AUSTRALIAN KITEBOARDING SCHOOL
TRAINER KITE GUIDELINES AND PRACTICE
If you are reading this, chances are you have purchased a quality Ozone Trainer kite from us (or we hope you have ). This is a basic helper to get you started and we urge you to get proper lessons for power kiting. The exercises in this document are to be used in conjunction with the kite manual you receive with the kite purchased. Initially you should approach flying your kite in light winds as even small kites can generate quite a bit of power. We suggest light winds (up to 15 knots or 25 km/h) and small Trainer kites (up to 2.5sqm), and always consider safe location and the safety of others around you. Again, these are TRAINER KITE PRACTICES and should absolutely NOT be applied to large kites of any description!
When flying your trainer kite, BEFORE you launch, fit the safety leash to your wrist and carry out preflight checks (refer to kite manual). After flying your kite, safely land the kite and THEN remove the kite leash. Kite leashes, kill the power of the kite when you let go of the control bar ensuring yours and bystanders safety. We suggest if you lose control of your kite at any time, you let go of the bar (assuming you are wearing the leash). Safety Leashes should be WORN AT ALL TIMES when operating your kite.
Australian Kiteboarding take NO RESPONSIBILITY for any accident or injuries which may occur as a result of any person reading and then applying this information. YOU FLY YOUR KITE AT YOUR OWN RISK!
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We hope you get practicing safely and enjoy power kiting as a recreation whether it be on water, snow or land. Happy and safe Flying!
Flying a Trainer Kite
A Trainer foil kite will teach you everything you need to understand the wind window and the theory and dynamics of flying a kite in the wind window. Understanding this information is 85% of the total knowledge and skill required to be an independent and safe kiteboarder.
Basic Setup of a Trainer (2 or 3 Lines) Kite.
Most foil trainers will have two or three lines from the bar which connect to the kite bridles. Most lines are colour coded or numbered. The two lines from the ends of the bar connect to the two front bridles on the kite, make sure the bridles of the kite are tangle free before you connect them up. Generally the red line goes on the left side of the kite as you look at the underside of the kite in front of you. The green or blue or whatever other colour goes on the right. If you have a three line kite, there will be a central line coming from the middle of the bar and it should be connected to the trailing edge bridle of the kite. This is the bridle set connected to the back edge of the kite all along the trailing edge. Make sure the lines are not crossed or tangled before you launch. It pays to check your lines twice before you launch, as tangled, twisted or incorrect lines can result in a powerful kite launching with reduced or no control over steering. Like driving a car with no brakes and no steering wheel and the accelerator at full speed!
Trainer kite Launching (Light – medium winds)
For the purpose of this exercise, let’s assume your kite is already setup with lines attached to the bar and kite ready to fly. A foil kite launches from straight downwind in normal light to medium wind strengths, we’ll cover strong wind launch later. Place the kite down on the ground on it’s back with the open end of the kite (Open celled leading edge) facing away from the wind direction (Downwind). Place enough sand to keep the kite in place on the beach without blowing away, along the trailing edge of the kite only. You should be looking at the kite on it’s back showing all the bridle lines facing up with the trailing edge closest to the wind direction. Then unroll the lines from the bar as you slowly walk upwind away from the kite. Once you are in position with the lines stretched out, untwist any twists or tangles in the lines without pulling tension on the lines. Once you can clearly see that the lines are running directly to the bridle of the kite unhindered, make sure the red side of the bar is in your left hand and attach the safety leash to your wrist (if the leash is connected to the right, connect to the right wrist, if from the left, then connect to the left wrist. If the safety leash is connected to the center line, you may attach the safety wrist to either wrist that is most comfortable.
Check to make sure nobody is approaching close to the kite from downwind, upwind behind you, and from the sides. If you are all clear, and when you are ready, pull a little tension on the bar in order to lift the leading edge of the kite up and into the wind stream, this should partially inflate the cells in the kite. When they stop inflating, give a few gentle tugs on the bar to further increase tension and to help the sand lift from the kite and finally, good a good tug on the bar to release the remaining sand and take a step backwards.
Safety Tip! If the kite takes off and you lose control or there is a problem, immediately LET GO OF THE BAR whilst wearing the safety leash and the kite will depower and land straight away awaiting further input from you. You can then sort any problems or rethink your launch.
The kite will lift off the ground with moderate power and quickly climb directly to zenith (above your head) where it will stay so long as you do not change the course of the kite. Keep your hands steady and evenly distanced from your body so as not to turn the kite. The kite is steered by pulling on the side of the bar that corresponds to the direction you want the kite to turn. To stop the turn, straighten the bar again. Push with one hand and pull the bar with the other hand to turn the kite. Do not try and turn the kite by steering it like a steering wheel.
To turn the kite to the left or anti clockwise in the sky, gently pull on the left side of the bar towards your body. You only need a tiny amount of input for the kite to turn. The kite will continue the turn so long as you keep the difference in line tension. To make the kite fly straight again, return the bar to straight so as both lines are equidistant from your body.
To turn to the right or clockwise, pull on your right hand side of the bar. So long as you keep pressure on the right side of the bar, the kite will continue to turn to the right and will execute a full circle in the sky. This can lead to massive unexpected power as the kite loops through it’s turn.
We suggest you make small inputs of control initially until you gain an appreciation of the power in the wind window. Remember, if you loop the kite in then power zone and you cannot control the power – LET GO OF THE BAR – rather than trying to regain control, especially if you have people or obstructions about you. You can repair a kite easily and inexpensively with repair tape.
Strong wind Trainer Foil Launch
To launch the kite in strong wind it is better to avoid the directly downwind launch procedure as outlined in previously inn the light/medium wind launch instruction. Instead, set the kite up more towards the edge of the wind window away from the land ie towards the waters’ edge side of the wind window. The layout of the kite is the same as in 5.2, but the kite will launch so much closer to Neutral that you will not get the massive pull immediately on lift off that you will get from the downwind launch method. The kite should be approximately half way (45 degrees) between Neutral and directly down wind. This will give it some power and stability but still be controllable.
The kite should be set with one wingtip upwind and the other downwind, still on it’s back and of course with the trailing edge closest to you. Walk back slowly and as the wing tip lifts and starts to fill with air , the kite will gradually power up and climb up overhead with much less power than a directly downwind launch.
Basic Flying Exercises
Having good kite flying skills is fundamental in learning to kiteboard. How can you expect to combine riding on a board and producing just the right amount of power in just the right direction, if you cannot control the kite without having to think about it? It is our intention that you learn to fly the kite through feel and intuition and get that skill in your muscles and body (Kinaesthetics). If you constantly have to be thinking about how to control the kite to position it where and when you need to, then you will waste valuable and precious lesson time when you could be up and riding.
1. Basic Steering and Control. Firstly, with the kite at 12 o’clock, gently pull a little on the left side of the bar to start the kite to make a left turn, towards the 9.30 o’clock position or L/H neutral. As the kite turns and begins to slowly descend along the neutral of the wind window you will not have to keep left hand pressure on instead, return your hands to even pressure, allow the kite to slowly fly towards the ground and stop it’s descent with a little right hand pressure on the bar until the kite stops and flies 1m off the ground. Adjust your hand pressure until you can effectively keep the kite steadily in this position. Keep the kite stable in this position for 1 minute and then slowly return the kite to the 12 o’clock position by gently pulling on the right hand side of the bar to initiate a right hand turn upwards away from the ground. Again, once you have initiated the turn, you do not have to keep the turn pressur eon until you wish to counter the previous unput with opposite steering. To stop the kites ascent, counter with a little left hand to turn the kite directly back into the direction of the wind once the kite reaches zenith (12 o’clock).
2. Carry out the same exercise on the opposite side of the wind window, ie, from 12 o’clock down to 2.30 o’clock and then back to 12 again. Continue this exercise for all positions of the clock face and ensure you can keep the kite absolutely still in each position for 30 seconds to 1 minute at each point. If the kite drifts in and out of position, you need more practice.
3. Easy Figure 8’s. The second exercise is to fly the kite in figure 8’s between 11 and 1 o’clock. This will help you build a fluid feel for the kite whilst keeping it in constant motion. Begin as usual from 12 o’clock and by pulling on the left side of the bar, turn the kite towards 11 o’clock. When the kite reaches 11 o’clock, make a turn with right hand pressure, straight away without stopping, and bring the kite back across the window, past 12 o’clock until the kite reaches 1 o’clock. Again as soon as it reaches 1 o’clock, immediately turn the kite back across the top of the wind window towards the 11 o’clock position againand so on…… You should aim to become fluid in your steering and control of the kite and this will produce a small amount of power if done correctly. As you gain confidence you can turn the kite more aggressively back and forth until you feel comfortable.
4. Powered Figure 8’s. This exercise is to allow you to feel some of the power of the wind window. It is similar to the previous exercise but instead of 11-1 o’clock, start at 10 o’clock and fly straight across to 2 o’clock in as straight a line as possible. To do this you will need to make a sharp turn and aim the kite at the opposite clock number, then execute another sharp turn to get the kite to race back across the wind window to the original starting point. The kite will produce considerable power as it accelerates across the wind window. Pay particular attention to how much power is created and where in the window the kite is as the power comes on.
5. Power strokes. An important exercise is to create consistent power strokes in the direction of intended travel. To create a power stroke in the direction of across the wind to the left, you need to start the kite in a power dive from 1 o’clock diving sharply towards 9.30. Before the kite reaches 9.30, you need to make another sharp turn back towards 1 o’clock again. Again, before the kite reaches 1 o’clock, you need to execute another tight turn and bring the kite back down the same diagonal line towards 9.30 again and so on… The aim is to try and create uniform traction favouring the left hand side of the wind window which will be the choice of direction to travel. This is a very exacting exercise and must be completed flawlessly to create power only in the direction of travel. If you go too far to the right, the pull will be too far downwind, if you turn to early, the power stroke will be too short, if you wait too long the kite will reach neutral and the speed and power of the kite will be too “on and off” to be of any use.
6. Sining. Same as 5, but this time to the right hand side. Starting from 11 o’clock, dive towards 2.30 and back and so on. Repeat until you can control it precisely with ease. No mistakes! This exercise not only teaches good power strokes, but also is the embodiment of “Sining”. Sining is a technique in which we can generate more wind speed across the canopy of the kite than the prevailing wind speed. This is a fundamental skill required when you ride in less than enough power for your kite and will be a skill you will always use in kitesurfing on lighter wind days.
7. Advanced Exercises – Down turning the kite. Most of the time when you are learning, you will turn the kite upwards towards the zenith which will slow the kite and reduce power as the kite moves closer to the neutral away from the power area. Sometimes however, you need to create power in the turn to keep speed and power high for fast carving turns on the board. In order to do this, you need to turn the kite in a downward loop away from the Zenth. Begin with the kite at 1 o’clock and make a turn towards 11 o’clock by pulling with the right hand. CAUTION: Downturning the kite will create substantial power as the kite tracks down into the heart of the power zone, so be ready! You will also notice straight away that the kite, during it’s loop, will twist the lines. Do not be concerned with the crossed lines. The left side of the kite still corresponds to the left side of the bar, so just ignore the twist in the lines. Once you have successfully made a down turn across to 11 o’clock, you can keep going and execute another down turn away from Zenith in the opposite direction from 11 o‘clock down and across back to 1 o’clock again. By doing this you will remove the twist in the lines and return everything back to normal. Again, expect some serious pull from the kite. Remember if you lose control, LET GO OF THE BAR.
8. Crash Recovery. It is almost certain that you will crash the kite into the ground at some stage. If flying a 2 line kite, you will need to put the bar down, remove the safety leash and go to the kite, resetting it in the original launch position, then start over again. If you are flying a 3 line trainer such as the Ozone Imp’s. Simply pull on the trailing edge or 3rd line progressively until the kite lifts off the ground backwards. Once it starts to lift, turn the bar either way and the kite will flip over into the launch position. Grab the bar with two hands again making sure you have the left end of the bar in the left hand and get ready for the pull of a launch.
9. Expert Exercises for fun and skills sharpening. Try flying perfect squares in the wind window. Tight right angle turns and fly straight lines to form the square. This is not easy! If the beach is clear, try flying across the wind window with the kite at a constant height from the ground starting at 3m off the ground and eventually working your way down to less than 1 m. Please watch out for other beach users when flying advanced manoeuvres’. The kite will move fast and creat tremendous power in these manoeuvres and should not be attempted until you have the skills.
10. Synchronized Flying and chasings. Grab a friend with a similar kite and stand side by side and chase each other copying the manoeuvres’ of the leader. Take turns in being the leader, this will sharpen your skills and reaction time. Enjoy the trainers, they are great fun.
11. Final Exercises. Once you have mastered the exercises above, the next step is to learn to do most of them without looking at the kite directly (Foveal vision). Your aim is to be able to fly the kite using only your peripheral vision (watching out of the corner of your eye). This will take a combination of three things; sighting the kite in your periphery, feeling the kite’s pull with your arms and upper body (muscle memory and physical feedback, and also having the knowledge through experience of where the kite should go and what it is about to do (Cognitive). Ultimate level, is to be able to fly the kite with your eyes closed, opening them every now and again if you need to ascertain the kites position. Only do this on the basic exercises! This takes time, don’t rush it, enjoy the learning process. The more time you spend flying your trainer kite, the more flying the kite becomes intuitive, second nature and an extension of your body. You will not have to think to produce the kind of power you need in the direction you want, you will have experienced all manner of feelings and situations from the trainer so that when you fly the big power kites, you will not be learning harsh lessons of “what if?.....”
CAUTION ! Remember that full sized kites cannot be flown like a trainer kite. Many of the power exercises can only be done on land which is the reason for the trainer kite in the first place. Trying some of the power exercises on a full sized power kite will throw you like a rag doll no matter how strong or heavy you are and you will be hurt! If you feel you need to practice this kind of power moves on a full sized kite after you have had lessons, make sure you are in the water so you can deal with the full power and speed of a full sized traction kite.
Once you have completed this series of Exercises with the trainer kite, you will be more than ready to start lessons with the full sized kites with our school. All of the exercises correspond to techniques used when flying the big kites. So when you are ready, book your lesson with us and take the next step. If you can fly the kite like you should be able to after 12-15 hours on the trainer, then we will get you riding in just two short lessons on the big gear.
Don’t stop flying the trainer though, there is never enough time to gain more experience by flying the trainer, or get your partner or best friend into the sport by giving them a go on the trainer too.
See you in School! J