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Choosing Your Kite

Updated: Mar 7

There are a huge variety of kitesurfing and kiteboarding kites out there to choose and navigating the options can be very confusing when you're new to the sport.


There are four main kite options, with two hybrid categories:


- Hydrofoil Kites/Foil Kites

- C-Shape Kites/Hybrid C-Shape

- Delta Kites

- Bow Kites


Foil Kites

Foil kites are different to your regular kitesurfing or kiteboarding kites. They are more similar to the rigs paragliders use.


Where your typical kitesurfing kite is an LEI (Leading Edge Inflatable) meaning you pump up the kite like an air mattress to give it shape and buoyancy.

Foil kites operate on a ram air system, where they get their shape from air passing through them.


This means they weight significantly less than their LEI counterparts and so, have less drag and can operate in far less wind.


The caveat is that if you crash a foil kite into the water it will collapse, become waterlogged and be pretty much impossible to relaunch. Though there are now self-sealing ram air kites which will hold their shape for several minutes while in the water.


When You'd Use It:


- Snow Kiting

- Hydrofoiling

- Hydrofoil racing

- Trainer kite

- Kite Buggying


Strengths:


- Go upwind extremely well due to limited drag

- Can operate in very low wind due to minimal weight and drag

- Great for use as a trainer kite due to lower power output

- Big hangtime


Weaknesses:


- Not beginner friendly

- Hard to launch, relaunch and land

- Can't self-rescue on them

- Limited styles of riding possible

- Slow turning speed


C-Shape Kites



C-Shaped kites are the first of the Leading Edge Inflateable kite options. They used to be the most common kites back in the early 2000s when kiting first started gaining momentum. They are less popular now with new Supported Leading Edge Technology leading to kites having larger wind ranges, better de-power and being easier to relaunch after a crash.


In contrast to bow and delta kites C-Shaped kites do not have a bridle (a network of lines which help support the shape of the kite) their steering and power lines are attached directly to the leading edge. This design allows the kite to turn extremely quickly, but sacrifices its ability to adjust how much power the kite outputs through sheeting out the bar.


Hybrid Cs trade out the insanely fast turn initiation and responsiveness for easier relaunch and better depower capabilities by including a supported leading edge. They will still be faster to turn than any other non-C kite and are a bit more user friendly and can operate in a wider range of wind conditions than straight C-Shape kites.


When You'd Use It:


- You want to do unhooked tricks

- You f#cked up and bought one as a beginner because you didn't read this article and want to be confused about why you can't relaunch your kite and why you keep getting launched forward whenever you turn.


Strengths:


- Turns very quickly

- Not much depower (pro when you want to do unhooked tricks)


Weaknesses:


- Not beginner friendly

- Hard to launch, relaunch, and land

- Very limited depower

- Limited styles of riding possible

- Narrow wind range (means you'll need more kites)

- Poor upwind ability


Examples:

- Duotone Vegas

- Core Impact 2

- Liquidforce NV (Hybrid C)


Bow Kites



Bow kites are a Supported Leading Edge (SLE) kite, meaning they have a network of lines connected over the leading edge of the kite supporting it in holding its shape.

This does a couple of things for the kite's performance.

  1. It allows the kite to tilt forward and backwards more, known as changing the angle of attack. This is what allows a kite to depower, which lets the kite reduce the amount of wind it catches and thereby the amount of power it delivers. This is hugely useful as it means if you get hit by a gust of wind you can just let your bar out and you'll lose a lot of your power. It also means you can use the same kite in a much broader range of wind conditions.

  2. It makes the kite easier to relaunch when you crash it. As the leading edge's shape is supported your kite is less likely to collapse on itself when crashed and so you can get it back up in the air more quickly and easily; so more time kiting, less time floating in the water hating your life!

Bow kites are high aspect ratio kites, meaning they are long and thin. This makes them great at giving you sick big air jumps and decent ability to drive you back upwind, so after you do your massive jumps you can get back upwind to do them again super fast!


When You'd Use It:


- You want to get massive air

- You want to be able to ride upwind pretty easily


Strengths:


- Big hang time

- Lots of depower (less kites, more days kiting)

- Great upwind drive


Weaknesses:


- Slow turning

- Easier to relaunch than a C, but not super easy as they are generally long and thin so can still collapse on themselves

- Backstalls and kite shape deforms quite easily when over-sheeted (pulling in the bar too much)


Examples:


- Ozone Edge

- Duotone Rebel


Delta Kites


Delta Kites are the best kites for a beginner or rider who wants to be able to kite in a variety of different conditions which is why they are the main kites we stock.


They combine the benefits of a bow kite with the benefits of the C-Shape Kite and without the downsides.


Delta Kites have a Supported Leading Edge which allows them to be used in a larger wind range due to the ability to change their angle of attack.

They are a medium aspect ratio kite, meaning they are shorter and fatter than a Bow kite which makes them more rigid and so the easiest kites to relaunch.


They will also turn faster than bow kites; allowing them to be used for wave riding where you need to turn the kite quickly to catch or maneuver around waves, but still have great stability for doing big air and jumps.


When You'd Use It:


- Learning

- General cruising

- Shredding Waves

- Sick Air


Strengths:


- Easy relaunch

- Turns quickly

- Big wind range (more kiteable days with less kites)

- Lots of depower

- Travels upwind well


Weaknesses:


- Not as much upwind capacity as a Bow Kite

- Can't turn as fast as a C-kite


Examples:


- Duotone Neo - we use Duotone as we do believe it is one of the best kites out there in terms of both durability and performance.


If you are looking at purchasing new or second hand kites and want personalised advice go to Warners Bay Kite and SUP. Mention you came from us to get locals prices. We go to Dave for all the surfing, kite, sup and hydrofoil questions we can't answer!


If you are looking to level up your Kitesurfing, Hydrofoiling or Winging skills contact us, we'd love to help!

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