Upwind body dragging

Upwind body dragging should be regarded as an essential skill. Level: basic

Many beginners worry about losing their board while learning. Some use a board leash to connect it to them - this is very dangerous and should be avoided.

You can retrieve your board when you lose it by body dragging back upwind. Learn how to do this sooner rather than later.

Once you have learnt upwind body dragging you don't need to worry about losing your board. You can recover it even if you have a big crash and get hoiked downwind it.


The technique is similar to kitesurfing wind, except you use your body and one arm as the keel.

    • Regain control of your kite and bring it over your head in the neutral position.

    • Have a look around to spot your board. If it is floating with the foot straps up it will be easy to see. You will now head in the direction of the board. Lets say you spot the board behind you to your left, looking downwind.

    • Fly the kite around to the left to about 10 or 11 O'Clock.

    • Pull the bar in to get some power, using your right hand.

    • Keep the kite flying in this position using your right hand.

    • Stretch your left arm out in the water just below the surface in the direction you will travel, with your body also pointing to the left. This is similar to reaching out while sidestroke swimming.

    • Keep your left arm pulling against the water to act as keel when you are moving.

    • Your kite will fly to the left of the wind window and start taking you upwind, but you will also be carried cross wind a little.

    • You may reach your board on the first pass, in which case you can grab it, bring your kite to a neutral position, do a water start and keep kiting.

    • If you pass downwind of the board on your first pass, keep going past it, then turn the kite by bringing it slowly up to 12 O'Clock, then down to 1 - 2 O'Clock.

    • Swap your left hand over to controlling the bar

    • Stretch your right arm out to create a keel for going upwind on a right hand tack.

    • Repeat this tacking towards your board until you get back to it.

Upwind body dragging

Practice upwind body dragging BEFORE you need it. It is harder to do in lighter winds, so practice makes perfect.

Using your board to body drag upwind

You can also use your board to go upwind while body dragging. The basic technique is to:

  • Use your free hand to control the board by gripping the front footstrap

  • Steering the board in your chosen direction

  • Control the kite with your other arm

You might choose to do this in the following circumstances:

    • Self rescue situations where it is not possible to get up on going on your kiteboard (e.g. not enough wind)

    • Self rescue situations where the wind is strong enough to keep kite up but you have an injury or equipment failure (e.g. broken foostrap) that prevents you getting going on your kiteboard

  • You don't have enough space to get going safely (e.g. you may to very close to a rock groyne or pier)

  • To get away from the shoreline if its crowded, or there is a big shore break

Some benefits of using your board to body drag include:

  • You can travel faster compared to just body dragging

  • You can lift your head out of water and see where you are going

  • You can achieve a better upwind angle into wind

  • Your board stays with you

Learn and practice upwind body dragging with your board first on a light wind day

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