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Kiteboating

So you want to go kiteboating!  Normally a boat is bigger than a board so to kiteboat you normally require 2 or more kitesailors; however, you can also kiteboat using a special small catamaran made specifically for kiting: KiteCat:


Eric goes kiting with a KiteCat on a light wind day
Photo by Bill Barker

Contrary to common beliefs, kiteboating is lots of funs especially when you share a it with friends or with family members.

Furthermore, you normally don't need much wind to kiteboat.  As long as the kite can fly and water relaunch comfortably, you can go kiteboating.  On the other the hand, when it is over 25 knots, you will definitely want to go kitesurfing instead.  So the best wind range for kiteboating is from 5 to 20 knots. 

The Equipment

To kiteboat you need the following equipment:

  • A water relauncheable traction kite, lines and associated control device.  As you don't have the same flexibility as in kitesurfing, select the kite that is easy to relaunch (such as a Flat LEI).  Similar to kitesurfing, make sure you have a safety release system that you can depower the kite at any moment. Furthermore, you may want to use a kite that provides some depowering capability such that you don't have to come back to the beach/dock and change to a smaller or larger kite as frequent. Similar to kitesurfing, you would need a number of kites to cover the whole wind range.

  • A boat, normally a sailboat or a catamaran without a mast is good.

  • Some attachment point on the deck just forward of the center board to attach the kite (via the chicken loop in case of inflatable kites)

  • A helmet for the kitesailor piloting the kite

  • A harness for the kitesailor piloting the kite

  • The same boat safety equipment you normally needed on a boat: life jackets, flares, lines, paddle, etc.

You normally don't jump while kiteboating so just select a kite good enough for cruising.  For a small boat of 2 kitesailors, just select the kite slightly smaller than the kite you would normally use for kitesurfing in that condition.

A video of a special boat made for Kiteboating, POU
Posted on Youtube.com
 

The Place

The best place to go kiteboating is a large beach where the wind blows parallel to the beach (cross shore) where you can simply launch your kite on the beach, push your boat into water, attach your kite to the boat and then go.

Otherwise, you would need some flat water area where you can launch your kite from the boat (you may use some device such as the Turbo Launcher to facilitate the water launching).

The Technique

Before starting to learn kiteboating, it is recommended that you already have some experience flying a traction kite.  If you have never flown a traction kite, please review the Kite piloting and the Kite power controlling sections before proceeding.

How To Start?

Kiteboating is simple, simply launch your kite, attach it to your boat and steer the kite in the direction you want to go.  The force of the kite will pull the boat in the direction it goes.  You can attach your kite to any place on the deck just forward of your center board.  Just make sure you have some very firm and solid connection to the deck.

If the boat is small and you have enough beach space to launch the kite, you can simply launch your kite, jump of the boat, attach the kite to the boat and then go.  Use the technique describe in Kite piloting to launch and land your kite.

However, if the boat is big or you don't have enough beach space, you can launch your kite in flat water.  If possible, it is better to prepare the kite of the land and then bring it on to the boat to launch.  If not, it is normally doable but not easy to prepare the kite on the boat. You may consider using the Turbo Launcher to assist in water launching of the kite.

To facilitate launching and relaunching of the kite in the water, it is also desirable to rig a 5th line.

The kiteboat POU uses a 5th line to water relauch the kite
 

 

How To Get Going?

  1. Similar to kitesurfing, if you have enough power to get going, simply lock your kite at 30 - 60 degrees in the forward moving direction.
  2. If you don't have enough power, move your kite in a sine wave pattern to get going.
  3. Similar to normal sailing, you use the rudder to turn the boat downwind or upwind.

One of the major differences between kiteboating and normal sailing is the boat position and sailor weight distribution.  In normal sailing, the boat is heeled leeward and the sailors normally stay on the windward side of the boat to counter the heeling force. In kiteboating, due the low kite attachment point, the boat normally does not heel at all and the sailors can stay in the center or anywhere on the boat.

How To Jibe?

It is not easy to tack a sailboat so to change direction, it's better to jibe.  You jibe a kiteboat similar to jibing in kitesurfing:

  • Turn the kite up to zenith
  • Go downwind
  • Turn the kite to the other direction
  • Steer the boat in the new direction

It is very easy to jibe a sailboat and normally it is more less feel very natural to any kitesailor.

 


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