Knowing how to set up and fly your kite in light wind can mean the difference between having the best session of your life or having a total “kitemare”. 

In light winds there is a much smaller room for error so your technique has to be spot on.

“Golden” light wind trick and tips

  • Modern, top quality kites have much better relaunching capabilities which is one of the many reasons why they are more expensive. 
As of writing this in 2023, light wind kites are now using a carbon fibre type of material called Aluula which is significantly lighter than normal kite material. This increases light wind performance and I believe is the future of kiteboarding.
  • Line extensions extend the wind range of your kite helping your kite to fly and have more power in light wind. 
24-28 meter lines work great in light wind.
  • Pump your kite up as hard as you dare in light wind so it is as rigid as possible. 
Another new innovation for 2023 is Corpump, an electric pump. Great if you dont have room for your normal pump. https://www.corpump.co/
  • Only go out as far as you are prepared to swim. 

  • Light wind requires much more movement of your kite from more aggressive movement of your bar.

  • If the wind starts to drop or the wind changes in anyway and your kite becomes difficult to control, get back to the safety of the land immediately.

  • If the wind stops suddenly move your kite around as fast as you can as it will create its own wind which will help it to stay in the sky.

  • In light wind, the wind window is smaller. To help keep your kite in the sky make sure your kite is high and in between 11 and 1. Any lower towards the edges of the wind window and your kite may fall out of the sky in light wind.

  • Focus on keeping your kite up in the sky as relaunching from the water in very light wind can be difficult or even impossible.

  • Learn how to down loop your kite to keep it in the air. This is where you dive your kite towards the sea so it picks up speed and can be used if the wind drops suddenly or if you move your kite too far to the edge of the window and you lose control. Study the down looping section in this book to learn how to downloop safely.

  • If you cannot stay upwind, stop and walk back. Don’t risk one more ride out to try and find wind. It’s better to be on the land wishing you were on the water than on the water wishing you were on the land.

  • Always try to relaunch your kite towards the land if possible so you are not pulled further out to sea while you are launching.

Light wind setup

The best advice you will ever hear for riding in light wind is to set your kite up for LOW POWER!

Yes, low power. The opposite of what most people think. This is to help prevent back stalling which can happen to all kites in light wind.

Back stalling is when the angle of your kite is too great for the wind to support it. It is caused by the kite being trimmed for maximum power and then when you pull your bar in your kite simply falls backwards because the angle of the kite canopy is to aggressive for the light wind.

To minimise this happening 

  • Connect your steering lines to the knot that is furthest away from your kite. Sometimes this is marked low power.
Connect the loop to the knot furthest away from your kite in light wind.
  • Pull in your kite trim system to shorten your centre lines enough so when you pull your bar in your kite is not fully powered or over sheeting.  An over sheeted kite is when the angle is too great so the shape becomes inefficient; to spot this when you pull your bar in fully usually the ends of the kite will flare out slightly. 

  • These settings also work extremely well for all other wind speeds and most experienced riders have their steering lines connected to the knots that are furthest away from the kite all the time.
Always go to the end knot in low wind to prevent backstalling.

Light wind riding made simple

  1. Know that in light wind your kite should be setup for low power and be depowered, yes less power in light wind.
  2. Know that the wind window is smaller in light winds and your kite can drop out of the sky from any lower than 11 or 1.
  3. Focus on keeping your kite in the air as relaunching in light wind can be impossible, remember that your kite is the most important component of Kitesurfing, keep it moving or down loop it if is falling out of the sky. 

Understanding Back stalling

If your kite falls backwards toward the ground in the opposite direction of how it is usually fly’s then this is called a back stall. It’s the same principle as an aircraft stall. It is very common in light wind and with poorly set up kites. You can minimise it happening by setting your kite up for low power but it can still happen so what do you do if it does happen? As soon as your kite starts to fall backwards towards the water you must immediately………. PUSH YOUR BAR OUT

A bad back stall like this is where the canopy collapses, prevention is better than cure so trim your kite for lower power and if it happens then push your bar out (don’t let go) to help it recover and fly back to 12. Sometimes you will need to steer it back up to 12 to save it. In very light wind crashing the kite means you will not be able to relaunch which will mean a self rescue and even a long swim so an essential skill to have.

This is the opposite of what most people expect and the opposite of what your instructor has been telling you throughout your lessons so it’s a lot to understand.

Pushing your bar away as soon as a back stall happens will help your kite to catch the wind and fly properly again. You must keep your bar pushed away until your kite rises back up to the no power zone. You may have to push your bar all the way out and as your kite begins to fly again you may get pulled forwards as it will be in the power zone.

As soon as your kite begins to lift back up you then must get back in control, pull your bar back in and and fly your kite as normal.

Back stalling made simple

  1. Remember to set your kite and trim system up for less power to prevent back stalling in light wind.
  2. As soon as your kite falls backwards push your bar away.
  3. Fly your kite back up to 12 as soon as possible

Light wind relaunching

Relaunching your kite from the water in light wind is much more technical and challenging especially when you have less experience. It is extremely important to know how to relaunch your kite in light wind if you are in deep water otherwise you will be performing a lot of unnecessary self-rescues.

Your top tips are…..

  • Be patient. 
  • Use a steering line, not your bar. This will help you to avoid back stalling your kite. 
  • You can pull hard on one line to get your kite to flip on its side into the C shape but after that – be GENTLE. Extremely gentle. Release the tension immediately as your kite launches from the water.
Finger tip pressure is needed to prevent your kite from falling backwards into the water
  • Launch your kite more in front of you, in the middle of the power zone. This will help you to get your kite up into the C shape position because your kite is catching more wind in the power zone. Remember, this only applies in light wind when you are in the water.

If you have no success and your kite is still in the water, try something different such as letting go of your bar, pulling on another line, swimming backwards, pulling even more gently or pulling on the centre lines to help it flip over. 

Remember the famous Einstein quote “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result”.

Hot launching

A hot launch is where you launch your kite in the middle of the power zone when your kite has its leading edge facing towards the sky. It’s called a hot launch because when it launches it is in the middle of the power zone and you will be pulled forwards potentially with great force. 

Leading edge must be facing the sky to be able to let go of the bar and pull the centre lines to perform a hot launch.

Only hot launch in light winds when you are in water, never attempt a hot launch while you are in shallow water below the knee or on the land. You can only hot launch when your kite is directly downwind of you, has its leading edge out of the water and the struts are pointing to 12.

Only when your kite is in this position can you do the following, in sequence….

  • Let go of your bar or push it out as far as possible.
  • Pull hard on the centre lines.
  • Swim backwards and pull hard on your centre lines if necessary.
  • Wait until your kite rises clear from the water and do not touch your bar until it does.
  • Prepare for some power and to be pulled though the water. 
  • Get hold of your bar and move your kite to 12 as soon as possible. 
Prepare to body surf forwards when hot launching as you as coming in HOT!

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