Jibe turns for directional boards

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Turning directional kitesurfing boards - such as those used in surf and raceboards - is achieved by doing a jibe (or gybe) turn.  

Level: advanced.
Turning directional kitesurfing boards - such as those used in the surf and raceboards - is achieved by doing a jibe (or gybe) turn.    

This is necessary because, unlike a twintip board, a directional board only travels in one direction, and must therefore be turned 180 degrees when changing to an opposite tack.

Kitesurfing slide turn with twintip board
Slide turn with twin tip board



Kitesufing jibe turn with directional board

Jibe turn with directional board - note change of feet position

When a directional board is turned to the opposite tack, your feet will be reversed and you will then have two choices:
  1. Continue riding in the new direction toeside
  2. Do a jibe and switch your feet around - the front becomes the rear and the rear becomes the front - then continue riding heelside.
There are two ways to do a jibe turn for directional boards:

Jibe type Description AdvantagesDisadvantages
Windsurfing jibe Turn the board by carving around to toe-side, then swap your feet
  • Easy to initiate turn
  • Can consolidate balance when riding with feet together (briefly) at moderate speed.
  • You can lose board speed while swapping feet, then fall off the board
Pre-jibe (or Front-jibe)  Swap your feet first from heel-side to toe-side, then carve the board around 
  • Get to your natural stance sooner
  • Maintain full power through out the turn
  • Swapping feet from from heelside to toeside on the same tack is awkward
  • Need to be confident with toe-side carved turns
Mid-jibe Turn the board downwind, fly the kite high, swap your feet, dive your kite in the new direction 
  • Slower speed turn, less likely to crash
  • Kites supports you well
  • Can lose too much speed and sink into the water - keep kite high and turning

Learning how to jibe a directional board is quite difficult.  It can be harder than first learning to get up and going, as you must combine kite control/position with carve turning the board and maintain your balance while also swapping your feet.

An average kitesurfer should be able to do their first jibe on a directional after 5 to 10 hours of practice.  However, more practice may be required to make 80 to 90 percent of your jibes, and to do them equally well in both directions.

Learning jibe turns for kitesurfing is much easier compared to learning them for windsurfing.  Once mastered, jibe turns are fun and effective.

Windsurfing jibe

The sequence for the windsurfing jibe is:
  1. Move your rear foot from the foot strap and position it in front of the rear foot strap, a little towards the side of the board out of the water
  2. Loosen your front foot in the foot strap by wiggling it out a bit.
  3. Initiate the turn by turning your kite in the direction of the turn, then carve the board around (changing your stance from heel-side to toe-side). "Turn the kite, then turn the board".
  4. While riding toeside, bring your rear foot forwards and position it close to the front foot strap.  You will now be riding with both feet side by side, which is an unstable position.
  5. Transfer your weight to the foot you just brought forward, then take the other foot out of the footstrap and swing it back, placing it just ahead of the rear foot strap.
  6. Slide  your new front foot into the forward foot strap
  7. Consolidate your stance and fly the kite in the new direction to generate power and get going on your new tack.  That's it.  You have done your first jibe!
  8. Slip your rear foot into the rear foot strap to complete the jibe.
Photo sequence:

Kitesurfing jibe - rear foot out from foot strap 
1. Rear foot out from footstrap
Kitesurfing jibe - carving the turn
2.  Carving the turn    
Kitesurfing jibe - riding toe-side  
3. Riding toe-side 

Kitesurfing jibe - bring kite back up
4. Bringing kite back up  
Kitesurfing jibe - rear foot forward into foot strap, front foot coming back
5. Rear foot forward into foot strap, front foot coming back
Kitesufing jibe - jibe completed, rear foot not yet in footstrap
6. Jibe completed, rear foot not yet in foot strap

Pre-jibe (or Front-jibe)

The pre-jibe entails swapping your feet position before you turn.  This enables you to carve your turns from rail to rail - which can favour your strong stance - the one where your balance is inherently better. 

The sequence for a pre-jibe is:
  1. Fly the kite higher to reduce pressure on your feet.
  2. Move your rear foot from the foot strap and position it in front of the rear foot strap, a little towards the side of the board out of the water
  3. Loosen your front foot in the foot strap by wiggling it out a bit.
  4. Bring your rear foot forwards and position it close to the front foot strap.  You will now be riding with both feet side by side, which is an unstable position.
  5. Transfer your weight to the foot you just brought forward, then take the other foot out of the footstrap and swing it back, placing it just ahead of the rear foot strap.
  6. Slide  your new front foot into the forward foot strap.  You will now be riding toe-side.   
  7. Initiate the turn by turning your kite in the direction of the turn, then carve the board around so that you end up riding heel-side again. "Turn the kite, then turn the board".
  8. Consolidate your stance and fly the kite in the new direction to generate power and get going on your new tack.  That's it.  You have done your first jibe!
  9. Slip your rear foot into the rear foot strap to complete the jibe.

When I'm going from starboard to port - goofy to regular - I stay in the goofy stance all the way through my turn until I'm fully going in the other direction, then I switch my feet. In the (photo) sequence, I'm going from port to starboard or regular to goofy foot. I want to get onto my favored stance as soon as possible, so I slowly bring the kite up from the reaching position to the overhead position. Right before it gets to the neutral position, I take my back foot out of the strap and bring it forward so that it's basically about to go into the other front strap. So there's a point just before the kite gets overhead where I pretty much have both my feet in/near the front foot straps.

There's a split second where you're in a fairly awkward position and that's why you don't really stick your feet in the straps. As you transition your one foot forward, you start to slide your old front foot out of the straps. So, you have the kite slowly going up, your body is going up and you're releasing rail pressure and straightening out the board for a second. Then you switch your feet as the kite swings from the neutral position over toward the other side; that's where you take what was your front foot, step back around, put it in the back strap, load the opposite rail and crank the board around for the turn.

So what I'm trying to do whenever I'm loading the rail and loading the kite in the middle of the turn - regardless of which side I'm turning on - is to stay on my positive side, which for me is goofy foot. I stay on my goofy foot foot as long as possible in the front side position and I get to goofy foot again as soon as possible in the back side position.

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