I have several kites of two different makes. One has below the bar depower which I hate, and it seems you have the same issue trying to depower while the front lines are loaded. I could never do it with one hand. I modified the bar and put a pulley on the top of the depower line making it a 2/1 ratio, and I used smaller spec line on the rope. And though I still hate below the bar depower, at least I can depower it with one hand anytime. Anything less than that is no good in my book. If you can't shut the kite down to its limit quickly then you need another system. This kite does flag to a single line and when things go pear shaped, or if I am trying to self land in 40 knots then I just hit the release and it falls out of the sky harmlessly. Not sure how many twists there would have to be in the line before that failed, but it has not happened yet. My other kites give you the choice to flag to single or both front lines, I choose single for my style of riding, (mainly in waves on a surfboard). It has above the bar depower and is easy to operate. Saying that though this kite is the best gust handling kite I have ever flown. When others are complaining how gusty and bad the conditions are I never really feel the same as they do. However, if I ride my other kites, I notice it straight away. I could have safely handled a 10 meter kite with those gusts. Would I enjoy it? Probably not. However, it would get me safely to the beach to either wait it out, or pump up a smaller kite. In saying all of that, I still can't believe an instructor would not have come to your aid ASAP. We all know how quickly things turn from bad to worse. Glad you did not get hurt, nor anyone else.
Might just be me, but I like to tune the kite as needed, (not talking about pushing the bar out for depower). Generally I would have full power to the kite tacking back up wind, but when I am in the lineup ready to hunt down a wave I might depower the kite so it drifts better with me. All depends on the wind/wave angle as to how I approach the wave and kite together with board speed. I don't unhook that often, but as everyone else does, I depower first before doing that. In saying that, if the conditions were that gusty I wouldn't even consider riding unhooked.
Problem here is riders not understanding what a true safety release is!!
A safety release the drops the kite onto the front lines is NOT a safety system, in excessive winds you can still get lofted/dragged.
A safety is one that releases onto a single line therefore depowering the kite.
You said you should have used your o shit handle - yes you are correct.
Mini 5th lines or kites that just drop onto the front lines (same thing) are NOT safety releases, all they do is depower the kite - ok in normal winds but in high winds as you have found you do not get enough depower!!
For example I always rode my Waroos connected to the o shit in strong winds or I swapped to the o shit if the weather was looking gnarly as the ring that you clip to is basically just a suicide depower setup and not a safety
Can't comment on the instructor as I wasn't there, the fact she was chatting to a student is strange in 40 knots - most people are off the beach in 40 knots! But yes I would have run out and helped anyone I saw struggling
The last one front line flagging kite I flagged was a 14m Cab Contra. I found that it had a lot of residual pull if it got overpowered and I flagged it to one line. It also looped slowly. I had to pass the line behind my hook and pull and push while walking toward the kite because the pull was so great. The thick well pumped leading edge and the bridle may have contributed to that. I now have Xbows which flag to two lines and seem to me to have the same pull and behave in the same way as a kite flagged on a fifth line. If you can drop it to the side of the window, it will usually flip over and park downwind. My guess is that the Cab kites with flatter leading edges and more C type shapes are less good at dropping onto their backs automatically.
One versus two front lines is a subject I'm still trying to make my mind up about.
This is a good advert for flagging to one front line, but again, there may be some kites that dont lose their shape as well as this one when flagged to one line.
Have heard good things about the Cab system and some are better than others but there are still some that are basically suicide setups masquerading as safety systems. Mini 5th lines that just attach to the bottom of the depower strap are the main culprit.
But if its too windy it doesn't matter what safety you have it will still pull you, even on 5th line.
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