Once you are happy getting the board on your feet and keeping yourself in the water start position for a good 10-15 m each time, you’re ready to move onto the next stage: Steady Pull.
We’re now going to start using the power of the kite to pull you gently out of the water. The idea is still you should be underpowered enough that you cannot overfly the kite and take a flying trip over the front of the board. Rather you should have just enough energy when the kite is worked fully to lift yourself out of the water and ride for maybe a few metres (though this isn’t necessary at this stage, we are practicing the mechanics of the water start and are still not worried about riding).
From the water start position position, that is legs tucked well in and stomach crunched, start to move the kite in figure 8’s in front of you. Gradually increase the power until you are being lifted out of the water in what to an onlooker would appear like bum dragging, where your bum is lifting out and then splashing back down into the water. If you are in danger of going over the front of the board reduce the power in the kite. You’ll probably notice that by working the kite in this manner it is much more difficult to stay with your back to the wind, (as the kite tends to pull you left and right and all over the place) however it is essential that you do. Whenever you feel yourself being pulled off this back to wind position, stop, reposition yourself and start flying the kite once more.
Once you are happy with this exercise its time to modify the power stroke slightly. Let’s imagine you want to start riding to your right (simply do the inverse for riding to your left!). Drift the kite gently back to the 11 o’clock position. It is important that this is done slowly as rapid movements here will start to twist your body out of that all important back to wind position, which will mess up your start before its even begun. Once you’ve drifted your kite to 11 o’clock the idea now is to steer the kite hard in front of you. So that the kite should be aiming straight down towards the sea, directly downwind of you (remember to steer the kite out before it actually impacts!).
The common error here is that people don’t steer aggressively enough. So instead of diving the kite at the water in front of them they sweep the kite over to around 2 o’clock. This means all the force from the kite is being generated in this right-hand side of the window. This inevitably leads you to twist around over the front of the board. By diving the kite in front of you, you are ensuring that the pull from the kite is also directly in front of you. This ensures you are being pulled straight forward (and up) rather than twisted sideways, which is much easier to cope with. This takes a little bit of getting used to as it doesn’t feel quite natural to start with but is an absolutely crucial aspect of mastering the water start. My advise, start small and build up with sharper and deeper turns.
Once you are confident you’re diving the kite in front of you, you are able to keep your back to the wind whilst doing so, and you are rising out of the water in a (semi) controlled manner you are ready to move onto the next stage.