A snippet from the Kiteworld Mag's issue #100 These things I know section where Ozone brand ambassador Ruben Lenten discusses life, love and loops:
Ruben Lenten is kiteboarding’s most well-known rider, famed for pushing the limits in the strongest winds and inventing the megaloop. He also instigated events like the Red Bull Megaloop Challenge and drove the return of the King of the Air seven years ago in Cape Town.
"Seeing Bertrand Fleury and some other guys doing insane unhooked kiteloops on short lines inspired me to explore loops. I first started kitelooping during a competition in 2003, but not very successfully as the kite kept hitting the water before me. Eventually the kite made it all the way round and it felt insane. That particular kite was probably the worst kite to loop, but when I got different kites and started looping more and more I could take the move to new heights by performing loops in stronger winds, resulting in higher, faster and greater distances. The megaloop was born when I did my first full on kiteloops in a storm. People often ask what the difference is between a kiteloop and a megaloop. A kiteloop is when the kite loops but you don’t go very high, or when the kite spins at the top of the window. A megaloop is when you give it all you’ve got and jump the biggest you can and loop the hardest you can given the conditions. No holding back: that’s basically it.
So, of course now you want my best tips on how to do a megaloop. Start by getting comfortable with kitelooping in slightly underpowered conditions on a kite no bigger than a nine metre. Once you can jump and kiteloop properly, then you’re ready to give it your all and do the following:
1. Scope your playground to see where you’re going to send it. Look far ahead of you and make sure to time all your speed and energy towards that spot.
2. Go full speed towards your take-off and have the kite in the right position in order to jump with full power. Move the kite from 10-11 o’clock just before take-off and make sure you’re holding a solid edge in order to get the most pop off the water. Move your backhand to the outside of the bar for better grip and faster steering.
3. Edge beyond upwind as hard as you can and kick the nose of your board into wind for a really clean take-off while also steering your kite from 11, past 12, to one o’clock. It’s very important to make sure your kite flies at the top of the window and not too much in front you to get the most vertical lift possible. Be careful when aiming to take off from a wave that has the potential to close out just as you approach it with full speed. That can really hurt and break you.
4. Once airborne and you can feel that you’ve had a proper take-off, flying the biggest you can, bring the board in front of you and pull your front knee in to tense your stomach muscles which will help you stay one with the kite. Now you’re going up, up, up and your kite has good speed, so just pull that back hand as hard as you can to make the kite loop all the way through the window. Don’t stop pulling until the kite is right in front of you.
5. Once the kite has made a full loop, sheet the bar out so that the kite flies on the front lines which will make it climb quickly up to 12 o’clock, where it needs to be in order to catch you. You’re going to be falling down while the kite is flying up, so it’s all about timing to see when the kite catches you and how high you still are to know what to do next.
6. As soon as you feel lift you can then decide how you’re going to land. If you don’t do anything the kite may fly over your head until it loses power. To keep tension in the lines you might need to do a helicopter (‘heli’) loop by pulling again on the backhand so that the kite loops tightly directly over head, which will bring it to the right position for landing softly.
7. You must land with your board pointing directly downwind and with the tail of your board touching down first to absorb the impact. If you land fully downwind you can handle any forward speed; just lean on your back foot and ride it out.
8. Some people get off balance during the loop, so I suggest you focus on always looking in the direction of flight; downwind. If you look elsewhere your body will start rotating.
9. Adding rotations to your megaloop is really fun. Just make sure to use your head to start and stop spinning and pull your knees in to be at one with the kite to absorb any yank. This way you can then also extend your legs to help stop the rotation.
Fack! Writing this makes me want to kite, but I still have a couple of months to go before I can send it again, so enjoy it for me in the meantime!"