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KiteLandboarding

If you want to kitesail year-round, you may want to get in to kitelandboarding on land.  Kitelandboarding is pretty simple, simpler than kitesurfing and kiteskiing (on snow/ice).

Similar to kiteskiing, you don't need a lot of wind in kitelandboarding (actually, kitelandboarding need roughly the same amount of kite power as kiteskiing which is around 3/4 that of kitesurfing).  So kitelandboarding on a hard pack beach or a grassy field is a perfect complement to kitesurfing for those light wind days or when the water is too cold for kitesurfing but not frozen enough for kiteskiing.

So why kitelandboarding and not buggying? First, kitelandboarding only needs simpler, smaller and less expensive equipment. Second, kitelandboarding is a stand-up sport so it is more challenging and one can also jump easily without having to strap oneself to the buggy.  However, kitelandboarding is definitely more dangerous compared to all other kiting sports: kitesurfing, kiteskiing, kitesnowboarding and buggying.

The Equipment

To go kitelandboarding, you need the following equipment

  1. A traction kite, lines and associated control device.  Any land or water kite can be used for kitelandboarding.  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 stop and change to a smaller or larger kite as frequent. As you can go very fast on wheels, a faster kite is definitely useful. Similar to kitesurfing, you would need a number of kites to cover the whole wind range.  
  2. A skateboard type of board allowing you to steer the board by tilting it to the left or right.  The board must have larger wheels if you want to use it on sand or grass. You can use a standard skateboard on pavement of a large parking lot.
  3. A harness (waist or seat harness is fine).
  4. A helmet (a must on land).
  5. The same protective equipment used by in-line skaters, skateboarders or hockey players.

So how big a kite you need for kitelandboarding?  As wheels once rolling have much less friction than water, you should use a smaller kite as you would for kitesurfing (on the average, about 2/3 of the size you would use for kitesurfing; smaller on pavement, around 1/2 the size for kitesurfing and larger on softer sand or grass, around 3/4 the size for kitesurfing).  If you fly the kite straight over head, you should be able to feel the pull from the kite and be able to walk backward with some reasonable effort.  If you feel the kite lift around 1/3 of your weight and can barely walk backward then you may have more power than you would need for kitelandboarding.

The Place

All the following places should be fine for kitelandboarding (in the order of preferences)

  1. Dry lake bed
  2. Hard-sand beach where the wind blows perpendicular to the beach (straight onshore or offshore)
  3. Large grassy field
  4. Large parking lot (dangerous, don't fall) - you can actually use a standard skateboard in this case

Just make sure that there is no power line, airport or tall building (upwind) near the spot where you want to go kitelandboarding.

As you steer the board by turning the wheels with your weight distribution, going upwind in kitelandboarding is very easy so a curvy beach or field should pose no problem as you can easily steer your board to go with the curves.

The Technique

Before starting to learn kitelandboarding, 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?

Kitelandboarding is simple, simply launch your kite, jump on your board and steer the kite in the direction you want to go.  The force of the kite will pull the board in the direction it goes.  Check the Kite piloting section for information how to launch and land your kite.

On rougher surface, it helps to put the front foot on the board and then use the back foot to push the board moving while steering the kite in the forward direction. Put the back foot on the board once the board and the kite is moving forward nicely.

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. To turn the board upwind, put more pressure on the windward rail.
  4. To turn the board downwind, pressure the downwind rail.

One of the major differences between kitesurfing and kitelandboarding is the body position and weight distribution.  In kitesurfing (or kiteskiing), you always lean windward regardless of whether you want to go upwind or downwind (just edge the windward rail more to go upwind and less to go downwind).  In kitelandboarding, you lean windward when you want to go upwind, stay somewhat neutral for a beam reach and put pressure on the downwind rail to go down wind (it's difficult to pressure the downwind rail effectively while leaning windward too much). This difference would make it a bit clumsy when you want to go down wind (or go straight) in kitelandboarding as the kite could pull and face-plant you any moment there is a gust.

One way to overcome this limitation is put your body weight tail-ward (and steer the board with your back foot) once the kite is in the forward moving position.  This leaning tail-ward position allows one to comfortably steer the board both upwind and downwind.

"Lean your weight toward the tail of the board"

Another way to overcome this limitation is to make the it harder to edge the windward rail when you lean windward.  This can be accomplished by putting some bungee cords along the top (or bottom) of the leeward rail (from front axle to back axle of the board).  This allows you to go for a beam reach while leaning windward easier.  Furthermore, this actually does not make going downwind easier, it just makes going upwind harder such that you don't need to go downwind.

bungee.jpg (132898 bytes)

Photo by Pauric O'Callaghan

How To Jibe?

There is no need to jibe in kitelandboarding.  when you want to change direction, simply move the kite up and then steer it in the new direction.  The board will simply slow down and then start moving in the opposite direction.

If you are moving too fast, you may want to steer the board upwind to slow it down before moving the kite in the other direction.

The only time you want to jibe is to ride toe-down.  In such case, simply go downwind and keep turning the board until it's turned 180 degree and ride toe-down in the other direction.

How To Jump?

Jumping in kitelandboarding is similar to jumping in kitesurfing.  You can either jump with the help of a "ramp" or jumping with the help of your kite.  Jumping with a ramp is very easy in kitelandboarding.  Jumping using the kite is a bit harder as you don't have the same power from the kite as in kitesurfing; however, the faster speed on wheels provides the needed line tension to jump even with less power from the kite.

If you want to jump in kitelandboarding, you should only do that on sand or grass as the pavement are not very forgiving.

Jumping in kitelandboarding uses the same techniques as in kitesurfing. Read the Jumping and Landing sections for the techniques used in kitesurfing.

 


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