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Old 06-23-2009, 03:44 PM
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Default Delta Stacks to Bows, what needs fixing now?

Prior to four line kites, around 2000 to 2001, you had very little wind range to work with using two line kites. Add large directionals and there were further barriers to wide wind range with a single kite and board. This kept things "honest" and fairly close to reality. Performance was so limited that just staying upwind was an enviable feat at times. It really came down to a small viable wind range which with the smaller kite areas, was usually absent in normal light winds in these parts. Brute strength and edging created what additional wind range you could realize. Should say even before this time there were ram air foils and stacks of delta kites. Wow, talk about upwind kiting, well not really. Things had a long way to go.

With the inception of four line kites a lot changed. Kite performance went way up. Viable wind range expanded very substantially too. Too much in some cases, as folks were now able to stay out closer to their maximum winds than before. When things boosted well above the maximums, people got lofted and dragged. There were few to no mechanical quick releases, what few mechanisms existed were typically unreliable or worse would fail under load just when you needed them the most. People argued about the need for QR, ignoring the sad growing fact that you couldn't always unhook. Worse even those with unreliable QR proved the same thing. My watch word was to work hard to avoid high wind emergencies as there was nothing to say you would be able to kill the kites power. That was assuming you used a kite leash which for a while was extremely unfashionable. "Only kooks used kite leashes", those folks that wanted to be responsible, the blighters. The "smart ones" without leashes were totally committed to hang on to their kite through whatever, and sadly until death in a number of cases. Kiter populations went up a lot as did casualties. You can track the incidence of severe accidents and they jumped in this time. Things got better with QR after several years, folks even started using kite leashes thanks to spinable designs created by the industry in response to Silke's sacrifice and the growth of wake-style kiting. Still, traditional C kites would depower only so much and folks would still expose themselves to excessively gusty winds at times and pay the price. Technology improved allowing much great capability and safety IF good technique, knowledge and judgment were applied. This wasn't always the case or even now for that matter.

Later on, Bruno comes out with the BOW kite which was adopted by Cabrinha and Takoon, later by many more manufacturers. Some companies like Naish and North conceived high depower C kites. Now, the depower range exploded to much greater limits, IF the rider did the right things at the right times and things worked as intended. Because of these "IF's" there were still casualties but apparently fewer while the numbers of kiters continued to grow worldwide. This may be the technical "boo boo" that may be alleged at the start of this thread. Bottom line, if folks run their gear in an informed, prudent fashion, their capabilities and safety have gone far beyond those first four line traditional C kites. If they choose to merely "steer the plane" (or is it the golf cart?) as some are prone to do vs. learning to competently "pilot the plane" through varied weathers and conditions, seemingly avoidable accidents will continue to happen.

There will always be technological advances, "operator error" has been the greatest failure mechanism in the performance of these systems. Fix the gear, well sure, now fix the operator. That has been a challenge for a long time.
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