Kite Piloting

You must be very good at kite piloting in order to be a kitesurfer. Study well the basics of kite piloting below before starting to kitesurf

Kite PilotingThe first step when piloting a kite is to use a safety leash and attach it to the harness, so in case that you let go off the control bar, the kite will not fly away. More importantly, a Kite on the loose might cause harm to others with lines tangled up on other people or object around.

Piloting the kite
Launching a kite with an assistant
Self-Launching
Relaunching in Shallow Water
Relaunching in Deep Water
Self-Landing in the Water
Self-Landing on Land

Kite Piloting Kite piloting
Photos courtesy Cabarete Kite School

Kite Piloting:
Before start using a kitesurf equipment and before going into the water, make sure to practice a lot kite piloting with a trainer kite on land .
Best wind for kite piloting with trainer kite piloting practicing is between 8 to 18 knots.
In case you practice a small kitesuf, the best speed in order to have the kite fly but not over pull would be between 7 to 10 knots.
While practicing kite piloting on land it is important to use shorter lines (between 10 to 20 meters).

1. Start the kite piloting by turning the kite to the right and than slowly to the left, back and forward in an 8 pattern.
2. Bring the kite into 10 o'clock on each side above your head.
3. Leave the kite hover at the left edge of the wind window at 45 degree vertically while running to the left.
4. Do the same thing on the right side while running to the right.
9. While the kite hovers on neutral mode, lie down on the ground and than start to dive the kite down to the left . Get into a sitting position with the kite's pull. Repeat that action a few times.
10. Make the same action on the right - lie down and dive the kite down to the right while getting yourself into a sitting position. Repeat that action a few times.

Important Note about any kite piloting:
Do not even start to practice kite piloting before you know all the safety guidelines and self-rescue techniques

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Launching a kite with an assistant:
1. The assistant will hold the position the kite in the correct angle with the wind. He will hold the kite in a position like the letter "C" while the leading edge is facing the wind.
2. You will walk into this position with the control bar in your hands, while the assistant will walk with you, holding the kite, in a way that the lines will be tense at 90 degree angles to the wind. If the kite is still flapping in the wind, it means that there is no wind blowing into the Kite and filling it with air.
Which means - the kite has been moved too much upwind and is outside the Wind Window.

3. Walk upwind until the kite stops flapping (which means - the wind fills the kite). Do not go too much upwind because there might be too much air in the kite which might pull you strongly with no control. It means that the kite is moved into the power zone and it has to be moved back into the neutral zone before a launch can be performed.
4. Walk back downwind. Make sure that the kite is stable and almost hovers above the ground by itself - You are now in the right position to launch the kite .
5. Before giving your assistant the OK sign, make sure to double check that your lines and security release system are properly set.

Important Note:
Different kite brands have different safety systems. It is very important that you know how to use your own kite safety system. Make sure to try it a couple of times before using the kite.

6. Give the OK sign to your assistent if your kite is positioned corectly and you made the check up to your equipment before launching.
How to sign OK? Just put your thumb up. Your assistant will leave the kite and by piloting the bar, you'll bring the kite up.

A few extra tips:
Make sure your assistant knows clearly what he has to do.
* Never let go of a kite that is still flapping in the wind. It will fly backwards and it can suddenly pull hard.
* In order to prevent any confusion, use only your thumbs up as an OK sign.
* It is very recommendable to hold the kite until it is stable.
* To keep you from losing control over the kite, do not pilot the kite too fast overhead. The kite might move through the Power Zone and generate a lot of power.

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Kite PilotingSelf Launching:
1. Bring the kite into a position like the letter "C" while the leading edge is facing the wind. One tip of the kite is on the ground and the other tip of the kite is in the air.
2. Put some sand on the lower kite tip after folding it a little, in order to keep it from moving.
3. While holding the control bar, position yourself in a way that the kite is at the wind window edge respective to your position (the kite has to be approximately 85 degrees to the left or the right of you, while its leading edge facing the wind).
4. Make sure to attach the safety leash to your wrist or harness now.

Kite Piloting Kite piloting
Photos courtesy Cabarete Kite School

5. Release the kite from the sand and unfold the tip by pulling on the control bar and the closest line to the ground.
6. Pull the farthest line from the ground (the top line) in order to bring the kite up and finish launching it.

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Relaunching in Shallow Water:
1. Flip the kite (in case the kite did not crash in a leading edge down position).
Then swim towards the kite in order to get it on its back in a the vertical half moon position.
If the wind is very strong, the kite will pull you and the swim wont be productive anymore. In such case, you should pull on the middle leader line (which is connected to the front lines) of the kite while swimming toward it. After you have pulled in approximately 2m of the middle leader line, release it in a sudden movement while holding on to the control bar. The kite will immediately get on to its back.
Another option is to pull the bar back above your body and head and than release the bar in a sudden movement in front of you.
2. Choose one of the tips of the kite that will be the top tip. Pull on the back line of that tip, trying to fly the kite.
3. The moment the top tip has caught the wind, keep pulling the line of the bottom tip of the kite until the kite slides toward the edge of the wind window.
4. Launching moment: Keep on pulling the top line (the line attached to the tip of the kite farthest from the water) until you bring up the kite and finish the launching process.

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Relaunching in Deep Water:
Follows the same principles as in shallow water.
The difference is that you will have to execute the actions while swimming. Pull the center lines of the kite in order to turn the kite on its back. Then release them and swim as fast as you can towards the kite.
Swim with both hands, if necessary. When taking hold of the bar again, make sure you know which side of the bar is to be on the right and which on the left. With this Cabrinha kite, red goes left. Keep swimming and slowly pilot the kite in the air (which will feel heavy as it is wet).

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Self Landing in the Water:
1. Bring your kite into a de-powered mode.
2. The best thing would be landing the kite in shallow water. It is both safer and easier (this method still work on land even thought it is slightly more dangerous on land).
3. Move the kite to the right or the left edge of the wind window (if the safety leash is attached to the right side of the kite then you should move it to the left edge, or the opposite.)
4. Leave your control bar and pull the safety leash (which should be attached to the back or front line of your kite).

5. Keep walking toward the kite while holding the line which the safety leash is attached to, until you catch the leading edge of the kite. Another option is to release the safety leash before walking toward the kite).
6. Put the your kite on the beach.
7. Secure the kite and then grab the control bar and wind the line in.

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Self Landing on Land:
1. Bring your kite in the window edge.
2. Let go of the bar. You will see that the kite will just stay there, hovers up without pulling you almost.
3. Pull in quickly approximately one or two meters on the upper front line. The kite will drop the leading edge toward the wind.
4. While holding the same line, walk toward the kite (upper front line) until you will grab the leading edge of the kite. Another option - you can release the safety leash before you walk toward the kite)
6. Put the your kite on the beach.
7. Secure the kite and then grab the control bar and wind the line in.

Read more about kitesurf:

Kite History Kite Techniques How To Control Kite
Kitesurfing Jump Technique Board Grabs Assessing The Wind
Kiteboarding Terms Safety Guidlines Kite Jibe Technique
Kite Piloting Kite Turning Technique Bow Kite Advantages

Go back to kiteboarding articles

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