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Kiteboarding Instruction and Lofting

lots of valuable articles from Rick Iossi, FKA Inc.

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Kiteboarding Instruction and Lofting

Postby RickI » Fri Apr 16, 2004 8:51 pm

Originally Posted: 16 Jul 2003 at:

The following is from a thread on It deals with training issues, slowly increasing the level of difficulty of kite control and power while reducing the potential for lofting.

The following is worth thinking over, particularly by kiteboarding instructors.

Proper instruction should minimize the risk of flying smaller kites at the zenith during training. Being mindful of the risk of having a full sized traction kite while near hard objects should be high on the list of instructor considerations.

Somethings that are commonly taught,I first saw this technique being taught by Paul Menta of PASA about three years ago and include:

1. Extensive time on land with a smaller trainer kite to learn basic kite handling.

2. Moving to a smaller traction kite, say a 5 m LEI on LEADERS ONLY for more skill development while still on land. This is assuming winds on the order of 10 to 15 mph sideshore or side onshore, ideally. If you have higher winds, the instructor needs to exercise even greater care particularly in terms of flight area selection.

3. Then move with the same 5 m kite on to normal flight lines folded in half or on a 15 m line set. In steps 2 and 3, you continue to develop feel and control with the kite, even parking the kite at the zenith, if necessary with substantially less power. The instructor may elect to have the students fly the kite in steps 2 and 3 while in the water as well. Body dragging may even be feasible during these steps.

4. Finally change to full line length with the 5 m, launching from offshore in the shallows and proceeding immeditely to body dragging. If there is inadequate wind to handle the student's weight with a 5 m then you need to move up in kite size. Anti-lofting technique should be a firm part of technique as instructed from this point onward. That is, never bring the kite to the zenith while near hard objects. If you are well offshore, go ahead and plan to use the downwind buffer zone should things go wrong to ease things up. IN NO CASE SHOULD A FULL SIZED KITEBOARDING KITE BE FLOWN ON LAND FOR ANY LONGER THAN ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY. Use trainer kites and smaller transition traction kites on shorter lines to build land based skills. When launching, normally having the kite close to or even better out in the shallows away from shore is a safer approach. Launch the kite and "KEEP IT LOW & GO."

How many instructors focus on this or a similar learning progression? I don't know but it does gradually increase the amount of control needed along with the thrust potential of the kite.

Loftings will continue to happen regardless. There are MANY people out there who either don't know or appreciate the significance and root of the problem. Fingers crossed that the incident and accidents will be minimal as word gets out. Some simple precautions can substantially reduce the risks of kiteboarding. Imagine if people drove without using simple precautions? It only makes sense.

Lastly, keeping your kite low, will not necessarily keep you safe either in the face of a strong gust. It will likely drag you, as opposed to lofting you skyward. Lots of riders are injured or just scared by high speed dragging over ground. The difference is that once and if you depower your kite, YOU ARE ON THE GROUND. If you are lofted, you have Part II to deal with, falling to earth assuming you didn't hit already before you could react. Launching and landing unhooked is frequently standard during instruction and riders would likely benefit from continuing the practice beyond thier instruction.

Kiteboarding can be dangerous and isn't as easy as it looks. Blow this off if you like, you may get away with it or not. Good technique cuts the probability of a bad experience. Trusting to luck to an excessive degree while practicing poor technique isn't a good approach.

More about Anti-lofting technique and related considerations in: ... EFERENCES/

FKA, Inc.

transcribed by:
Rick Iossi

p.s. - As soon as lofting substantially declines, I will back off talking about anti-lofting technique. Until then, more to come ...
Nice job by Rick on the launch guidelines and tips. Have to say though, I think the anti-zenith slogans go a little far. I think newbies should fly the kite 10 times or so before they even get wet. How are you going to learn to fly a kite without flying it at zenith?! The picture is of a wide open - ocean beach on a clear day, with no one around...I would argue it's a perfect setup for beach practice flying and people flying at zenith position should not have their kites shot out of the sky. It's more important to learn how to assess the risk of gusts and hence of lofting.

Some ideas including lots of photos and illustrations on launching, weather planning are related matters appear at:


Check it out and think it over.

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