We got asked this question on our Instructor Q & A and seeing as we don’t currently operate a boat we had to turn to the guys from The Cabrinha Quest for the best answer. These guys have spent 5 years launching and landing kites from boats and so certainly know what they’re talking about.
Text and Photo’s taken from The Cabrinha Quest…possibly the most awesome kitesurfing adventure on the planet
Step 1) The Rider unravels all the lines from the bar starting at the stern of the boat, zigzagging the lines while moving towards the bow. Turn the bar over so the right side is on the left (i.e. upside down as you would with a downwind beach set up).
Organize your lines
Step 2) The Assistant attaches a line manager like the “Kitelauncher” to the lines at the bar end. The Assistant carefully holds the line manager and slides it towards the ends of the lines while the Rider winds the lines back onto the bar as you normally do.
Leave slack in the lines and keep them on top of the kite
Step 3) When the Assistant reaches the ends of the lines you are ready to attach the kite (leave about 20 feet of the lines off the bar to provide slack to attach the lines and blow up the kite). Lay the kite out in a suitable location at the stern of the boat. If you are using a kite with independent struts, fill them up, BUT DO NOT INFLATE THE LEADING EDGE. With the kite on its back (exactly like you would inflate a kite on the beach) very carefully attach the lines from one side to the other (eg steering line, center line, center line, steering line), being very careful to not cross any lines. We find it useful to only detach one line at a time from the line manager. Note the lines will be correctly attached (left and right side) because we flipped the bar over in Step 1.
Launching the kite
Step 4) The Assistant inflates the leading edge, BEING VERY CAREFUL TO KEEP THE LINES ON TOP OF THE KITE. Do not allow the lines to go around the back of the kite. Once inflated, the Assistant can now hold the leading edge and is ready to launch the kite.
Step 5) The Rider hooks into the chicken loop, removes a few coils of lines and enters the water. The rider then swims at a right angle to the boat, removing lines carefully from the bar, making sure none go around the back of the bar (if you are in an area with strong current you may find it useful to unwind the lines and jump off the bow of the boat, which makes the swim into position easier). The Rider uncoils all the lines and the Rider and Assistant check the lines to make sure they are clean. We find it useful for the Rider to be slightly upwind of a typical beach launch so the kite is “hot launched” slightly.
Launching the kite
Step 6) Once the kite is launched the Rider body drags towards the boat and the Assistant throws the board to the Rider.
The bucket method
This video shows a slightly different method where rather than re rolling the lines back up onto the bar after sorting them out and attaching them to the kite they are simply rolled (starting at the kite end) into a bucket. In all other respects this method is the same as the one above.
Which of these 2 methods works better for you will be one of personal preference, but these are the methods we and the IKO recommend.