Know this…

The most dangerous part of Kitesurfing is when you first launch your kite

Just being aware of this fact will help you to give the launch the attention that is it deserves.

Launching can be safe and easy if you just follow some simple steps.

For a safe launch with an assistant you need to 

  • Have performed a pre-flight check of your setup.
  • Find a launch area with at least two kite line lengths of space downwind from any dangers.
  • Find an assistant who knows how to launch safely or is willing to learn.
  • Choose the right size kite.
  • Have an understanding of the wind window.
  • The ability to safely control and fly a Kitesurfing kite 
  • Aim to have an absolute minimum of 50 meters of space away from obstacles such as rocks, people, boats and so on. The more space you have, the more time you will have to react by letting go of your bar and releasing your main safety if something does go wrong during your launch.
  • Make sure you have flown a Kitesurfing kite and practiced launching on your Kitesurfing lessons with your instructor in shallow water above the knee before you attempt to launch any Kitesurfing kite.

Visualising your launch

The first action to take in launching is to think about your launch. This is so you can visualise in your mind how the launch will take place.

Stand with your back directly to the wind exactly where you will be launching your kite. Put both your arms up to the side of you. Where your arms are pointing are the areas that you can launch your kite. 

You will always launch your kite in the no power zone at the edges of the wind window in the no power zones.

If the sea is to your right, then launch your kite to the right. Launching your kite towards the sea means that if you have too much power, you will be pulled towards the sea and not directly towards any dangers on the land. Launching your kite towards the sea also means that you do not have to move your kite over your head while you are on the land. 

Flying your kite above your head while on the land is risky because you could get pulled up into the air.

If your location has shallow water then you can launch your kite while you stand in the water with your kite towards the land. If something goes wrong and you are pulled over, your fall will be cushioned by the water but this only works if you are in flat water that is above your knee and below your waist. 

Preparing to launch your kite made simple

  1. Always perform a pre-flight check before you launch any kite by checking that the lines are connected correctly without twists and that your safety system works.
  2. Make sure you launch at least two kite line lengths away from any dangers on the beach such as rocks, people or any hard objects.
  3. Plan to launch your kite so you are facing the sea if it is not possible to launch your kite while standing in the water.

 “Some consider Kitesurfing an extreme sport. Either way it can be dangerous and should never be attempted by someone who has no understanding of how dangerous it can be. Seek advice from your local kite shop and most importantly seek appropriate training before changing your lifestyle forever!” Clive Peacock – International Kitesurfing Legend 

Launching your Kite

  • Only when you are 100% confident that you have made all the correct preparation and you are confident in your kite control is it time to launch your kite.
  • You will first need to find an assistant. If possible ask another Kitesurfer to help you launch but if there are no Kitesurfers around then you need to make sure you explain clearly what they must do.
  • First of all – hand your kite to your assistant in the C shape, ready to launch. Show them how to hold your kite to make it as easy and as stress free as possible.
  • As you hand your kind assistant your kite, make sure that you calmly explain that all they need to do is…
  • Hold your kite only in the centre of the main bladder.
  • Keep your kite in the C position by holding one hand in front of the other.
  • Let go only when they see you give a clear thumbs up signal and only let go.
  • Explain that if you need to land your kite you will tap on your head so signal that you are going to move the kite down to them where they should catch the kite by the centre of the main bladder and keep hold of it until you take it from them. 
  • When you are happy that your assistant knows what to do and is holding your kite correctly, it is wise to pull out your bridles so you are sure they do not wrap around the wing tips of your kite, then walk calmly back to your bar, hook your safety leash to the safety ring and connect yourself to your bar. 
  • Walk backwards so there is a little tension on your lines so you can easily untwist your lines.
  • Walk into the wind.
  • Keep walking into the wind until your kite stops flapping. Unspin your bar so your lines are untwisted.
  • Have a visual check of your safety system and that the area downwind of you is still clear of any danger
  • If you are launching your kite to your right, gently hold your bar with your left hand.
  • If you are launching your kite to your left, gently hold your bar with your right hand.
  • Take three extra steps into the wind to be sure you have control.
  • Give a clear “thumbs up” signal to your side using your free hand.
  • Be prepared to let go and use your safety if something goes wrong.
  • Gently move your kite up so it is around four or five meters off the ground.
  • Walk calmly to the water.
  • A flappy kite is an unhappy kite. It is not ready to launch if it is flapping.
  • Before you give the thumbs up signal your kite should be in a perfect C shape, filled with wind and the canopy should be tight with no flapping whatsoever, if your kite is flapping then it is not ready to launch or something is wrong.

Common launching mistakes that cause serious accidents

  • A bridle has wrapped round the end of the wing tip and the kite turns into the power zone.
  • The bar is pulled too hard and the kite turns into the power zone.
  • The bar is not let go immediately if the kite turns into the power zone.
  • The safety system is not activated quickly enough in an emergency.

Launching your Kitesurfing kite made simple

  1. Walk into the wind until your kite stops flapping at 90 degrees to the wind direction.
  2. Check that a bridle hasn’t twisted over the wing tip.
  3. Be gentle with your bar, be prepared to let go immediately if something goes wrong and get into the water as soon as possible

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