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Old 03-14-2006, 08:14 AM
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Default Getting To Know Hybrid ("Flat") Kites

The following "Safety Meeting" article appeared in SBC Kiteboard Magazine Issue Volume 7, Issue #1



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Old 03-14-2006, 08:16 AM
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This "Safety Meeting" article appeared in SBC Kiteboard Magazine Volume 7, Issue #1

The article is reproduced below for easier reading:


Flat kites (like the Crossbow, Sonic, Turbo Diesel, One Kite are sweeping through kiteboarding. These new kites can deliver substantially increased wind range, “gas peddle-like” power (control by degrees or almost entirely), higher jumps with greater horizontal distance and hang time, improved wave riding properties and more. Unlike tradition four line LEI’s or “C kites” once you launch a jump you are more a kite “pilot” than a “rider” with greater control over the jump. Turning speed is influenced by adjusting the sheeting unlike “C-kites.”

NOTE: various flat kites on the market can have significant differences in performance and function. In delivering higher performance more refined kiter control input with is required with flat kites than “C-kites.” There are also significant differences in operation of flat vs. “C-kites.” Experienced “C-kite” riders may require 2 to 6 or more sessions to develop a feel for flat kites.

Some might remember when two line LEI kites were starting to be replaced in popularity by four line LEI kites around 2000. Two line kites had a fairly limited wind range which could be marginally expanded through technique and exertion. Staying upwind, jumping, landing and handling a much wider wind range became much easier and less technical with the onset of four line kites. The number of accidents also appeared to have increased with the transition from two to four line kites. This increase was in part attributable to the explosion in kiteboarding popularity at the time as well as increased opportunity and occurrence for “operator error” in more powered conditions. “Operator error” was a common factor in the majority of early accidents aggravated by greater kite power in higher wind ranges and kite system complexity with the four line LEI kites.

* Know the kite's wind limits

Flat kites have increased handline of higher wind ranges under normal conditions in excess of C kites. If you are rigged big for conditions with a “C kite” it is hard to miss that fact. You can easily sense the extra power and additional handling required. Your unease usually goes up with the mounting power and handling demands at the upper end. With flat kites you may not necessarily feel all that overpowered even if you start to approach the manufacturing recommended upper wind limit for a given kite. Some riders exceed this recommended upper wind limit for flat kites, sometimes by a lot. So what?

If everything goes well, no errors or other surprises it could just be a powered session. Most people have come to learn that in kiteboarding things don’t always go well or to plan.

* Potential for rider error


The potential penalties for “operator error” with flat kites at the high end are higher. Kiters can land hotter or faster depending on how you set the jump up and sheeting you might do while in flight. Also, your jumps can be extended horizontally, sometime by a lot through building gusts, sheeting and other factors. Jumping near shore or hard objects could see you jumping over them if you are careless in maintaining an adequate downwind buffer. Distance is REALLY your friend if a great jump gets stretched out.

You can also boost higher with flat kites once you dial in the technique required. Unlike “C-kites” with some flat kites you can easily kill much of the power that threw you way up there in the first place mid-flight. This sort of operator error can drop you like a rock and from 30 to 40 foot plus, that can hurt and cause injury!

Another type of operator error in well powered conditions is sheeting in too much or freezing sheeted in when you should be sheeting out or easing off the power. In theory by sheeting in at the wrong time you may effectively be flying a kite with an effective area three times an appropriate kite size for the conditions. That equates to roughly nine times the power!

Relaunching and solo launching flat kites can offer some additional challenges in high wind with “hot” or downwind launches. Unlike “C kites” you should have the ability to sheet out/bleed off the power during the hot launch and avoid being launched yourself!

* Regarding tricks, flat hybid kites in high wind ranges.


Over confidence and a lack of feeling overpowered on a flat kite might have kiters throwing tricks they might not bother with in similar conditions with “C-kites.” With the increased jump height, length, duration and more spins it is possible that kiter orientation and timing could be off. This could result in some fairly hard landings. Kiters need to plan for and evaluate these changes in performance

* Rig the right size

Despite the extraordinary range kiters benefit from selecting the proper flat kite size for actual wind conditions. Usually, kites well selected for conditions have a lighter feel, are more maneuverable and jump better. As with “C-kites”, you loose these qualities by rigging too big and also gain a higher level of risk and exertion.

Kiters tend to rise to challenges and push the envelop. With the increased capacity of flat kites this can result in some incredible sessions but also some bad ones if things don’t go particularly well through overconfidence and other sources of “operator error.” If kiters employ precautions in session planning and execution with flat kites similar to that used with “C-kites” odds of having a great session free of hard knocks goes up. Flat hybrids are new, and we're all learning about their capabilities and differences. Work to avoid learning about these differences at the high wind range. Some discoveries may hurt more than others.
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Old 03-14-2006, 11:32 AM
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Special thanks to the following riders for providing input for this article!

Stacy Fonas
Best

Miguel Clavero
Big Kite Centers

Kent Marinkovic
Cabrinha

Greg Kuklinski
Globerider

Paul Menta
The Kitehouse

Neil Hutchinson
Slingshot
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