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Correct kite for conditions

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Correct kite for conditions

Postby ham-er » Wed Jan 18, 2023 12:07 pm

Hello everybody,
My last few sessions I started questioning my kite size choices for the day.

Ususally I use app to check the forecast before I go and there is a nice kite size feature there, which helps choosing correct size. I think the the algorithm for that takes average wind into consideration only. Having said that forecast is not always correct and usually it's less wind than expected.
I'm also a bit confused by other riders as the kite sizes sometimes vary quite a lot.
I know a lot depend on skill level and experience and what you want to do that day.

Guess my question is how do you know if the kite you're on is a correct size or if you have no choice, what's the best indicator you are on too big kite for the day? What are the signs you are either under or overpowered. I'm not talking underpowered when the kite falls out of sky, just when you wish you picked a size up or down.

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Re: Correct kite for conditions

Postby soeren76 » Wed Jan 18, 2023 1:21 pm

Overpowered: Difficult to keep edge, typically flies the kite very high/ on the edge of the window.
Underpowered: Not able to keep height, having to keep moving kite to sail

Generally going out on an increasing forecast you should be carefull with taking a larger kite (also valid in unstable weather).
If the forecast show declining wind you are usually in a better position to pick a larger kite.

If conditions are very gusty (big dif between mean wind and gust) a smaller kite is preferrable.

That beeing said it is not an exact science. Kite size mainly depend on rider weight and experience (and to some extent board size etc). But it is not uncommon to see 9 and 12 on the same day simply because of personal preference.
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Re: Correct kite for conditions

Postby Herman » Wed Jan 18, 2023 1:44 pm

Is there a weather station or weather buoy near your riding venues? Forecasts have there use, likelihood of dangers such as squall or thunderstorms but perhaps most importantly whether the wind is increasing or decreasing etc. Actual data moderated by what’s forecast is a better bet imho. Local knowledge is often the key.

The old adage of, if you launch and can’t walk backwards with the kite you are at the point of being dangerously overpowered, is not bad but is by no means an absolute, depending on experience etc. If you can’t hold ground riding you are underpowered providing it is not just a lack of skill thing or poor kite tuning/performance.

Be prepared to rig too small and change up. Have a plan to practice looping water starts, unhooking and downloop gybe etc or something similar for when you have rigged too small. I imagine we all rig the wrong size kite occasionally!!

If you find a good weather stn keep a sailing log so you can match the data with actual experience. Anemometer are very useful imho but again you will have to learn to extrapolate for your particular scenario. Luckily I can usually choose the right kite while I am still in bed for my local as there is an adjacent weather stn just offshore.

If there are other kites to look at you need interpolation or somebody of similar size and gear plus allowance for riding skill/style, ie don’t copy the hydrofoilers if you are on TT. Excuse me for stating the obvious as I am killing time.

Weirdly it seems some hate changing kite size while others would much rather pump another kite than persevere!! Avoid very changeable conditions if you can. If you can’t, rig small and develop patience, accept that you might have to wait around just for a 20min session……………. So many variables and local scenarios to consider………….

PS Bear in mind that you may find that wind data from a weather stn will only be good for a particular arc of direction due to the local topography.

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Re: Correct kite for conditions

Postby Toby » Wed Jan 18, 2023 2:15 pm

don't trust forecasts!

Here in Cumbuco Brazil we add 3-4 knots to the forecast. I think further north they add 6 knots to the forecast. Because they can't forecast the thermal effect due to hot land.

You need to the forecast as a more or less wind to expect. Dark clouds and fronts can increase the wind speed as well.

See the tendency of a forecast, and then on the beach you check what other people are using. If you are alone, have a wind meter, and keep checking what the wind speed is.

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Re: Correct kite for conditions

Postby nothing2seehere » Wed Jan 18, 2023 2:20 pm

There isn't much of a rule of thumb beyond looking at what sizes other people are riding AND how powered they look. E.g if someone is on a 10m but sinusing the kite constantly then they aren't particularly powered - maybe go bigger. If someone is on a 10m and the bar is fully out and they are generating huge amounts of spray then they are powered up - maybe go a bit smaller.

For me:
Underpowered - constantly needing to sinus the kite to keep riding
Powered - Can ride with upwind easily with the kite in a fixed position
Well powered - can ride feeling powered with the bar fully out and not holding the bar without the kite moving
Over powered - constant need to push the kite to the edge of the window with hard edging and need to keep speed as slow as possible to retain control

Of course looking by eye only really works if you know the size and skill of a rider. If that rider boosting high on a 9m is a 45kg child then you have no chance of guessing.

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Re: Correct kite for conditions

Postby SolarSet » Wed Jan 18, 2023 3:11 pm

ham-er wrote:
Wed Jan 18, 2023 12:07 pm

Guess my question is how do you know if the kite you're on is a correct size or if you have no choice, what's the best indicator you are on too big kite for the day? What are the signs you are either under or overpowered.
You have quite few kites in your quiver and that could be a good thing because you have opportunity to chose best kite for condition but from my experience having too many kite make you change them too frequent.

I personally change for smaller kite (unless I really want to be very powered for big jumps) if I'm sheet out bar to almost max most of the time, if its more than 3/4 of sheeting reach I have too big kite and I go size down because I don't like to ride overpowered anymore. I have nice set 8/10/13 and if I have too much or too little on any of these kites next kite up or down is perfect.

Bear in mind that the larger kite you ride the smaller wind range it has, like 8m kite can be ridden in range 24-40kts easily unlike 17m that has useful range 12-16kts (unless you are Toby). You also have big board 144cm unless you are really heavy this board will not edge good in strong wind.

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Re: Correct kite for conditions

Postby Havre » Wed Jan 18, 2023 3:45 pm

I think nothing2seehere's description is good.

As to the question "what is correct" - basically anything from "powered" to "over-powered" can be correct depending on your preference. I will often be out on my 13m when one of my friends is out on a 10m (same weight - more or less). He hates being "over powered" and I hate being "under powered". No right or wrong there. He also happens to be better than me underpowered while I might be slightly better than him riding overpowered.

I always pick my kite based on what others are riding or how the conditions are at the spot - never based on a forecast - even if the forecast will give me an indication before travelling to the spot. If I am not almost 100% certain which size to go for - I typically go for the smaller kite - less risk. Especially if it is at a spot I don't know (or have limited experience from).

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Re: Correct kite for conditions

Postby cor » Wed Jan 18, 2023 4:26 pm

Neither forecasts nor weather stations really help to determine the correct kite size in my opinion. These tools are very, very imprecise and are only good to decide if you are going kiting or not. The actual kite size can only be determined at the spot and mainly depends on rider weight, experience and style. Find a rider who is similar to you and then rig up a similar kite size.

If you need to ask the question what exactly is underpowered and overpowered, you need to gain more experience. In general, people tend to switch kites to soon in my opinion. Flying a kite overpowered or underpowered will help you a lot to develop strong lowend/high end skills which are very useful and will increase your windrange with any kite size drastically.

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Re: Correct kite for conditions

Postby knotwindy » Wed Jan 18, 2023 4:38 pm

If you have space to tether launch on your beach set the kite up with barely any trim (depower) pulled and stand the kite up as if to launch. If it falls over, underpowered. If it bounces around, overpowered or lines are not equal.
When you decide it is safe to launch, don’t bring the kite up quickly or too high. Keep it low with one hand on the QR and see how it pulls. If you can’t tell if it is the correct kite from all this information, put it down, go home and sell it all. 😳😄✌️

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Re: Correct kite for conditions

Postby edt » Wed Jan 18, 2023 6:32 pm

What's the problem? Are you too weak to pump up a second kite? If you're not sure then try another kite. I will often go out on one kite try it feel like maybe it's too small pump up a bigger kite then think no I'll go back to the first kite. Just try it out! If you have problems pumping up a second kite then maybe buy an electric pump. I see kiters all the time that are too lazy to land their kite and pump up a different one and spend their entire session suffering on the wrong size. I am never on the same size kite as everyone else almost always several sizes bigger but not always.

I can't believe all the advice not to believe the forecast. That's how I tell when the thunderstorm hits. And good look looking at the sky in Michigan you never see it coming because clouds obscure vision more than a mile or two. Check the forecast! You can't always rely on your spidy sense to know when a storm will hit.

Even if you are incredibly experienced it's still easy to get the kite size wrong. Look at the red bull competition the competitors tell you right away they get the size wrong all the time and need to change kites between heats. If the best in the world get kite size wrong then we do too so just try different sizes until you get it right.

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