This page describes some tips for
equipment and techniques that you may find useful for kitesurfing (if you have any other
tips to add, please contact us):
- What is a 5th line?
- How to rig and use a 5th
- Volume versus planning surface
- Rider weight and height versus
- Rider weight versus kite size
- Kite size versus board size
- How to retrieve your board
- What kite to use in light wind
- What kite to use in strong wind
- Build a foil/sled depowering system
- Use a wakeboard for kitesurfing
- Cold weather kitesurfing
Ice board made on Jan 6, 2007!
Photo by Steve Slaby
What is a 5th line?
A fifth line is a line connecting the
center of the leading edge of a 4 line inflatable for 2 main reasons:
- Facilitate the flipping of the kite
on its back for relaunching (the 5th line is essential for relaunching
of the traditional inflatables on snow)
- To disable the kite by connecting
the safety leash to the fifth line instead of one of the other 4 lines.
How to rig and use a 5th
To rig a 5th line, your inflatable must
have a connector at the center of the leading edge:
- From that connector, connect a
single line bridle as long as the radius of your kite (around 1/2 of the
wing span in flight). Make a few knots at the end of that 5th line
bridle to facilitate length adjustment
- Connect the 5th line bridle to a standard flying line
- At the bar end, connect the 5th line to a 5th line leader line
- The 5th line leader line can be simply connected to other leader
lines above the trim strap if you only want to use the 5th line to
assist relaunching of the kite. To flip the kite on its back in
the water, just pull on the 5th line leader line.
- If you also want to use the 5th line for safety, connect the 5th
line leader line to your safety leash
- Test fly your kite and adjust the whole 5th line set up
appropriately (try not to have it too short or too long).
Volume versus planning surface
Contrary to windsurfing, the volume of a board has little role in
kitesurfing. This mean that as long as you have enough power from the
kite, you can be on a board as thin as possible. It's the planning
surface of the board that is important in such case. In light wind,
all kites are very sluggish and not likely to behave properly when you turn
it around to jibe. Depending on how fast and powerful your kite
is in light wind, you will need a larger board with a larger planning
surface to retain the planning.
Rider weight and height
versus board size
Contrary to windsurfing, rider weight has some role but not as dominant in determining
the board size (especially in powered up situations). Similar to snowboarding, the
height of the rider is more important in selecting the proper board size. A good
directional board is around the rider height and a good bidirectional board
is 1' to 2' shorter.
Rider weight versus kite size
Given same level of experience and capability, rider weight is
approximately proportional to kite size. A rider twice as heavy as another
should use a kite twice as big. A beginner
should use a kite smaller than an experienced kitesurfer.
Kite size versus board size
Contrary to windsurfing, in kitesurfing, there is no restriction on how big or small a
kite you can use with a board. This means that you can use all of your kites with only one
board. So your main board should be a small board (around your height for a
directional board and your chest or chin height for a bidirectional board). The only time you
may want to use a larger light wind board is when you are not fully powered up even with
your largest kite.
How to retrieve
If you are separated from your board, you normally end up more down wind
of your board. To be able to retrieve your board, you
have to drift down wind slower than your board (or go slightly upwind). The best way to do
that is to control the kite with only upper hand to move it to one of the wind window edge and use your
lower hand and your body as
the keel (lower hand in the water and legs straight in a "super man"
position side way in the water) - in other words, your body becomes the
board to resist down wind drift. In that position, your body will
drift down wind slower than the board and you just wait until the board
drift by you to retrieve it. Furthermore, many kiters can body-drag
upwind using this method.
Modern kitesurfers normally don't use board leash
and normally body-drag upwind to retrieve the board.
What kite to use in light wind
High performance foil or flat LEI are probably the best types of kite to use in light wind due to
their higher power/size capability.
What kite to use in strong wind
Low to moderate AR traditional or flat LEI are probably the best types
of kite to use in strong wind.
Build a foil/sled depowering
To build a foil/sled depowering system that can turn a foil in to a sled (e.g. to turn
a 12.5 m2 foil in to a 12.5 m2 flat surface inflatable.) one needs a foil/sled bridle
which consists of the exact duplication of the original primary bridle at each wing tip of
the kite. A "V" about 1.5 times the length (span) of the kite is connected
to the duplicated primary bridles at the wing tips.
The center of the "V" is connected to a flying line which is connected to a
center foil/sled leader line on the bar with a strap system similar to an inflatable 4
line set up (the bar now has 2 center leader lines: the original center leader line for
brake/safety release and the new center foil/sled leader line)
In its neutral setting, the center foil/sled leader line has no effect on the shape of the
kite (i.e., the kite is flying as a foil as it normally would).
When the center foil/sled leader line is shortened, the wing tips are curved down and
therefore reduce the projected surface of the kite (the kite starts becoming more like a
sled). The more the center foil/sled leader line is shortened, the less the projected
surface of the kite.
For a complete foil/sled implementation, connect the duplicated primary bridles at the
wing tips to the inner primary bridles for more foil/sled range or more wind range (one
may have to duplicate more inner primary bridles to avoid interference with the operation
of the original foil bridles).
Use a wakeboard for kitesurfing
Contrary to popular belief, it should be able to buy a cheap used
wakeboard and use it for kitesurfing. When buying the wakeboard make
sure that it is long enough (about your shoulder or chin height) and have as
little rocker as possible (less than 2.5 cm rocker). The wakeboard can
have either 4 fins (2 at each end) or 2 fins (1 at each end). If you
have never used a wakeboard, it best to use straps or sandal binding.
If you want to use high wrap binding, make sure you can get in or out of
your binding easily. When ride a wakeboard remember that it is very
loose and the edge of the board is all you have for traction. When
ride a wakeboard, try to keep the front leg straight to steer the board and
the back leg bent. The edging pressure of the board should
normally be balance between 2 feet (if you press too hard on the front, the
board will sink when underpowered and if you press too hard on the back, the
board will slip and slide).
Cold weather kitesurfing
Cold weather kitesurfing is a "very extreme sport", so "be careful out
there". Use the following tips for cold weather kitesurfing:
- Its is much harder to relaunch a kite in cold water
- It's may be too cold to body drag upwind to
retrieve your board.
- Wear appropriate clothing (dry suit or very thick steamer 5mm or more)
- Wear warm clothing underneath your dry suit
- Pour warm water into your steamer, shoes and gloves before getting into water
- Always kitesurf with someone in cold weather
- Wear a "warm" helmet and warm, thin gloves
- When your body starts to shiver, pack it in