How Do Kite Surfers Stop?


Kitesurfing is a popular watersport in oceanside communities around the world. A parachute-style kite is attached to a specialized board below. The wind pulls the kite along allowing surfers to glide across the waves for an incredibly fun experience. But, it is important to know how to come to a stop so as not to get pulled too far out to sea. 

Kitesurfers come to a stop by using a combination of multiple techniques. Kitesurfing requires some technical knowledge, but the main components of stopping on the water rely on edging upwind, positioning the kite, and sheeting out the control bar. Kitesurfers stop by using these mechanisms in tandem. 

Knowing how to stop while kitesurfing is just as important, if not more important than knowing how to get started. There is no short answer to how kitesurfers stop since a fundamental understanding of the techniques is necessary. Read on to find out how all of these factors work in tandem to allow a kitesurfer to come to a stop on the water.

How to Manipulate Equipment for Stopping

There is not a lot of equipment involved when it comes to kitesurfing, but each piece plays a role in stopping on the water. Since kitesurfing is considered an extreme sport, getting proper, high-quality gear that is safe and properly sized is imperative. The following items are what you would need to begin kitesurfing.

  • Kiteboard
  • Kite
  • Harness
  • Control bar with connecting lines

When it comes to determining the speed at which you surf, and whether or not you lift off the water to catch air, each of the above four items plays a role. Your speed and lift will determine the kind of effort you will need to put in to accomplish your stop.

The Kiteboard

Your kiteboard is the board you ride. It has sandal-like foot covers that you slip your feet into to keep them in place. This board is similar to a surfboard in that it can be manipulated in different directions to change your surfing speed. To stop, you use your kiteboard to shove against the wind, slowing down.

The Kite

The kite is the sail-like structure that catches the wind in the sky and pulls you along the water. The two popular styles are inflatable kites and foil kites. The kite is responsible for how much wind speed you get while surfing, and how much air you get while doing jumps and tricks. You steer your kite to a neutral position to slow and stop.

The Harness

The harness keeps you hooked up to the control bar, which is next on this list. The harness helps take some of the pressure off of your upper body and prevents you from getting too fatigued while kitesurfing. It improves your balance and control and helps you utilize your body to slow your surfing speed. 

Control Bar with Connecting Lines

The control bar is what gives you, as the name suggests, control over the entire kitesurfing operation. The control bar is attached to the kite with connecting lines. With the control bar, you can steer your kite in all directions, speed up, and slow down. You can even manipulate the kite to allow you more air for jumps and tricks. 

Techniques for Stopping

There are a few basic techniques you will need to know before you are able to get out and kiteboard. This is true for beginning your kiteboard start as well as ending your kiteboard session with a stop. Harnessing control over the above equipment is essential for kitesurfing, especially when it comes to slowing down to a controlled stop. 

The following techniques are essential for slowing down and coming to a safe and gradual stop when kiteboarding.

  • Edging Upwind
  • Move Kite to 12 O’Clock Position 
  • Sheet Out the Control Bar

All of these techniques are heavy with kitesurfing terminology. I will explain them further in a context that makes them simpler to understand. 

Edging Upwind

To edge on a kiteboard is to position your board so that it is nearly perpendicular on top of the water, rather than sliding across the top of it. Think of it as going against the grain. You are literally riding the board on its edge. To accomplish this, you need to straighten your front leg while bending your back leg. Your legs will be side by side. 

Dig your heels into the water and let up on your toes. When doing this, you are pushing against the wind. The harder you push against the wind, or edge upwind, the less speed your kite will have. Getting the correct angle takes practice, as the wrong angle can send you skipping across the water and cause loss of control.

  1. Bear down on your heels.
  2. Ease up on your toes.
  3. Bend your back leg. 
  4. Straighten your front leg.
  5. Allow your shoulders and backside to fall, pulling against your kite.

Move Kite to 12 O’Clock Position

The 12 o’clock position, of course, refers to the highest position on a clock. This is also called moving your kite to 12. When your kite is at 12, it is straight above you. You move your kite by using the control bar. You should be able to allow your kite to fly to 12 without much effort, by letting it get to the position naturally above you. 

This is the neutral position. In the neutral position, your kite is not picking up speed or pulling you in different directions. These conditions are necessary for coming to a stop. It is easy to change the kite’s position with accidental movements on the bar, so be aware of what your hands are doing as you attempt to slow down your surf.

Sheet Out the Control Bar

You hold on to the control bar while kitesurfing which allows you to steer the kite. The connecting lines that attach the bar to the kite manage the kite in such a way that you are able to control its angle and place it in the sky, in regards to how the wind is blowing. On the water, you have control over the bar’s release system.

The control bar’s pulley-type release system lets you control how much wind your kite is getting. Pulling the bar close to you is called “sheeting in.” Sheeting in will fill the kite with more wind and speed up your surf. Pushing the bar away from you, or “sheeting out,” decreases your kite’s power and slows your surf. 

  1. Ease your kite to the 12 position per the above method.
  2. Slowly push out your control bar.

Slow to a Stop by Combining All Methods

Now that you know how to manage the three above methods, combine all three while kitesurfing to come to a stop. It is likely that one of the above methods will not work without the other two. Edging against the wind will work best when the kite is at the neutral 12 o’clock position and has less power.

Have a look at this video from Flukes Kitesurfing. He gives great tips for slowing down your kiteboard and get to a controlled stop.

Jump Stopping

Another way kitesurfers come to a stop is by performing a jump stop, also called a pop. This is a quick way for a kitesurfer to stop, provided that a slow speed has already been established. When starting out, you will want to avoid doing this move in shallow water as it can cause ankle or foot injury if performed incorrectly.

Get to a slow speed by using the combined three methods above. With feet already somewhat out of the kiteboard holders, begin a small jump, or pop, by bringing the kite to 12. Pull straight on the control bar When you have gained a bit of air, let go of the bar with one hand and gently pull your kiteboard off of your feet. 

The dismount should have been slow enough that your arrival back in the water will signal the end of your kitesurfing session. This is a more advanced method, but it is a favorite among experienced kitesurfers due to its quickness.

Wrap Up

These are all ways that kitesurfers come to a stop. However, it is important to avoid getting out of control in the first place. Do not use a kite that is the wrong size. A kite that is too large can easily overtake someone, resulting in a loss of control and an inevitable crash. The proper equipment is crucial for a controlled stop. 

Kitesurfing can be fun for anyone. It does not take an all-star athlete or a person in their prime to enjoy the sport. The best way to gain experience is to learn the fundamentals and get comfortable with the sport. Be sure to take a look at How to Beach Start in Kitesurfing for more technique tips.

Ryan C

Kitesurfing, flyboarding, jet skis and snowboarding are my top interests. Active in watersports since age 10. Got my boating license as soon as I turned 15 years old. That Red/Black RXP-X in all the photos here belongs to me. Most of the flyboard photos and video examples here are from my exploits. Most of the flyboarding photos and videos on this site are my exploits, with a few friends and relatives in there for the sake of fairness :)

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