Lofting  – Imagine Soaring Over Rocks and Trees…

Lofting is a very dangerous situation caused by an updraft or sudden gust catching your kite and carrying you into the air.  This situation is so dangerous because it is unintentional; you can be injured by being lifted and thrown into a hard object.  In this page I will tell you what causes it and what you can do to decrease the chances of it happening – but first watch this video, it shows exactly how serious this situation can be.

How does it happen?

Lofting happens when a strong gust of wind or updraft catches the kite and pulls it upwards.  It is most likely to happen when the kite is high in the wind window – somewhere between 11 and 1 o’clock.  The diagram below shows how the kites pull changes based on where it is in the wind window.

How kites position can cause lofting

All kites in this picture are parked at the edge of the wind window.  They all pull on the rider; kite A is pulling horizontally, kite C is pulling equally vertically and horizontally, and kite B is pulling upwards. 

If the kites were hit with a gust, each rider would be pulled in the direction of the arrow on his kite.  Rider A would slide along the ground to the left, rider B would fly upwards, and rider C would be tossed upwards and to the right.  Of the three, rider B is most likely to be lofted, followed by rider C.

Ideally it is best to avoid all of the situations above, but the best position to be in is A.  Any situation where you can be unintentionally lifted off the ground is bad, and should be avoided.


What 's Involved

 There are a number of things that can contribute to being lofted.

  • Gusty, erratic winds.
Gusty wind creates varying kite power, which can pull you into the air.
  • Flying a kite that is too large for the conditions.
  • Updrafts and Thermals
Although they are caused by different weather effects, updrafts and thermals both consist of air moving upwards.  In some cases they are strong enough to pull you and your kite into the air.  Updrafts occur in some thunderclouds, or other turbulent conditions, while thermals are caused by bubbles of rising warm air.
  •  Vertical Barriers
Vertical Barriers can form an updraft.  As air encounters a vertical object, it rises up and over it, creating an updraft that can lift you and carry you into the object.  Considering that these objects (buildings, cliffs, houses, etc…) can be hard, it isn’t good to be flying overtop of them.  So…stay at least 50 yards or more upwind.


Safety Precautions

 You can avoid being lofted by taking some precautions.

  • Know the weather.  Don’t ride in gusty, unpredictable wind. 

  • Assess the weather and choose an appropriate kite size.  Don’t ride in a kite that is too large for your conditions.

  • Don’t park your kite directly overhead.  Get in to the habit of keeping your kite low and close to the water so that any gusts pull you horizontally, not upwards.

  •  Be aware that lofting can happen and be ready to use your kite’s safety systems.  Try to do it before you get too high – after a certain height you probably don’t want to let go! 

  • Launch your kite unhooked, or be ready to de-power it immediately by releasing the chicken loop.

  • After launching, get away from the shore as soon as possible, and don’t ride near hard objects after that.

  • Don’t ride in onshore winds.  They are the most likely to blow you inland.

I think you can see now how serious this situation is, and why it needs to be avoided;  It is very dangerous and poses a real hazard to kiteboarders.  Ride safe! 

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