Just to cover concern or (for those who have not seen it done) of being able to race in super light wind- 5 knots-light wind, check this out...and there is a good video library on our site www.kiteracing.com
Coach Gebi out.
Why can a modern now Olympic Kiteboard Race kit sail in such light wind an plane so early? Here is why...we get our power from a wing that we can fly around to generate huge amounts of controllable power.
The power comes from the foil and the fact that when we need extra power (beside sheeting in the bar=sheeting in a windsurf sail) we just dive the kite, so now in 4 knots of wind for example, (the kite on a 35 meter up) is going 15 knots at a 45 degree angle down, diving… now we have apparent wind in the kite and the foil is generating power as if it’s blowing 15 knots. F__K yeah this is the secret! (Your still thinking like a sail boat). Kites have a sail, more like a wing. The Kite I use in light air is a 17 meter kite. I weigh 65 kg max, so I do not need a bigger kite.
The kite has a leading edge that is 16 inches thick. This fat, super powerful sail/foil/wing is sheeted all the time, by my body weight on my center lines, loading against myself leaning against this pull in my harness. So in 4 knots I am hiked out, already weighing 50% less on my board when I step on it from knee deep water. Then I dive the kite= 15 knots of apparent wind power in 4 knots of wind, actually I am already super powered up and use this power to pull me onto the board, get in the straps, push against the fins, load and rail thr fins up and I am almost instantly planning. (Imagine pumping a RSX windsurfer in the straps on the rail so you artificially get the board to rail) plane up on the foils; except our 3- 40 cm formula inspired fins are our daggerboards, (kite race boards are tri-fins) with hardly any drag and super lifty but controllable. I am sponsored by Ristafins.com
We hydrofoil on the fins and sail the boards upwind with the board railed to leeward almost identical to a nicely flying on a plane- balanced Mikes Lab formula windsurf board, on a Kashy 70cm fin. (as a note the I ride a Mike Zajicek kite race board, ...and it is almost the same rocker as his formula boards, it's actually made on the same rocker table, and we just cut some of the flat part of the rocker off of the tail- and a few other changes)
Now I am planning in seconds. As soon as I dove the kite from the top of 35 meters at a 45 degree angle down, I lost another 30-40 % of my body weight off of the board and am almost weightless. (only 10% of my weight on the board and I am trapesing in the harness, like you do windsurfing on a board, same stance. Does this make sense?
So imagine a windsurf mast/sail in light air, a 17 meter sail, but does not weigh anything, its made of helium and holds up its own weight. Thats what it feels like, the kite is making me weightless on the beach when it is flying up above me in say 4 knots. In 4 knots if I "Sine the kite"- fly it back and forth i can jump and paraglide the kite for few seconds. So now its a wing... I can jump over 10- 15 feet in super light air on the beach, flying and hoovering for seconds at a time as it is a high performance wing. Paragliders with big wings can run down a hill in no wind and fly down the hill. (we are running down the hill till the wing/kite generates power from the apparent wind when we dive the kite in it power stroke- when we sine it) its the same action.
If you have not seen a state of the art race kit being ridden I can understand how you would not believe it. (I also coach the worlds fastest sailor/kiter Rob Douglas and he uses a 9 meter kite, modified to break the world speed sailing record. We do our record speeds in 45 to 50 knots of wind and go 55 knots average over a 500 meter course)
Big guys 100kg are planing when I am, with 18-21 meter kites, slightly longer line sets and slightly longer/more powerful fins. Same boards. Now even though the kite has all this pull, (all this excess power on reserve), and makes you weightless, if I sheet the bar out, completely out, I can turn off 80% of the power. If I pull the trim system, (the front line trip system and depower the kite- its a custom 4 to 1 system, making it easy to trip on the fly), I can depower the kite so much it will almost not fly. So we are trimming the bar similar to how you sheet a windsurf sail in and out.
And if it gets super light say a lull to 0-2 knots. I can fly the kite from one end of the window and sine it-slowly, fly it to the left on 35 meter line set and 35 meter to the right. Note: If you ever paraglided, or have flown a airplane, if you stall, when flying, you just tuck the nose down get up some apparent wind, and the foil stops stalling and start lifting again and you start flying again).
You can actually position the kite to fly in and out of puffs if your really good an smart at reading the shifts and puffs. A few years ago in light air we were using 2 sets of lines on one bar! So the kite was over 50 meters in the air and generating even more power, but turned so slow it is hard to steer the board. Now we only need 32-35-37 meter sets of lines as the kites are more efficient in light air (actually less powerful, as the original big kites) had so much power as soon as you got planing they started feeding off of the apparent wind and dragging you downwind).
The new kites in the last few years are much more efficient. Ok does this make sense?...the future of sailing is here and it is not a 35 million dollar A/C catamaran..its a well sailed kite race kit!
By the way my boy Rob Douglas was in France last month racing the at The Orange MONDIAL DU VENT, against Anders Bringdall and Antoine Albeau and beat them on a 90 degree speed course over a weeks worth of racing! First time the kiters at this event beat the big windsurf boys, head to head on a 90 degree course....and it was 15 to 40 knots for racing......watch some videos, go to the beach and see if for yourself. Check out the racing scene on course race boards..and check if we will do another possible speed record attempt and are predicting a 1 or 2 knot increase in record speeds if the conditions are better. We've designed more kit and already have faster gear this year from last...super double secret.........Gebisan