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  • Buying your first Powerkite


    jhn.holgate

    If you got 10 land kiters together and asked them 'what kite should I buy first' something like 7 out of 10 would usually say 'a 3m 4 line low aspect power kite on handles'.

    Why 3m?  Power kites are generally made in sizes from 1.5m to 21m.  You want something that will be easy to learn on, still provide some decent pull but won't completely wear you out.  Something around the 3m mark is usually ideal for the average weight person.   For a start, you don't want to be fighting a kite while you're learning to fly it.  You want to be concentrating on flying it and having fun, not survival.  For most of us in the 65 - 85kg range, the 3m size is ideal.  Big enough to provide a fair bit of pull in 10 - 15 knots and powerful enough to buggy with should you go that way.  Plus, smaller kites in the 2m - 3m range are fairly quick through the sky and a little more exciting imho than the bigger kites.  4m - 5m kites start getting noticeably slower and it's a bit like hanging on to a truck - a lot of effort and you'd soon wear yourself out - depending on the wind strength.  Bigger sizes can produce more power in lighter winds, but if there's not enough wind for the 3m to fly then it's more than likely you'd struggle to fly a 4m or 5m.    Even though a 2 - 3m power kite is relatively small, don't underestimate the power that they can generate if flown in winds beyond what you can handle - they can hurt so stick to lightish winds while you're learning.

    Why 4 line handles?  4 line handles (a pair of power lines each side of the kite and a pair of brake lines) give you the most versatility.  You can easily reverse launch the kite should you land upside down.  You can also bring the kite to a complete stop by pulling the brakes and when you are learning, you'll quite likely have some velcro bands around your wrist with a line attached to the brake lines of the kite.  These are called 'kite killers'.   You just let the handles GO and the brake lines will be pulled killing all the power in the kite.  See pic from Peter Lynn below...

    kite-killers.jpg

    4 line handles are also compact, easy to store, provide the most control for your kite and are relatively inexpensive.  2 line kites tend to be a bit difficult to relaunch from an inverted position and harder to land. 4 line kites may take an hour or so extra to initially get the hang of than a 2 line kite, but the extra hour will pay big dividends.  

    Mick.jpg

    Low aspect?  Beginner kites are normally 'short and fat'.  These are low aspect kites.  High aspect kites are long and thin - lots of extra performance and speed/power but demand much more skill to fly. They are usually designed as high performance 'engines' for buggies.  Leave them for later.  While low aspect kites are often labelled as 'beginner' kites, they are not something that you will necessarily outgrow - they are often characterized by having excellent stability - particularly in gusty wind - and having very good manners.  They are excellent kites for days when the wind is less than ideal.  If you're not chasing that extra speed in the buggy or trying to go that extra 15% upwind then there's no particular reason you need to upgrade.

    P1010137.JPG

    Ok then, which kite?  Stick with a known and respected brand like Peter Lynn, Ozone, PKD, Zebra, HQ, Born Kite, Flexifoil.  All these manufacturers make excellent quality kites that should last for years if not crashed too much.  Good kites to buy first up are the HQ Beamer, the Peter Lynn Hornet, Flexifoil Rage, Flexifoil Sting, PKD Buster, Zebra Checka, Zebra Z1 and Ozone Quattro.  There is also the single skin Nasa Star 3 from Born Kite that is an excellent kite to learn on.  The best thing you can do is ask lots of questions on a forum such as this.  Better still, get together with some local flyers - you can learn far more in an afternoon flying with other people than any other way.  In the meantime, there's always youtube videos...

    Once you've got the reflexes working and you can fly your kite without needing to look at it, then you might like to get into some 'traction' kiting - ie: snow kiting, skates, landboard, or my favorite mode of transport, the buggy...

    Rob at Cape Bridgewater.JPG

    Edited by jhn.holgate



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