Best Maintenance Tips For Your Kitesurfing Equipment
Best Maintenance Tips For Your Kitesurfing Equipment
Taking good care of your kitesurfing gear is not only a matter of safety, but it also ensures that it will keep a decent resale value when you decide to upgrade it. Just like cars, kites and bars that are inspected often will be safer and easier to sell. Follow these simple tips to keep your equipment in tip-top shape for many years.
Tip # 1: Dry your equipment
A wet kite can mould. This will not only alter the appearance of your equipment, but also weaken the material, which later on can break during your session. Mould not only stains the fiber but also burns it. With saltwater, your kite is less likely to mould, so you may not need to dry it if you are planning to kite again in the next day or two. However, if you are kiting in freshwater, or you are unsure when you will kite again, it is preferable to pack a dry kite. If you finish your session with a wet kite, avoid leaving it to dry flapping on the beach (see tip #2). As soon you get home, lay it down in a dry place sheltered from the wind and the sun. Once it’s completely dry, shake off the sand and pack it away.
Tip # 2: Don’t leave your kite flapping on the beach
‘’By packing your kite immediately after every session, you can effectively double the life span of your kite!’’
This info tag can be found on all Airush Kites.
The two main things that deteriorate your kite’s canopy are the wind and the sun, two elements that are usually present when you are kiting. The UV rays not only fade the colours of your kite but also weakens the material, reducing the life span of your equipment. Similarly, the canopy flapping in the wind will wear out prematurely, especially along the trailing edge of your kite. When you are done with your session, pack your kite right away, to avoid leaving it unnecessarily exposed to the wind and sun. Even when you take short breaks between sessions, we recommend packing away your kite and re-inflating it when you are ready to go again. This will be beneficial in the long run.
The best example to illustrate this would be the windsock at our kite school. We set it only during our lessons (approximately 6 to 7 hours per day), so it is not deteriorating when we are not teaching. It is made from the same material as a kite, and it doesn’t last a full season. Within 3 months, the canopy is so weak that I would not trust it on a kite. In no time, holes appear and it tears on its own. This is what happens to your kite when you leave it flapping on the beach. By packing your kite immediately after every session, you can effectively double the life span of your kite!
See the difference between a windsock left flapping in the sun and in the wind for 6 hours per day for just 3 months (top) compared to a brand new one (bottom)
Regularly leaving your kite flapping in the wind will drastically reduce its life span
Tip # 3: Don’t roll’em too tight!
I used to store my kites in compression bags. It was very practical to carry around, because it was so small. In fact, it was often all I brought on my vacation. Without knowing it, I reduced the lifespan of my equipment. The wrinkling creates micro-tears in the fibres of the canopy. If you have shopped for a used kite, you will have noticed how sellers brag about the “crispiness” of their equipment. The crispy texture of the canopy is a badge that the kite is still fairly new and unbroken. Although it is impossible to keep your kite completely wrinkle-free, crumple your kite in your bag and the crisp will be gone too soon! Kite bags are usually made spacious so you don’t need to roll them too tight. A good way to pack your kite without creasing is to roll the leading edge on itself and let the rest of the canopy follow. Keep your canopy crispy as long as possible!
Most kite bags are big enough that they can easily fit your kite without having to fold it super tight
Tip # 4: Tune your lines
If one line is longer or shorter than the others, your kite will not fly properly. Many things will explain the shrinkage and stretching of kitesurfing lines. Death loops, waves crashing on your kite or releasing the quick release are all accidents that can cause the disarraying of your lines. More subtle are the effects of heat and saltwater, as they will happen over an extended period. You will not notice the small changes until it really becomes a problem. Many kitesurfers don’t realize how bad their lines are. They have adapted their riding to their poorly tuned equipment, without knowing that it has an impact on their performance. Fortunately, kitesurfing bars are designed to be tuned and there are many ways by which you can adjust the length of your lines. You can watch our thorough line-tuning video below. In our Kite school, with the intense use of our bars, we need to tune them roughly once a week or once every two weeks at the very least. A regular kiter could have to tune them once a month, while the occasional rider may only tune it yearly or less. In any case, you should inspect it regularly, to keep the top performance of your equipment. The Kitebud Line Tuner is a great tool to use to make this task easier, faster and precise.
Most bars will have similar line adjustments to the Airush bar used in this video
Tip # 5: Rinsing or not rinsing?
It’s a good idea to rinse your bar, lines and safety system after each use
I used to believe that rinsing your kite after going in saltwater was a mandatory element of a good kite maintenance routine. Now that I live in Australia, I am no longer an advocate of this technique. I’ve heard many reasons for the why’s and the why not’s, and I came to this conclusion. It is not about keeping your kite drier with salt, it is not because of the corrosive nature of salt, it is because of the extra drying that is needed after you rinsed it. In other words, every time you rinse your kite, you need to dry it, hence you will likely expose it to more damaging sun and wind. If you kite every day, or a few times a week, not only is it a waste of freshwater in a desert-like country such as Australia, but you also let the wind and the sun spoil your canopy a little bit more every time. However, if you are not planning on kiting for a few weeks, we suggest that you rinse it and dry it thoroughly before storing it away. Crystalized salt on the leading edge could puncture the bladder inside, and no one likes a leaking kite!
As for the bar, it’s a good habit to rinse it in freshwater after every session. Even better, once in a while, consider soaking the entire bar in a tub of warm water. This will help dissolve the saltwater crystals and remove the small particles of sand lodged between the fibres of your lines.
Tip # 6: Protecting against theft
It’s a good idea to take note of your kite, bar and board serial numbers in case of theft
I don’t need to tell you to lock your doors and avoid leaving your kite gear visible in your car. I am sure you know how to avoid theft. No matter how safe your equipment is in your car or in your house, make sure to note the serial number of each piece of your equipment. Thieves don’t have a thousand of opportunities to sell stolen equipment, and you are very likely to see it advertised on popular online platforms. If you recognize your property, contact the local authorities. With the serial numbers, you will prove to the police that the equipment is yours and you will be able to get it back. Keep pictures of your equipment, with close-ups on the serial numbers. Keep the tags with the serial numbers on it in your house (don’t leave it in your kite bag!). And of course, lock your doors and keep your belongings out of sight!
Tip # 7: Check your safety systems
This is self-explanatory. Regularly activate the quick-release of your bar, just to make sure it is not clogged with sand or other detritus. See that the safety line slides on the bar properly. Rinse it off in freshwater before clicking-it back in. Check for rust and wear. Do the same with your safety leash. Check your hook knife and make sure it is still sharp and not all rusty. Your life depends on these three items so make sure that they are always in perfect working order.
It’s a good idea to regularly open up your quick release mechanism and rinse it with fresh water. This will ensure it’s always operating correctly.
Tip # 8: Check for signs of wear
Naturally, parts of your kite will wear out with time and use. You need to inspect your kites and bars to ensure nothing is going to break during your next session. Every now and then, inspect the bridles. If there are any knots in your lines that don’t belong there, remove them! A knot in your line will not only make that line shorter than the others but will also halve its breaking strength. Look for broken seams on the leading edge, they will create a little bubble that you can easily feel by rubbing your hand along the inflated leading edge. Check for fraying lines or wear in the canopy. Sometimes it is better to change parts before they break during your session.
Remove any knots that don’t belong in your lines!
Replace frayed lines and frayed depower ropes before they break
Tip # 9: Clean and lube your pump
‘’Sand is the #1 enemy for kite pumps’’
Remove the sand from your pump and re-lube it
Yup! When you feel like your pump is getting tired, unscrew the top part of your pump, dump all the sand/dirt and clean off the inside (tube, shaft and seals) thoroughly using a rag and rubbing alcohol. Once dry and clean, re-apply a small amount of silicon-based lube around the pump seals. Avoid using oil-based lubricants (i.e. WD-40). Use silicon-based lubricants to avoid damaging your pump seals.
Keep in mind that sand is the #1 enemy for kite pumps, so keep your pump out of the sand as much as possible. The abrasive action of sand on the shaft will deteriorate your pump which, over time, will no longer be sealed properly. Once you finished pumping your kite, instead of throwing your pump in the sand, take off the hose from the pump and store it away inside your kite bag for the duration of your session. Kitesurfing pumps are expensive, so if you take special care of yours, it will last a lot longer and perform much better.
Tip #10 Remove the sand from your pump hose before inflating your kite
Before inflating your kite, pump up and down and tap your hose on the pump to avoid pumping sand inside your bladder
It’s very common to find large amounts of sand inside a kite’s bladder. Sand and salt crystals can easily puncture the bladder of your kite.
Tip #11: Clean your inflation/deflation valves from sand prior to inflating your kite
A sandy valve will cause your kite to leak. Make sure you clean your valve thoroughly each time before screwing it in.
Tip #12 Avoid leaving your gear in a hot car
This kite was exposed to so much heat that it melted the rubber strut tubes and changed the colour of the valves
When exposed to heat, some valves can peel right off!
Everyone knows how hot it can get inside a car, especially during summer. Leaving your kites exposed to extreme heat may damage your valves and cause them to peel off from your bladder. This was more problematic back when the valves were glued on the bladder. Nowadays, most kitesurfing manufacturers plastic-weld the valves onto the bladder so they cannot come undone. Nonetheless, don’t take any chances and avoid leaving your kites in a hot car altogether. Other parts of the kite can break or melt if overheated, such as the strut tubes.
Tip #13 Avoid rough surfaces
Avoid laying your kite on rough surfaces such as a beach full of shells
Self-launching on a beach full of shells could blow out your kite
Avoid setting up or packing down your kite on rough surfaces such as shells, rocks or any thorny plants. It’s often the little things that are hard to see that can puncture a small hole in your kite and cause it to leak. Avoid self-launching or self-landing on a beach with shells or rocks, this can easily damage your kite or even worse, blow it up! The picture above shows a brand-new kite that I was inflating for the first time. I was on my own and I attempted a self-launch. The beach was full of broken shells. The pressure inside the leading edge is so high that a tiny pin-hole made a gigantic rip. It’s like popping an inflated balloon with a needle: you won’t find a deflated balloon with a pin-hole, you will find a balloon shred to pieces.
We hope that these easy tips will help you take good care of your kite and help you stay safe on the water. Maintenance of your kitesurfing equipment is like brushing your teeth: it’s ok if you forget to do it once or twice, but in the long run, it’s the little things that you do every day that will make a difference. It doesn’t take much time and effort to ensure that you will get the most out of your equipment while maximizing its life span. It is good for your wallet, for your safety, but also for the planet, as fewer kites will go to trash!