So you want to unhook? We commend you! Unhooking is awesome and can (and should) be attempted by everyone. Although there are "thousands" of trick that we kitesurfers can perform hooked in, there's an equal number of unhooked tricks as well. It's easy to double your bag of tricks and triple your level of stoke and progression when walking into the world of unhooked kiteboarding.
First thing first...
Make sure your kite it tuned properly. With your kite at 12, sheet the bar in all the way to the chicken loop. If your kite back stalls, then you need to depower the kite with your trim rope.
Keep it Simple...
Most people want to jump right into the Raley. That's a load and pop trick. This means you unhooked and load your lines, then pop off the water. This is intimidating at first. This is the most common way to first attempt to unhook and it typically ends in fear, which is the enemy of progress.
So how do you do a raley without fear? Learn to unhook FIRST. You need to be able to unhook the kite from your spread bar and hook it back in while riding downwind. You will notice the hooking back in a bit is the tricky part. This is why most people crash and burn during their first unhooked trick. You must be comfortable unhooking the kite from the spreader and hooking back in quickly and precisely.
The Proper Unhooked Progression...
To learn to unhook and hook back in easily and safely, follow these steps.
1. Go ride far away from land. If you unhook and cannot hook back in, you don't want to run out of water and end up on the beach!
2. Now that you are at a safe distance from land or other kiters, remove the chicken finger, trim tube, and/or donkey stick from the spreader bar, you know, that thing that keeps your chicken loop from falling out of your spreader bar? Yeah. That think. Take it out so that you can unhook hook.
3. Now that is out of the way, your ready to unhook! First stand up tall and bare downwind by pointing your front foot towards the kite. This will slack the lines of the kite allowing you to unhook easily.
4. Once your board is flat and your traveling downwind, pull your arms in towards your body and push down to remove the chicken loop from the spreader bar. IMPORTANT!!!! DON'T edge the board! Most people unhook and edge. This will typically end badly because they are not ready for the pull or they cannot hook back in.
5. Now that you are unhooked, just keep riding downwind, straight towards your kite. Sweet!
6. Now for the tricky part, hooking back in! If you have enough slack in the lines and haven't edged, then you should be able to easily push the bar back down to your waist hook back into your spreader bar. A lot of the time that you attempt to hook back in, your chicken loop will not be in the perfect positions. This will require you to remove one hand from the bar, grab the chicken loop, and hook your chicken loop to your spreader bar. *see video below. This sounds tricky and it will be at first, but this is why we are taking it slow and not trying to figure this out right after we landed a Raley at 20mph.
7. Once hooked back in, sheet out and continue to edge like normal!
Pat yourself on the back! You just unhooked the kite. if you followed the steps above it should be pretty chill. You may fumble with getting the kite hooked back in but this is why you practice this step before attempting any load and pop trick Get real good at unhooking and hooking back in before moving on.
Here's a video of someone unhooking and hooking back in. This video shows a good visual representation of what is covered above BUT, dude edges in the first example immediately after unhooking. Don't do this!!! This is step two. He does however grab the chicken loop with one hand and put it back on his spreader bar. Something that you will probably need to do. Remember, DO NOT EDGE at first. Just ride downwind, unhook, and hook back in.
Another tidbit of information for you, if you get in a position where you can't get the bar hooked back in, grab the chicken loop and let go of the bar. This will cause the kite to depower and you can then bring the chicken loop back to your spreader bar without the kite ripping you downwind. You will have to do this at some point so remember what I just said. When out of control, grab chickenloop, let go of bar.