Having completing your lesson at the beach - Here is a quick theory refresher.
Lessons are initially focussed on the practical aspects of kite flying as building solid instinctive reactions (muscle memory) will serve you well in critical situations.
Good instinctive reactions ensure you don't to panic and over react with the controls making an otherwise manageable situation worse.
On top of these skills you can add a good understanding of the theory behind the practical. (videos to come).
Key points - It's hard to take it all in on the day so here is a quick refresher.
Having completed a practical lesson with your local school the theory will now make more sense.
Building automatic / Instinctive reactions - (muscle memories) it doesn't take long and they remove the possibility of pilot error or panic should a critical situation be encountered.
I suggest you fly a trainer kite as often as you can between Kitesurfing lessons to get your kite skills progressing as fast as possible.
So practise, practise, practise! Fly that trainer kite until it is totally instinctive.
Our first few tips for new riders will help you crossover from flying a Trainer kite on the beach to flying a full size kite in the water... the real thing. Trainer kites have just two lines, so when changing to a four line kite you have to understand something called bar position. Two line and four line both steer the same but it's the power control offered by the four line that requires extra skill to master.
Bar position - In or Out?
If in any trouble push the bar out. (It releases the power from the sail). This is true for all modern kites.
When going from a stationary start in either body dragging or board riding, ease smoothly through the bar positions, just like shifting gears.
You need to build up speed before changing gears in a car, it's a little bit like this with kites. We want smooth increases in power not sudden surges.
Think of it like this, bar out is 1st gear bar all the way in is 4th Gear.
So if you want to get up and riding on the board start turning the kite with it in the 1st gear position, then slowly bring it into the 2nd position, turn it some more.
As you increase speed you can pull the bar in closer. I always like to remind students that three big strokes of the kite across the sky to get power is better than one sudden sweep.
This is because three strokes slowly gets you up and riding. And one big power spike usually just throws you over the top of your board. Entertaining yes, but not what your really after.
So ease the power on and ride away!
"Think of it like this, bar out is 1st gear, bar all the way in is 4th Gear."
Lot's of riders say you pull the bar in for power, but for many riders that drops the kite back into the water. It's all about the air speed of the kite, or the speed of the wind moving over the kite.
If there is not enough air flowing over the kite then the kite will fall to the water. Pulling the bar in slows the flow of air over the kite by changing the angle it sits in the wind. Every kite will have a stall speed, that is the speed at which, if you slow the airflow or the speed of the kite enough it will just stop flying and fall to the water.
The key thing to remember is, if you are riding slow or the wind is light your kite will stall easily. Pulling on the bar when conditions are like this will slow everything down even more. So fly the kite fast and turn it a lot to get power and don't pull the bar in too hard.
Every 10 sec.. When board riding or body dragging if the kite is not flying well or the power is spiking, quickly look at your hands.
It is usual on the first 2-3 days for learners to be pulling too much on the bar. So always snap out of looking at the kite and take a quick look at your hands.
This is like pulling a stationary car into 4th gear and expecting to drive away. Your kite will choke and stall just like the car. So keep checking your bar position, don't choke it, let the kite fly, 1/2 way is perfect.
Concentrate on steering the kite.
Once sailing along on a board, just like driving a car down the highway you can put it in high gear, or with a kite pull the bar in a long way.
Stationary Kiter: Standing or floating preparing to ride the board.
When you are not moving across the water i.e. a stationary kite flier, keep the bar mostly out, (think first gear posn). Just far enough out that you can feel the power is not moving you and you still have steering control. That way you will not stall the kite and spin it into the water. Pulling the bar in for power in light wind when you are stationary is a very common mistake. Flying a kite well in light wind is one of the hardest skills to master.
Moving rider: (on board or body dragging)
Things are different in kite flying is you are moving. You can pull the bar in for more speed without fear of a kite stall. But be prepared for the acceleration and a lot of fun.
The reason why a kite will stall if you are not moving compared to if you are moving is to do with the speed of the air moving over the kite. The faster you move the better the kite will fly.
If you are riding along on a board even when the wind is light, the speed you are moving at and the speed of the wind get added together. It's just like having more wind. So keep you speed up and enjoy the extra power from the kite.
So if you're keeping up with the theory this means...
If you can get the kite moving on even a very light day it starts delivering more power than you would expect it to and it will fly well.
It also means you might be able to use this power to get moving and gain more power again. The faster you ride the more air flows over the kite. So Air speed + Wind speed = more power in the kite.
But if you are choking the kite all day by pulling the bar in too far, then you will miss out on the power available to you.
KITE POSITION - Never put the kite at 12 O'clock - 'The Lifting position'.
Use an imaginary clock dial with the you the rider at the center and 12 o'clock considered as straight up in vertical position.
We call it the Lifting Position because that is the resulting action when a kite is placed there.
All kite flying is to be between 9 & 11 or between 1 & 3 on the opposite side.
So for all walking, body dragging kite handling and general riding (excluding airborn activities) we avoid the Lifting Position because we do not want to be airborne just yet.
The only time a kite is placed at or near to the 12 position is to lift the rider. There are only two scenarios where this might be useful.
1. Send the kite to 12 to lift a stationary rider up on to the board.
2. Send the kite to 12 to lift a moving rider high into the air by converting all forward air speed into vertical lift.
To get up on board.
The Kite action is 9-12-9
then riding is 9-11-9-11-9 ....etc etc
Only ever put the kite back at 12 'the lifting position' if you want lift or lots of lift.
How to slow down
If ever riding too fast on the board or body dragging.
1'st Stop turning the kite, just freeze. As moving the kite developes lots of extra power and thus speed. Stoping turning the kite and the power reduces.
2nd If you want to stop even faster, push the bar away from you.
If you have invested in good kite technology like the SLE, BOW & DELTA designs, the de-power technology works instantly for you and spills the air (power) from the kite, you slow down in a second. This leaves you confident and in control even in your first days. if you are riding the board it allows you to continue riding.
Just pull the bar back into a position where you are happy with the speed. Don't forget to smile!
If you want to know more...
Please continue with your training program with your local instructor.