDs in our store...

Troubleshooting Some Common Problems

I just plow through the water and don’t get up on the board.

The problem here can be that your legs are too straight.  Bend your knees, bring your rear heel close to your butt, and extend your front foot in the direction you want to go.  If you are doing this already, try a higher-power power stroke.  If that doesn’t work, your kite may be too small for the conditions.

I fall over backwards.

In this case you might be:

  • Standing up too soon – wait until you feel the board coming out of the water.

  • Leaning too far back – you might not be balancing the kite properly and leaning too far back.  Stand more upright on your board.

  • Flying your kite back to the top of the wind window after water starting.  This will dump all the power in the kite and you will either sink or fall backwards – dive the kite back into the wind window!

I fall over forwards.

Here, you might have:    

  • Too much power in the kite. Try again with a lower-power power stroke.

  • Stood up too late. Stand up sooner, keep your body straight, press down with your heels, and lean back to counterbalance the kite.

I get up, ride, slow down, and then sink!

This is common problem for many beginners.  You are either:

  • Turning too much upwind.  This will bleed off your speed and you will sink.  Instead, build up speed by riding downwind and then turn into the wind.  Pay close attention to your speed and if you start to slow sine your kite (fly it up and down to create more power – see riding the board) or edge off the wind.

  • Flying the kite back to the top of the wind window; a kite in this position has little power.  Once you are up and riding, fly your kite in the power zone.  If you need more power, fly the kite deeper into the power zone, if you still need more, sine the kite (fly it up and down to create more power – see riding the board).
Are you having a water start problem that isn't covered here?  Send me a quick email with the details and if I can't answer it myself, I'll find someone who can.

That briefly sums up the water start.  Next we cover some basic board riding techniques, and how to milk the last ounce of power from your kite…

…so move on to Flying Your Kite and Proper Posture.

We also have the Kiteboarding Progression Instructional DVDs in our online store...They're one of the best DVDs out there (in my opinion), and are where the clip from above comes from.

If youre done with the Water Start, head back to Kiteboarding Practice for Beginners.

Return Home for More Kiteboarding Resources.


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