HOW TO BE AN ASSISTANT KITER?
Since you need help with launching and landing your kite it is necessary that you know how to assist other kiters as well. As an assistant kiter you are not responsible for the kiter you are helping, however, you want to keep him and yourself safe during the procedure.
In this post you will find out everything you need to know to safely assist a kiter for launching and landing but also on how to help if he is in trouble.
It’s always nicer to help each other.
KITE ASSISTANT – LAUNCHING AND LANDING THE KITE
Helping to launch and land the kite of someone can be confusing, and definitely frustrating. My name is Petar Pavlovic, I love sharing my Kitesurf Experience with you and in this post we will learn more about
- How to be a good assistant kiter.
- Best ways to handle a kite.
- Techniques to launch and land a kite.
- Analyze all the steps.
- And finally, how to help a kiter in trouble.
POSITIONING IN THE WIND
First we have to remember what does Upwind, Downwind and Crosswind mean.
When you watch the exact wind direction, you are watching upwind and if you start walking forward, you are walking upwind. Same rule applies when the wind is blowing in your back you are watching downwind and if you start walking forward you are walking downwind.
While facing the wind, or the wind is blowing in your back, once you open your arms, your arms are indicating you crosswind, which is 90 degrees compared to the wind.
This is how you know where the correct launching position of the kiter should be, just a bit more upwind from the crosswind line.
ASSIST FOR KITE LAUNCHING
We have to understand that the front tube is always first facing the wind. When flying, when we are holding it in smile position and when the kite is in beach position.
Most important thing to remember : For keeping the kite stable, hold it just for the front tube.
You should not hold the kite for the lines, struts or canopy. It means that if you are not able to grab the front tube, it is better to not touch anything else.
Therefore, to turn the kite we always do it with one hand inside the kite and the other hand outside of the kite. When you are lifting or holding the kite in smile position, use your hand as a hook around the front tube to avoid surprises.
There are many kitesurfers with good level of riding, who still don’t know how to smoothly and safely launch their kite.
As an assistant kiter, you are not responsible for the other kiter, however it is important that you keep him and yourself safe during the procedure.
Before lifting the kite:
- check the exact wind direction and analyze where the kiter should be to launch his kite.
- Make sure that the kiter has connected his safety leash on the safety line and that he is downwind from his expected launching position.
- Grab the front tube with two hands and put the kite in launching position.
- Hold the kite with one hand inside the kite and the other hand outside of the kite.
- You want to keep your body and head away from the front tube.
- Once the kite has tension and the kiter shows you the signal for launching, immediately let go of the kite.
ASSIST FOR KITE LANDING
When you see a kiter showing you the signal for landing the kite with one hand in the air, show him back the same signal.
Try to stay more upwind of the actual landing position of the kite.
With two hands grab the front tube, put the wing tip on the ground and walk towards the kiter to lose the tension in the lines.
Once the kite is in beach position, the middle strut should face the exact wind direction. Secure it possibly with sand and or sand bags.
If you are not sure where to land the kite or you don’t have anything to secure it, again while walking towards the kiter, put the kite in smile position and give it to the kiter.
HOW TO ASSIST LESS EXPERIENCED KITERS TO LAUNCH THE KITE
We have seen how to launch and land a kite for an experienced kiter, now we will analyze why we are doing it this specific way and how to avoid problems and accidents with less experienced kiters.
The most important is to avoid fighting with the kite, which happens just for one reason. When the kiter is too much upwind of his actual launching position.
To find the correct position, I suggest you to go in front of the kite, with the back or facing the exact wind direction and open your arms.
If you see that the kiter is upwind of his actual launching position, do not lift the kite, just show the signal to the kiter that he has to move more downwind.
When you are lifting the kite make sure that with two hands you grab the front tube so that one hand is inside and that the other hand is outside of the kite. Smaller kites are easier to turn around. When turning big kites, make sure you are not pushing aggressively the wing tip on the ground.
You should hold the front tube more on the side so that the wing tip is just touching the ground and walk in the opposite direction of the kiter.
While holding a smaller kite in launching position, hold it so that the middle strut is just on top of your head. If you are holding a bigger kite, then make sure that the wing tip again, is just touching the ground.
If you hold it in the middle of the front tube it can be difficult for the lower part of the kite to get enough tension. Another problem could happen if you are holding it just for the wing tip it can be difficult to handle it, especially if it is a bigger kite.
While the kiter is reaching his launching position, make sure that everything looks fine with the lines of the kite.
If something doesn’t look right immediately land the kite back in beach position and try to solve this problem with the kiter.
SAFETY TIPS WHEN ASSISTING FOR KITE LAUNCHING
It is important to avoid that your head and body are right in front of the front tube, because once the kite gets tension it can easily put you out of balance. To keep the kite stable just with your hands, with the lower hand you pull the front tube towards you and with the higher hand push the front tube away from you.
A often and classic mistake of kiters is to walk up wind without having their lines in tension. If you see that the kiter has already pass his launching position with slack lines, immediately land his kite back in beach position and show the kiter to go downwind and give it another try.
You should never let the kite go before the kiter shows you the signal for launching.
When he does, you should immediately let the kite go. But, if you see that the kite is flapping, do not let the kite go. This could mean that the kiter is way too much downwind.
While holding properly on the front tube with one hand, with the other hand show the kiter to walk more upwind. Or if possible, you can walk downwind to put the kite more in the wind window.
So when everything looks perfect and you see the launching signal, just let the kite go. You don’t want to touch the kite after the signal is given because if you are touching it just with one finger, the kiter will not be able to move his kite and he could start steering stronger the bar and once you let go completely, the kite might move with too much speed and this could be problematic for the kiter.
Lastly, you definitely don’t want to push the kite in the air.
HOW TO ASSIST LESS EXPERIENCED KITERS TO LAND THE KITE
When you want to land a kite, do not stay just under it!
The kite could fall right on you or even more up wind of your position. If this is the case, never grab it for the canopy. Just reposition yourself and grab the kite as always just for the front tube.
You don’t want to grab the kite just for the wing tip, because this could be really difficult to keep it stable.
Always try to stay 2-3 meters more upwind of the landing position and keep both your hands in front of your face, because on gusty wind the kite could be reactive.
After grabbing the kite, some kiters might still hold on the bar, this would be a problem while landing the kite.
You want to grab the front tube more towards the middle. It’s important to walk towards the kiter while landing the kite in beach position or while putting it in smile position so you lose all the tension in the lines.
If you decide to put the kite in beach position, make sure that the middle strut is facing in the wind direction to avoid any wind getting in the wing tips of the kite and if you decide to hold it in smile position, do it properly.
In case you see that some kiters are not sure, how to safely and smoothly launch their kite, you can always suggest them to check “Kitesurf Experience” Channel 🙂
ADDITIONAL TIPS FOR ASSISTANT KITERS
If you see a kiter crashing his kite on the beach, would be nice to help. Before running to the kite try to, signal the kiter to let the bar go and to use the chicken loop quick release, so you are sure that the kite lost all the tension and that you can safely reach it.
There could be a situation where there is no time for showing the signal, then it’s important to grab on the front tube as fast as possible. When the kite is on full tension it could be quite a problem to handle it.
Do not try to fight with the kite, just keep on holding on the front tube and show the kiter to walk towards you to lose the tension in the lines.
It is the same procedure when you grab someones kite from the water. So as a kiter you can keep in mind, whenever someone is ready to grab your kite, let go of the bar and use the chicken loop quick release to make it safer for you and easier for the assistant kiter to handle your kite.
Thank you so much for reading. I hope this tutorial will help you avoid tricky situations while helping other kiters.
Make sure to not miss the next episode where we are going to see how to safely launch and land the kite with an assistant.