For the last 3 years or so, I see this self “hot launch" being done more and more frequently. Have the new kite’s depower systems and kite design evolved to the point where this technique can be routinely taught and performed?
The starting point for this SDSHL (straight downwind self hot launch) is with the kite in the conventional “parked” position on the beach (leading edge on the sand, with the top of the kite facing unwind) and the rider positioned STRAIGHT upwind of the kite, with the lines somewhat tight. The experienced rider holds his board under one arm, and performs the complete launch with ONE HAND by grabbing ONE REAR LINE. The kiter does not get jerked off his feet, as expected, but casually stands solid and most of the time just lets go of the bar as the kite shoots straight up. As the kite reaches zenith and depowers, the kiter then reaches up and retrieves the bar. This is quite a different scenario to the old days, where the kiter would most likely go for “Mr Toad’s wild ride” down the beach if he were foolish enough to do a standing “hot launch” on the beach.
The other self launch technique to compare this one to... is the “reverse launch”, where the kiter starts out in the same basic position and uses the same method to “pivot” the kite around, 180 degrees, so it is filled with air... but then pulls on BOTH rear line to make the kite “jump” up.
Has the time come to bestow legitimacy on these 2 techniques? It would give kite instructors some business from “intermediate and advanced” kiters... if they would dare to teach the techniques.
I have never seen this technique. It sounds like the people you are watching have relaxed their safety protocol quite a bit. If you are watching them do this in ridable wind and they aren't also watching out for other folks downwind from them then they are hazardous to be around.
A few ways that this opens additional doors for murphy's law over a slide launch - intentional start in the power zone - maximum difference in length and motion between front and back lines equals maximum chance of snagging - letting go of the bar (this is the part that makes me think that the people you are watching are narcissistic assholes).
Regardless of what the nanny set says, kites are toys and it's fun to play around with them in super light wind on a safe empty beach. But keep in mind that you're setting examples for people with different ability for judgement.
Has the time come to bestow legitimacy on these 2 techniques? .
Launching or landing without a hand on the quick release fully prepaired to activate can never be the safest way.
I can and will defend this statement with deaths as proof for not doing so, sorry to be so blunt but it is like this!
Interesting, I've not heard of that particular REAR LINE method before.
Funnily enough I uploaded a video a couple of hours ago of a hot launch technique, although the video mainly concerns itself with a DIY 'anemometer vane' for use in kite buggying.
I got the hot launch idea from Genetrix who claim they can safely hot launch the Hydra due to it's very wide wind range and Supported Profile System where the bridles actually attach to the the struts but they do warn that this method should NEVER be used with any other inflatable. The Genetrix Hydra is the only LEI to use SPS.
Genetrix' method is I assume only a demonstration of its depower range and supported canopy and probably not recommended for everyday riding. You can hear the lines whip as it takes off which sounds cool but it might be putting the kite under unnecessary stress. If you have the usual option to launch then I'd use that.
How safe it is for teaching students ? Personally I think it is a bad habit to get into as the hot launch requires upwind rigging which can lead to back lines threading though front lines as I did yesterday. Lines are easier to inspect when laid out downwind.
Hot launching will benefit me for sure in low gusty inland wind where the kite refuses to sit up at the edge, but I'll still solo launch my kite in the usual ways if I can.
The more wind the farther out to the edge of the wind Window your kite will launch. In good Wind my kite will roll over easily out at the edge of the window. If the Wind is light I have to walk farther and farther up wind of the kite.
Yes, this is how I selflaunch most of the time, exactly as described although backing it up mostly, dead downwind yes.
Often the only way to launch in light wind or if less wind at the launch site, and really fast/easy
But having said that, one should never recommend this method, as it require a highly developed feel for things, in order not to be dangerous !
I do the downwind hot launch most of the time in 15kts or less winds. Ive also done it in 20kts with no problem. Where things go bad, I think, is when people don't pay attention to the hidden dangers things like, ensure you are upwind rigging correctly and not crossing lines, no debris around or near the lines or around the kite when it rotates, lots of room and no people or obstacles downwind, etc. All your basic attention to details.
Another tip to lessen the risk would be to make sure your trim is at full depower, push that bar out fully as she goes up, and take a couple of steps downwind with her as she goes up. Don't let the kite have the option to gain max power.