I'm considering getting a foil kite for south Florida lite wind summer! The beach i would be launching from (Smathers beach in Key West) is small (25 feet wide at high tide) and sometimes kind of busy.
Does this sound like enough room to launch safely?
Most of the launching videos I've seen look very big and open!
It would be possible. But id not recomend it less it were empty. Never worth risking the public if it went wrong. More importantly id not want to risk my kite getting damaged on a member of the public
Youd need enough room for the kite and lines layed out or hot launch from the water.
With a good body drag technique, the upwind angle is nearly as good as when foiling, so the size of the beach doesn't matter very much. Get yourself as far offshore and away from other riders as needed before moving to the next step.
Size of beach isn't an issue, its the people. I drift launch in those cases if there is enough shallow water. Tricky but useful. Lay out kite, make sure lines are good, wind lines carefully back to mixers, roll kite with tips folded together to sausage shape and put over shoulder and walk to starting point. Walk backward upwind while letting lines off the bar, so lines stream out downwind (they won't tangle streaming in the water). Once lines are streamed out (from bar, downwind in the water and back to the kite still over your shoulder) attach chicken loop and safety. Then start opening the kite in a large gradually expanding "loop" so that the vents are exposed and slowly inflating as the tips unroll (like opening a flower) until you can lay the kite out on its back. Quickly back pedal and let the kite go downwind as you back up to get to line tension...then pull front lines and off you go.
You can launch a kite in an area that small but I wouldn't bother. lots of things can go wrong. snap a line forget to put in donkey dick you slip on a muddy slick spot you didn't see a dog runs at you barking wildly all of these things I've seen. just 20 or so meters extra means you can hit the qr and be ok but with a such a small margin expect your kite to get eaten by a tree. maybe not right away but eventually
Foil kites take a while to inflate in light wind so use a battery powered leaf blower to inflate if you want to get from the beach quickly.
These guys have figured out how to drift launch without a beach: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FBd8vNaW1As
For me the safety of other beach users around me when launching and landing, is my first priority. With super light winds on a shallow beach with very little depth and dead onshore condition walking out in the water probably needs to be done as it is likely you will have to launch the kite dead downwind. If the high tide prevents you from walking out to waist deep water you may be able to launch at 45deg upwind depending on wind strength. Remember there is a risk the kite could stall/drift back, so you want to ensure there is safe bail out room for the kite. Side shore winds should pose less of an issue if launching on a beach which is wide but not deep. Learning how to control the speed of accent of the kite with the brake line I find a key feature with the foil kites. As someone said, practice with short lines which will give you a more controlled setting and build confidence and understanding. Finally if new to foils, and wanting to get maximum lightwind performance, go for a foil which is designed very light weight such as the Ozone Chrono V2 ultralight model.