Knowing what size kite to rig can make all the difference from a good session to a bad one. There will be times when you show up to the beach and the wind will be different than the forecast. It’s always important to be aware of everything going on and to take a minute to assess the situation.
Even though the forecast may be wrong, it is still important to know what the wind is suppose to do. Does the forecast say the wind will pick up or that the direction will switch; it’s important to know this and keep it in mind before you rig. If the wind is marginal and you’re debating on even rigging, check the forecast to see what is suppose to happen. If it says the wind will pick up then rig for the conditions in the forecast, but if the forecast shows the wind dropping then it may not be worth rigging.
If storms are forecasted then make sure to check the radar. This is extremely important for St Petersburg during the summer months and when a cold front is suppose to hit. A common scenario for a cold front is southerly wind before the front, then storms associated with wind squalls and a change in the wind direction. Sometimes the direction change will be gradual, but other times it can happen within a minute. A wind forecast will show the change in direction and that it is windy behind the front. If you arrive to the beach and know the front will pass soon, be extra cautious.
If there are other riders on the water, take a minute to look at what size kite they’re riding. If people are riding 8m and 9m kites and all you have is a 12m, then chances are its too windy. Make sure to look at the size of the rider and the size of their kite. If they’re on 8m and 9m kites and weight 150-180 lbs and you only have a 12m but weigh 250 lbs, then you could probably ride.
Sometimes you may arrive to the beach expecting decent wind but find the wind to be marginal. If the wind is less than expected, look to see what size kites other people are riding. The other sign for lightwind is if they are having to work or maneuver their kite for power. If people are on big kites and are working those kites, then chances are it’s not windy enough to ride.
Know Your Kite
Not all kites are equal. Different kite designs will feel very different from one another. All kites have a certain aspect ratio, the higher the aspect ratio, the more power that kite will typically have. Take a Cabrinha Apollo and a Cabrinha Drifter as an example. The Cabrinha Apollo sits far more forward in the wind window when the kite is parked than a Cabrinha Drifter. As a result, a 12m Cabrinha Apollo will be able to get a rider upwind far easier than a 12m Cabrinha Drifter. Another way to look at it is that the more square the kite is, the lower aspect ratio it has and the more rectangular a kite is, the higher aspect ratio it has. There is more to determining the aspect ratio to a kite, but this is a basic rule of thumb.