The Kiteboarding Kite
So you want to learn something about the Kiteboarding Kite?
You have just finished your kiteboarding lessons at the nicest kiteboarding spot on Curaçao with Awa Salu Kiteboarding Curacao, and have decided that, in between face planting during water start practice, doing the downwind scoot, over stalling your kite over and over again, and being a great amusement for your instructor, you are hooked on this great watersport called kitesurfing.
You have just rolled and stuffed our kiteboarding kite into its bag and have collected your snotty towel. This of course after rinsing your sinuses with loads of salty St. Joris Bay water, because you got yourself into a watersport that definitely will not make you forget the taste of our Caribbean sea. After your goodbye’s, you rush to your car to get to Google to start your hunt for your very first kiteboarding gear.
Your shock is huge when you find out that literally all of those kites have great boost, lovely sweet spots, great hangtime and tons of drift while not even looking alike without really being able to pinpoint the differences….
This is why we would like to give you some intel on the main different kiteboarding kite types and their characteristics.
Kiteboarding Kite Parts
So you probably know most of the names of the different parts of the kites you have flown during your kiteboarding lessons here on our sweet island Curacao.
But, as you maybe have heard before… We don’t expect you to remember all we tell you during your lessons; therefore we will name all of them for you.
The leading edge is the thickest inflatable tube on the kite that runs from wingtip to wingtip, it defines the shape of the kite, and is the only part of the kite you may hold during landing and launching and handling of the kite.
The trailing edge the part you never want to grab when handling the kite, and the part that when it was in the water , you needed to jerk the power lines to get the kite to relaunch.
The bridles (frontlines) are the lines on the kite you always had to check for entanglement into itself, before attaching them to the power lines.
The back lines on the ends or wingtips of the kite were colored and attached to the red/white and blue/white steering lines.
The struts are the inflatable tubes connected to the leading edge. They add stability to the kite and make water relaunch easier, strutless kites are lighter and fit in a small backpack when deflated.
The 5 parts of the kite all have their functions, and the first 3 make the 4 different leading edge inflatable (LEI) kite types.
– Warning, some technical kiteboarding stuff coming up ahead. Feel free to skip if you don’t feel like reading it. Feeling up to it? Please continue… –
Let’s start with the leading edge. Its shape ranges from the very rounded leading edge, shaped like a C to a flatter profile. C kites or hybrid kites have a rounded leading edge, but not bow or delta kites. Kites with a flatter profile can be bow, delta, or hybrid kites, but not C kites.
The amount of curved shape of the leading edge determines the flatter area under and over which the wind flows. It is the more horizontal part of the leading edge. This area is called the projected area. This means that a kite with a flatter profile will have a higher projected area than a C kite.
The second feature of the kite that determines the kite type are the bridles. Bridles are the lines that attach to the leading edge and come together in one line with attachment option to the power lines. Wingtips can have bridles too.
There are usually 3 to 4 attachments from the leading edge, coming together to one.
The bridles make sure the kite’s leading edge doesn’t change shape while flying.
They keep the leading edge stabilized so when trimming, the angle of attack on the wind can be made smaller, resulting in a better depower compared to direct connection to the power lines on the wingtips.
Did you loose me? Don’t worry, read the keep reading till after the trailing edge part and I will show you what I am talking about.
The trailing edge can be convex (bulging), straight or concave (caved in). Only bow and delta kites have concave trailing edge’s.
The concave shape of the trailing edge makes is possible for the bridled kite to fly a 100% depowered, since the kite is able to let the wind pass underneath without any angle of attack. This is not possible with a convex trailing edge.
The wind is able to pass underneath the kite with the same speed as it does over the kite, therefore it’s not creating any lift and is 100% depowered.
Side view kite types
The diagram displays the main characteristics per kite type. This diagram also shows how the leading edge of the kites move down and the trailing edge up, when the kites is completely depowered with the trimstrap. The more the leading edge can move down and the training edge can move up, the more depower a kite has..
– You can hop back into the piece, technical stuff is all explained above –
There are 4 different Kitesurfing Kite Types with an inflatable leading edge. These kites have either a ‘bridles supported leading edge’ (SLE) or a ‘not supported leading edge’.
The C-Kite has a strongly curved front profile, no bridles, long square wingtips and a convex trailing edge.
It has a narrow wind range, limited depower, explosive power delivery and powered turning capacity. The C-Kite is harder to relaunch than other kites and is suitable for the more advanced rider.
The Hybrid Kite
The Hybrid Kite has a flatter to a more curved front profile, bridles for leading edge support, square to ‘swept back’ wingtips and a convex trailing edge.
The characteristics can be like a C-Kite or a Bow Kite depending on it’s shape.
It has a good depower.
The Bow Kite
The Bow Kite has a flat front profile, bridles for leading edge support, ‘swept back’ wingtips and a concave trailing edge.
It has a huge windrange, great ‘low-end(soft winds)’ and ‘high-end(strong winds)’. The Bow Kite is very easy to relaunch due to the ‘swept-back’ wingtips and great depower. It has a gradual power build-up and turns depowered. The Bow Kite is a good ‘beginner kite’.
The Delta Kite
The Delta Kite has a very flat front profile, bridles for leading edge support, very ‘swept back’ wingtips and a concave trailing edge.
It has the same characteristics as the Bow Kite but has an even greater depower, easier relaunch and the Delta Kite reacts slower than the other kites.
This makes the Delta Kite the ideal kite for beginners.
Secondhand or New
Ok… So back to where we started… You and your huge shock…
You can buy a good secondhand kite or get a new kite.
Do you want a new kite? If you immediately want to have that Christmas feeling and want to pump up that fresh smelling, crispy kite now now now… Than you need to go hunting for a new kite for yourself… Or… actually… maybe for your girlfriend… -hint, hint, hint…-.
You can decide to buy a secondhand kite to get good and confident in your riding, before subjecting your ‘New-Expensive-Precious’ to your skills…
Chances are that the kite will be the first kite for many more skills in the future, if it ofcourse survives your antics…
You will, after a while, know better what you are looking for when buying a new kite. The only down side is that you need to know how to do a quick survey of the state of the kite and bar.
-Want to be able to do a quick bar and kite survey? If yes, read on. If no, scroll on… I will tell you when it’s over-
Second hand material survey
- Make sure that the kite is preferably not more than 4 years old,
- The trailing edge doesn’t look too unhealthy (sign of kite wear)
- The canopy doesn’t feel too soft and silky and is free of holes or wear.
- The stitches underneath the leading edge are not worn
- The strut-leading edge attachments are intact and the stitches are not giving out.
- The pump hoses are not melting and sticky
- Check all the strings for wear and tear
- Leave it pumped up for a while to check if it doesn’t deflate or lose air.
- Check 2nd hand sites for normal secondhand prices for that year
- For corrosion on metal parts
- If the depower system will work for you and doesn’t get stuck
- The quick release system. Let someone pull the steering lines while you activate the system. It should not get stuck.
- All the lines for (starting) breakage and knots in the lines.
- If the hole true the bar has no sharp edges
- The powerlines that go true the bar for wear and tear
- If you can reengage the chicken loop easily enough
- If the line pairs are the same length
Some things can be easily fixed by replacement. If the bar is not safe, you can check with a dealer for a new bar.
–Hop back in, kite survey lesson is over-
Where will it take you
If you decide you are interested in a nice, beginner friendly more allround kite for some freeriding so you can practice your transitions, pop’s, jumps and timing. … A flatter bridled kite, with straight to concave trailing edge is nice due to the smaller chances of becoming overpowered, and less nervous so more forgiving, wether you are able to fly high and float in the sky able to fly high and float for many seconds…
Waves are all you can think about? And all you want to do is kite in the waves? Then you are probably looking for a kite that doesn’t keep pulling when riding a wave, and is very stable and predictable. Those kites are the flatter kites, make sure it is not a slow turner. Check out a review of the kite you are looking at on a forum.
Were you a star in class and jumping on your third lesson? Are you completely ready to ride unhooked, having fun with loads of power and doing scary kite loops in the air, thus ready to freestyle? Then you might like it to take a look at the more C shaped side of things…
Are you a wakeboarder and planning on riding wakestyle the kite preferable loves riding low, powered, fast, and wants to be unhooked, while being stable and predictable.
Most kite types are being used in this style of kite boarding, Google a couple of kites, check forums for their opinions and take the plunge… It is mostly about of the type of board you have….Good luck with that one… And you thought kites where difficult to figure out?…Don’t forget your impact vest! As a community we hate for our fellow kiters to get hurt.
Remember to be safe and take lessons if you are unsure of your (proven) abilities!