Power kiting is a dangerous sport. Please double check the wind speed and the manufacturers guidelines on the kite you bought before attempting to fly your kite.
Keeping The Damn Thing In The Air
Please ensure you have read and understood the chapter on launching and landing before even thinking about attempting this.
So you’ve got the little bugga in the air and are now wondering what on earth to do with it? To start with simply get used to the feeling of the kite, don’t try to do anything too specific with the kite simply focus on keeping it in the sky and enjoy the feeling of flying it.
Once you are happy with the very basic control of the kite we can move on to some more specific exercises.
Parking The Kite
Parking the kite simply means to keep your kite stationary in one spot. Why do we need to do this? When parking the kite, the kite will sit at the edge of the wind window (try parking the kite in the power zone to see what I mean…on a light wind day please!). This means the kite is going to be de-powered and should sit there quite happily. This allows you to focus on other things, picking up your board, chatting to your mates, checking out the hottie that just walked past. Alright the last one will often cause you to drop your kite as you crane your neck way too far round for comfort but I digress.
To park your kite, simply:
Fly the kite to any spot at the edge of the wind window. As the kite approaches the edge it slows, eventually coming to a stop on the edge. By doing this at about 45 degrees or between 10 and 11 o’clock you give yourself time to correct if things go wrong, (or if that hottie walks past!)
Once the kite has come to a stop, your goal is to keep it in one spot. If the kite starts to drift in one direction, gently correct for the motion by steering it in the other direction. Make sure that you don’t overcorrect.
Keep the kite in that spot until you know you have it under control and can keep it there for as long as you want.
Keep it Smooth
A hugely overlooked but very important skill. By steering the kite smoothly you control the power delivery and ensure that you are not being thrown around all over the place, Bucking Bronco style. By ensuring that as you steer you move the control system smoothly in and out controlling the power much like you would on a car by squeezing the accelerator you can ensure that you remain in control and aware of how much power is being delivered at any one time.
Think of the control system as an accelerator on a car, if you drop your foot and then release it quickly over and over again the car will literally bounce down the road. The kite will respond in exactly the same way if you apply power then let it off. It will power up and then de-power and you will pulled left and right without ever really knowing why. The key here is to relax (easy for me to say) once you have the kite in the air at 12 consciously relax your shoulders, upper arms, forearms and hands. Think of your self as a thunderbird puppet (but I’m Scott!) with your arms literally dangling from the controls.
If you can manage this something magical will happen, the controls will start to tell you where they want to be and you can simply tweak the controls by fractions of centimeters to control the kite. By relaxing your arms you will begin to feel the sweet spot. This is the point that the bar naturally wants to sit on, and is the point where you can just start to feel the bar resisting you. This signifies that there is a tiny amount of tension in the back lines which is the optimum point for controlling the kite. (this will not happen on 2 line kites as there is no bar in, bar out motion).
With time you will relax and start to steer smoothly naturally. However there are some things you can do to help.
Anticipate what the kite is doing and try to predict where it’s going and where you want it to be before it gets there. This will prevent you from making knee-jerk, quick and often over force full movements which will jerk the kite unnecessarily.
Practice flying your kite in a circle, over and over again as the kite circles the pressure on the controls will change and it will be great practice for you to get the feel for adjusting the controls to match what the kites doing.
Flying Figure eights will get you used to the power the kite generates and allow you to anticipate this power and so prepare for it…more on this now.
Steering your kite in a figure eight pattern both vertically and horizontally across the wind window.
No, not something you do on your own at night but the most important trainer kite practice exercise on this page!
Power strokes are where the rubber hits the road – get good at them! You use them when you want to generate a lot of power with your kite, and are most often used when water-starting or getting up on your board. Depending on how much power you need, you can do a power stroke for low, medium, and high power.
Low Power Power-Stroke:
Start with you kite at 12 o’clock. 2. Dive the kite from 12 o’clock to 2:30. The kite will generate power as it passes through the wind window. If you were kiteboarding, and this was enough power, you would be able to water-start. If not, you would sink back into the water.The kite will fly to the edge of the wind window, you can reset and practice again – this time however use the…
Medium Power Power-Stroke:
Start with your kite at 11 o’clock. Dive your kite from 11, through the wind window, to 2:30. The kite will generate power as it passes through the window. Once your kite reaches the edge of the window, fly it up to 1 o’clock and dive it to 9:30. Still not enough? Ok its time for the big guns, try the…
High Power Power-Stroke:
Start with your kite at 10 o’clock. Fly the kite across the wind window to 2:30. The kite will be flying directly through the power zone, so it should be generating its maximum amount of power. Once the kite reaches 2:30, move it to 2 o’clock and drive it back through the power zone to 9:30. If thats not enough less breakfast, more wind or a bigger kite are needed!
Once you’ve done that and I would recommend repeating this lesson a couple of times until your really happy with it, your ready for the next lesson. So get out there and go fly a kite!
Advanced Kite Piloting Skills
Making The Damn Thing Dance
Now that you can fly your trainer kite, here are some exercises to practice to allow your skills and muscle memory to develop more fully. Remember the more time spent polishing these skills, the less time you will spend swimming and the more time you will spend riding.
Sliding During The Power Stroke
As you work on the power stroke, work to keep your centre of gravity behind your feet and not to get pulled forward into a running position. You should slide forward on the heels of your feet. If you think how this translates onto the board, if you are running every time the power comes on you will simply be going straight over the front of the board landing unceremoniously on your head, by dropping on your hips and driving through your legs you are transferring that power into the board and creating forward motion.
Practice Your Board Starts
This will develop your muscle memory for leg and hip positioning for getting up on your board. The goal of this practice is to make sure you point your board downwind when trying to get up and ride. Riding to your right side: Put your kite in neutral (hovering straight above your head), sit down on the ground, extend your right leg forward and bend your left leg in a little bit. Now send the trainer kite into a power stroke toward your right side. You should stand up (if you have enough power) on your right foot with your body turned at about a 45 degree angle to the wind.
Now move your trainer kite to the 1 o’clock position for your power stroke; notice how your hips and body naturally point your leg more down wind. One of the number one problems for new kiteboarders is not keeping their kiteboards pointed down wind when attempting a water start. Now work on your left side. If you decide to learn to snow or land board, make sure to use the same technique of pointing the board downwind.
Moving With The Trainer Kite
Run, ski, snowboard, buggy, land board or roller blade. Now that you are flying well, start running with the kite in the direction the kite is flying. You will notice different dynamics in the kite as you move. When you are kiteboarding, you are always moving with the kite and need to learn how to control the trainer kite during this movement and take advantage of the apparent wind you are generating. Use any of the vehicles listed above to help work on this. Remember to wear padding and a helmet.
Add A Harness And Chicken Loop
Depending on the kite you have you may have to do this from day 1 if not it is worth doing this now. To get the full benefits out of your trainer kite, get a harness and add a fixed loop to the bar, (you can buy one of these from your local windsurfing store or a bit of rope will do). Now you can begin to practice flying while being “hooked in” and work on kite control with one hand. This is a skill that is an absolute necessity for learning to kite in the water. You will need to fly one-handed while carrying your board to the water and trying to put it on your feet. Another great thing about adding a loop and harness is that you can snow or land kite for hours once you get hooked in.
Hold the bar in one hand and fly with one hand, this is a skill that will build your confidence and get you used to hanging onto the middle of the bar. The idea of 1 handed flying is that now you don’t have as much leverage over the kite so it becomes harder to move the kite. This is actually a good thing as now wee can start to concentrate on other things such as picking up the board without the kite being able to fly all over the place.