Kite Lines – Eliminate Headaches with Proper Care and Maintenance.
Although kite lines seem simple, they absolutely should not be overlooked. If one breaks, you will need to self-rescue and probably won’t have a fun session. The good news is that this is easy to prevent with regular care, which is covered in this page.
- Inspect your lines every time you ride. Look for:
- Knots. Remove any before you ride – even one knot can decrease the strength of a line by up to 50%.
- Fraying or worn areas. Replace worn lines as you find them.
A study on rope break strength vs. knot break strength done by the Cordage Institute in Texas showed that a knot in a line reduces its strength up to 50%. This is a significant decrease in strength, and is easy to avoid. If you are interested, you can read the full study here
- Don’t step on your lines (or anyone else’s).
I see this all the time – someone sets up their lines, checks them to make sure they are ok, and then walks all over them. This makes as much sense as walking on a rock climbing rope – the only difference is that a climber will kill you if you ever step on her rope. Why? Stepping on the rope forces sand and dirt inside of it. This abrasive material dramatically shortens the life of the rope, and it will do the same to your line.
Besides, how many beaches have you seen that do not have any broken glass, sharp shells, rocks, or sticks on it? Very few I can imagine. Any one of these things can cut your line, especially if you step on it.
- Wash your bar and lines after riding in salt water. Wrap you lines on your bar and rinse them off with fresh water. Salt will crystallize creating a sharp and abrasive surface that will reduce the lines life
The gist is: reduce line wear and preserve strength through proper care and prevention. Abrasion and knots are the killers of lines, and they are very easy to prevent.
Getting Knots Out
Once they set, getting knots out of your kite lines can be more than tedious. Here are some tips to help you along the way.
- Try to get them out before they tighten. This means finding them during your pre-flight check before you fly your kite. As always, prevention is the best way to deal with this type of problem.
- Use a dulled needle to separate the strands. Work the knot to loosen it, and then pull it apart with the needle. Be sure not to tear any fibers.
- Tap the knot gently with a rubber mallet. Tapping the knot helps to work the strands loose.
When I learned this trick, it wasn’t from a kiteboarder. On a fishing trip I saw a family member smashing a knot against the side of the boat. I thought he had lost his mind (as family can do) but, I tried his method and surprisingly it worked better than anything I have tried before.
Be careful if you use pliers. Most pliers have sharp edges that can easily damage your line. If you need to use them, make sure they have smooth jaws.
Spectra or Dyneema – What are Kite Lines Really Made of?
Both. Spectra and Dyneema are both brand names for the same basic material that the kite lines are made out of - ultra high molecular weight polyethylene (UHMWC). Both companies have different methods of producing the material, but the end result is the same (Reference 2).
Spectra (Dyneema) is 15 times stronger than steel, is light enough to float, and is resistant to UV light (Reference 3). This makes it ideal for many uses: ballistic vests, fishing nets, and kiteboarding lines!
Kite line care and maintenance is very easy to do, and not only will it extend the life of your lines, it will reduce the chance of one breaking and creating an unsafe situation out on the water. Always take the time to inspect your lines.