Anyone care to share their version of the safest way to launch a kitesurfing kite solo?
The older windsurfer-turned-kitesurfer guys on PEI rigged up an anchored buoy and the buoy has a piece of steel shaped like the hook on a harness. We get our kites pumped, lay out our lines and attach the anchored hook onto the chicken-loop of the bar. Then we attach the kite to the lines and walk the kite upwind around the edge of the wind-window until it stands like a ( or backwards ) depending on which way you choose to go. The kite will usually stand like a ( [or backwards ) ] waiting to be flown up. As long as the buoy and steel hook are anchored well, the kite will sit waiting for you. If it's really gusting it might hop up slightly but it will glide down after the gust until you are ready to fly it up. So after I attach my lines to my kite and walk the kite the sweet spot where it stands still (not pushing forwards dragging on sand and shells or flying up and going backwards), I walk to the kite with no worries of the kite slipping away, and I grab the chicken-loop and attach it to my harness. When I am ready I fly the kite upwards and head to sea with board in hand.
To land, I fly the kite 45 degrees to the left or right while I am looking directly downwind. I bring it down smoothly and land it nicely on the beach or waters edges, and then attach the chicken-loop back onto the anchored buoyed hook, walk to the kite & pull the plug if I'm done for the day, or just drop it with the leading edge into the wind and on the ground with board on top for extra security.
I ride Best’s Kahoona. It’s the ultimate in free-style kites.
How do you transfer the CL from your harness to the fixed hook?
That's it? You don't depower first? Once unhooked can you attach the CL to the fixed hook with both hands on the bar or do you have to fly the kite with one hand for a second? Is there a donkey dick on your fixed hook to keep the CL in place in case the lines go slack? I'm just curious.
I do a lot of self landing and launching, I have some great places to kite but if I am often either alone or there aren't a lot of other kiters around so I don't rely on anyone for launching and landing (it's just a bonus).
The anchor method works very well. I usually use the leg of a picnic table or a post, put some climbing rope around it and attach a caribiner. Works really well. I have kited in PEI and I have used an anchor at Brackley Beach it worked too. There is no endangering people on the beach if there isn't anyone on the beach. This is obviously not a technique for a crowded area, but that's common sense. In Canada there are many great spots without crowds of people - maybe something others aren't used too.
If you get blown downwind, you do have to have a backup plan. There is a great video by Jon Modica showing a technique that works for self landing Cabrinha kites in light to medium winds. For me I don't use it in high or gusty winds because there is potential of it rolling over and ending up downwind. For heavy wind when you can't make it back to the anchor (maybe a newb) you should be able to flag any kite in the water as a last resort. In PEI the water is nice and shallow and walking up the line of a flagged kite is not an issue. I haven't had to use this procedure in years, but it should always be available.
Most of the new kites have great self landing features (Cabrinha IDS). If you want to self launch though, you still need to use an anchor, or drift launch (doesn't work in straight onshore wind which I get 90% of the time), or by my least preferred method of sitting the kite leading edge into the wind, walking upwind, pulling a steering line to get it to turn so that it is sitting straight downwind and then attempting a relaunch (if there are high winds this is very very dangerous as there is a tendency for a hot launch, which is a killer on shore with obstacles around, quite safe in light winds if you know what you are doing).
Anyhow, I am an advanced kiter with lots of experience and this is what works for me.
I think the safest way to self launch is to carry your kite into waste deep water and drop the kite. the kite will drift down wind, it will turn and be ready for a watger launch. the only problem is there is a good chance for the lines to cross. there is also not always denough water for this method.
Wow, I never use an anchor and I self-launch 9 out of 10 times regardless of wind conditions, using Hybrids and Traditional Cs, from 13 knots up to 35. I would never want to advocate anyone else doing anything they aren’t happy with but was surprised not to hear that anyone else does it the same way as I do.
Rig downwind with board on kite (I don’t like the upwind rig followed by half bar flip, when self-launching there’s no opportunity to check if you flipped the right way and it’s easy to f*ck your mind over thinking it. Downwind means a straight rig with the bar the right way up and lines already to fly.)
Check lines & bridles at least twice to ensure no loops, check any pulleys to be 100% sure they haven’t seized, depower kite by at least 1/4 (not only does this reduce the risk of a long drag if the launch turns hot, it also puts the kite more on its back and therefore more likely to launch easily)
Make 100% sure you have three kite line lengths of beach between you and anything solid (check the strap on your HELMET).
Remove board from kite place it a little way away. Lift the kite by the leading edge and carry it so the lines are free, angle the kite so the wind is just sarting to catch a corner.
Leg it back to your bar and hook in your flagging line only. Have a look at the kite – make sure it isn’t escaping.
Hook in properly and side step briskly round to put yourself and your kite at opposite sides of the edge of the wind window, wind on the side of your face.
Walk backwards until you get some tension on the lines and then give the upwind steering line a good tug.
Kit will catch the wind and flip into the ready position and you can fly it up gently.
THIS IS NOT A GUIDE OR A SUGGESTION TO ANYONE TO DO THE SAME.
It’s not perfect and the kite can drift downwind a little before flipping which can mean a bit of a fast walk sometimes, but touch wood, this has always worked fine for me.
Works a bit better in damp sand as the kite is less wont to slide. I know if you haven’t got the luxury of a big beach, this might not be practical too.
To self-land, always, always just pop the QR and flag.