Buy, Design, Build &
Kite Designing, Kite
In the early days, kite designing and making was an art exclusive to a small
group of people who are gifted with tremendous amount of aerodynamic knowledge,
skilful in drafting, sewing and other handy works.
Not anymore! With the help of modern kite design
fundamentals, kite design software,
database of airfoils, sample kite designs, almost all kiters
can make their own kite. Let's take a look at all those elements one by
one and see where we are with the art of kite making:
- Kite Design Fundamentals
- Flat LEI
- Airfoil Database
- Kite Design Software
- Kite Design Samples
- Kitesurfingschool.org Kite Design Sample Database
- Kite Sewing Methodologies
- Kite Making Discussion Groups
- Pseudo Surfplan User Manual
- LEI Sphere Theory
- Bruno's Post on Kitesurf Group
- Peter Lynn's Myths on Kitesurf Group
Kites, especially sled kites, are very complex aerodynamic
devices (as complex as if not more than airplane wings). If you are not
familiar with airfoil, profile, wing and the associated terminology, read
http://www.dreesecode.com/other/aflprimer.pdf or some other airfoil primer introduction
before continuing. Now let's take a quick look specifically at those that
applies for kites
[Read this now if you are ready; otherwise, just read the summary
or you can skip the whole thing now and
read it later]
|Like an airplane wing, a kite can fly due to various
forces acting on it. The main differences are that an airplane has
thrust while a kite has line tension and an airplane is balanced by its
weight around its Center of Gravity (CoG) while a kite is balanced by its
points (which can be adjusted automatically by the kite or manually by
the kiter) and its weight at CoG. Let take a quick look at all the
force and torque players:
- Wind Generated Forces:
- Lift: This is the vertical force upward perpendicular to the
wind that provide lift to the kite. The Lift of the kite is
proportional to the Lift Coefficient (Cl) of the airfoil which
varies dependent on the angle of attack (AoA) of the kite.
From 0 to around 20 degrees (most dominant AoA range for kiting), Cl
increases as AoA increases. After the peak in around 15 to 20
degrees, Cl will decrease. More info about Lift can be found
- Drag: (or profile Drag) is the horizontal force in the same direction as the
wind that drags the kite rearward. Similar to Lift, the Drag
force is proportional to the Drag Coefficient (Cd) which varies
dependent on the AoA. Cd normally increases as AoA increases.
More info about drag can be found at
- Lift/Drag (L/D) ratio: The L/D ratio shows how Lift changes as
compare to Drag. The faster Lift increases compare to Drag or
the slower Lift decreases compare to Drag, the higher the L/D ratio.
From 0 to around 20 degrees (the most dominant AoA range for
kiting), the L/D ratio is inverse proportional to AoA: low AoA means
high L/D and high AoA means low L/D.
- Induced Drag: Induced Drag is the drag occurred when a
physical wing or kite is flying. The total Drag of the kite is
sum of the profile Drag and the induced Drag. Induced Drag is
proportional to square of Cl (Lift Coefficient), inverse
proportional to the Aspect Ratio (AR) of the kite and also inverse
proportional to the shape of the kite (Induced Drag is minimum for
an elliptical planform).
- Moment (or Torque): this is the rotational force that either
flips the kite over its nose (for traditional airfoil, negative
moment) or over its tail (for reflex airfoil, positive moment).
The point along the chord where Moment force is constant for all AoAs is called the Aerodynamic Center. History and experiments
have shown that for most subsonic airfoils, the "quarter-chord"
point at 25% of
chord from the leading edge has a fairly constant Moment (for AoAs
from -5 to 20 degrees, the range of AoA most important for airplanes
and kites) and most if not ALL modern data are measured using the quarter-chord point
as the AC. Moment is proportional to Moment Coefficient (Cm)
and the chord of the airfoil. More info about AC and Moment
can be found at
- There are TWO MATHEMATICAL MODELS used by designers to consider how the Lift,
Drag forces and the Moment act on the airplane or kite:
- The AC and Moment model: In this model, the Lift,
Drag forces and the Moment are considered acting at the AC. The Moment, if negative will
the kite over the nose around the AC (traditional airfoil) and if positive will
kite over the tail around the AC (reflex airfoil).
- The Center of Pressure (CoP) model: In this model, there is
only Lift and Drag forces
acting at a single point on the chord line called the Center
of Pressure (CoP). Since the CoP is not necessary at the
same location as the AC, the Lift and Drag forces (the sum of Lift
and Drag forces component that are perpendicular to the chord
line; let's call it Fcop) will generate a torque
around the AC. Since the torque around the AC is constant,
the CoP is close to the AC when the force Fcop is high (large AoA),
and the CoP is far from the AC when the force is small (small AoA).
For traditional airfoil, the Moment is negative, therefore, the
CoP moves along the rearward side of AC (from 25% of chord to the
For reflex airfoil, the Moment is positive, therefore the CoP moves
along the frontward side of AC (from 25% of chord to front).
Since the Moment is constant, it moves either along the front side
or rear side of the AC (dependent on the airfoil type) and will
NEVER cross the AC.
Some CoP chart can be found at
Both the AC/Moment and the CoP mathematical models are useful and
can be used in different situations in the wing and kite design process.
For some reasons, airplane designers are more comfortable with the
AC/Moment model (this is one of the main reasons why airplanes have
tail-wing to counter balance the Moment of the main wing) and kite
designers are more comfortable with the CoP model (it is easier to
deal with 1 force than with a force and a moment). In any
event, from these 2 models, one can approximately determine the position of
the CoP mathematically as:
position = AC - Cm/Cl
The exact equation is:
position = AC - Cm/( Cl(Cos(AoA) + Cd(sin(AoA) )
So at any AoA, once Cl, Cd and Cm are known (normally measured in
the wind tunnel at quarter-chord point), we can determine the
position of CoP at 0.25 - Cm/Cl of chord from the leading edge.
Please note the minus sign, if Cm is negative, the CoP is on the
rear side of the quarter-chord point (traditional airfoils normally
used in LEI) and if Cm is positive, the CoP
is on the front side of the quarter-chord point (reflex airfoil
normally used in Arc).
Why is CoP so important to a kite designer? CoP is important
to the kite designer because it is the location of the kite that the
effective tow point has to be at or the bridle system has to support during the flight of the kite.
Since CoP of the kite is changing during flight, the effective tow
point of the kite has to change accordingly (either support
statically via bridle line tensions, change automatically via a
spherical shape, or change
manually via the back and front lines of a spherical shape).
- Gravity Force:
The kite weight is centered at its Center of Gravity. The
Lift of the kite must be larger than the weight of the kite for it to
fly. A kite is an unbalanced device and won't be able to fly by
- It has a "thrusters system" that pushes it forward to counter
balance the Drag force and some mechanism to counter balance the Moment
(e.g., tail plane. For airplane without tail plane, it needs
to use reflex profile and place its CoG in front of the main
wing). This is the simple model for an air plane.
- Has a tether line placed at an appropriate location to counter-react the Drag force and the
Moment. This is the model for a kite.
The line tension is the main force component of the kite that act
similar to the thrust force of an airplane. While the thrust
force is an active force, Line tension is a static force. The
effective tow point is a location along the chord line that the
line tension acts on. A tow point can be a single fixed tow
point, a bridled tow point, a dynamic sled tow point or a full control
sled tow point.
- Single fixed tow point: the tether line is connected directly to
the kite. This is almost never used in a traction kite (there
is however a kite patent on fixed tow point at
- Bridled tow point: the effective tow point is determine by a
bridle system consisting of multiple connections to the kite.
While the built-in effective tow point is the most optimum location for
bridle system to counter-react the lift from the kite, the bridle
system can accommodate some variation around the built-in effective
tow point during flight by automatically adjusting the tension on
various parts of the bridle lines.
- Dynamic sled tow point: Using a spherical form, a sled
intrinsically has a dynamic tow point configuration for the kite
(more for the central part, less for the wingtip) where the effective tow point can varies quite a
range dynamically while the kite is flying (this is the case of an
original 2 line LEI as described in Bruno's LEI patent).
- Full control sled tow point: Using a spherical form and a
system of front lines and back lines, a 4 line sled has a dynamic
fully controllable configuration where the effective tow point are
dynamically readjusted during the fly and also be fully manipulated
by the kiter (this is the case of a 4 line sled, LEI or Arc).
When a kite is balanced on the sky, all the forces and torques
acting on it must be equal. This means:
- The Lift of the kite has to be larger than the weight of the
kite; the left over Lift will create line tension to generate pull
and also "thrust" ( this thrust force T is equal to
(L-W)*Tan(AoA) when the kite is fully balance)
due to the inclination of the line to move the kite forward
(only if this "thrust" is larger than the sum of Profile Drag and
- Using the AC and Moment model, the line tension and the weight
of the kite has to balance the Moment of the kite about its AC or
quarter-chord point. Normally when a kite is flying
(especially a traction kite), lift is much higher than weight and
the Moment about the AC is higher than the torque created by the
weight of the kite. The effective tow point should be
rearward of the AC (25% of chord) for traditional airfoil (which
has negative Moment) and frontward of the AC for reflex airfoil
(which has positive Moment).
- Using the CoP model, the difference of the Lift force at CoP
and the kite weight at CoG is a force L1 slightly less than Lift
and very close to CoP (since Lift is normally much larger than
Weight; otherwise, we won't feel any force on the line).
Let's call this spot CoPg. If CoP is frontward of CoG, CoPg
is slightly rearward of CoP and if CoP is rearward of CoG, CoPg is
frontward of CoP.
The kite is balance longitudinally when the effective tow point
is around the CoPg.
For a bridle system, the CoPg should be within the range supported
by the bridle system. For a dynamic sled tow point system (2 line
LEI), the kite will rotate and change the effective tow point to
match that of the CoPg (the kite line will point straight to the
CoPg). For a full control sled, the kite
can readjust the tow point automatically or the kiter can do it
manually. While the kite is flying the CoP is changing and the
kite balances its tow point correspondingly to keep longitudinal
Balancing the tow point will change the kite AoA to the wind (more
drastically with sled) depending on the shape of the kite.
For example, for a typical AR 5 sled (with a kite angle of 50
degrees - read the Sphere theory for kite angle), decrease the tow point 1% of
chord is equal to increase the AoA 0.5 degree and vice
and versa). So for a sled using a traditional airfoil (LEI),
during the flight path, the wind direction changes and the AoA
increases, the CoP will decrease and the the kite will rotate
itself to increase the AoA further. In this case, the kite
amplifies the AoA increase so the kite designer has to make sure that at all
places along its path, the kite will not luff nor stall due
to this additional automatic adjustment from the kite.
This phenomenon from sled kite using traditional airfoil (for LEI
only as Arc uses mostly reflex airfoil due to concern about
wingtip or shoulder collapsing) makes it an excellent performer as
it accelerates the Lift during the growth phase (AoA from 0 to
around 20) and decelerates the
Lift loss during the decline phase (AoA from 20 and above)
For AoA from minus 5 to 20:
AoA increases during flight path -> CoP moves frontward -> Tow point follows CoP
frontward -> AoA further increases -> Even more Lift
For AoA from 20 and above:
AoA increases during flight path -> CoP moves rearward -> Tow point follows CoP
rearward -> AoA decreases -> Hang on to the Lift as long as
This effect is called "Sled Boosting" effect and is the
reason why many kiters feel that they can jump easier and higher
with LEI and LEI won the battle over foil in the early days of
For sled using reflex airfoil (such as Arc or LEI using reflex
airfoil), the "Sled Boosting" effect is
reverse, which means that it would protect the kite from exposing
itself to very large or very small AoA. This mean that for
Arc, the kite will try to retain within a range AoA with excellent
L/D ratio. So this type of kite will be fast and leverage
power from speed instead of lift like the case of LEI.
Furthermore, with a 4 line sled, the kiter can adjust the
effective tow point (adjusting the length of the front line and
back line) when the AoA become too little or too much. This
is what depower really mean for a 4 line sled. At any
CoP position, a kiter can adjust the front line and back line such
that the kite will fly a certain degrees of AoA smaller or larger
than the case of a 2 line sled kite.
The kite will fly properly once it reaches longitudinal balance
and will continue to adjust its longitudinal balance automatically
(or the kiter can help manually) during the flight.
- The kite will stop flying when its "thrust" force is equal the
sum of all the drag forces (Profile Drag and Induced Drag).
So the wind-window and the AoA of the kite at the wind window is
determined by the kite itself (the airfoil characteristics).
The built-in effective tow point should be selected accordingly to
be as close as the wind window CoP as possible (via bridle setting
for bridle kite and via Profile Attachment Points for sled kite).
- A kite has Lift and Drag similar to an airplane.
- CoP of a kite varies dependent on AoA. CoP is closer to AC (25% of
chord from leading edge) for large AoA and farther from AC for small
AoA. For traditional foils, CoP is normally around 27% (AoA
around 20 degrees) to 55% (AoA around 0) of chord from leading edge.
For reflex airfoil (Arc), the CoP is normally frontward from 0 to 25%
- The tow point of the kite should either statically (bridled kite)
or dynamically (sled kites) support the range of variation of the CoP
when the kite is flying across the wind window. In the case of
sled kite it is automatic. By following the CoP automatically, a
sled kite using a traditional airfoil (such as LEI) "amplifies" the acceleration of Lift and sustain the peak.
This "Sled Boosting" effect is one of the main reason why a LEI kite jumps higher and easier
- The Lift, Weight and Drag of the kite determine the wind window
and the AoA of the kite at the wind window.
Important Kite Design Parameters
easy to manipulate and highly visible kite parameters are Aspect Ratio (AR), Airfoil Profile
and built-in Angle of Attack (AoA) of the kite:
Aspect Ratio is approximately Span/Chord of the kite or more
exactly Span*Span/Area. Since AR determines the shape of the kite it is
the most visible kite design parameter that the user will see. Higher AR
kites have less induced drag (upwash and tip vortex
effects) than Lower AR kites of the same characteristics. Induced drag is
inverse proportional to AR. So when stationary at the wind window, a low
AR kite can generate the same amount of pull as a higher AR kite (of the same
characteristics) but as soon as
we need to move the kite for more power (for jumping or underpowered situation),
a higher AR kite can accelerate faster therefore get more power sooner than a
low AR kite. As a rule of thumb, a higher AR kite has a larger Power
Window (the difference between min power and max power) and a lower AR kite has a
smaller Power Window. Following are the recommended AR ranges:
||Very Low AR
||Very High AR
|Inflatable / Arc
Inflatable and Arc have spherical shape, a natural stable form, therefore their ARs
are normally higher than foil's.
Airfoil has lift but also drag. A profile with the highest
lift when stationary will give the strongest pull when stationary at the wind
window (AoA around 5 degrees). A profile with highest lift/drag ratio will
accelerate faster and will generate strongest pull when flying across the power
zone. A high lift airfoil is sometime labelled a "tractor" airfoil as it
will pull like a tractor at the wind window. A high lift/drag airfoil is
labelled a "speed" airfoil as it flies very fast across the power zone and
generate tremendous amount of pull while doing so. A speed airfoil may generate a lot of pull at the wind window but may not be
necessary as much as a
tractor airfoil. The following table show the recommended lift and lift/drag
|Lift Coefficient (at AoA = 5)
Please note that these Lift/Drag ratios are the calculated ratio
and not included Induced Drag. In reality, the "real world" L/D ratios are
reduced by a factor of 6 or 7.
It's best to use an airfoil design program (such as DesignFoil
at http://www.dreesecode.com/ - if you
want to buy the software after using the demo version, you can get an excellent
educational discount by mentioned that you are a reader of Kitesurfingschool.org) to
design, analyze and select the airfoil profile to use for the kite (for kiting
purposes, the Reynolds number is around 1,000,000 to 2,000,000).
Some kite designers being shy from the complexity of airfoil design and
analysis, uses the rule of thumb method of changing the profile thickness/camber for
changing the lift and lift/drag characteristics of a profile. This method
is not accurate but maybe acceptable for kites. As a general rule of
thumb, increase the profile thickness/camber to increase lift at wind window and
decrease a profile thickness/camber to increase the speed of the kite. The
following table show the range of profile thickness/camber used for most kites:
|Foil and Arc
A kite get more lift with a higher Angle of Attacked (AoA) to
the wind (more surface projected to the wind and also from 0 to 16 degrees of AoA,
the Lift Coefficient of an airfoil normally increase to an optimum value). Each kite has a "neutral" built-in AoA for
the center of the kite and the wing tip when it is at the wind window straight over-head
(with front lines and back lines of equal length). The
range of the built-in AoA is normally from 0 to 5 degrees. Note that the
wind-window angle is around 85 degrees such that the in-flight AoA of the center profile
at the wind window is the sum of the built-in AoA and 5 degrees (or 90 - 85).
Note that changing the built-in AoA of the kite may also change the wind window
angle such that the two will "amplify" each other to have a "double AoA" effect.
E.g., changing the built-in AoA from 2 to 0 may make the wind window angle
change from 85 to 86; therefore the in-flight AoA of the kite at wind window is
now 4 degrees instead of 7.
It is interesting to read Peter
Lynn's Myth 1 and 2 in which he stated that the Lift or pull of the kite at
wind window is proportional to the AoA of the kite and the L/D of a kite is inverse
proportional to the AoA of a kite (AoA here means AoA within the "dominant AoA"
range of 0 to around 20 degrees which is directly influenced by the built-in AoA
of the kite).
- A kite with a lower built-in center AoA has a larger wind window but can
over-fly & luff easily and does not pull much at wind window (a Speed kite should have a lower built-in AoA around 0
degrees). These type of kites must have instantaneous AoA control for the kiter
to prevent luffing and also for the kiter to "sheet-in" to get more power at
wind window if needed.
- A kite with higher built-in center AoA has a smaller wind window but
generate more pull at wind window and hard
to luff (a Tractor kite may have higher built-in AoA around 3 to 5 degrees for
more pull at wind window)
- An all-around kite may have a built-in AoA of 2 to 3 degrees.
- Due to the upwash and the wing vortex phenomena, the built-in wingtip AoA
of a kite can be 1 or 2 degrees higher than the center AoA. The upwash effect
reduces the AoA
of the wingtip a bit so add 1 or 2 degrees to the wingtip AoA to counter balance
- For inflatable and Arc, due to their geometry, the wingtip AoA
varies much different than the center AoA and therefore the built-in wingtip AoA
can be designed independent from the center AoA and the designer should add 1 or 2
degrees to the desired built-in AoA to counter balance the up-wash and the tip vortex effects.
||Very Low AoA
||Very High AoA
|Range (in degrees)
||2 - 3
||Tractor (Wake Style)
The following tables provide the summary of the AR, Airfoil, AoA
||Small POWER Window
||Large POWER Window
|Lift (at wind window)
||Weak pull at wind window
||Strong Pull at Wind Window
||Large WIND Window
Small AoA at wind window (less pull)
|Small WIND Window
High AoA at wind window (more pull)
Hard to Luff
and their uses in different types of kite:
(6 - 15 Knots)
(12 - 27 Knots)
Sled Kite Size (Foil)
16 m2 (10 m2) & Larger
8 - 16 m2 (5 - 10 m2)
8 m2 (5 m2) & Smaller
|School (Stable, Low Lift, Slow)
|Very Low AR
Very Low Lift
Very Low Lift/Drag
|Tractor (Wake Style, Wave, Gusty Wind)
Very High Lift
|Moderate - Low AR
High - Very High AoA
Moderate - High AoA
Very High Lift/Drag
High - Moderate Lift/Drag
|Moderate - Low AR
Moderate - Low Lift/Drag
|Speed (High Jump, Freestyle)
||Very High AR
Very High Lift/Drag
Moderate - Low AoA
Low - Very
Moderate - Low Lift/Drag
Other Kite Design Fundamentals
Center profile should be selected for optimum lift and optimum lift/drag ratio (optimum as according to the
type of kite requirements specified in the tables above)
Wingtip profile should be selected for maximum luff resistance
(e.g., reflex profile).
For sled kites (Inflatable
or Arc in spherical form):
A sled kite has similar projected surface of around 63% (2/pi or 2/3.14159) of the flat surface regardless any other parameters
of the kite (AR, Tip/Center chord ratio, etc.)
If the wingtips are wide enough (effective tow points of the back lines are larger than 80% of center chord), one can reverse relaunch an
inflatable or Arc by pulling on the back lines.
For LEI (using traditional airfoil), if the wingtip are wide enough and the effective tow point of the front lines is so forward (normally less than 15% of chord) that it reduces
the AoA drastically, the kite will not fly on the front lines alone (100% depower)
More Kite Design Info
A Flat LEI has similar structure with a classic LEI except
for the following differences:
A flatter canopy design (however most still have a deep
canopy curve compared to regular foil, to take advantage of the
Sled Boosting effect)
A bridle system consisting of a simple but somewhat
elaborated bridle system for the front lines and a very simple bridle
system for the back lines. The front bridle system has multiple
connection points to the leading edge to support the leading (therefore
Flat LEIs are also referred to as Support Leading Edge, SLE, kites)
The canopy is more or less equivalent to the center part of
the classic LEI canopy (around 3/4 of the classic LEI canopy) and the bridle
system is equivalent to the sides of the classic LEI canopy (about 1/4 or
1/8 of the canopy on each side).
One of the more popular commercial Flat LEIs
Besides for the differences above, a Flat LEI design should
be somewhat similar to a classic LEI in theory. It is then just a
matter of properly design the canopy and the towing points via the new
Unfortunately current version of Surfplan does not provide
full calculation and analysis of the tow points of the bridle for Flat LEI.
So in the mean time, you have to design a flat LEI with some manual
processes. Also, if you are interested in flat LEI kite design, read Bruno's
Flat LEI patent application at
http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20050230556.pdf and the
Flat LEI section.
Most kite design or foil design software come with some airfoil
database; however should you want more, there are other airfoil databases and
one of the most extensive airfoil databases is
UIUC Airfoil Coordinates Database.
The most popular kite design software for inflatable kite is currently SurfPlan (Surf stands for Surface). SurfPlan
is currently available for
download at http://www.surfplan.com.au.
SurfPlan currently does not have any official user manual; however,
Kitesurfingschool.org has a "Pseudo" Surfplan User Manual
for LEI kite designers at the end of this page.
Foil designers may want to use FoilMaker which was around before
Surfplan and is very popular
among the foil enthusiasts. FoilMaker can be downloaded at
FoilMaker has its complete user manual and the web site also offer some kite
Also, Stelios Alexandrakis has released his Sledmaker software
to the Open Source Community at
http://www.geocities.com/reystos/sledmaker/. Use Sledmaker if you want
to add features that are not available on Surfplan nor Foilmaker.
IKDesign is a newer generation kite design software which is
rather interesting especially for Bow/Flat Inflatable kite design.
IKDesign is at
It's better to make your first kite using an existing kite
design sample. The best place for inflatable kite design samples was at
zeroprestige.org; however, the site is no longer in operation.
Fortunately, the archive is still available at
http://web.archive.org/web/*/http://zeroprestige.org. In the beginning, it's wise to play with only a few
somewhat "harmless" parameters and once you feel more comfortable with the software, read the
"Pseudo" Surfplan User Manual and play with more complex parameters such as kite shape,
profile shape, rib shape,
leading edge and trailing edge shape, etc.
For foils, there are kite design samples at the FoilMaker site
So go design your kites, make them (or have them made for you),
test them, send us your designs and photos and comments for the
KitesurfingSchool.Org Kite Design Sample Database for future readers:
Theory & R&D Kites:
Built & Tested Kites:
Alex Stelios has released complete instruction how to sew and
make one of his "almost production" kite at
http://www.geocities.com/reystos/ikaros_rev2/index.html. The page
include a whole complete instruction set as well as the plan for the Ikaros kite
(version 2). [For some reason, the files are not there anymore, you may want
ask Alex directly]
Another place to learn the method to sew your own
inflatable kite is the Zeroprestige archive at
The FoilMaker manual at
http://www.foilmaker.co.uk/ has a small section on sewing foil.
The two most popular discussion groups for kite making are:
Join these two groups, ask questions, play with the software,
sew a kite and you will find that
kite making is not a mysterious art anymore.
Surfplan, designed and written by David Aberdeen, is a very easy to use piece of software but since it currently doesn't have a user manual, its rich set
could be too overwhelming to a new kite designer (or even to a foil designer).
Since Surfplan is mostly used
to design LEI kites, in this "Pseudo" Surfplan User Manual version 4.5
(recently updated to version 5.02), we provide the descriptions of
all the design parameters for
LEI kites in Surfplan (we will skip most of the foil related portion such as
bridle, etc.). The descriptions of the parameters are placed in the same
order as they appear in the EDIT menus of Surfplan:
Size and Shape
D-ribs and Mini-ribs
Kite Name: Any
name you want to give to the kite
Revision number of the design (new in version 5.02)
Anything you want to say here
Size and Shape
This is one of the
most complex Surfplan's parameter menus you need to fill in so relax, read and
play around to understand the parameters properly before designing your own
The span of the kite in meters
Center Chord: The
center chord of the kite in meters
Calc size: Click
on this button to calculate the Wingspan and Center Chord using the total Surface
Area and Aspect Ratio (and the other already defined parameters). Most kite
designers would finalize these parameters at the end to have an "even" kite size or
aspect ratio number:
Flat Area: Total
surface area when flat or in other words, the size of the kite
Aspect Ratio of the kite (Wingspan * Wingspan)/Area. Most kite designers
would set this parameter from 4 to 7.
Tip Chord Ratio (%):
The length of the tip chord as a percentage of the center chord (less for more
stability, more for more depower, more radical control). Most designers
would set this parameter from 25% to 50% (if you set this number to 0 then you
are designing a 2 line LEI).
(Ribs in version 4.4 and older): Number of the kite panels.
Less for ease of sewing, more for smoother canopy (most
designers would set this parameter from 14 to 22 for LEI and 22 to 32+ for foils or Arcs
depending on the kite size).
Rib Spacing: How
and where to place the ribs (where the two panels are sewn together):
Place the ribs at equal distance along the span of the kite (this is the default
Proportional to Chord:
longer chord sections have ribs further apart.
Place ribs such that each kite panel has the same area.
Manually place the rib. Select this option and then click Edit Spacing to place the ribs manually.
table shows all the current statistical information of the kite:
ellipse as the base shape of the kite (this is the default option and most
designers would select this option). Also, an elliptical shape generate
minimum induced drag.
0% for no effect (default), 100% for fully square or rectangle shape
0% for constant curving from center to tip (default), 100% for keeping the
center of the LE straight and curve more near the tip.
similar to Front Curvature but for the Trailing Edge
kite has a rectangle shape
triangle as the base shape of the kite
Select if you want the trailing edge scalloped between 2 inflatable struts.
Curved LE: Not
used for LEI kite (this is mainly used for single skin kite to smoothly curve the LE
panels for the fibreglass rod).
Make the Leading Edge of the kite stay in a 2 dimensional plane.
Manual Offsets: Select this to manually change the shape of the Leading and Trailing Edge of the
For some very good
discussion of the LEI's AoA and Profile Alignment Point settings, read
LEI Sphere Theory
Point (%): To change the forward/rearward sweep of the kite:
amount to move the center of the kite forward (positive number) or rearward
(negative number) in percentage of the center chord. (most LEI kite designers
would set this from 20 to 40). The default value is 33%. For a 2
line LEI, Bruno has recommended that this alignment point should be around 42%
(with 0 degree built-in center AoA - please note that 0 degree AoA according
to Bruno is a couple degrees AoA according to Surfplan). Note that for
Arc kites, designers normally set this value closer to the leading edge than
Inflatable (Arc normally uses reflex airfoil such that the CoP is near the
leading edge of the profile)
Tip: The amount
to move the tip of the kite forward or rearward in percentage of the wingtip chord.
(most kite designers would set this similar to the Center
Profile Alignment Point). The default value is the same as Center Profile
Alignment Point at 33%. For simplicity, this value should be 0.
AoA: The built-in
Attack of the profiles:
of the center of the kite (most kite designers would set this from 0 to 5
degrees). The default value is 3 degrees.
Tip: The AoA of
the tip of the kite (most kite designers would set this from 0 to 5 degrees and
equal or larger than the Center AoA).
The default value is 3 degrees.
AoA Rotation Point
(Chord %): The center point where the profile will rotate around when it
changes the AoA (in percentage of the chord). A free body normally rotate
around its Center of Gravity (CoG) so for inflatable, this value should be
Analysis: This table shows the analysis of the AoA of the kite in-flight
(this table only shows the front line connection points at 0% and back line
connection points at 100% the chord of wingtips. For other connection
points, check the Sled Lines menu):
Effective Tow Point
(%): This show the effective tow point in percentage of chord when the
Powered Down: No
tension on back lines.
Front lines and back lines length are equal. For LEI, Bruno has recommended that this
number should be around 42% (actually, Bruno's recommendation is
for a 2 line LEI as one cannot change the effective tow point in that case).
Note that coincidently, the default values of Surfplan 4.5 will yield a value of
41.182 for this field. Note that for Arc, this value should be much
smaller (around 5% to 10% as Arc normally uses reflex airfoil which has the CoP more forward).
Powered Up: No
tension on front lines.
Adjust AoA Analysis
Parameters: click this button to change the parameters used for the
In-flight AoA Analysis. It is best to use some profile design and analysis tool
to figure out these values for the center and wingtip profiles and enter them here (or
just use the default values):
CoP (%): Center
of Pressure of the kite in percentage of chord. This should be the CoP of
the kite when it is flying at the wind-window (AoA around 5 degrees - see the
Wind Window parameter). Most designers would leave this
number at the default value of 33% (which is .33 due to a bug ???)
if they don't know the CoP of the kite at wind window. Normaly LEI uses
traditional airfoils with the CoP (at 5 degree AoA) around 38% and Arc uses
reflex airfoil with the CoP (at 5 degree AoA) near the leading edge around 5%.
The angle of the kite relative to the ground when it is stabilizing straight
overhead (most designers would leave this number at the default value of 85
degrees or AoA of 5 degrees). If you are designing a speed kite, you may
want to push the envelop a bit and try 87 or 89 degrees.
To select the shape of
Besides Size and Shape
menu, this is one of the more complex parameter menus in Surfplan. One
cannot design a profile with Surfplan but can import a profile and change some
Single Skin: for
single skin kites.
Double Skin: For foil or
Inflatable: Select this
option for LEI.
Smooth Profiles: Surfplan will smooth out the profile
automatically if this option is selected (default is not
No Profile at Wingtip:
This is the default. A flat profile (or no profile) has a CoP at 25%.
A traditional cambered profiles used in LEI normally has CoP at 30% to 50%. A reflex
profile used in Arc has CoP from 0 to 23%. Some designers believes that the closer the
wing tip CoP to the front line attachment point, the lighter the bar pressure
(some other designers thinks it's the center CoP or the combination of center
and wing tip CoPs)
LE Strut (In
version 5.02, this option has been moved to the ILE Tube screen)
Center and Wingtips
Profile Name: The name
of the profiles which have been loaded for the Center and the Wingtips
appropriately. The default profiles are DA2 for both Center and Wingtips.
Profile Depth: The
maximum depth (thickness) of the profile in percentage of chord (most designers would set
these values between 8% and 14%).
The default values are 9 for both Center and Wingtips.
At Chord (%): The
location of the maximum profile depth in percentage of chord. Most
designers would set this value between 18 and 33 depending on the profile.
The default values are 25 for both Center and Wingtips.
Import: Click this
button to load an existing profile.
Export: Click this
button to save your profile for use in another kite designs.
Tube Size: The LE tube
size in percentage of chord. Surfplan will automatically calculate and
display the tube size in cm. Most designers would select tube size between 6%
and 12% of chord. The
default values are 9% for both Center and Wingtip tube sizes.
Seam Angle: Specify the
seam spot of the LE tube. The seam location is marked by a red marker. The default value is 45 degrees.
Sail Angle: Specify the
spot where the canopy is sewn onto the LE tube (marked by a red marker). The value has to be
between 0 and the Upper Limit (display next to the parameter) which is dependent
on the LE Tube Size. The default value is 45 degrees.
View Rib: Select
the rib to view its profile. The ribs are numbered from 1 at the Wingtip.
The ribs which have inflatable struts are marked with a "*" after the number.
Specify how the profile
along the wingspan will change from the Center profile to Wingtip profile. There is no need
to do anything here if the Center profile is identical to the Wingtip (even when the
"No Profile at Wingtip" option is selected).
Auto: Morph from the
Center profile to Wingtip profile automatically (most designer would select this
Use this slider button to select how the morphing should be dependent on: by
distance and/or by chord. The default value is "By Chord" 100%.
Keep Center Profile (%
of Span): Use this slider to specify how far to retain the Center Profile from
the center of the kite. The default value is 0%.
Keep Tip Profile: Enter
the number of ribs from the wing tip to retain the wingtip profile.
Morphing Graph: A graph
in the table shows the result of the "morphing function" as specified by the
this and click on the Change button to change the graph of the "morphing
LE Strut (This
option was in the Profile Screen in versions prior to 5.02)
FEM Modelled Canopy (for
sled foils): Select this default option for LEI. If you are using some old
sample kite designs, make sure you select this option for Surfplan to update the canopy of
the old designs..
Manual Canopy (for
bridled foils): Select this if you design a bridle foil.
Detailed Canopy (for
bridled foils): Select this if you design a bridle foil (more manipulation than
the Manual Canopy option).
Circular Curve: Select this to make your kite canopy
shaped in a circular curve of a certain Arc Degrees. This
is a new option in version 5.02.
Select "None (sled)" and
ignore the rest for LEI kite.
Certain kite material
will stretch on pressure. This menu provide a mean to specify how much
skin tension (how "stretchy") certain part of the kite may be exposed
to and therefore take
the anticipated stretch into account to compensate for the ultimate outcome.
This is another
important and complex Surfplan menu for LEI kites.
Use Ribs: Enter a
series of 0's and 1's (from Wingtip to Center) to specify where you want to have
inflatable struts (1's). The default is a string of "101010101" or 1
inflatable strut for every 2 ribs.
Rib Type: Select the
default value "Segmented Inflatable" for LEI kites.
To specify the non-default location for seams (default is not selected) to have
a smoother canopy.
Irib Nose Shape:
To specify the nose shape of each individual inflatable strut (inflatable rib)
either round (0) or regular (1). Enter a string of 0's and 1's to
individually select the nose type of each strut from Wingtip to Center of the
kite. Select round nose strut (plumbing type of connection between the
struts and LE) for more rigidity and regular nose strut for
ease of sewing.
Round Tail Struts:
Select for round tails at the strut ends
Tail Angle: Enter the
tail angle of the ends of the struts (good for reducing drag and turbulence at
the strut ends).
Select to have all the struts with round-nose (plumbing type of connection between the
struts and LE). This makes the LE and strut connections more rigid and
more aerodynamic. This field has no effect if each strut's nose shape has been
defined in "Irib Nose Shape" field.
Upper LE Point
(degrees): Specify the upper location, in degrees, to connect the struts (Center
and Wingtip) to the LE. The default value for Center strut is 80 and for Wingtip
strut is 50.
Lower LE Point
(degrees): Specify the lower location, in degrees, to connect the struts
(Center and Wingtip) to the LE. The default value for Center strut is 0 and for
Wingtip strut is -30.
Center Diameter (%
Chord): Specify the maximum diameter of the strut in percentage of chord.
The default value is 7% for both center and wingtip strut. Most designers would set this value such that the
size of the strut is close (within 10% differences) to the size of the LE at that location.
TE Diameter (% Chord):
Specify the TE diameter of the strut in percentage of chord. The default
value is 2% for center strut and 5% for wingtip strut. Surfplan will calculate display the size in cm automatically.
Most designers would try to keep this value larger than 2.5cm or 3cm for practical
purposes (to be able to insert the bladder into the strut). In version
5.02, you can enter a specific value in mm instead of % of
Number of Segments:
Specify the number of segments to use in the Center and Wingtip struts (default
5 for center and 3 for wingtip).
Specify the seam positions of the strut segments.
Calculate the seam position automatically using the Equal Angle/Equal Spacing
the seam position semi-automatically using the Equal Angle/Equal Spacing slider
and the Seam Limit location specified in percentage of the length of the strut
Similar to automatic; however, use the reflex profile algorithm
(for reflex profile)
D-ribs and Mini-ribs
D-ribs and Mini-ribs are
not applicable for LEI.
Specify the lift
coefficients to compensate for the unequal lift characteristics between the
Center and the Wingtip profiles at the appropriate AoA(s). It is best to use some profile design and
analysis tool to figure out these values of the center and wingtip profiles and
enter them here (or just use the default values):
coefficient for the Center profile (normally set to 1)
coefficient for the Wingtip profile relative to the Center (default value is 1,
the same as Center lift coefficient). Normally the tip profile is flatter
and it is not flying as well as the center portion so the lift coefficient for
the wing tip should be set to 90% or so.
Flying Line Length:
Specify the line length in meters (the default is 30m; however, to save space,
the modern line length is 25m or even 20m).
Or bar length (the default value is 0.3m probably reflecting the fact that the
front lines are connected together while the back lines are normally .5m apart).
This is the same as
"Adjust AoA Analysis Parameters" in the Size and Shape menu. These
parameters are used for the In-flight AoA Analysis. It is best to use some
profile design and analysis tool to figure out these values for the center
profile and enter them here (or just use the default values):
- CoP (%): Center of Pressure of the kite in percentage of
chord. This should be the CoP of the kite when it is flying at the
wind-window (AoA around 5 degrees - see the Wind Window
parameter). Most designers would leave this number at the default
value of 33% (which is .33 due to a bug ???) if they don't know
the CoP of the kite at wind window. Normaly LEI uses traditional
airfoils with the CoP (at 5 degree AoA) around 38% and Arc uses
reflex airfoil with the CoP (at 5 degree AoA) near the leading
edge around 5%.
- Wind Window: The angle of the kite relative to the ground when
it is stabilizing straight overhead (most designers would leave
this number at the default value of 85 degrees or AoA of 5
This feature is not
available in the demo version available to the public
These are the seam
allowances for sewing purposes and normally default at 10mm for all the seams.
It's best to use the default values in the beginning and change them after you
have made 1 or 2 kites to suit your preferences.
Surfplan allows 4 line
connection points (6 if you count the default connection points at 0% and 100%
of Wingtip chord) on each Wingtip that can be used for either front lines or
Points: Specify the connection points in percentage of chord and click Apply
to view the updated In-flight AoA Analysis of these 4 connection points plus the
default at 0% and 100% of the Wingtip.
Mark Sled Line
Attachment Points: Select to have Surfplan marked the line attachment points
on the kite.
Select the colors for
Upper: Enter the
color code characters (shown on the screen) for each panel from the Wingtip to
the color code for the LE (or Lower skin for double skin foil or Arc)
Ribs: Enter the
color code characters for the inflatable struts
the color code for the bridle lines
Specify the color code for the flying lines (new feature in
Adjust Color: Use
the Red, Green and Blue sliders to create the 2 custom color code (1 and 2)
besides the pre-coded colors.
Upper Skin Picture:
Specify the file containing the bit map image of the picture to use for the
Lower Skin Picture:
Only used for foil and Arc, not applicable for LEI.
Mapping: Select how the picture is mapped on to the kite
(there are 3 options: Baseline, Profile TE and Square).
This is a new feature in version 5.02.
Stelios Alexandrakis and
Timo Elias have released a very interesting concept about designing LEI kites
using the sphere theory. You can read more about the theory at
http://www.geocities.com/reystos/wipika/timostelios.html (it is also
beneficial to read
and Bruno's Post on the Kitesurf Group).
Also check the "Sphere Theory" folder in the Files section of the Inflatodesign
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Inflatodesign/files/ for more information.
One of the stumbling
blocks for a new kite designer is the "If I change this parameter, what else
should I change?" question. The advantage of Stelios and Timo's theory is that once you understand and use
it, all of the following Surplan's kite design parameters are inter-related and
can be easily tuned:
Aspect Ratio (AR)
Profile Alignment Point
Center AoA (at vertical)
Wingtip AoA (at
Center Profile Thickness (in %
Wingtip Profile Thickness (in % of chord)
tube size (in %
You normally select the
AR, the Wingtip/Center Chord
Ratio and the PAP (around 42% as per Bruno's
patent requirement for a 2 line LEI or for a 4 line LEI in mid-power: front line
and back line lengths are equal) of the kite and then calculate the
rest using the Sphere Theory. Click here to use the Sphere
Theory spread sheet which is based on some formula
sheets and spread sheet that Stelios has posted in the Files section of the InflatoDesign group.
Click here for the Surfplan .sle file for a 4 line LEI kite
designed based on the Sphere Theory. A few notes to the Sphere Theory:
"specified" 0 degree built-in AoA in his diagram. The chord line is passing through
the base of the leading edge tube and the base of the trailing edge. The
AoA of the original Sphere theory thus can be used to determine the diameter of
the tube. In Surfplan, the chord line is passing through the center of the
leading edge tube and the base of the trailing edge. The "Surfplan AoA"
is therefore 1/2 of the original Sphere Theory AoA.
All the parameters
obtained from the Sphere Theory may not be the most optimum parameters for
modern LEI kites; however, they are reasonable and should work.
Please note that the
Sphere Theory was based on a 2 line LEI and the PAP at 42% (Bruno may have
picked this number 42 from the "Hitchhiker Guide to the Galaxy" as
traditional airfoils CoP range is from 30% to 55% and any number central to that
range should work). Should Bruno select the CoP range of 30% to 46% then
the PAP should be 38% in his patent (even though 42% should also work). This
original design was necessary for
a designer in the early pre-CAD days to
design a kite (with a "generic" airfoil) which can be balanced and steered using only 2 lines attached at the wingtips (2
lines and no bridle - this is the minimalist's dream). With a modern kite
design software, modern airfoil database and 4 line
LEI, the designer and kiter have much more control, therefore the "answer of the universe" 42
is no longer required. So use the sphere theory as a guide to design your
parameters. Be adventurous, with a 4 line LEI, the possibilities are limitless...
In the message
http://sports.groups.yahoo.com/group/kitesurf/message/17096 posted on the Kitesurf
group, Bruno mentioned that one can design a new LEI kite by
simply changing the AR parameter. This message was the catalyst for
Stelios to develop the Sphere Theory for designing LEI kites.
From: Bruno Legaignoux
Date: Thu Aug 3, 2000 2:44 am
Subject: Bruno Legaignoux's
I'm Bruno Legaignoux. For
those which don't know my name, we are, with my brother Dominique the
inventors of the inflated kite in the shape of a gore. This message is to try to put
the numerous rumours off.
My brother and I were sailors
(French Junior champions, cruising boat skippers, sailing
instructors, surfers, windsurfers, etc...). We tried to develop very
efficient sails and boats and finally we became interested in kites when
seeing Jacob's Ladder, a catamaran pulled by Flexifoils, although we never
flied a dual line kite. It was in 1984. After a few researches, we
understood that no water relaunchable kite existed so it became obvious
to us that we had to create one. You can see some old photos
at www.wipika.com/Pages/chapitre1.html After one year of work, we
were sailing with water skis and demonstrating the device
during the 1985 Brest International Speed Week. We also applied for a
patent. The project was to find one or several licensees within 2
years but windsurfing was at its acme and no windsurf company was
We never stopped believing in
this sport so we had 10 years of VERY HARD time, continuing the project
without money, looking for new markets, for licensees, then creating our
own company and producing in France in 1993-94... at a too high cost
(please don't cry !)
Then Windsurfing declined and
Kiteboarding time came. I am proud to see that we
were the main actors of kiteboarding birth but for sure we were not
alone. For example Cory Roeseler with the Kiteski device or Andreas Kuhn with a
paraglider and a kind of wakeboard helped too with international media
In 1995-96 we went in very
serious talks with Neil Pryde. Finally they renounced but they accepted to
produce small quantities for us and we started selling these kites
in July 1997 under Wipika brand mark. Then we found another
manufacturer in Asia.
In 1998, Don Montague and
Robby Naish came to us asking for a license. As it was our original goal,
we agreed and told them that both of us needed a software to be able to make
new designs quickly. I came to Hawaii and gave all my knowledge to Don
Montague and their programmers. One year later, the program was working. We
shared it. With it, everybody can make a new good kite in 30 seconds, just
changing one parameter. For example, change AR = 2.5 (the default value)
with 8 and you will appear as a genius designer!
WHY PATENT PROTECTION ?
Some people hate this way. I think that when you are a
well organized company in a market where products
evolve very quickly, patent
is just a waste of money and energy. But if you are a "small"
inventor, you have no chance against large companies if you don't protect your
ideas : they won't even give you just credit for that !
Who on this list is against
intellectual property (music, literature, etc...) ?
Our motivation was kept
during the hard years because of the patent.
Seen by my side, there are
only 3 kinds of kites :
the ones which are far from
ours, like ram air kites, delta kites, etc...
the ones which are very
close to ours : if they got a license contract like Naish, they are licensees; if
not, they are infringing copies whether or not there are patented
there are kites designed
with a sole goal: to use our concept but escaping the patent by modifying the
kite after studying the patent and looking for weak points in it. In
this case it is more difficult for me to get the justice admitting the
infringement but I'll try each time I think I can win.
Obviously, I beat the
infringers and already stopped a few ones. Something interesting to be
known is that I have no obligation starting legal action immediately, that
means that I can start even when they will have invested a lot of energy
and money in their product. This is to explain that it is probably
more risky for them to infringe that what they generally think.
NEW LICENSEES SOON ?
Yes, we are open to give
other licenses but to companies which are able to bring something to
the market, not to companies with short term view or which sole way to get
market shares is to discount their kites. In 2000-2001 a few high image
companies will enter the market.
WHO INVENTED ?
- who invented kiteboarding ?
several people did it on their side without knowing that other
people previously made something close. Ourselves we started in 1984
with windsurf boards because we were surfers and windsurfers but
not waterskiers. We built several boards for that purpose. As our kites were very
unstable at that time, we mainly used waterskis because the
waterstart was easier, but the patent talks about windsurfing board type
too. We also tested any kind of
boats and many other "things" that you can't even imagine and a
patent drawing shows a guy on two 40cm "water skates" (photos in the
History page of www.wipika.com). We made and sailed them. It was fun. I 'm
sure that we'll soon see advanced pilots trying this kind of skates.
- who "invented" high AR
inflated kite ? In 1985 we made a 17m kite
with aspect ratio 6 and with 100% double-skin (photos on Wipika
web site... and a short video soon). With it, we waterskied with 6
to 12 knots of wind and, during the 1886 International Brest
Speed Week, we were clocked at 14.5 knots (average speed during a 500m
run) while the best world class windsurfers reached 10 knots.
This is registered. We also made kites with 20%,
30%, 40%, 60%, 80%, 100% double skin, what was already described in
the 1984 patent, and kites made of clear mylar with scrim.
Probably you will see this kind of "improvement" in the next
months or years.
- who "invented" inflated
"struts" without inner tube ? a competitor ? No, in the past, we used 2
different construction methods for inflated struts : airtight fabric and
mylar fabric with inner tube. These ways are described in
the original patent.
- who invented 4 line
straight bar with both front lines meeting at a "main line" going to the
harness and with the bar sliding along the "main line" ? a competitor ?
No, we own a patent on this device since 1995. I first used this device for
buggying and won some races thanks to it. Seasmik uses without any
license the exact device we described so we'll have to sue them.
- who invented 4 line
inflated kite ? A competitor ? No, the above patent also describes how to
settle inflated kites with 4 lines by cutting the edges for example
(there are other ways). I always used "cut tip" kites with the 4
line straight bar. I explained all these things
to Don Montague in 1998. Why didn't we apply these
improvements earlier ? There are 2 main reasons :
Firstly, when you settle a
company and you have no money, especially in France, you have to work 80
hours a week to have it working properly. So I had no time for R&D.
It's why in 1999 I looked for people to take care of Wipika and get myself
more time in R&D. I also moved in early 2000 to Dominican Republic
which is really a perfect place for R&D.
Secondly, the market was not
ready for more evolved kites. In the "early ages", we made very
efficient kites then we understood that we had to make simple, stable
and safe. In 1998, 100% of the users
were beginners - there are not so many markets like this one ! In 1999, still 90% were
beginners but the 10 other percents were starting to ask for more
efficient kites so we prepared the Free Air AR3.3 range and started sales
in early 2000. But because of Naish AR5 our new range is already old
fashioned if you believe a few ones. My main concern is safety and
when I hear that some beginners directly purchase AR5 kites, I'm
scared. Firstly they are more difficult to relaunch but above all they
are fast. That makes them dangerous for beginners in the state of the
market (almost no schools nor well informed retailers...).
We are starting a competition
to efficiency, just like windsurfing manufacturers did. Remember : "Hey guy, how many cambers do
you have ? Only six ? ... and your board, what size ? 2.26m
? Too bad! mine is 2,195m !". Windsurfing is dying for this
reason. And us, when ? A fact : the Wipika riders
Franz Olry and Christopher Tasti, which actually win some
events, don't want to use too high AR kites because they are so fast and
unstable that they can't make the kind of tricks they do with more
stable kites. They don't want a 20 kite quiver. They want simplicity.
Same for Lou Wainman, Mauricio Abreu and some other ones. If you see them using high AR
kites, it's because competition pushes in this way, not because they
prefer (except in light winds). To resume, if we go too
quickly, we'll burn our wings. All the people involved in kiteboarding
should take care with that.
R&D AGREEMENT WITH NAISH ?
Any kind of commercial/strategical
agreement was never made. Both companies are completely independent/free of mutual contract. Both are Legaignoux licensees
with same contract terms.
4 LINE KITES
Wipika supplies the Classic
kites since July 1997 with an additional webbing so that all the
Classic can be settled with 4 lines. That means that we believe to the
4 line use since a long while but 99% of the customers didn't want
to hear about it last year. There are several ways to
settle your Classic as a 4 line kite, I'll come back on this matter
in another message. Very soon, the Classic kites
will be sold with a second webbing, like the Free Air, to simplify
transformation. Classic and Free Air will
also receive long velcros to fold the tips. Many new Wipika items will be
available in the next weeks and months, including an
interesting 4 line bar. We'll keep you informed. You are welcome to use
abstracts of this message for public use as long as it is in good faith. Please don't expect that I'll
react to the messages which could follow mine, I'm still too busy to
do it. Sorry!
Thank you for your time
Best winds to all of you,
Peter Lynn's Myths
posted on the Kitesurf group by Ian Young at
[When Peter released
these myths, it created many controversial debates and one of the reasons was
that it's not clear what Peter meant by "angle of attack". Note that Peter
talked about kite design here so the "angle of attack" he referred to
probably meant the "built-in AoA" and/or the "dominant AoA" (from 0 to
20 degrees) and not all the AoAs of the kite when it flies]
Food for thought from Peter Lynn for those of you who don't
The Six Aerodynamic Myths of Kite Traction.
That the upwind performance (that is, lift/drag ratio) of kites is
a function of profile and aspect ratio.
Wrong. The strongest determinant of L/D is angle of attack. Low
attack yield high L/D in an inverse relationship, profile and
have comparatively little effect.
That the Lift Coefficient (power for size) of a kite is primarily
by it's profile and aspect ratio.
Wrong. Angle of attack is again by far the strongest determinant
for area, and by close to a direct linear relationship in the
matters for kites.
That high aspect ratio equates to high performance.
Correct in theory but misleading for kites in practice. Aspect
(defined as span squared divided by area) is a strong determinant
drag, the dominant form of drag at low speeds for efficient
kites are not efficient airfoils by any definition, so aspect
determined induced drag is not the major drag component for kites.
be possible to make a square wing (A.R=1.0) that is more efficient
highest aspect ratio high performance kite currently available-
it useable as a kite would be another matter).
That Thin sections are "better" than fat sections.
Wrong. Unless your kite is to fly at something approaching the
sound anyway. Sections as fat as 16% (maximum thickness as a
chord) lose nothing by L/D or lift coeff. to thinner sections up
or so and are less prone to stalling and luffing.
That double skin wings (ie three dimensional airfoils) are more
than cambered single skin wings.
Wrong. Cambered single skin wings will generally have higher lift
coefficients than fully shaped 3 dimensional wings because they
can work at
higher angles of attack without stalling. 3 D forms will be more
resistant and can have higher L/D but they won't be more powerful.
Tanstafl. (There ain't no such thing as a free lunch.)
The fundamental design conflict is between one and two above.
kites require high angle of attack to have desirable power for
characteristics but low angle of attack for good upwind
Some kitesurfing tips:
*Early this year we added an extra valve near the wingtips on Arcs
their inflation and to make them more resistant to tip collapse in
that inflation leaks develop. We aren't sure that this was
added them just in case. Being near the tips, the disadvantage of
extra valves is that they can ingest water during relaunching. If
a problem for you just seal them off internally with double sided
can then easily be reopened if ever necessary. Thank you to Nick
*If you're going to break things, it is not a good idea to do so
against wind and tide and far from land. In Tahiti last week Mike
broke a line in such circumstances and was unable to re-rig, and
spent one day of his South Pacific holiday swimming in. Thank you
*When you are using our wrist leash velcro'd to the bar end so
doesn't get twisted up in spins, lash it on with knitting wool in
to the velcro so that it doesn't come off prematurely but will
when required- just like wool ties on a yacht spinnaker. Thank the
for this one.
New things this month- Nothing!, Which is the first time ever,
there is something but I'm just not talking about it until we hear
our travelling testers. It was what Mike was testing in Tahiti
when he had
a line break and the long swim.
And a little gossip to round off: Andy Reid; windsurfer,
boardmaker and (with Justin), our kite test rig operator, finishes
his BEng. this year and goes to work at Team New Zealand for the next
the America's Cup. Our loss, their gain- congratulations Andy.
Peter Lynn, Ashburton New Zealand, July 31, 2000.