INTRO - Have you ever found that you just can't seem to get on with any kites other than your beloved 'old trusty' that you've had for season after season? It's a common feeling and happens because you just get so used to it and anything else feels alien. In this gear development feature, Airush kite designer Mark Pattison talks us through some of the basic setting adjustments you can make on your kite to improve or change its handling to better suit the conditions (or your muscles!)
WORDS – Mark Pattison
PHOTOS – Jim Gaunt
(This Feature is taken from Issue #59) - SUBSCRIBE TO KITEWORLD MAG HERE
CAPTION | Designer Paddo
Most kites now have small adjustment options on them, not to confuse you, but to make it possible to adapt the character of the kite slightly to fit your preferences. Kite handling can be such a personal thing and it's quite hard as a designer to get people to appreciate certain positive improvements in a kite when they've been flying another model for so long, or if they've only had one kite since they learnt. Power delivery and turning characteristics can all differ and your enjoyment can depend on what you're used to, no matter how much better we tell you that kite X is.
The most common setting you can change is a bar pressure setting, usually adjusted via two or three different options for positioning your back line in different proximities to the back tip of the kite.
Imagine the last section of your leading edge as a lever with a pivot point around the front of the wing-tip strut. If you tried to move the lever by holding it right next to the pivot point, it would be really hard to move, like trying to turn a spanner/wrench by only holding the side close to the nut/bolt. Holding the spanner at the end makes the turn much easier.
CAPTION | Back line pigtail adjustments. Move forward for more bar pressure or closer to the tips for an easier turning kite
Moving the back line attachment forward, not only adds more bar pressure, but it can also slightly slow the turning speed and usually the response of the kite slightly. This setting is popular with wake-stylers who want a solid pull from the kite and for it to stay steady in the window throughout their tricks. More force is required at the bar to get the kite to move, so this reduces the chance of accidentally over-steering the kite. Unwanted kite movements and too quick turning speeds are also things that beginners don't like, so moving the lines forward can also be beneficial to them.
Moving the back lines as close to the rear tip of the kite will generally give you the lightest bar pressure. The kite will flare slightly more when fully sheeted in. Some kites come with a few knots on the back line bridle, effectively allowing you to shorten or lengthen your back line slightly. Shortening your back line (attaching to the top knot) will generally give your kite a bit more power to a certain point. But on a 14 metre in light winds for example it can make the kite back stall like mad. So it's a question of trim for good performance and usually the middle knot provides a nice balance between all settings. We only have one knot option though on Airush kites, keeping it simple.
There are also other factors that can have an effect, such as the distance of bar throw and turning speed, but these are really quite technical to explain and I'd probably send you to sleep explaining them. Besides, they don't have such a radical change as bar pressure.
However, you can also effect the bar pressure by moving where the front line (or one of the bridle points on both sides) connects to the leading edge of your kite because of the same principles. Basically, the closer you move your front lines together (ie: inward / forward towards the centre of your leading edge), the more bar pressure you will create. The further back towards the tips you move the connection, the less bar pressure you will have. (Always remember that what you do to one side of the kite, you must do to the other!)
CAPTION | Front line bridle positioning options
Instead of just religiously attaching your lines to the middle settings - for no other reason than you feel safer opting for the one in the middle - experiment by moving things around. You might find that you really enjoy the result and it will help you think about what your kite is doing and what you're feeling at the bar, helping you progress as a more sensitive and refined kiter. You'll soon learn to tune you kite according to the intricate performance characteristics you're looking for in different conditions.
For more articles like this one taken from Issue #59; subscribe to Kiteworld Mag - www.kiteworldmag.com/subscribe