If you want to go kiteboarding you need to know how to launch a kite. The problem is, if you don’t position yourself right launching a kite can be dangerous. We’ll focus this article on 1. how to position yourself 2. what to do with the bar and 3. what to do if something goes wrong.
There are multiple ways to launch a kite. This method is when you have someone to assist you. The person assisting you should hold the kite on its side, making a C shape. The person hooked into the kite is responsible for positioning themselves properly. When the “thumbs up” is given, the person holding the kite lets go.
How To Position Yourself
Positioning yourself is one of the most important things for launching a kiteboarding kite. You want to start slightly downwind from the kite. But how do you know whats slightly downwind?
Use the kite laying down on the beach as a visual reference. Before someone holds the kite for you, look at the kite lying on the beach. If you have the kite lying on the beach properly, the middle strut or center of the kite should point straight downwind. Draw in the sand or visualize a line across the back of the kite. From one trailing edge to the other. This is your point of reference. Follow this line out and start slightly downwind of this line when you launch a kite.
What To Do With The Bar
Once you know how to position yourself, grab the chicken loop and walk away from the kite. Follow that imaginary line from the trailing edge of the kite out until you have some tension. Hook your safety leash to the ring and hook your chicken loop to your spreader bar. At this point the person assisting you should hold the kite up. When they hold the kite up, the back canopy of the kite should be fluttering.
Do not grab the bar. Walk away from the kite to put some tension on the lines. This is to see if all your lines are separated. If all your lines are separated then proceed to launching the kite.
How To Launch A Kite
Walk into the wind until the back canopy of the kite stops fluttering (do not grab or use the bar). Once the canopy stops fluttering or almost stops fluttering, use one hand on the bar to guide the kite up and give the person assisting you a thumbs up. If you’re facing downwind and the kite is to your right, use your left hand on the bar. If you’re facing downwind and the kite is to your left, use your right hand on the bar. Balance tension, bar shouldn’t be in all the way or out all the way, and steer the kite up.
Use One Hand – You only need one hand to steer the kite up. If you use two hands you may unintentionally be steering the kite down. With two hands on the bar you’re also more likely to pull the bar in too much.
Balance Tension – There’s a “sweet spot” along the bar where you have enough tension to steer the kite but not so much tension the kite pulls you. Relax your grip and balance the bar in its “sweet spot”.
What To Do If Something Goes Wrong
Things don’t always go perfect so it is important to know what to do if something goes wrong. There are different situations that can occur. As the pilot of the kite, it is your job to determine the situation. A general way to breakdown the situation is into two categories, 1. getting dragged and 2. fixable.
This is 100% preventable IF you follow that line from the trailing edge out and stay downwind of it. If you find yourself in a situation where you are or about to be dragged then push away your safety release. The only thing to do here is eject the kite by using your safety release.
There are situations where the lines are inverted and it is fixable. There is a technique to fixing tangles lines but it is more advanced. If you’re new then re-walk your lines out.
Another situation is if your lines get caught on something. You can walk and remove that object or have someone else on the beach remove it.
A third situation is if your bridle wraps around the wingtip. If you walk towards the kite you can create slack that will help get the bridle off. If not, signal the person to land the kite and free up the bridle.
Take A Lesson
If you’re still not sure, take a lesson. A one hour or half hour lesson will be enough to learn how to launch or land a kite safely.