We know. You worked so hard to learn how to go upwind. You've spent countless hours tacking, training, and trying to get those upwind angles honed. But what if we told you it doesn't really matter? That was great practice and all, but secretly we all know it's not that great. Going upwind actually isn't fun. 😓
For example, we don't snowboard sideways on mountains, continuously trying to gain ground uphill. We go downhill. And that's what you should do kitesurfing too. Because it's better.
Although, the rationale doesn't stop there. In this article, we'll break down the 10 reasons why going downwind is better than going upwind. Read on to learn why we've developed our perspective on kitesurfing downwind, and some things you can try in your next session. 🏄
While kitesurfing upwind allows you to hone your tacking, jibing, and stable control of your kite, the benefits stop there.
Going downwind is where you can really put your kite handling capabilities to the test. Kite loops, large sweeping arcs, and utilization of the full power window come into play when you decide to head downwind.
The reason being is you are less concerned about maximizing your upwind tack at all times, as you are when going upwind. Releasing your board edge, getting aggressive with the kite, and trying new maneuvers without fear of losing precious ground (water) is good for the soul. Next time you go kitesurfing, preemptively plan to go downwind and see how creative you get with your kite movements. Your following sessions thank you for your increased confidence and knowledge of how to leverage the full wind window at all times.
I often tell people, it wouldn't be very fun to snowboard/ski sideways on a mountain. This goes for kiteboarding as well. Riding on one edge for a prolonged time is not fun, stylish, or useful.
When you kitesurf downwind, it gives you the chance to push your board skills to the limit. Toeside, heelside, backwards, nose-riding, butters, stomping out the tail (on toes or heel), and many more opportunities arise when riding downwind. Give yourself the chance to try out new turns, carves, and ollies without fear of losing your place on the beach. Go with the flow. See where it takes your board skills. We anticipate great things to come from you.
Our bodies are meant for movement. They are not meant to stay in one position for too long of a time (unless you're sleeping, which we like... or riding a desk, which we don't).
Kitesurfing downwind gives your body a chance to work new muscles, and stretch in different ways. Riding upwind promotes stiffness and cramp-worthy stances. Going downwind keeps you more nimble and flexible. It also breaks many people of the dreaded poopoo stance.
Back to the skiing analogy... who likes riding the same run again and again and again? Not many people. It's time to get out and see some different sites and scenes.
When you kitesurf at the same spot, you see the same wave break or shoreline ad nauseam. Kitesurfing offers the great freedom to explore vast coastlines. Riding along the shoreline gives you an appreciation for the unexplored. And who knows, maybe you'll find something special nobody has come across yet. Someone has to appreciate new spots that haven't become mainstream...
A 1-kite quiver is every kitesurfers' dream. With downwinders, all you need is one kite. And a smaller one at that.
Bigass kites are only good for going upwind. Unfortunately, they promote overpowered riding. They're also slow, sag in the wind window, and take up more space on land. Try a smaller kite. You'll be surprised at how small of a kite it takes only when heading downwind. Smaller kites are more nimble, quick, and fun to fly.
I've seen more dangerous situations happen when kitesurfers are trying to squeak out every last inch of their tack. This takes them very close to the beach and bystanders, and very far out to sea (whale watching). Going downwind allows you to stay in the sweet spot distance from shore at all times.
You don't need more power. Stop it. Chill out. Going downwind promotes smaller kites, better kite handling, staying within a few line lengths of shore, and less stress on your lines. Don't worry about too many kiters, surfers, swimmers, tourists, etc. in your local spot. Go where they are not.
We like surfing waves. When you ride downwind, you can ride waves the whole time. That's right! An endless barrage of slashing, spraying, carving on waves without any of the upwind work.
We don't have much else to say here... more waves. Period.
Kitesurfing is safer with a friend. For most people, riding downwind means you need two cars (hint: no it doesn't, for those who love the environment, see bus #18, your ticket). Two cars means you need a friend (or a city bus).
Kitesurfing is more fun with others. You want to watch others to learn from their techniques. You want them to watch your progress. Kitesurfing downwind allows for easy follow along's and continued riding with others. Grab a camera, or just take mental notes as your buddy shows you the way, and then vice versa.
Being aware of your surroundings is key to safe riding. Knowing you will be traveling a few miles makes you plan for more situations and conditions mentally, which is a positive.
They say to know something, you ought to draw it. Mentally, you will commit it to memory and be able to recall those shapes for a long time. The same goes for learning your beach and yourself. Take the time to learn all the nooks and crannies. You will be better prepared if you ever end up drifting with the current or the weather. You will be aware of your surroundings through exploration.
Kitesurfing downwind is more fun than going upwind. Period. Don't let people who go upwind all the time try to fool you.
San Francisco, California has downwind conditions that stand up to the best in the world. Miles of beautiful coastline, rimmed with incredible waves, and lined with a world-class city. No it's not a Caribbean / warm water bath tub. It's creative and off the mainstream radar. It requires respect. Come pay us a visit. You will be humbled.