Tips by David Ngiam
Video : Chie Ishii
Photo : Max Christian
Hitting hard objects can be dangerous so do so only at your own risk. Plus it usually voids any warranty on your wakeboard. Also, wearing a helmet is advisable and life vests are always mandatory. Nevertheless, kickers are great way to get some big air and nail some technical tricks.
To hit the kicker for the first time, it may be a little scary so go easy. Approach the kicker early and line up your board straight for it. This will give you time to get off your edge and approach the kicker with your board flat on the water. As you ride up the kicker, ensure you have equal weight on both feet keeping your handle close to you while locking your body posture. Once you’re off the ramp just hang on and bend your knees to soften your landing. Be prepared for a tug in the rope after you land.
It may sound a little easy, because it is. But with learning new tricks, it will take some time to get your timing right, etc. Here are some common problems:
If you ride up and you’re falling backward such that it looks like you’re doing a tantrum off the kicker, it means that you are riding up the kicker on your edge. The kicker, unlike water, is unable to grip your board when you edge up, so you will end up slipping backwards. To overcome this, flatten off your board when you ride up the kicker. As you get more experienced, you can approach the kicker more aggresively for bigger air, but your timing must be such that you are able to let off your edge as you ride up the ramp.
Another problem is that you seem to be taking off nicely but after landing, you fall backwards and start sinking, making the pull of the rope to strong for you to hang on to. Most likely you are leaning to much on your back foot as you ride up the kicker. Just lean forward on your front foot more and that would make you land more evenly on your board rather than tail heavy.
Funny thing about the kicker is that the more agressive your approach, the easier the landings (to some extent) because you have both horizontal and vertical momentum, whereas a soft approach is more like a vertical drop off the kicker. However, start off with an easy approach first to get use to riding up a kicker.