Kite Safety Features

There are two common kite safety features found on kiteboarding kites.  Each serves its own purpose, and it is important to understand how they work and when to use them.  These two features are:

  1. The Chicken Loop Quick Release – This quick release is the first safety feature of the kite, and when released, de-powers the kite. 

  2. The Safety Leash Quick Release – The second and last safety feature on the kite is designed to detach the kite from the rider (when necessary).

Understanding these two safety features is critical for every rider.  Not only for your safety, but the safety of others.


The Chicken Loop 

The Chicken Loop Safety feature is the first thing you want to use if you need to de-power your kite.

When Do You Want to Use It?

You want to release the chicken loop anytime you need to quickly de-power your kite.  This may be the case if:  

  • Your kite’s lines become tangled in an object and the kite is still powered (i.e. a tree, another kite, etc…)
  • You become overpowered and lose control of the kite.
  • You want to land your kite and have no one to help you.

How Does It Work?

The chicken loop is what attaches you to the kite.  It is the loop that is hooked into your harness.

Chicken Loop and Kite Control Bar

Each brand has a unique way to release the chicken loop (see others here).  To release the one shown here, pull on the red tab on the side.   

Example of releasing the chicken loop.

When the chicken loop is released, the kite pulls the bar away from you.  As the bar moves away, all lines except one lose their tension (Depending on the style of the kite, two lines might remain tensioned). 

As the lines go slack the kite loses its shape and can’t create any power. The kite can’t fly like this, so instead it falls to the water (to our relief).   The picture below shows this process.

Kite depowering when chicken loop released.

This is one of several ways a kite can be de-powered; to see another, click here (the picture will load in a different window).


The Safety Leash 

The Safety Leash is the second and final safety system on your kite; it is designed to de-power the kite and to keep it connected to you.  It isn’t common, but there are times when you need to release the safety leash. 

Doing this completely detaches the entire kite setup (kite/lines/bar) from you, leaving you free to move in the water.  Since you risk losing your gear, you only want to do this if remaining attached can hurt you.

When Do You Want to Release the Safety Leash?

You need to release your safety leash when it is unsafe to remain attached to your kite.  Some cases might be:

  • Your kite is caught in the surf and is pulling you into a harmful situation.
  • A boat drives over your lines and is dragging you and your kite behind it.  
  • Your body is caught in a net (or on some other underwater obstacle) and because of your kite you can’t free yourself.

These situations are uncommon, but they can happen, so it is important to know how to deal with them.


How Does It Work?

The safety leash connects to your harness and the kites bar.  It is detachable through a quick release, which is located close to the harness.  There are different types of release, but one of the most common (and the easiest to operate) is illustrated below.

How to release a kiteboarding safety leash.

To activate the quick release:

  1. Push the red tube away from you (as far as it can go). 
  1. The metal hook that is attached to the harness-side of the leash will be exposed.
  1. When fully exposed, the hook will snap open.
  1. The leash will slide off of the hook and you will be free of the kite.

Although they are simple, but you should still practice releasing both the chicken loop and the safety leash before riding.  Practicing will ensure that the motions are habitual so you don't forget when you need them!


This concludes the kite safety feature overview.  Remember that each brand’s safety features work differently, so it is very important to familiarize yourself with them before heading out onto the water.


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