Kitesurfing: let's start with presentations.
Kitesurfing is a fairly recent sailing sport, born at the end of the nineties as a hydro between traction, surfing, wakeboarding and windsurfing. It uses the power developed by kites (kites) that can be maneuvered by means of a boom to which they are connected by cables: generally four, to which one fifth can be added, but there are also versions with only two cables (in particular the first ones, and some kites used in schools). The kiters wear a harness ( harness ) to which the bar is attached . At his feet he has a table for gliding on the water that can be bidirectional or unidirectional.
A first distinction is between inflatable and non-inflatable kites. The inflatable kites have a rigid structure consisting of inflatable air chambers, which prevents them from sinking in the event of a fall in the water, the latter are more similar to kites used in paragliding. From now on we will only deal with inflatable kites, simply because they are the most used in water and we know better. The kite is chosen mainly based on the intensity of the wind and the weight of the rider. The table used and the ability of the rider also influence the choice.
From the birth of kitesurfing to today, both materials and techniques have seen a dizzying evolution, which has gradually raised safety levels while facilitating their diffusion to the general public.Kitesurfing is not in itself a dangerous sport , but it can easily become one. We must not forget that kitesurfing was born as an extreme sport and in certain conditions it is still today ... Who practices kitesurfing is able to experience unique emotions, in a dimension suspended between sky and sea. The only drawback to kitesurfing, therefore, is its potential danger, which can however be neutralized with the help of an instructor, a good course and a few, but fundamental, safety rules. First of all it is good to remember that kitesurfing is not practiced alone: ???
Kite Spot: where kitesurfing is practiced
Kitesurfing is practiced in areas, called spots , chosen for the good weather conditions that are generally found there, for the presence of services such as exit channels, schools, etc., and for the absence of natural obstacles or impediments of various kinds (like bathing establishments, restraining ordinances, etc.) It is important to know a spot well because in general a spot is feasible with some winds, but not with others. In addition, there are generally restrictions on kitesurfing on certain beaches in our peninsula, especially in summer. In this regard, it is always necessary to consult the ordinances of the harbor master's office. On our site you will find a discreet list of the main spots in Tuscanyand of the main ones of the other Italian regions, in addition to some freshwater spots on the Como lake .
How to learn kitesurfing
The first step that anyone who intends to approach kitesurfing must take is the choice of a SCHOOL suitable for attending a good kitesurfing course and learning the fundamental maneuvers in complete safety. Identify the kite schools closest to you, contact the instructors, ask questions about the course program, where and how it is done, observe a course.
Conditions are very important in learning kitesurfing. Having a large, unobstructed and not too crowded beach is important. This is because you will have more room to maneuver and you will feel more peaceful and safe.
Another fundamental thing in kitesurfing is the weather conditions. Learning with the right wind (neither too strong nor too weak) means learning in ideal conditions. Of course when you book a course you can not always know what the wind will be like there at the end of the course, but you can find out what conditions there are generally in that spot and which are the statistically best periods. Then you will have to return to the judgment of the instructor who will assess whether or not it is the case to take the course at a given time.
Keep in mind that the basic kitesurfing course usually consists of four lessons at the end of which you will definitely not be experienced kiters but you should at least be able to independently continue learning without posing a danger to yourself or others. Here is what a basic kite course generally consists of:
1 - Theory and security in kitesurfing: Fundamentals of kite flying and safety regulations.
2 - The flight of the kite on the ground: you start practicing with the kite, in an area strictly free of obstacles. The aim is to learn how to make the power of the kite take off, land and control. The kites generally used in this phase are very small, with two or four cables, and in any case not enough to generate the traction necessary to drag a person
3 - Bodydrag: at this point you go into the water but still without a table! In this phase the traction in the water is experimented making the same movements learned on the ground, but above all it is learned to make to restart the kite when it falls in the water.
4 - Departure: the table is finally brought into the water and the first departures are attempted. The kitesurfing course usually stops at this point , leaving the kiters in precarious balance on the board, able to do a few dozen meters in the direction of the wind and then walk back to the starting point.
The windward and therefore the pace that will allow you to return to the starting point is generally learned after a certain period (which can vary depending on the time spent learning, personal predispositions and the conditions in which you have luck or bad luck to run into) to experience long, lazy and strenuous walks on the beach. It is important during these first attempts, and until you have gained some confidence and experience, do not use the kite in too strong a wind. From here on it is a continuous challenge to improve, always pursuing new goals: so the first jump and the first 360 ° are just the springboard to new tricks! Only one last tip: OKKIO to the SAFETY rules !!!
Especially at the beginning, when you are not too practical, there are some rules for having fun without being a danger to you, or for those who admire you from the beach. Here are some (but before starting it is good to go into the subject):
1) Choose a wide beach, not crowded and without dangerous obstacles; have any spectators stationed behind you and never downwind of the wing.
2) Do not underestimate the power of the wind, never lift the kite with a gusty wind and, at the beginning, never if it exceeds 20 knots.
3) Never practice alone. Once the course is over you can continue to the beach where you learned where an instructor will always be able to see you.
4) Don't stray too far from the shore, unless there is a rescue vehicle.
5) Don't even sail too close to the beach: for your first few times the water from the sand falls better!
KITESURF: THE EQUIPMENT
Complete kitesurfing equipment includes: kite complete with bar, safety lines and kite leash; a kitesurf board; a trapeze; safety equipment (protective and / or floating jacket, helmet, cutters) and, last but certainly not least, wetsuit or lycra depending on climate and temperature. Let's proceed to a quick overview of each of these elements.
THE KITE, AQUILONE or ALA
Before talking about shape and sizes, here is a small vocabulary useful for those approaching kitesurfing for the first time.
The kite (which we can also call sailing, kite or simply wing) is composed of some polyurethane air chambers (bladders) that are used to keep the fabric in shape.
The inner tubes are distinguished in Leading Edge and Struts. The Leading Edge (LE) is the leading edge of the wing, the side of the kite facing the wind. The struts are the perpendicular air chambers that help keep the fabric taut. Generally they are from 3 to 5, but there are also kites without struts and kites with 7 struts. The bladders must be inflated to the right pressure before each session, and deflated to store the sail. Today the kites are equipped with a "one pump" system, ie all the bladders are connected to each other so that all can be inflated by a single valve. The fabric (canopy) with which kites are built is generally Dacron or other polyester fabric with the best compromise between strength and lightness.
The tips are the final part of the kite, the two ends to which the lines are connected by pigtails, the florets that come down from the tips.
Very often there is also a system of bridles, more or less complex, with or without pulleys.
Kitesurf sails can be distinguished according to the number of cables, the construction, the shape.
Kite: Distinction with respect to the number of cables
2 CABLE EAGLES The wing is fixed to the boom by two cables, this allows it to act only in its direction without the possibility of beating or lifting the kite. The result is a reduced possibility of discharging the power of a sudden burst. They are generally used in the first learning phases even if for the aforementioned limit they are little used.
4 CABLE EAGLES The wing is fixed to the control bar by means of four cables and equipped with the depower system, this allows to better manage the power of the kite.
5-CABLE BUILDING the fifth cable was one of the first safety systems developed to improve depower, relaunchability from the water and in general the safety of the sail. This distinction actually is rather outdated today as the vast majority of kitesurf sails have 4 cables.
Kite: Distinction with respect to the type of construction
AQUILONI CASSONATI or FOIL They have a box structure in which the air enters automatically from some windows, the shape is similar to that of the paraglider, they are powerful and light, but slow. They are not much used in water because when the wing falls into the water it is necessary to restart it as soon as possible, otherwise, by deflating, the water can penetrate into the pockets of air, preventing it from rising again. There are now some models on the market with valves that prevent water from entering the bins.
INFLATABLE EAGLES Equipped with air chambers, inflatable with a pump, they are the most suitable for an aquatic use, in fact they leave more easily. They are easily visible in case of need for help and are a good life preserver in case of need.
Today the vast majority of sails used for kitesurfing are of the inflatable type. Foil models are mainly used in snowkiting.
Kite: Distinction with respect to the shape or shape
Inflatable kites for kitesurfing are now generally divided into:
C-Kite were the most common kites until the advent of SLE. They are so called because in the air they have the typical profile of a C. They can be driven by a system of 4 or 5 lines / cables. Today they are used by a niche of advanced kiters (freestylers) because, being less powerful if held still and with less inertia to the rotation, they are easier for this discipline, but being able to reach higher rotation speeds can also give a more explosive boost for some types of maneuvers.
SLE (of which a particular type is also Bow-Kite)
SLE is the acronym of Supported Leading Edge and means that the LeadingEdge (LE) is supported by a system of bridles that maintain a more flat shape (but not completely flat ), maximizing the exposed surface. SLEs may or may not have pulley systems for back lines, which influences the response (feedback) to the rider: generally more immediate in those without pulleys. The main features are (compared to CKite): more wind range, greater power and greater depower.
Hybrid kites Comparsi since 2007 because the designers have tried to combine the fast response to the C-kite commands with the high depower of the Bow-kites. Today it is actually difficult to draw a clear distinction between SLE and the concept of hybrid kites.
The wings also differ for the AR. The wings aimed at the less experienced have the low AR that makes the wing easier to use, to set and to raise from the water. Le with high AR (from 5 onwards) offer greater performance, but are indicated for the expert kiter.
Also the number of STRUTS can be a factor of classification of the sails for kitesurfing. Today 3-strut kites are very common, but kites with 4 or 5 struts are also common and there are 2, 1 strut or even none.
kite: choose the size
The size of the sails is measured in square meters and refers to the actual square footage of the "stretched and deflated" kite and on the ground (it was not always like this). On the market the measurements of kites range from 4 to 17 square meters, but the most used range from 6 to 12. The size of the kite is chosen based on the intensity of the wind, the weight of the rider and, secondly, based on the rider experience and to the table fit. This means that a 90kg kiters will need a larger sail and board to planar, a 60kg rider (with the same wind conditions).
KITE: THE BOMA
The Barra, or boma, is the kite command tool. The bar generally has a length of about 50cm which can vary according to the size of the wing. Generally it is in aluminum or carbon, covered with a soft grip to favor its grip.
The bar is connected to the kite through the lines (usually 4 lines, sometimes 5). The lines that connect the wing to the boom, are in Dyneema (for the lines) and in Spectra (preline) and have a high tensile strength. The length of the cables is generally around 25 meters, but can vary from 15 meters up to 27 meters. The length of the cables influences the power and reactivity of the sail, in fact for the same long cable wing = more power, short cable = more rapid response to the command.
Of the 4 lines two connect to the trailing edge of the kite and to the end of the bar and are called back lines , two to the leading edge of the kite and are called front lines. The front lines cross the center of the bar and connect to the trapeze through a rubber ring: the chicken loop.
The bar can slide back and forth thanks to the depower system that allows the kite power to be dosed by varying its angle with respect to the wind. Pulling the bar towards us increases the power, releasing it foils the sail. At first the instinct leads many beginners to cling to the bar in case of danger. This unfortunately is the worst mistake because by doing so the kite gains power. The first automatism to work on is to leave everything in case of danger because in this way the kite falls on the edge of the window (and stops pulling).
The Quick release is the emergency release or safety release of the kite that allows you to free yourself from the traction of the sail in case of danger. It is placed above or to the side of the chicken loop and is colored red. When used, the kite remains connected to the trapeze by means of a single line through the wing leash. By operating the quick release the wing spreads like a flag and does not generate more traction.
It is essential to familiarize yourself with the quick release systemof your own kite. Know exactly where it is and be able to grasp it and operate it with your eyes closed. Finding it and operating it must be an automatism and we must be able to perform the movement instinctively, in just a few fractions of a second. Every time you raise your sail, do a review, going to look for it with your hand. In case of danger you may not have time to reflect and look for it and this banal habit could save your life.
It is also important to periodically check the efficiency of the quick release because the sand could block it.
Kite leash and quick release of the kite leash. The kite leash (not to be confused with the table leash at all) is an elastic cord, which connects a kite line to our trapeze using a double carabiner system. It is always supplied to all the wings. The wing leash allows you not to lose the wing when the quick release is activated. The kite leash must always be hooked as soon as you hold the bar, before raising the wing. The wing leash is in turn equipped with a quick release that can be activated in case of emergency, if we want to permanently detach from the wing.
Kitesurf boards are mainly divided into directional or bidirectional.
Directional : of surfistic derivation the one-way kitesurf boards can be designed to surf the waves or more simply for freeriding. There are also variants as skimboards. The directional tables exist both in the variant with straps and without.
Bidirectional : (or twin tip) are the most used boards in kitesurfing and also those with which you learn. They are very easy to handle, of small dimensions, suitable for freestyle; change direction simply by reversing the direction of the wing without moving the feet. Some are equipped with fixed connections derived from Wakeboard, a sort of boots that hold the foot firmly in place, used by kiters for the freestyle and wakeboard disciplines.
Foilboard: they are directional boards with a fin (foil) designed so that the board is lifted from the water when a certain speed is reached.
KITESURF: WIND AND GAIT
To practice kitesurfing it is essential to recognize wind intensity and direction. The anemometer is used to measure wind speed, ie its speed. For beginners this is a fundamental tool, but with experience it is possible to assess the intensity of the wind with good approximation even without.
As for the wind intensity , we normally sail with a 3/4 force, starting from 10/12 knots. With a lower intensity it becomes extremely difficult to maintain the gait sideways, and in any case a very large board is required. As for the strong wind, we usually consider the 25 knots as the maximum limit for a kiter who is not yet an expert. Only after having acquired an adequate experience it is possible to go out with strong winds, and in any case always paying the utmost attention and with sails of dimensions suitable for one's weight / ability .;
Regarding the wind direction , the ideal condition for kitesurfing is certainly that of the wind side on compared to the beach. With this direction it is possible to get away easily from the shore but in case of falls the wind itself will bring us back to shore. Absolutely avoid the wind from the ground, not only when it is perfectly off shore, but also if it is side off (unless you can rely on boats or dinghies for recovery). Even the wind from the sea, if perfectly on Shore, can be dangerous and not recommended for beginners. This fact, especially if you are a beginner, makes it difficult to keep a sufficient distance from the shore, and the risk is to find yourself on the beach with every wrong maneuver.
The flight windowit is the area where the kite flies, and varies according to the direction and intensity of the wind. Imagining to position oneself back to the wind, the kite will be able to fly in front of us within an imaginary quarter of a sphere, where the radius is the length of the lines of the kite and in the center is the kiter. The flight window is about 180 ° with strong wind, while it is noticeably reduced even reaching 45 ° with little wind, when the sail must always be kept in the central area of ???
Not only must the Flight Zone be free of obstacles, but the entire Danger Zone must be free.
The pace is the navigation direction with respect to the real wind.
The transverse is the pace at 90 ° with respect to the wind direction. Nell 'gait of the stern there is instead moves in the same direction in which the wind blows. The intermediate gait between the transom and the stern is the slack. The gait that forms an angle of over 90 ° with respect to the wind is called upwind. The windward is that gait that allows us to return to the starting point and to climb the wind. With the kite, it is not possible to go perfectly against the wind, but we can reach a windward point by making upwind edges to the right and to the left and maintaining an angle with the wind of about 45 degrees. The width of this angle depends not only on our abilities, on the intensity of the wind, on our sail, on our table. The leeway is that phenomenon that makes us move involuntarily downwind with respect to the desired trajectory. This may be due to the kite pulling and our little experience in combating the power.
ARM THE KITE
First of all it is important to choose a beach without danger . Keep in mind that it takes a space of 25 meters to spread the lines, to which we must add an additional security space where there must be no trees, umbrellas, poles, rocks, etc. ..
At this point we first proceed to inflate the kite . All modern kites are equipped with a one-pump system so that through a single valve it will be possible to inflate struts and leading edge. To inflate the kite, open it and spread it on the ground, paying attention that there are no twisted bridles, with the lower part facing upwards. We connect the sail to the pump with the special safety cord, we place our feet on the pump and inflate the kite.
How much should the kite be inflated?Some brands indicate the exact pressure that must be reached and add a pressure gauge to the pump to be able to detect it. In this case, just follow the instructions. If this is not your case you can adjust yourself considering that in general the kite must be inflated until it becomes tiring to push the pump. Bladder and Leading Edge will have to be well swollen to the touch, so that it is not possible to bend them. A little swollen kite does not do well, on the other hand a kite that is too swollen is likely to burst if it hits the ground too hard or is left in the sun. After inflating it, detach the leash and lay the kite with the Leading edge on the ground. The kite must always be positioned so that the leading edge is upwind with respect to the trailing edge. Always put sand to make sure that the wind does not lift it.
This is the time to mount the bar and connect it to the kite. Unroll the lines starting from the kite and walking upwind from it. If the wind is strong, you can stop the ends of the lines on the ground with a little sand. Place the bar on the ground with the top facing upwards. Now take the reverse path to separate the lines by holding them between your fingers. The lines must not cross but must be parallel to each other. Check the bridles and the freedom of movement of any pulleys after which it connects, with the wolf's mouth, the fronts (central lines) to the bridles. Connect the back lines (the external lines) to the pigtails on the trailing edge of the kite.
This is one of the most delicate moments to which you have to pay extreme attention because it is precisely because of an incorrect assembly that many errors occur. Check the lines several times before raising the kite. Keep in mind that colors help you avoid mistakes: always look at the color of the lines ( red on the left, black on the right ) before raising the kite.
RAISE AND LOWER THE KITE
Being an article aimed at beginners I will not consider the possibility of performing these maneuvers by myself.
To take off and land the kite it is necessary to be assisted by a companion who, if he is not also a kiter, must be properly trained .
Remember, if possible, to get the kite off the water. Check that there are no obstacles or people in the downwind area. In case you move.
Take the bar in your hand and hook the chicken loop to the trapeze. Block it with the appropriate finger and attach the wing leash.
Let's move so that the kite is at the edge of the window compared to our position. We check our position well with respect to the kite. We are the ones who must establish the correct position to raise the sail, not who helps us. Furthermore we must be careful that those who help us should not find it difficult to keep the sail in position, if this is not the case it means that it is not on board the window but in power. At this point, those who help us will take the kite, staying upwind of the sail, turn it and position it vertically with the LE windward from the trailing edge. Let's take a few steps to stretch the lines. We check again that the lines are correctly assembled. If everything is OK, let's move one step or two against the wind, to put the kite in position (without exaggerating). We reach the launch position gradually, so you can hear when the kite is in the correct position and has the power to take off. When we are sure that everything is in place, we nod (thumbs up) to leave the wing.ATTENTION : our assistant must NOT launch the kite. He just has to let go.
At this point we will act gently on the bar to bring the kite back to the zenith. Then we will immediately go to the water.
When we want to lower the wing, let's signal it with the conventional nod of the open hand on the head. Slowly lower the kite along the window edge until it touches the ground and allow those who assist us to grab it and place it on the ground. At this point we will immediately roll the bar and put sand on the sail, if we do not intend to deflate it immediately.
PILOT THE KITE, CONCEPT AND BASIC EXERCISES
Once the kite is in the air we must keep it in flight, controlling its direction and power, in short, we must pilot it.
The bar, as already mentioned, is the tool that allows us to drive the kite. Pulling the bar to the right, we act on the right back and the kite will rotate to the right. It will stop when we return the bar to the upright position. The faster our movement, the faster the kite movement. The exercise to perform to become familiar with the movement of the wing is to perform 8 within the flight window. This exercise will initially be performed with the high kite. The 8 will first be very narrow then wider up to the edge of the flight window.
It is also important to become familiar with what happens when you leave the kite. Bring the kite to an edge of the window and leave the bar. The kite will bounce gently until it stops. Repeat on the other side.
Walk with the kite. To walk with the kite it is necessary to pilot the bar with one hand and hold the sail at about 60 ° to the ground. We learn to exploit the light traction of the sail and try to move in every direction. We thus experience the transverse, upwind and slack strides on the ground.
The next step is to perform the same exercise in water. This is body drag . Getting familiar with and managing body drag well is essential both for later navigation and in the future to recover the board after a fall. In the Body Drag we will let ourselves be dragged by the kite stretching the body and using the body (and in particular the arm that does not control the bar) a bit like a drift.
Pubblicato il 29 aprile 2018 | Blog > Technique: KITESURF