LAUNCHING AND LANDING THE KITE WITH AN ASSISTANT
Did you ever experience those kind of situations ? Do you know why they are actually happening?
My name is Petar Pavlovic and I love sharing my Kitesurf Experience with you. Welcome to my favorite episode where we are going to talk about the most common problem in the kitesurf community for every level of kitesurfer. I’m talking about launching and landing the kite with an assistant. Now we will go through everything together.
- Safest process of launching and landing.
- Analyze all the steps.
- Special situations for launching.
- Common mistakes.
Do you agree with me that launching the kite with an assistant is one of most confusing or scariest thing in our kitesurfing session.
I still remember my first years of kitesurfing, I knew how to ride up wind, I knew how to do a basic jump. However, I didn’t have any idea of how to smoothly and safely launch my kite. So let’s remember quickly our wind window.
Our launching and landing positions are at 3 or 9 o’clock. It means your lines should be around 90 degrees compared to the wind direction.
Let’s see the safest way to get into your launching position and after this I will give you more tips.
LAUNCHING THE KITE
First of all you have to understand that you cannot trust your assistant 100% or put all the responsibility on him. Make sure to choose the widest area and setup your lines down wind of your kite.
Check again the direction of the wind, to analyze where should be your launching position. Ask possibly a kiter to help you launch.
Do the pre-flight check, it means making sure that your back lines are completely free and are not twisted with the middle lines. Holding on the chicken loop connect your safety leash on the safety line.
Ask the assistant to put your kite in launching position. Holding the chicken loop in your hand, walk slowly upwind and again do the pre-flight check of your lines.
Make sure that everything looks fine with your lines and your kite. Keep on walking up wind with the chicken loop still in your hand and keep the front lines on tension.
When you see that your kite is getting tension, stop in that position and connect the chicken loop on your harness. Make sure there is no one flying a kite around you.
Take the bar with one hand and with the other show the signal of launching to your assistant. Gently launch your kite.
LANDING THE KITE
Landing with an assistant. Show the signal of landing the kite to someone on the beach. Slowly land the kite with one hand.
Once the assistant grabs your kite, let go of the bar and disconnect the chicken loop. With the chicken loop in your hand walk towards your kite to make sure it is well secured.
Now we will go through each step to understand the main reason of why we are doing all this in this very specific way.
ANALYSE THE STEPS
It’s important to have enough distance from any object in case the launching doesn’t go as planned. If your lines are 22 meters long plus when your kite stays just on the safety line, the SPAN of your kite is from 3 to 5 meters depending on the size of the kite you are using.
Plus your safety leash in extension is from 50 cm to 2 meters, depending on the size of the leash you are using. So you would need at least 30 meters downwind of you free from any obstacle.
The more safety zone you have the better and safer it is. To find 100% clear and safe space for launching is not the easiest on many kitesurfing spots. Therefore this is one more reason why you should be extra careful while launching your kite.
I don’t know how exactly you are used to setting up your kite, but I can assure you that the downwind set up is the safest.
Now we are coming to the part that most kitesurfers skip!
I was skipping it for a long time and that brought me a lot of problems and stress while launching.
It is really important to check the exact wind direction and to visualize your exact launching position.
I suggest doing it in front of your kite and opening your arms to find where would be 90 degrees from the wind. Choose to stay next to or in the sea while launching your kite. Because most common mistakes is to steer too much the bar. In what situation would you choose to start your kite from the middle of the beach?
Main steps of launching your kite with an assistant from the kiter’s point of view:
- Check wind direction and launching position
- Ask for help
- Perform pre flight check
- Connect safety leash to safety lines
- Perform 2nd pre flight check
- Find the tension in your kite
- Connect chicken loop to harness
- Make sure there are no kites around
- Show the signal and slowly launch your kite
- Enjoy the ride
ANALYSE THE STEPS FOR LAUNCHING THE KITE
IMPORTANCE OF CHECKING THE CHICKEN LOOP BEFORE LAUNCHING THE KITE
I highly recommend before launching to put the board next to the sea and more up wind of your expected launching position. By doing so the board doesn’t stuck in your lines.
Once you start your kite you are getting to the board much easier and safer so you can faster go on the water.
Asking for help is much cooler than waiting for someone to recognize that you want to launch your kite.
Do the pre-flight check of the lines so you are 100% sure you did a good job with connecting your lines on the kite.
I highly recommend making sure that your chicken loop quick release works perfectly. Especially if you didn’t use your equipment for a while and when you decide to borrow or rent equipment.
While holding on the chicken loop connect your safety leash on the safety line. I like to show this signal to my assistant to put my kite in launching position. Just walk a bit more up wind and again make sure that your back lines are free and not tangled around the kite or other objects on the beach like grass or wooden sticks.
This can happen on many kite spots. When this is the case show the signal of quitting launching and get rid of the objects around your lines!
Even if you are not connected on the chicken loop, make sure you are not pulling the bar while checking your lines. If the assistant lets the kite go it is not so safe. Always check them with one hand holding the chicken loop and with the other hand shake the back lines.
Once you are sure that everything is fine with your equipment, still holding in your hand the chicken loop, keep on walking upwind to find the tension in your kite. If for any reason your assistant lets the kite go you can still hold on the chicken loop. In case there is too much power in the kite, automatically your hand will open and the kite will lose all the tension.
If the chicken loop is connected on your harness, you will definitely need more time to react. While searching for the tension in your kite you could be exaggerating and you could keep on walking too much upwind. If you see that the assistant is fighting with your kite, this definitely means that you are too much upwind.
LAST STEPS THE KITE LAUNCH
Walk downwind or just let go of the chicken loop and make again sure where is the wind coming from.
While walking upwind, make sure to walk also slightly backwards so you keep the front lines on tension. While doing so carefully watch the kite. As soon as you see that the kite is getting a bit of tension this is the time to connect the chicken loop on your harness.
Then if you see that there is still not enough tension in the canopy, walk carefully a bit more upwind still without touching the bar.
If you feel the wind is strong it is also recommended to pull a bit the trim line. Once most of the canopy is on tension, make sure there are no kites in the air around you. I recommend to take the bar more in the middle just with one hand. By doing so you are sure that your steering while launching is slower.
You can also launch with the hand completely on the side of the bar or with the floater. Just make sure to be extra gentle with steering, which is not easy sometimes for some people. The best tension of the kite you feel when your hands are in the middle of the bar, no matter if it’s for launching your kite, riding or jumping.
After showing the signal for launching it’s important to understand that it is not a drama if you dont steer the bar enough, the kite would just remain where it is. If you would pull too much many problems would be possible.
Slowly steer the kite to reach 11 or 1 o’clock if you see that the kite is moving with too much power be ready to first let go of the bar and use the chicken loop. Practically nothing can go wrong if you are following all these steps for launching your kite.
Main steps of landing your kite with an assistant from the kiter’s point of view:
- Show signal for landing
- Slowly land the kite with one hand
- Let the bar go – disconnect chicken loop
- Secure your kite
ANALYSE THE STEPS FOR LANDING THE KITE
Let’s clear now the steps of landing your kite.
Make sure to give the right signal when you ask for help to land your kite. You definitely want to land the kite just with one hand slowly depowering the bar.
I cannot think of any reason why you should land your kite with two hands. On strong wind, you can get easily too powered because your lower arm becomes too short and automatically you are pulling the bar.
It can be difficult for you and for the assistant who is helping you to land your kite.
Once your assistant grabs your kite, it is super important to let go of the bar.
Also important to understand, that you should feel free to let go of the bar even if the assistant didn’t grab your kite yet. Especially in strong and gusty wind and I highly recommend to disconnect the chicken loop from your harness and walk towards your kite.
Because again you cannot trust that your assistant secured your kite perfectly and sometimes, some assistants are holding your kite in smile position, waiting for you to grab it and secure it.
Once the kite is secured, you can disconnect the safety leash from your bar and I highly recommend immediately rolling your lines. If you are not completely alone on the beach, it is not nice to leave your lines all around.
First of all if someone is stepping on them it can damage your lines and second, you never know who could get tangled in your lines while walking on the beach, what if kids are playing or dogs are running. This could put them in dangerous situations.
Most important do not start rolling the bar without securing your kite properly because this could be a problem.
We saw everything about safe launching and landing, now we will see the special situations of launching your kite.
Launching your kite in light wind
In light wind it can be tricky to launch your kite.
Here you have to understand that creating more power in the kite is not by pulling the bar or walking backwards, but by walking upwind.
So my advice is that once you are ready to launch, and the assistant lets the kite go, walk or even run upwind to create more tension in the kite. Walking or running up wind you will feel more wind on your face so the same will happen with your kite.
Not having stable wind in your kite.
If the wind on the beach is not stable enough it can be tricky for launching. When you are checking the wind direction, it is also important that you see if the wind is passing over obstacles, that could make the wind unstable. It’s called wind shadow, if you didn’t yet, make sure to check my previous blog post about the most important thing in kitesurfing.
In this case, it is better or even mandatory to launch your kite while you are on the beach and the kite closer to the water. Here it is even more important to follow the safe steps for launching your kite.
What you saw people doing, maybe you have been doing the same thing. I know I was doing a lot of mistakes and thankfully I never got myself in big trouble. But I realized that I was just very lucky that my assistants were always holding on my kite so tight. But what would happen if the assistant lets go of your kite too early?
Let’s see more examples so you have a clearer idea of why you should always follow the safest steps of launching your kite.
- Bad habit of connecting the chicken loop. You should not hold on the bar while connecting the chicken loop on your harness. If at any time your assistant lets the kite go it can be a problem.
- Connecting too early. When you don’t have tension in the lines your chicken loop might get out of place. Which sometimes you don’t realize. After giving power in your kite it can completely slide out. It can happen that one of the steering lines is twisted around your bar. So once your kite gets tension it starts pulling on one side and you would need some time to react, sometimes could be too late.
- Too much upwind.This is the main reason of most accidents while launching a kite. Some kiters are in a hurry to be in the launching position and sometimes they keep on walking too much upwind. Once the kite gets tension this will make a lot of problems to the assistant. If the assistant lets the kite go, then it could be dangerous for the kiter.
- Checking the lines just when connected. It has no sense to start checking the lines just when you are already connected. If your assistant lets the kite go, again it can be a problem.
- Not enough up wind. Sometimes people don’t realize that the kite is still flappy and often with pulling too much the bar they are creating fake tension in the kite.
I hope you enjoyed this tutorial and you understood a lot about launching and landing your kite with an assistant.