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Lighter vs Heavier Kites - Durability

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Lighter vs Heavier Kites - Durability

Postby Greenturtle » Wed Jul 17, 2019 10:06 pm

My thoughts generally favor the light build even when considering durability. Some of that is based on keeping the kite in the sky where it belongs.
Many will disagree and that’s awesome. Lets hear what you have to say!

1- a heavier kite is more likely to crash in the first place due to stall, etc. A falling kite about to make love with waves and/or land is in the most-likely-to-get-damaged kind of scenario.

2- two objects of equal size, going same speed, but different weights. One will hit with more energy in a tomahawk type scenario - the heavier one.

3- a lot of bumper/scuff pad stuff does nothing Ive witnessed to prevent damage. Maybe if dragging kite around like a kook, maybe not even then. Certainly no advantage once in the air. How many of us are regularly cartwheeling a powered-up kite back and forth along the ground? Lol

4- it doesn’t matter how many ripstop lines are in the canopy when your kite crashes on something sharp. Its getting cut/punctured either way. Maybe more is better after the canopy gets pin-holey down the road and hoping it doesn’t rip wide open during a boost...

5- weight of dacron. Some use thicker than average, LF comes to mind. Does that make it tougher? More abrasion resistance? Abrasions against what? Water? No. The parking lot? Yes. Is a seam less likely to split? Is it worth the trade off in weight?
Is lighter or heavier better when taking into account the rolling/unrolling/folding repeatedly that creates creases, weakened areas, over time? Thicker or thinner better then? Not sure! Lets hear some thoughts or experiences.

6- bladder material, thicker/thinner. Gut instinct is you want thicker - But . apparently its a very heavy part of the kite. So once again, is heavier better for something we want to keep in the air in an oh-crap situation?
Sand inside- if/when it gets in there how much will thicker bladder help?
Puncture- that thorn is coming in no matter the bladder thickness in my mind.
Again, rolling/unrolling/folding repeatedly creating stress areas? Any thoughts?

7- UV damage, one of the most unavoidable things, occurs to heavier and lighter kites the same. But perhaps the heavier canopy maintains its strength longer? Yes/No?


Theres lots of angles to look at this from.
A lot of my thinking comes from preventing a crash in the first place.

In those instances where you *almost* saved it, would a lighter kite have stayed in the sky?
In the instances where a kite was damaged, would a heavier build have saved it?


Lets keep a level playing field where it comes to designs, ie a strutless kite flapping and wearing out faster possibly.
Lets compare apples and apples:
Two kites of theoretically same design and production year, but one is heavier / lighter kind of comparison.

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Re: Lighter vs Heavier Kites - Durability

Postby jumptheshark » Wed Jul 17, 2019 11:34 pm

I definitely agree that light build is generally as durable with respect to the type of hazards and general wear my kites have endured over the past 15 years.

Foil kites certainly don't have scuff guards.

Handling and care are the biggest determinant of overall longevity, as most punctures are fluke and are not prevented with the many patches put on todays kites.
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Re: Lighter vs Heavier Kites - Durability

Postby Matteo V » Thu Jul 18, 2019 3:35 am

My vote is for heavier build. Canopy fabric stretch is the main culprit of a kite feeling "blown out". A bit more weight in the canopy fabric is not a bad thing if it helps stop this. Look at Eleveight kites with the trailing edge reinforcement. That is a bunch of extra weight back there, but we know from experience that the trailing edge does get beat up pretty badly from flying, not just hitting things on the ground.

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Re: Lighter vs Heavier Kites - Durability

Postby bragnouff » Thu Jul 18, 2019 5:06 am

Back a few years when Globe Kites were still making kites, including my all times favorite GK Trix, the kite was built around a Dacron skeleton. Which means that any tear in the canopy would most likely stop at the edge of the Dacron, and not propagate to structural elements (struts/tips/LE). The idea was that repairs would be quick and easy, which is quite an important aspect of durability.
I didn't get to test any of that theory, though, out of the dozen of them I've had, none got any sort of damage apart from pinholes and some valve issues.
I'll shake the sand off one of them and will chuck it on a scale for weight comparison.

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Re: Lighter vs Heavier Kites - Durability

Postby jumptheshark » Thu Jul 18, 2019 11:21 am

That was back in the stage where we were seeing more and more and more added to kites. The amount of bling I just picked off a wainman hawaii is ridiculous. There wasn't a single scuff on any of it.

A BRM cloud is as simple a construction as possible. They must be among the absolute cheapest to build on the market. It's the extreme end of the spectrum and they work and last quite well. I challenge you to find an easier and cheaper kite to repair.

I'm not saying every brand should strip their kites down to be exactly the same. A little dacron or doubled rip stop along the TE a minimal bit of mark cloth at the elbows where any prototypes show wear is all fine. Just pointing out, that we are really late to include weight as a metric in a sport where the key piece of equipment is meant to fly in the wind.

The evidence is out there, many choose not to really even see it. Clouds turn faster than any other kite on the market. Isn't that the "metric" we have been sold for the past decade? At least with weight you can be objective.

Prediction: in five years any nine meter kite over 2 kg will be considered a dog.
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Re: Lighter vs Heavier Kites - Durability

Postby bragnouff » Thu Jul 18, 2019 12:39 pm

Well, to be honest, it's only now in recent hydrofoiling times that we worry about using a 9m in 8kts, and riding downwind towards it.
In 2012, In the 17kts+ range that they were intended to be used in, the effect of weight wasn't as critical as what you make it sound. The balance of the kite, its AOA and position in the window were much more important in terms of performance and feeling than just weight. In that perspective, some level of beefiness was probably good to have. On top of lots of sessions on surf and TT, I dragged the shit out of my 9m Trix. Self launching and landing 90% of the times, Light buggy sessions misjudging the space under the New Brighton Pier, rubbing on its piles, dragging it across, some sketchy snowkite sessions on ice, tussock, resting on the wingtip while having a break, walking out of valleys dragging the kite behind. Passed it to beginners that made me cringe. Maybe its built was overkill, but if it had failed on me in any of those occasions, I probably would have been extremely pissed off. And because I never thought it was heavy, I was even adding about 300g of Pentax camera and housing on its center strut. And the stoke level was running high.
Back then, a Cloud probably wouldn't have fitted the bill for all I was into. Different needs, different kites. Different times too.

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Re: Lighter vs Heavier Kites - Durability

Postby nixmatters » Thu Jul 18, 2019 1:15 pm

jumptheshark wrote:
Thu Jul 18, 2019 11:21 am
...Prediction: in five years any nine meter kite over 2 kg will be considered a dog.
Second that! :thumb:
I've got a 9m 3 strut open-C 2,2 kg kite and I'm looking at 5-6 ways to bring it under 2kg. Without using them all, compromizing durability and cost going through the roof

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Re: Lighter vs Heavier Kites - Durability

Postby jumptheshark » Thu Jul 18, 2019 1:43 pm

bragnouff wrote:
Thu Jul 18, 2019 12:39 pm
Well, to be honest, it's only now in recent hydrofoiling times that we worry about using a 9m in 8kts, and riding downwind towards it.
In 2012, In the 17kts+ range that they were intended to be used in, the effect of weight wasn't as critical as what you make it sound. The balance of the kite, its AOA and position in the window were much more important in terms of performance and feeling than just weight. In that perspective, some level of beefiness was probably good to have. On top of lots of sessions on surf and TT, I dragged the shit out of my 9m Trix. Self launching and landing 90% of the times, Light buggy sessions misjudging the space under the New Brighton Pier, rubbing on its piles, dragging it across, some sketchy snowkite sessions on ice, tussock, resting on the wingtip while having a break, walking out of valleys dragging the kite behind. Passed it to beginners that made me cringe. Maybe its built was overkill, but if it had failed on me in any of those occasions, I probably would have been extremely pissed off. And because I never thought it was heavy, I was even adding about 300g of Pentax camera and housing on its center strut. And the stoke level was running high.
Back then, a Cloud probably wouldn't have fitted the bill for all I was into. Different needs, different kites. Different times too.
I don't think you need to sacrifice durability. I honestly think many of the added "beef" on the majority of kite is misplaced. Like I said, nothing wrong with an elbow of mark cloth or Dacron across the TE but battens in the TE or LE could be avoided with better shaping. Many of the additional bumpers and name brand insignia patches are totally unnecessary and are there so you can drag the kite around on the ground. If the kite is under 2kg, it wont touch the ground when you walk it upwind upside down even in zero wind. They are kites and it is us that have to come to the realization that if we actually want performance, we should probably not let them flap on the beach, drag on their wingtips or fly too close to bridges. Strength by design not additional "reinforcement" is the way forward. I self launch and land pretty much 95% of the time and my clouds with zero scuff protection do it better with less dragging than any of my other kites. You can simple revers it up into the air and pinwheel them without inducing any wear at all. Landing, they hit the ground like a feather.

For sure school kites can have a bit more to them, but I contend that even for twintip riding in 20-40 knots, a very light three strut build will be the kite of the future and once you are accustomed to a tiny bit more care in ground handling, you too will appreciate the improvement. Way back the old Wipikas and first Naish kites were really light. They were pooped on by the windsurfers who made up the first few generations of kiters as being too flimsy for "real" watersports use, so by 2004 we started adding and like every trend in this industry it took off when everybody jumped on board. Companies like SS located in high wind spots like the gorge started marketing tougher and tougher kites to get those crotchety windsurfers on side. The foil has opened up lighter winds which has lead to specific light kites, the lessons learned will eventually apply to kites in standard wind ranges and we will all be happier for it.
Last edited by jumptheshark on Thu Jul 18, 2019 1:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Lighter vs Heavier Kites - Durability

Postby CaptainCore » Thu Jul 18, 2019 1:50 pm

Ironic this thread should appear the day after Core launched their X-Lite which is a kite deliberately built with light weight in mind for foiling. Personally I've always been more in favour of build strength and quality over light weight and was happy enough that only kites 15 and over were built lighter, but that was then and this is now and the Soft build Foil kites have been gaining market share of late amongst the hydrofoiling community, we've even had beginner foilers having to perform the swim of shame with their twisted up dish rag trailing behind them on our beach, so for me it's good news. Without going all PMU on you soft cell foil kites are not good news in the hands of the inexperienced, a light built pumped kite will hunt the shifts better than a foil everytime without twisting a wing tip or inverting, so in that role, I think there's a good reason for light build.

Wether that light build can be light enough, only time will tell, but certainly for the recreational foil market I think they're a good thing, should they be built down to 4,5,6,7,8 mtr? Can't say I know enough about hydrofoiling to really comment with any veracity but Core have done it and spent a lot of time and effort, not to mention ball freezing mid winter swims by the designer, so I'm minded that they'll be good kites.

They haven't just stopped at the kite, the speed sailors amongst us have been pressing for thinnner lighter bridles for some time and they now have their wish and 300kg thinner liros kite lines with a lighter carbon bar to complement it, so wether there's a market for it or not they have committed.

OR have a new cloth with a stupid name, which will be interesting to watch the development of, if it's anything like Cuben these days, it could be as durable if not more so than Dacron or Teijin, I once built a 9.5 mtr racing sailboard sail from Cuben Fibre and that came in under 2 kgs with 5 battens and 2 cams and is still going strong 8 years later so these new materials are definitely worth watching once they iron out the initial wrinkles as Cuben eventually did.

Time will tell, but for straight up twintip and surf board high wind bashing, I'm still with build it to last and to hell with the weight.


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