Equipment tuning is essential in kitesurfing as
in any other sport. In kitesurfing, various kitesurfing components have to be tuned
differently depending on the condition and the kitesurfer's skill. Following are the main
components that need to be tuned:
A kite can be tuned to turn or fly either faster or slower.
Different kites have different aerodynamic characteristics and therefore have
different tuning techniques and effect. Your kite vendor should be able to tell you more
on how, why and when to tune your kite. For whatever reasons they can't, use the following
general kite tuning guidelines:
- Tune the kite to turn slower:
- While learning
- In very strong wind if the kite is too nervous
- Tune the kite to fly slower:
- While learning
- In very strong wind
- Tune the kite to turn faster:
- In light wind
- When using a shorter control bar
- Tune the kite to fly faster
- In light wind
- If you prefer to use longer lines (40 m)
- Tune the kite to resist luffing and nose diving
- In gusty wind
Traditional 4 line Inflatables
Most traditional 4 line inflatables have multiple connection points
(usually 2) for the front lines and back lines.
- Use the "front most" front attachment for more depowering
- Use the "back most" front attachment for more power on the
harness line (chicken loop line)
- Use the "back most" back attachment for fast turning of
- Use the "front most" back attachment for slow turning of
Overall, use the connection points
further apart for more control and wider wind range. Use the connection points
closer together for more stability and lesser bar sensitivity.
Most flat inflatable have fixed connection points for front lines.
In some case, one can tune the front bridle but it is often complex and very
specific to each kite. For back line, some uses the same method as
traditional inflatable (forward and backward connection points). For
some flat inflatable, one can tune the power of the kite: connect the back
lines closer to the kite for more power and farther for less power.
Most 3 line foils have both of the front lines attached to the
ends of the bar and the brake lines attached to the center of the bar. Such
arrangement normally need a power steering line that attaches each front line to its
corresponding trailing edge. By tuning this power steering line properly (when the
kite is flying straight overhead, the power steering line should have no tension nor
slack), the kite can be made "unluffable" even in very gusty wind (the power
steering lines are acting as an "automatic" brake to prevent the kite from
4 line foils or Arc with 4 line control bar normally use the same tuning
method as traditional 4 line inflatables.
Traditional 4 Line Inflatables
If you are using a 4-line inflatable, you can tune the angle of
attack of the kite by shorten or lengthen the front leader line. Less angle of
attack means less pull and the kite flies faster; however it's slightly harder to turn the
kite. More angle of attack means more pull and the kite flies slightly slower. You
should tune the neutral angle of attack of the kite such that when the kite is flying
straight above, the back line will get loose when you hooking in to the chicken loop and
fully extending your arms (your hands are holding the control bar). Both front lines
and back lines should be in full tension when you are not hooking in the chicken
loop and the kite should be a bit "flared out" (the front leading edge looks
larger than the trailing edge). You can adjust the AOA of the kite using the chicken loop or via a trim strap.
For the new Flat LEI, the trim strap and the chicken loop are much longer
compare to the traditional bar as shown in the following diagram:
Since a flat inflatable control bar has lots of depowering range, you
don't have to tune it as frequent as a traditional control bar.
Similar to inflatable, modern foils have the ability to change its AOA,
thus use the same control bar as 4 line inflatable and require similar
For foils using 3 line with a bar, you can change the "camber" of the kite by adjusting a
strap while sailing thus change the characteristics of the kite. Such arrangement
increases the wind range of the kite.
Some foil can have an
optional 4th line which one can be adjusted to change the shape of the kite (neutralize
the middle section) to reduce the pull of the kite.
You can also use a foil/sled depowering system that can turn a
foil into a sled. More information about the foil/sled depowering system can be
found in the Tips section.
If you are using a foil kite with a pair of 4 line
handles, you can tune the "camber" of the kite while you hold the handles in
their neutral position (the "neutral camber"). You can decrease the
neutral camber by connecting the main lines to the closer knots and back lines to the
farther knots on the lines that attached to the handles. You can increase such camber by
connecting the main lines to the farther knots and the back lines to the closer knots on
the leader lines on the handles. You should tune the neutral camber of your 4 line kite
such that when you hold the handles in their neutral position, the kite should fly forward
with full power - the front lines are in full tension and the brake-line is slightly
loose. Increasing the neutral camber will make the kite generate more pull.
You can use longer or shorter line length. Use the following
general guidelines to select the right line length:
|Short (15m - 20m)
If the wind is strong or if you kitesurf in wave
|Medium (20m - 25m)
For most condition
|Long (30m - 40m)
If the wind is light
Using different line length increases the wind range of your
kite. The standard line length is 20m - 25m as such line length is best for all-around kitesurfing (going upwind, jumping, moving the kite to generate more power, etc.).
By using 15m lines, you can add another 10 - 20% to the upper wind range of the kite and
by using 40m lines, you can add another 10 - 20% to the lower wind range of the
kite. So be adventurous and use different line length with your kites. The
only disadvantage of using too short lines (15m) or too long lines (40m) is that it
would make jumping harder as you have to change the timing you normally use with
20m - 25m line
(also jumping with 15m line is difficult as it's hard to generate enough power to lift you
up using such a short line).
If you have more than 1 kiteboards, use the following general
guidelines to select the ones that is more suitable for the condition:
Use a bidirectional board
Use a smaller directional board
Use a larger directional board or skim
Use the following guidelines to tune the traps on
your bidirectional board:
- The traps should be the same distance to the center of
- Use a wide stance (the distance between the straps is larger than
shoulder width) for more control of the board (for tricks). This setting is
for larger board.
- Use a regular stance (the distance between the straps is around
shoulder width) for more effective edging.
- Use straps when you first learn
kitesurfing with a bidirectional board (don't use binding even thought
you are a wakeboarder).
Use the following guidelines to tune the foot-strap positions on
your directional board:
- Front foot-strap:
- Move front foot-strap more forward for easy planning (while
- Move the front foot-strap more backward for easy turning the board
- Back foot-strap:
- Back foot-strap should be about shoulder width apart from the front
- Move the back foot-strap more backward (wide stance) for easy
turning of the board
- Move the back foot-strap more forward (narrow stance) for easy
edging the windward rail of the board to go upwind.