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Author: Subject: Scoop's Guide for Newbie Powerkiters


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[*] posted on 3-17-2006 at 07:23 PM
Scoop's Guide for Newbie Powerkiters

So you want to get into traction sports, but really dont know where to start? Or you have just bought your first powerkite and now your looking around for some good advice... Welcome to Scoop's Big FAQ for beginners. I hope to cover many many newbie questions here.

First off, we will cover several things about kites you may not know.

Aspect Ratio
Aspect ratio is length of the kite compared to the chord (or height if looked at sitting on the ground). High aspect kites are very long and skinny. They are commonly associated with high performance, fast kites. They generally produce good power per square meter, are generally unstable and do not turn so well. Lower aspect kites are shorter and fatter. They are generally associated with lower, more calm performance. Kites are very stable, produce less power per square meter, and turn very very fast. Most beginner kites are of the lower aspect variety.

Line Bias
Power kites on quad line handles are one of two types. Two line or four line biased. This means how the kite prefers to be flown. A two line biased kite flies very well on the power (main) lines without any brake (lower/rear) input at all. They are tuned to fly at optimum with only the main lines. A kite that is quad line biased needs imput from the brake lines to get the most out of the kite. Some examples of two line biased kites are (most beginner kites) Blades, Bullets, Crossfires, Samurais, and beamers. Some four line biased kites are firebees, begos, razors, and just about ALL other buggy race kites.

Kite Sizing/Projected Area
]Most kites are measured in flat area, in square meter. Some older kites were measured by wingspan (HQ symphony being one). Most modern kites do follow flat area rules. Very few kites have been measured as projected area. (a few jojos and Viokites) Projected area is what size the kite is projected to be while flying. Kites with very little bow have a projected area very close to the original flat size. The more arch in a kite the less the projected area is compared to the flat size. An example of a flat like kite is an old skytiger from Flexifoil, some o fthe bigger arched kites are ARCs (hence the name) from Peter Lynn, and almost all LEIs (Leading edge inflatables) kitesurfing kites are very very arched and have a low projected area.

Control Gear
There are only about 3 types of kite control. Handles, Bar and de-power. We will go over all three and their advantages/disadvantages.

Handles offer the most control out of all the control methods. With handles, you have independent control of each four lines. You can pull just one line without adjusting the other three. This enables you to turn your kite with using only a push/pull turn like a 2 line kite, a turn with only the brakes, or a turn with using a pull and a brake all at the same time. In addition, you can pull only the brakes, creasing the trailing edge of the kite. This most often will slow the kite down, stop the kite (killing the power) and then even put the kite into reverse. This is especially useful for landing the kite. Handles can be tied together with a strop line between them, then you can use them with a harness and transer the pull from your arms to your waist. The only realy downfall I can see to using handles would be that the kite is fixed power, and in the winter for snowkiting, you have to have a very strong grip on the handles, making control a bit more difficult and making your hands cold faster. The only safety system I know of for handles is kite killers. These are wrist straps that attach with a small bungee to the brake lines. If you get into trouble, you can let go of the handles and the kite will crumble up and fall out of the sky losing all pull.

Fixed Bridle Bar-
There are 3 different ways to set up your bar. You can set it up with only the 2 lines. The power lines only are connected to the ends of the bar. The brake lines are not used. Basically as a 2 line kite. You lose the ability to stall and backup the kite. Making landing only by taking the kite out to the edge of the window and crashing it to the ground. Launching may be done from the edge of the window as well. This method is mainly used by kite-surfers using fixed line foils to surf with. There is no safety, only letting go completely will get you away from the kite. This poses the problem of the bar/lines getting wrapped/tangled around someone/something that it shouldnt and the kite powering up again. This system is not recommended. Next is almost the same thing, you attach the brake lines to the ends of the bars ,and the power lines to the center of the bar. This system has about the same limitations as the 2 line bar. There is still no safety. The main difference is how the kite will handle. Turning on brakes versus turning on power lines. The next system attaches the brakes to the center of the bar and the power lines to the outer tips. This has similar flying characteristics as the 2 line bar, but you can reach out and grab the brake lines (wear gloves). Then you can stall and land the kite. You can also keep the kite on the ground by staking the brake lines. Reverse launching is also available. There is a safety option in this.. You can attach a leash to the brake lines out in front of the bar, and when you let go, the brakes will be activated and collapse the kite. If you must fly a fixed power kite on this system this is recommended.

De-Power Bar-
This system requires a harness to work properly. You must have the kite attached, and have the ability to slide the bar back and forth. A de-powerable kite changes power by changing the angle of attack. Quick lesson on AoA (you guessed it, Angle of Attack). The AoA affects speed and power of a kite. The steeper the AoA, the top of the kite if farther away and the bottom of the kite is closer to you. This makes the AoA steep. A shallow AoA puts both top and bottom of the kite more equal distance from the kite flyer. The steeper the AoA, the slower the kite flys, and it produces more power. The more shallow, the faster the kite is and it makes less power. By adjusting the angle of the kite, you can adjust the power of the kite. When you pull the bar in, it steepens the AoA, slows down the kite, and makes the power greater. These kites can be reverse launched. They also have an adjustment strap in which you can change the amount of angle you can get with the bar. These kites are preferred for kitesurfing, landboarding, and snowkiting. the safety on these kites is built into the de-power system. There is normally a release of some sort on the bar system that when activated, will collapse the kite get you out of trouble.

Kite Choice
For beginners, kites should be in the 2-4 meter size, and in something low aspect. Start in lower winds and get used to the power before moving up in wind speed. Never fly in any wind where you feel out of contol. When you feel you have mastered contol of the kite, you can start looking into what kite will be next for you. You will decide what activity you want to do, and your weight and normal conditions, and see where you will go next.

Scudding is when you lean back and let the kite drag you along the ground. This should be the first discipline of power kiting you master. When you get more and more power out of the kite, eventually you will not be able to hold the power. This is when you can start to scud. You pull the kite through the power zone, lean back, and try to balance while scooting forward on your feet. This is actually advanced scudding, first you should learn to do this sittin down. This is what is affectinoately known as "butt scudding". You must be confident in holding enough power to scud before even considering jumping.

All newbies wanna do this. This is probably the wrong thing for any new guy to do. You have to hold lots and lots of power to be able to jump. If your where you need to be in power to jump, most new people will feel out of control. Take your time and build up to it. Now for recommended kites. It should be something in the 5 meter and up range. Smaller kites have no parachute effects and will drop you as fast as they pull you up. Also the wind speed it takes to jump with a smaller kite is very high. Gusty conditions are usually associated with high winds. Gusty winds are very dangerous for jumping. They will get you much higher than you really wanted, and when the high gust is gone, you fall. Winds that you can get air in with a 5m and up should not be nearly as gusty, and therefor more safe. Also, you should only use a kite that is designed to produce lift. Most kites are not. You CAN jump with any kite in the right/wrong conditions, but I highly recommend only using kites from the following list (for handles or fixed bridle bar) Macpara Bego, Ozone Riot, HQ Crossfire, and Flexifoil Blade. These kites are designed to produce vertical lift, and are the safest of the bunch. Jumping is all about timing, and having enough power. To jump, you cant scud. You have to plant yourselt and fight the pull. You need to build tremendous tension in the lines before the kite gets overhead. When you do this correctly, the kite will lift you off your feet. If you are having trouble doing this, you can dig a jumping pit. You make a pit deep enough to put your feet on the wall of the hole, and sit down in it. Make a large circle if you can, and you will be able to use the same pit for many many weeks. If the wind is blowing a different direction, you just use a different part of the wall. Using this method, you can build much more tension on the kite lines before launch. The first time you do this and get it right, it will scare the crap out of you. Using this method, you can either use the brakes and back the kite down into the power zone, then let it rip, or start coming across the power zone down low and turn the ktie up in the middle. The only other jump for standing jumping form your feet is the pendilum jump. With this jump, you run across and slightly upwind. You steer the kite up high, and go across the window and the same direction as you are running. Then you turn the kite back and up and get lifted. This is very timing critical. It takes lots of practice. It is well worth the time to get this right.

Power kites can be very dangerous. Conditions should be observed at all times. Never fly out of control. Remeber, not only do you have to worry about your safety, but other's as well. Kite lines under great tension can cut to the bone in the right (wrong??) circumstances. Anytime you are pushing your limits, always wear the appropriate gear. Helmets are a good idea, as well as good knee pads. I know some people go all out with body armour. It mainly depends on each individual situation. If your under lots of power, kite killers are a great idea. NEVER EVER attach yourself permanantly to the kite. Be sure there is some type of release between you and the kite. Tethered flying is a nono. Never attach yourself to a stationary object. There are less dangerous ways if you must do this, but they will not be discussed here as I do not support the idea of tethered flying. Mainly, keep your head, and don't try and act Cool just because your trying to impress someone.

I hope this guide leads some people in the right direction. If anyone has any other newbie questions that would fit well here, just post it and I will be sure and update this.

Thanks for taking time to read this.

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[*] posted on 5-11-2006 at 08:39 AM

as a newbie, I can think of a few more pieces of info to add...

Kite size vs wind speed... for example, my Ozone LD Stunt is awesome and easy to fly in the 8-12mph range.. light power but not enough to have to lean back to control.

On the other hand, in the 15-20mph range, it is not only awesome, but pretty powerful. Enough for me (200lbs) to have to lean back to hold while in the power zone.

Maybe a comparison on what kinds of power to expect in different wind ranges by different size kites... after flying the LD Stunt in the 15-20mph range, I quickly realized that I didn't need or want any more power that I was getting. BUT, I wanted a kite that would provide that same type of power in lower winds... does this make any sense? I jusrt see SOOO many questions about sizing in the forums...

Another topic... line information would be good. An overview of lengths and what benefits/disadvantages they have. Using Ozone Lines as an example, I have a wide variety of choices in terms of lengths (20-30meters), weights, differing weights between power and brake lines, etc... some more detailed information on the why's and how would be great.

And yet another topic, how about a training overview.... what do the experienced people believe are the most important abilities to initially master and at what point they should be mastered... Some are obvious but some may not be for new fliers..

And finally, how about a good overview of brake lines, their adjustment and usage... I know that different kites will have different properties but there must be some basics that apply to all of them. For example, after I took my LD Stunt up for the 1st time, I realized that I was having trouble getting good response of the kite. I dropped another knot on my brake lines at the handles about an inch closer to the handle and tied the brakes in there... it completely changed the characterists of my flying, making the kite way (maybe too) more responsive and more fun. Obviously, wind conditions will change this also but a good overview or basic guidelines would be helpful.

That's all I have for now. I bring these up because I had to look in so many places for these answers or make a few phone calls to figure them out... I would be nice to have a comprehensive place to go for all of these answers.
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[*] posted on 5-15-2006 at 05:43 PM

Makes perfect sense, that's why most of us own 10 kites or so, one set for traction, one for lift and a variety of sizes for each.

One of the important things to remember is that you need to consider not only kite size, but winds, your weight, your flying ability and what the kites wanted for. All these factors dictate what size of kite.

For example, you can get a 4m buster and it'll have a certain ammount of power, but then if you go with a 4.5m Century or other race kite, it'll have way more power, Partly because of the increased aspect ratio, partly because of it's ability to travel through the air fast and develop more apparent wind.

You'll find that most of the solid advice consists of trying something small, 1.5-3m range for your first kite, something basic like the rads, busters, beamers, then get out and try flying a bunch of other peoples kites or demo kites to see what kite characteristics you like, I'll love one kite while you'll love another with a different flying style.

On lines, shorter lines help limit the power of the kite, smaller power zone, shorter power strokes, but way quicker kite response, so good for getting pop and such, longer lines will put the kite higher up into the wind, longer power strokes, way bigger window so it's easier to milk the power out of the kite. The problem with long lines is they have a bit more give so your control will feel a little more sluggish, you'll also find that the kite takes a little longer to power up and longer to power down.

0.7m Buster I
1.4m Buster I
2.0m Buster I
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[*] posted on 5-21-2006 at 07:01 PM

just had a quick question - if you fly kites with a bunch of trees 35 metres behind you could this account for sudden turbulence and the kite just dying in your hands as happened several times when i took out my beamer 3.6 today for first time (sh*t myself on first drag taking it straight up to the zenith) - gusts were bad too 25 knots outo f nowhere.

would it be better to get down the beach for some scudding?
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[*] posted on 5-21-2006 at 11:23 PM

I believe the wind shadow for an object can be up to three times the height of the object, so if you have a 40ft tree upwind of you the wind will be swirly for up to 120 feet downwind of the tree. Just picture how water flows around rocks in a river.

0.7m Buster I
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