Launching & Landing

Launching & Landing

Assisted Launching & Landing: In these two videos, we will learn how to safely launch and land the kite with the help of assistant. Many kitesurfers are not trained well enough with those techniques, resulting in many different mistakes, some of which can be dangerous. We will take a detailed look at all the do’s and don’ts so you can learn all the skills necessary to launch and land kites safely without endangering yourself or other people, or risk damaging  your own equipment.

Launching & Landing : Video Transcript

Assisted launching is the preferred and safest way to launch your kite.

Even if self-launching is possible, it’s unsafe to do this as a beginner and it’s always preferable to use someone else’s help no matter your skill level.

For a successful assisted launch, you need an assistant to hold the kite while the pilot takes the right position in the wind window. The assistant gives the universal thumbs-up to signal nothing looks wrong, and once the pilot is ready to launch, the pilot gives the universal thumbs-up so the assistant can let go of the kite.

Let’s first cover the role of the Assistant. The role of the assistant is fairly simple: pick up the kite from the ground, turn it over in a vertical position and hold it above the ground with the kite facing the pilot. It’s important to note that the assistant should stay still during the launching process while the pilot takes the right position. The ideal position to hold the kite as an assistant is approximately half way between the middle of the kite and the bottom wing tip.

As an assistant, you shouldn’t try to hold the kite too firmly or too close to your body. Having a relaxed grip with the kite away from your body will allow the kite to sit naturally at the edge of the wind window. Once the pilot finds the right position, the assistant should look for tangles around the kite. The assistant should give the universal thumbs-up to signal to the pilot that nothing looks wrong.

As an assistant, if you ever spot something wrong such as a bridle caught around the wing tip of the kite you must cancel the launch, even if the pilot insists that you let go of the kite. Bridle tangles are a common launching problem, so are tangled lines. As an assistant, when you spot such problems, make sure you signal the pilot that there is problem and land the kite.

Tangled lines or bridles could easily send the kite out of control in the power zone and cause injuries, so remember that it’s best practice as an assistant to check if everything looks good.

Remember that with normal length 24 lines, the pilot won’t easily see if there anything tangled around the kite. Also, you won’t be able to hear each other. If you have any doubts about the pilot’s intention or you don’t understand each other, simply land the kite and talk to the pilot.

Let’s go over other common mistakes assistants make

A common mistake is for the assistant to move around during the launching process. Every time the assistant moves, the pilot will have to change position.

The assistant should always avoid throwing the kite up.

The assistant should avoid Holding the kite on the ground, which prevents the canopy from catching air

The assistant should avoid holding the kite too close to the wing tip as this can make the kite very unstable and slip out of your hands.

The assistant must avoid Letting go of the kite before the pilot finished giving a clear thumbs-up, this can be very dangerous as the pilot may not be ready to launch.

A non-kitesurfer can also help with the launching, but it is the pilot’s responsibility to train the assistant and give clear instructions. Keep in mind that the pilot is always responsible for the launch.

Now let’s look at it from the Pilot’s perspective.

As a pilot, once you found an assistant to launch your kite, walk over to your bar. Remember from the kite setup video that you’ve connected your lines downwind of the kite and that you already performed your pre-flight check.

You can now connect your safety leash on the safety line, hook your chicken loop in and secure it with the finger.

You now want to take your hands off the bar and pull slightly against the kite with your harness while walking in a circle.

Keep that tension constant and keep walking as you observe the kite canopy gradually filling up with air.

STOP walking when you see the canopy stops flapping. You are now in the correct launching position.

If you continue walking further upwind, you will overpower the kite! This will most likely drag your assistant who will struggle to hold your kite. This is a common mistake from the pilot.

If you notice the kite overpowered and your assistant is struggling to hold the kite, immediately walk back downwind until the canopy starts to flap again, then walk back upwind a step or two to find the correct launching position.

If the pilot walks too far Downwind, the kite will be underpowered and the launch won’t be successful.

Now that you found the correct position, you can grab the bar for the first time and start steering the kite slightly, using the least amount of power possible on the bar.

Once you feel the kite wants to go up and your lines are clear of tangles, you can give a thumbs-up to the assistant who will let go of the kite.

Bring the kite up slowly using minimal steering and minimal power. The stronger the wind is the slower you want to steer the kite and the less you want to pull your bar.

Let’s go over common pilot mistakes.

The most common mistake is that the pilot walks upwind without ANY tension on the lines. Once the pilot decides to put tension on the lines, the kite is overpowered and the assistant gets dragged.

Similarly, it’s common for pilots to pull the bar too far in while taking position for the launch, this will often overpower the kite. If you are holding an overpowered kite as an as assistant it’s best you cancel the launch and explain to the pilot how to avoid this mistake in the future.

If a kite gets launched while overpowered in moderate or strong winds it will most likely drag the pilot into the power zone, which can be very dangerous

Similar problems happen in you oversteer the kite, it will most likely drag you into the power zone.

In light winds, if you overpower or oversteer the kite, it will most likely backstall into the power zone, which can be dangerous. In winds below 15 knots it can be a lot more difficult to launch the kite. In such light winds, it is recommended to walk a few more steps upwind to allow the kite to have a bit more power, while you push the bar away from you and steer the kite up quickly.

Another common mistake is for the pilot to give the thumbs-up while the kite is underpowered and the canopy is flapping heavily. This often results in the kite drifting or rolling downwind

Crossed hand launches

This is one of the most dangerous mistakes a beginner can make, putting the wrong hand on the wrong side of the bar. This will confuse the pilot in the steering and most likely steer the kite into the power zone. Always make sure you put your hands on the correct side of the bar!

Always remember that the safest place to fly a kite is in the water, therefore the safest way to launch the kite is for the kite and the pilot to be in the water. As long as the pilot is in at least knee deep water, even if something goes wrong and the pilot gets dragged there is very little risk of injury or risk of damaging the equipment.

A common myth is that launching the kite on the edge of the water with the pilot on the beach is safer. If anything goes wrong, the pilot will get dragged on land, and this could also easily damage the equipment as well. Launching with pilot in the water is a safer option.

It’s always safest to avoid launching with anyone close by or inside your wind window.

It’s also important to avoid launching the kite with any obstacle downwind of you. If you fail to launch and there are obstacles in your wind window, you will put yourself at risk and may damage your kite as well.

It’s also best to avoid launching kite in very gusty winds or in areas of wind turbulence.

You should consider trimming your kite before the launch only if you launch in very strong winds or if you feel overpowered before launching the kite.

In the next video, we learn how to safely Land the kite with an assistant.

Much like with assisted launching, assisted landing is the safest way to land the kite. Even though self-landing is possible, it’s always best and safest to have someone else to help you land the kite regardless of your skill level.

There are two signals you need to learn for assisted landing. Tapping your head means ‘’can you please land my kite’’ whereas tapping and raising the opposite arm in the air means ‘’I will land the kite for you’’

In this example, the pilot is the one first tapping his head to ask for help landing his kite, while the assistant replies shortly after that she will help landing the kite.

Let’s first cover the role of the assistant

As an assistant, your role is simple. Once you signaled that you will help land the kite you need to grab the kite with both hands close to the center of the leading edge as it comes down to your hands.

Once you grabbed the kite, immediately start walking towards the pilot to help slack the lines

You can now easily lower the kite on the beach and secure it with some sand.

A mistake you must avoid as an assistant is grabbing the kite by its trailing edge. This is probably due to an inexperienced assistant who wants to help but does not understand how to help.

In strong winds, Inexperienced assistants can be very dangerous. Here the assistant grabs the kite by the wing tip which causes the kite to be out of control.

As a pilot, it’s your responsibility to ensure your assistant is competent so if you have any doubts make sure you take the time to explain to your assistant how to help you land safely.

Let’s now cover the role of the pilot

As a pilot, you must bring the kite down to your assistant slowly, with the least amount of power possible.

As soon as your assistant catches the kite, you must immediately push the bar out to full depower or simply let go of the bar.

At the same time quickly walk a few steps forward, to help slack your lines and depower your kite fully.

Having slack lines is essential for the assistant to be able to secure your kite easily.

Let’s go over common pilot mistakes

Here the pilot brings the kite down too fast and with too much power. It will be difficult for the assistant to help.

Landing too fast in strong winds can be very dangerous. Your assistant may struggle to catch your kite

If you pull the bar in after the assistant catches your kite you will overpower the kite and the assistant will have a very difficult time securing it.

You must avoid landing your kite close to obstacles or close to other people

You should also avoid trying to land the kite in an area of heavy wind turbulence as the kite can behave unpredictably.

Remember that the pilot is responsible to bring the kite to the assistant safely

If for whatever reason the assistant doesn’t secure the kite, the pilot must quickly collect the kite

Here’s a reminder of all the hand signal for launching and landing. For safety reasons, remember to use these clear hand signals no matter your skill level.

In the next video, we will learn how to quickly untangle your lines.

Launching & Landing

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