Trainer Kite Exercises - The Basics
Whether you want to learn how to kiteboard or just have some fun, these exercises are the first thing you should work on.
The first four trainer kite exercises that everyone will have to learn at some point or another (whether you just like flying kites or want to begin kiteboarding) are contained in this page. They are:
- The Wind Window – You’ve just been caught by a gust and need to dump some power…where do you put your kite? You’ll know after this.
- Launching your Kite – With a partner and by yourself – after all, you’re not always going to have a partner.
- Using the Safety System – To do this properly you have to do the opposite of what you instinctively want to do. Trust your instincts and you risk being pulled face-first down the beach in front of everyone.
- Landing Your Kite – Crashing your kite is easy. Landing it properly takes a bit more effort, but your kite will last much longer.
Sounds simple? These four things will provide a strong kiteboarding foundation. Learn them well and you will reap the rewards.
The Wind Window
The wind window is the area where you can fly your kite, and is very important for two reasons:
- Your kite generates different amounts of power and will pull in different directions depending on where it is positioned in the wind window.
- Safety – when you understand the wind window you know where to place your kite for maximum safety in windy or gusty situations. An unexpected gust of wind can carry dangerous consequences.
The wind window is broken down into three main sections which are pictured in the diagrams below. These sections are:
- The Shoulder or Edge of the Wind Window -This area is the furthest the kite can fly into the wind and is the area that produces the least amount of power. You want to keep your kite here when you are taking a rest, distracted, or getting ready for a really cool move. This should be your default position for the kite as it is the safest.
- The Medium Power Zone or Intermediate Zone – This area is the transition area between the shoulder of the window and the power zone. The kite starts to build speed when flying through this zone and it “catches” more wind than in the shoulder. These two things give it more power. If your kite is in this zone pay attention. It is really easy to send it into the power zone and if you aren’t ready, you can easily be overpowered.
- The Power Zone -This zone is aptly named. Here your kite is moving fastest and catches the most wind, so it has the most power. You will use this zone to generate the power you will need for all of your kiteboarding moves. You don’t want your kite in the power zone unless you send it there, so pay attention and keep your kite under control.
Finding the Wind Window
Now that we know what the wind window is, how do we find it? To find the wind window just follow these steps:
- Find the direction of the wind. Just look for the way the waves are moving (on a lake), the way the grass is bending, or just feel it.
- Turn and stand with your back to the wind (so that you are facing downwind).
- Extend your arms straight out on both sides and imagine lines drawn out in both directions.
- As in the pictures above, the wind window is the area downwind of you and it ends at the imaginary lines you drew out sideways, as well as directly overhead.
Always find out the direction of the wind and get a picture of where the wind window is before you launch your kite. Also, keep in mind that if the wind changes direction, the wind window is going to move too; it is always downwind of you.
Navigating the Wind Window
The final thing we will go over about the wind window (right now) is the lingo. To describe where their kite is in the wind window, kiteboarders have broken it down into segments like a clock. To get an idea of the ‘coordinates’ of the wind window are, just:
- Stand with your back to the wind, so that you are facing downwind.
- Extend your arms out to both sides.
- Imagine that your arms are the arms of a clock. If your left arm is extended straight out it will be pointing to 9 o’clock position. Your right arm will be pointed at 3 o’clock. Directly above your head is 12 o’clock. Evenly spaced out between 9 and 12 are 10 o’clock and 11 o’clock. Between 3 and 12 are 1 o’clock and 2 o’clock. Take a look at the diagram below to make things clearer.
Now you should be able to describe the wind window in terms of power zones and you should be able to navigate it when someone says something like ‘Launch your kite at the shoulder of the wind window, then fly it up to the 12 o’clock position’.
All kiteboarders use this terminology so if you don’t understand, go back now and refresh until you can. From this point forward, I will be using these terms to describe things clearer.
Launching your Kite
The two most important things when launching your kite are where you launch it (in the wind window) and how you launch it.
Where to Launch Your Kite in the Wind Window
In general, you want to launch your kite where you have enough power to get it off the ground, but not so much power that you get overwhelmed when it launches. This spot will change depending on how much wind you have. The picture below is a bird’s eye view of the flying area showing where you want to launch your kite in different winds.
If you are unsure where you should try launching from, try doing this:
- Low wind day – Try launching from the #2 position in the diagram above. If it does not have enough power to get up, try re-launching it from the #1 position.
- Medium wind day – Do the same as above, but start with your kite in the #3 position and move it to the #2 position if you need more power.
- High wind day – Start with your kite very close to the edge of the wind window. If you don’t have enough power, move it to position #3.
How to Launch Your Kite
Launching With a Partner
Do the following to launch your kite with a partner:
- Chose the spot you are going to launch from.
- Unpack your kite and have your partner secure it so it doesn’t blow away.
- Lay out your lines and position yourself so you and your kite are in the proper spot of the wind window for your launch (as we discussed above).
- Attach your safety leash.
- Have your partner take your kite by the leading edge and hold it up to catch the wind.
- When the kite has filled with wind, indicate to your partner to let go. At the same time pull gently but firmly on the control bar.
- Voila! The kite should rise gracefully into the sky. If not, reset and try again, this time with the kite further downwind.
- Once up, navigate your kite to the edge of the wind window. You’re ready to start your exercises!
Launching by Yourself (Self-Launching)
Self-launching is a bit more tricky. To pull this off you will need some loose sand, 4 or 5 smooth rocks, or some small sandbags. With these in hand, do the following:
- Choose the spot you are going to launch from.
- Unpack your kite and lay it on the ground so the underside of the kite faces upwards with the trailing edge into the wind (see the diagrams below).
- Place your rocks, sand, or sandbags on the trailing edge of the kite to hold it down. Observe it to make sure it’s secure.
- Is your kite secure? If it is, lay out your lines so you are in the proper location for the launch.
- Attach your safety leash.
- Gently pull on the control bar. The front lines of the kite should begin to pull the leading edge off the ground and into the wind. The kite should begin to fill with wind and get its shape.
- Once the kite has filled with wind, give a firm pull on the control bar to lift it off the ground and into the air. The weights you used slide off the trailing edge and let your kite go free.
- Navigate the kite to the edge of the wind window. You’re ready to rock!
Your kite is in the air and you’re ready to go. Great! It’s time to learn something VERY important – how to use your safety leash.
Using the Safety Leash
Knowing how will save you a lot of pain, but you need to do the opposite of what your instincts tell you.
Now that you have your kite in the air, it’s time to learn one of the most important things a beginner must know - how to use your safety system. Assuming that your kite has a safety leash (it should) and that you are wearing it (you absolutely should be) all you need to do is this:
LET GO OF THE BAR!
So why is this a difficult thing to do? It’s the opposite of your natural reaction.
Let’s think about it. You use the safety system when things get out of control; when you get overpowered and don’t have time to react. You’re getting jerked and pulled by the kite and you have more power than you can handle.
What do most people do? They instinctively fight back. They flex their muscles, clench the bar, and fight with the kite (and are probably think ‘oh sh*!’). They instinctively clench the bar…when what they need to do is let go! You cannot wrestle with the full power of these kites and win! You don’t even want to try – it’s a bad habit to get into.
Bottom line: If you get overpowered, don’t fight the kite. Get into the habit of letting go of the bar and using your safety leash.
So here is your task: Fly your kite around and let it catch some power. When you feel the kite begin to pull, let go of the bar. Do this until it feels natural, and keep practicing it so that it always feels natural. I practice letting go of the bar at least once every time I fly my trainer.
Landing Your Kite
Anyone can crash a kite. When you are first learning you probably will do it a lot and that’s OK! I used to crash my kite all the time. But don’t do it if you don’t have to – your kite will last much longer and you will look like a pro! To land your kite all you need to do is this:
- Fly the kite to the edge of the wind window. It doesn’t matter where; just get it to the edge.
- With slow, smooth movements, work the kite towards the ground either at the 3 or 9 o’clock positions.
- Bring your kite down and land it gently on the ground at the edge of the wind window.
- Move to your kite and secure it.
- Pack it up and away you go!
Landing your kite is quite simple, and like I said, it will extend its life. When you are good at this you’ll look like you’re a pro!
know how to find the wind window and where to launch your kite from.
You also know how to launch your kite, use the safety system, and land
your kite, right? If you understand these things you’re ready to move
on. If not, please go back and make sure you know them; they are the
fundamentals that you need for a strong foundation.