Kitesurfing Trainer kite: Yay or Nay ?
Kitesurfing Trainer Kite: Yay or Nay?
Once in a while, comes back the same question on Kitesurfing forums: A Kitesurfing trainer kite, is it a good investment for a beginner? To help you understand the why’s and the how’s, here’s a guide to help you decide if you should invest in a trainer kite or not.
What is a trainer kite?
A trainer kite is a smaller kite designed to learn to master the control of a kite, without the power and dangers of a full-sized kitesurfing kite. There are 2 types of trainer kites on the market: the 2 lines* or the 4 lines. *Note that a 3 lines trainer kite falls into the 2 lines category.
2 Lines Trainer kite
Generally speaking, a “trainer kite” refers to a 2 lines kite. This type of kite is a ram-air (foil) kite, with 2 lines connected to a set of bridles. In the case of a 3 lines kite, the third line is connected to the center of the trailing edge, slides through the bar and then is connected to a safety leash, usually attached to the wrist. Instead of watching your kite fly away if you let go of the bar, the kite will flag out and fall on the ground. You can then easily relaunch it. The third line can also be used to reverse launch the kite to relaunch it when it crashes upside down. The 2 back lines (also called rear lines or steering lines) allows you to steer the kite left and right, but does not teaches you anything about power adjustments: the adjustment of the angle of attack (also called sheeting in and out). Although the 2 lines can be lots of fun, they are more likely to give bad habits, such as bar hoisting, hammer grip and very aggressive steering. Because 2 or 3 lines trainer kites are usually very small (1 to 3 square meters) they produce very little power, hence people allow themselves to steer the kite very aggressively, which would be very dangerous on a regular kite. For this reason, we do not recommend flying a 2 lines trainer kite if your goal is to learn kitesurfing. The 2 or 3 lines trainer kite used to be a mandatory step in kitesurfing schools, but now the majority of instructors has replaced it with a small 4 lines kite on short lines, because the experience is much closer to the reality of flying a kitesurfing kite. However, if you want to invest into a fun kite for all the family to enjoy, this may be a good option. They are also very affordable and usually cost anywhere between $200 to $400 brand new, including the control bar.
4 Lines trainer kite
As for the 4 lines “trainer” kites, their leading edge is usually inflatable (LEI). They have 2 steering lines attached to the wing tips (back lines) and 2 power lines attached to bridles which are themselves attached to the leading edge (front lines). You need a harness and a safety leash to fly those kites, as one of the front line is the safety line, attached to the safety leash. They are basically full-on kites, in a size that you would need more than 40 knots of wind for an average adult to be able to ride. You can find them from 2 to 6 square meters. They can be quite expensive (you have to buy the kite, bar and harness separately) and they are pretty rare in the new AND used market; the smaller, the rarer. It is true that the longer you fly a kite, the better kite control you will have. For this reason, flying a 4 lines kite before or between your lesson could be a very good idea – taking for granted that you know how to set it up, launch it, land it, steer it, release it in case of an emergency, and what kind of exercises you should be doing with it to improve your kite control. They are fun to use, but they require a minimum of knowledge and have a certain level of danger, since they can be quite powerful and you are literally attached to it.
Should you buy one?
The truth is, for most people, learning the very basics of kite control takes roughly One to Two Hours, then they move on to a bigger kite with longer lines and do more relevant exercises such as board recovery and body drag with the board. Buying a 4 lines trainer kite is quite a big investment for something that you only need for 2h, hence, you could skip the trainer kite and go straight to the lesson, and you would actually save money by saving you from buying an expensive trainer kite that you won’t need any more after 2h.
If however you are a slow learner and you think that you need to spend a long time working on kite control, then yes, maybe a small 4 lines kite with short lines is a good idea. In this case, I would recommend the Airush One Progression, either in 3 or 4 meters. We often use the 4 meters kite on 5 meters lines in our school and we love it. Keep in mind that on top of the kite, you will have to invest in a harness and a bar, preferably with different length of lines: 5m, 14m and 24m for later on. You will use the same harness and bar with your full-size kite, so invest in quality equipment right away.
To sum it up, if you aim to learn to kitesurf, avoid the 2 or 3 lines trainer kite, as they will most likely give you bad habits.
‘’Our many years of teaching experience show that un-learning bad habits take longer than learning the correct habits from scratch with an instructor.”
The 4 lines small-size kites are the real deal, but considering their price and the short time you need to spend on it, it is more economic to simply go straight into the lessons and learn kite control on the spot. However, if you are a slow learner and need to spend some extra time on kite control, then they are definitely a good idea. If you don’t know at this stage, start with a first lesson to evaluate if you need to spend extra time on 4-lines trainer kite, and ask your instructors to show you exercises to do on your own.
Our best advice to help prepare for your lessons: spend a couple of hours watching quality video tutorials!