In marginal wind during a gibe, the risk of loosing the kite in the water is higher (degraded drift speed, slack lines as soon as your turning radius is unadapted to kite position, very slow reactive kite due to very light wind, less stable kite , less tension in the line to balance the rider); loving marginal winds, I searched quite a long time to adapt my gibe technics when the wind is very poor; I found some tips that we can discuss and mutually improve with your own experience; my feedbacks are for moderate ratio free ride foil kite, this could differ for a race kite with a small and rapid race HF wing in a bit higher wind;
1- Race gibe :
= having the kite above your head and pointing downwind (180 degree inverted vs zenith on the beach) for a long time during your feet change and still during the HF turn ignition ;
Maybe my technic is not "fluid" enough for this but I found it very risky since the kite will slow down de foil speed (while you have less speed/inertia than on a race run); which is in detriment of marginal wind requirements ; too risky; I never do it in marginal wind.
2- standard free ride gibe
: = pointing downwind kite high but not staying long time at the zenith (only very punctual before launching the downloop); this us to me the one most of rider practice in normal/low wind, with or wiythout changing feets; the risk here is to suffer from the very low drift of the kite, that you get slack lines when pointing right downwind faster than wind;
For this gibe, I recommend the following : the idea is to benefit from your relative speed to downloop the kite as fast as possible and pass the leading edge as fast as possible on the other window, before turning ; so I:
- point 90 degree of the wind (not deeper downwind), to maximize the line tension ;
- put the kite very kite very high (the highest; the less slack line in the third part) ;
- just before it reaches the zenith, send the kite in a short radius downloop without changing HF direction (still 90 degree of the wind);
- keep tha same HF direction, 90 degree of the wind
- kite will pull hard; try to resist the pull the longest you can in order to rotate the kite more than just pointing toward water ; the later you can resist , the lower risk of kite in the water.
- when you definitelly cannot resist the pull of the kite, engage the HF turn ; kite will stop moving from this instant and stay in the air with no move. The kite must be as high as possible to limit the amount of slack.
- turn as short as possible ; you will certainly get slack lines but kite is already well engaged on the other side, hence not a problem ( if the kite is a stable model).
- point upwind as rapidly as possible; which will tension the line again and the kite will finish its loop.
3- the pivot gibe :
= almost no speed gibe = almost no risk of loosing the kite in the water.
It is the more recent I use; and now the one I prefer in marginal winds, and it is beautiful and quite rewarding IMO; It works better with a large and low ratio HF wing like Ketos 1200: the idea here is to do a gibe with almost no speed, lifted up by the kite, and do a prompt hankle movement to rotate the HF 180 degree in one instant ; to me (with a bit of practice first in a bit more wind , say minimum 7-8 knots to get used to the move), it is the safer in term of kite in the water, and extremely efficient to gain upwind :
- point upwind
the max you can, until starting to slow dow so much that you reach the planning limit of the foil
- send the kite very violently to the zenith and toward the other window; as if you would like to jump (a bit impressive for my level of poor jumper, but you are in very light wind and you should trust you (or me ...
- as soon as you feel the upward pull, initiate the turn downwind as fast as you can ;
- kite will reduce its lift as soom as you start turning, just enough to be high on the foil, very light and do a hankle movement to send the HF 180 degree on there opposite direction (it is not a tack, the HF should turn point downwind in there middle of the turn)
- when done properly the HF turnes 180 degree in less than 1 meter.
- keep the rear hand still pulling the kite and maybe even exaggerate to speed-up the kite turning
- always look to the warter to balance your altitude, do not look at the kite : the more difficult is to avoid the foil going put of the water.
- at the end of the move; pull on the front foot to lower the HF altitude which will maintain planning and give more speed to tension the kite.
I recommend the number 3, which is not difficult at all and extremely efficient ; you even can see and cross again your previous HF wakes after only 2 or 3 meter in the new direction, with the original and pleasant feeling to feel the turbulences underwater.