The first video is totally nuts!
The guy stays with the kite almost at the zenith with big obstacles downwind, just to self land the kite
I hope nobody is learning from him
You are ABSOLUTELY correct.
Irresponsible videos like that go a long way to promoting accidents and bans.
It should also be noted that there several other significant opportunities for things to go seriously wrong besides when the kite is overhead.
Perhaps he's someplace where there is no liability issues. In the US, Epic as a MANUFACTURER, would probably be held to a much higher standard than an individual (and even they might end up in court) for recommending something obviously and needlessly dangerous without even pointing out those dangers.
One of factors with extra potential to screw up the attaching technique is SHIFTY wind.
Although many posters are apparently aware of the dangers associated with gusts/lulls when launching, in some respects SHIFTY wind can be more dangerous
This is because a shift of wind direction can have the exact same effect as a gust or lull by changing where the kite is located in the wind window and it can do so with even LESS Warning
Unless dealing with relatively rare and extremely dangerous highly percussive gusts and instant holes, most experienced kiters can often get at least a clue from feeling the increasing or decreasing intensity of the wind on any exposed skin as a gust or lull starts to affect the kite.
However, most people don’t notice (by skin feeling) a significant shift in wind direction and therefore are more taken by surprise when their kite doesn’t respond as expected. Also, it is frequently possible to SEE a gust approaching as it disturbs sand or water whereas it’s unusual to see an APPROACHING change of direction.
Needless to say, a shift of wind which puts the kite more in the center of the window, combined with a gust can be extra exciting.
As the question of launching and/or landing with 1 hand on the QR (not unhooked):
For someone who has practiced using their QR to the point where they can activate it in the shortest amount of time, and who is specifically prepared to do so as in a launch situation, keeping one hand on the QR would probably save an insignificant fraction of a second in the event of a problem.
Personally, I believe that having 2 hands on the bar usually provides significantly more control than one hand and that the advantage that this potential control provides generally overcomes any disadvantage that might accrue due to the above described lost fraction of a second.
It seems to me that the 1 hand technique puts more reliance for preventing an accident on the functionality of the QR while the 2 hand technique puts more reliance on kite control
while still having the benefit of the QR as backup. Since NO QR can be GUARANTEED
to work as intended when needed, it seems better to not depend upon it more than absolutely necessary. I also don't have a lot of confidence that people won't sometimes remove their hand from the quick release when they shouldn't.
The way to minimize the extra time it takes to reach the quick release from the bar is to be specifically and consciously aware as you land or launch that if something goes bad, your immediate reaction will be to reach down and activate the release WITHOUT HESITATION. The way to be able to do this reliably is to PRACTICE until it is second nature.
However, it should be noted that some people with some kites can exert more kite control holding the bar in the center than other people with different kites (especially where greater bar pressure is found) so the degree of difference between the 2 methods can vary from case to case.
As to launching unhooked:
In order to avoid the pitfalls associated with quick releases, some people advocate launching and sometimes landing unhooked. Although at first glance, this seems eminently sensible, there are some severe potential problems associated with this technique.
Before discussing these downsides, it should be noted that this technique could be labeled "old school". I don't mean to infer that all old school techniques and procedures are inferior. The point is that back in the day before there were quick releases, most people would launch unhooked while standing in the water. The idea being that if things went bad, you'd just let go and at worst flop into the water. Back then most bars came with a harness loop which was a big loop like a giant half chicken loop attached directly to the bar. One of the uses for the loop was that if you were unhooked, you could easily hook the harness loop on the spreader because it was so big. You were not then trying to control the kite only with the strength of your arms and if desired, could then more easily switch to the chicken loop. Additionally, back then not only were chicken loops bigger than they are now, but they also didn't have donkey dicks so it was easier to get them on the spreader.
Today virtually all kites come with quick releases, usually at the chicken loop. Chicken loops are generally smaller and usually have a donkey dick. Most bars don't come with harness loops although they are still available.
Now throw in the fact that the time you'd be tempted to launch unhooked is when the wind is so strong that you're worried that something might go badly wrong.
Remember, when you launch unhooked you are FULLY POWERED up exactly the same as if you pulled the bar all the way back while hooked in. This is NOT good. Generally, you want the absolute least amount of power possible whenever you're on land.
It is possible for things to go very wrong in a split second, especially in strong wind. Remember, some accidents happen or become severe because someone simply did not let go of their bar fast enough. In strong wind, it is not unusual that someone's first intimation that they have a problem is their view looking down at the rapidly approaching ground.
What's reasonably likely to happen with modern equipment when you launch unhooked in strong wind is:
1. You must carefully (hard to do in strong wind) fly it EXACTLY in the very small area of the window where there is the least power (side near the ground) and hope that it isn't pulling too much for you use one hand to fly it while you use the other to attach the chicken loop. As I've mentioned in a previous post, I think most people have more control with two hands and maximum kite control is extremely desirable. Or:
2. Get the kite overhead and pull the bar down until you can finagle the chicken loop onto the spreader. Since it's fully powered up and the wind is strong, it will be pulling hard, the donkey dick will be getting in the way, your arms will be getting tired, and when you pull the bar down , your arms will have minimal leverage (especially to reach a seat harness spreader).
This means that it becomes very easy to accidentally twitch the kite a little deeper in the window. Obviously in strong wind, if this should happen, especially just as the chicken loop goes on, or partially on the spreader, you could be in the deep doodoo.
Although I would prefer not having to depend on my quick release, I think it is the lesser of the evils compared to launching and/or landing unhooked.
Those who prefer to try launching and/or landing unhooked however, may want to try adding a harness loop if they don't have one.Holding the CL may be reasonable.
bnthere correctly pointed out (but apparently deleted the post) that the foregoing problems of launching/landing unhooked virtually disappear if you hold the CL in one hand while either letting go of the bar or, preferably, holding it away. Although kites without extreme amounts of depower in those configurations might still have too much pull, I imagine that the technique is reasonably safe for kites with enough depowerability at the bar.
I have a personal bias towards not wanting to depend on the equipment more than necessary and
therefore can't help but consider the potential problems that can develop if for some reason there wasn't as much depower as expected (perhaps by letting of of the CL, accidentally pulling the bar back, equipment failure, changed wind window etc.). For the same reason, I prefer to have 2 hands on the bar as much as possible to theoretically be able to keep control in the event something does go wrong. Since holding the CL in one hand works against my personal biases, I did not consider that approach to launching/landing unhooked.
For someone with more confidence that something won't go wrong to the extent that more kite control would make a difference, holding the CL may be a reasonable choice as far as self launching/landing goes.
Malibu Kitesurfing - since 2002
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