All the gear, no idea? Pressurise Your Rail and Improve in These Ways…

Equal heel-toe pressure - KW97

This article featured in Kiteworld print issue #97. First published: February 2019

Subscribe to our special summer and winter print editions 

Subscribe to Kiteworld




A semi-regular feature for intermediate kiters produced in association with the IKO, this time looks at some helpful tips when it comes to pressuring your rail to help speed up, slow down or generally control your riding.


Words, photos and illustrations: IKO


There are several elements that can affect your directional speed and control: the kite’s power, the board, your body stance and the wind direction.

This issue we’re mostly looking at the board, which reacts to pressure on it edges and bottom surface.



By pressing on your heels (referred to as ‘edging’), you will be able to reduce drift and therefore head more upwind. The board is at a wider angle to the surface of the water and will therefore provide more resistance.



When you do a change of direction from heelside to toeside, you will edge toeside and be able to keep riding.



You will flatten the board. This is done when you wish to gain speed or aim more downwind.


Equal heel-toe pressure - KW97

Equal heel and toe pressure is good for riding across the wind at speed



The effect of this stance depends on the type of board you’re using; let’s talk about the twin-tips for now. In combination with edging, applying back foot pressure (more than on the front foot), the rear half of the edge you are on will sit deeper in the water. The board’s surface area in contact with the water will decrease at the front.

This is good when the power in your kite is getting really strong, or when when you want to stop quickly. As you get better, it’s also used for some tricks.

Riding the board flat is good for landing a jump at speed (making sure the back of the board touches the water first) or when you’re regaining balance.


Landing not flat - KW97

Try not to land the board totally flat for more control



Combined with some heelside pressure, front foot pressure is really important for gaining speed and for going upwind.

Applying front foot pressure increases the board’s contact surface area in the water and also helps you plane better in lighter winds. This stance is used when riding in light winds, directly after a water-start and to regain speed after securely landing jumps.


Strong back and front foot pressure, upwind - KW97

This is a powerful upwind riding stance with a good mix of heelside and front foot pressure, ensuring lots of rail is in contact with the water



Kiteworld issue 112 - free to read



It’s a bit different on a surfboard on which most of the resistance to downwind drift comes from the fins rather than the edge of the board. Less heel side pressure is needed because the fins create most of the traction.


Combination of stances:

  • To quickly change direction, combine back foot pressure with toe side pressure.
  • To keep your course in light wind, apply heel and front foot pressure.
  • Back foot pressure combined with heel pressure will help to start rotations (windward) for jumps or to come to a stop.



Hopefully you will remember the different points of sail from your lessons, but let’s finish with looking at a diagram that shows an example of the different natural riding speeds according to points of sail.

The diagram shows the speed of a rider according to points of sail in three different wind speeds: 10 knots (blue line), 20 knots (pink line) and 30 knots (yellow line).


To find a speed of the rider:

  1. Pick a wind speed line (blue, pink, yellow: let’s take pink, 20 knots of wind)
  2. Chose at point of sail: let’s take cross wind
  3. Find the riding speed by looking at where the point of sail line crosses with the wind speed line: in the example, this is point B
  4. Follow the closest arc (blue or green) toward the top of the drawing and read the speed scale: B goes at almost 25 knots of speed


This is an example, it varies with each rider, wind speed and equipment:

  • Dot A: Is riding a close reach in 10 knots of wind and has 10 knots of speed
  • Dot B: Aims crosswind in 20 knots of wind and has 25 knots of speed
  • Dot C: Aims broad reach in 30 knots of wind and has 40 knots of speed


Look at the other dots and check the speed they achieve in different wind speeds.


IKO Speed Diagram - KW97



Here’s a summary of the basic principles to help you understand how different points of sail affect your riding speed:

The closer to the wind you point, the less riding speed you’ll have. Also, the more you edge, the closer to the wind you’ll point and therefore the slower you’ll go.

The further away from the wind (cross wind and broad reach): the less you need to edge and therefore the more riding speed you’ll gain.

The faster the wind, the more proportional speed you’ll have on all sailing points (check the blue / pink / yellow lines in the diagram).


The International Kiteboarding Organization has trained more than 4,000 active kiteboarding instructors and has over 200 affiliated centres worldwide. Specializing in kiteboard education, promoting safe practices and enhancing the highest standards for the industry.


Find more on the International Kiteboarding Organisation at:



Kiteworld issue 112 - free to read

Read our latest multimedia magazine now – it’s all free! Click here



Get the Winter Issue in November and the Summer issue in May:

Print: £12
Digital: £5
Print and digital: £15


Subscribe to Kiteworld

Back to technique

Related Articles