Kitesurfing – Self-Launching Course
Why learn to Self-Launch?
Kitesurfing Self-Launching is a critical skill in learning to become a fully independent kitesurfer
In this video we will show you how to maximise the success and minimize the risks of your self-launches.
Self-launching is not a difficult skill to learn, however it can be dangerous…therefore it’s not recommended for complete beginners. Remember that preferably you will always have someone who is competent to help you launch your kite as this will always be the safest option.
The most important thing to remember about self-launching is that no matter how many safety precautions you take in making sure your self-launch is successful, it still may not always work as planned…in this video we will show you what to do when things go wrong but also how to minimize the risk and maximize the success of your self-launches.
This video will focus on a self-launching method called the slide launch, which consists of turning the kite around on the ground, gradually exposing the kite to the wind.
Before self-launching your kite, you first want to check the area around you. If there are other kiters, any obstacles or people downwind of you, it’s best you either avoid self-launching, go elsewhere or try to secure the area first.
Once you’ve established the area is safe you want to check the surface on which you plan to self-launch the kite. If there are any rocks or shells in the area there is a chance you may puncture your kite or scratch the leading edge heavily over time. Branches and sea weed could easily get tangled in your lines. Ideally you would self-launch only on soft sand without sharp shells or any other objects on the beach.
If you’re learning to self-launch it’s always safest to learn in light to moderate winds first, we recommend to learn self-launching in winds between 10 and 20 knots. Obviously the stronger the wind, the riskier it gets.
Once you’ve established the area is safe and your kite is setup with the lines downwind, take some time to verify each connection, each bridle and each line. You now want to remove the sand from the canopy to allow your kite to turn. In strong winds, you can put some sand on the leading edge so that it can fall off while the kite is turning
Now turn the kite towards the direction in which you plan to self-launch in order to slightly expose the bottom wing tip to the wind.
With the bottom wing tip slightly exposed to the wind, check your lines and connections once more.
Now grab each back line and walk them towards your bar to make sure nothing is tangled.
Connect your safety leash and Hook yourself in as usual
Pull the trim strap in all the way. Wedge the trim line in the cleat with your fingers and pull the power line above the trim to make sure it’s locked in place and won’t come undone.
You can now begin walking around in a circle, keeping tension on your chicken loop but WITHOUT TOUCHING THE BAR.
Keeping tension on your chicken loop and pulling against the kite while you are walking is the key to ensuring the kite turns around progressively, gradually exposing the canopy to the wind.
When the canopy starts to fill up with wind, stop walking and observe your kite behavior closely without touching the bar
This is the ideal scenario, where the kite is laying vertically and motionless on the ground. This will allow you to perform a last pre-flight check and fix any small twists in your lines.
Now that your lines are clear of tangles, you can unlock the trim strap so your kite has more power for an easier launch
If the wind is strong or if the kite is too exposed to the power zone walk a few steps downwind to avoid getting an aggressive launch and allow the kite to rest at the edge of the wind window
You can now grab, the bar, for the first time in this entire process, and launch your kite safely
Let’s watch the entire process once again
An even safer way to self-launch is to put your kite on the water’s edge, allowing it to drift to the water as you’re standing in the water yourself. Remember you’re always safer in the water than on land.
Let’s go over some common mistakes and common problems you can run into while self-launching. Perhaps the most common mistakes is to walk upwind, not using the trim strap while pulling the bar all the way in. This will most often launch your kite through the power zone and drag you along aggressively.
The most common problem is for one of your bridles or line to get tangled around parts of your kite, such as around the wing tip. This will most likely send your kite into a loop, so you must activate your safety system as soon as you see the kite turning towards the power zone. This is a common example of tangle where the bridle gets wrapped around a strut or the wing tip.
Apart from checking your lines carefully before launching, there is little you can do to prevent this to happen, and the frequency of problems like these will vary depending on your specific kite model and kite size. In strong winds, it’s safest to keep your hand on the quick release while you’re walking around, so you can release very quickly at the first sign of problem, or even walk around while holding on your chicken loop unhooked, so you can let go of the chicken loop and flag your kite at the first sign of problem
Here’s a reminder of all precautions to take:
-Make sure your area is completely clear of other people, other kiters and that the surface is clear of any objects that could tangle your lines.
-Always learn to self-launch in lower winds first, then gradually try it in stronger winds.
-Check your lines and bridles multiple times
-Use your trim strap to minimize the power of the kite when it turns into the wind. This will make a BIG difference in stronger winds.
-Avoid pulling the bar until the kite is ready to be launched safely
-You’re always safer being in the water when self-launching rather than on land
-Don’t expect all your self-launches to be a success, be ready to use your quick release at the first sign of trouble
-Keep your hand on the quick release while you walk around in strong winds or hold the chicken loop in your hands with the safety connected.
With practice and repetition you’ll get to anticipate your kite’s behavior which will increase your chances of success.
In the next video we will learn how to perform tethered self-launching and tethered self-landing