Woops...sorry! Launching and Landing.

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Woops...sorry! Launching and Landing.

Postby skysurfr » Fri May 25, 2012 11:50 am

Since I screwed this up a couple of weeks ago at Wolf Lake and I saw it happen a few times yesterday, I thouhgt I'd mention it.

When launching or landing someones kite....

1. Keep a firm grip on the main bladder / leading edge of the kite. Use both hands.
2. Wait for clear signals from the kiteboarder before launching the kite.
3. Watch the kiteboarder for a moment or two after launching. Is it ok or do they need to land the kite?
4. After landing keep a firm grip on the kite. Make some eye contact with the kiter.
5. Set the kite down safely and brief the kiter on what you did or didn't do. "There's no sand on your kite..."

I was launching a kite at Wolf Lake while teaching someone else to do the same. My hands were tired and the leading edge was slippery smooth. No excuse however, I let get away from me and put the kiter in a potentially serious situation. This one ended safely.

Yesterday we saw one kite fly away loose. I saw one experienced rider get jacked when the launcher didn't wait for a good OK signal.

I know a shop owner from San Francisco / Viet Nam that landed his kite into someones hands and looked down to unhook his kite. When he looked up it was several weeks later as he awoke from the coma. He got launched, tossed into the bay, sucked into a sewer pipe....and then into a coma.

Sorry to be Mother Hen.

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Re: Woops...sorry! Launching and Landing.

Postby 4w7s » Fri May 25, 2012 1:54 pm

Good topic Mike.

Another thing you can do is use a bridle line to tether the kite (if it is an SLE) while landing or launching. It important to know exactly where on the bridle system to hold on. It is also important to pay attention to where your hands are as you "walk" the leading edge to place the kite in an upright "C" position...so that you do not snag the bridle with your arms/hands. Every SLE has a different bridle so some are easier to manage the bridle lines as you assist a launch. It's not unusual that the bridle will catch your hand as the kite gets launched so just be aware of this.

Also, as an assistant launcher it is good to look at all the lines to make sure they are not catching on a wingtip or tangled in some way or another before you release.
It is also nice if the assistant launcher can shake any sand out of the canopy and keep the kite wingtip off the ground as much as possible to avoid having the wingtip scoop up sand and potentially contribute to a difficult/or botched launch. Wait for the thumbs up signal and do not be shy about delaying for a few seconds to make sure that is the intention of the pilot...and DON"T throw the kite up into the air. If the kite does not launch properly then the pilot is either trimming wrong, standing in the wrong spot, or not enough wind for the kite. STAND BY for a few moments to make sure all goes well and be prepared to scramble if something goes awry.

If the kite feels soft when you pick it up, let the pilot know before you launch it. And if you think the kite is too big for the conditions, or if you think it's a bad time to launch (weathre moving in, too crowded, etc.) don't be afraid to say so or refuse to launch.

While it is primarily the pilot's responsibility to position himself properly for a launch it can be helpful if the assistant recognizes any problem and either signals the pilot to move into proper position or move the (kite into the) proper posiiton for a smooth launch. And if someone has inadvertently set up for a launch with dangerous obstacles directly downwind help them/advise them to move to a better position. e.g. if the kite is trying to "bowl over" the assistant the pilot is positioned too far upwind (how man times have we seen this?) and maybe sheeting in too hard.

As for the "etiquette" of landing a kite for someone else- I prefer if someone catches the kite and then walks toward me to take tension out of the line (and I walk toward them to do the same). At the same time this is done the kite will easily roll onto it's back automatically into the easy to carry position - and then I just want the "catcher" to hold it there until I unhook and come to attend to the kite myself. I'd prefer to flip the kite myself in the spot I want it and then anchor it in the manner I prefer. Sometimes people will catch a kite, slam it down like a jiu jitsu move and it might be on top of some beach detritus that can harm the kite. And not everyone wants you to put sand on their kite automatically. Let the pilot/kite owner decide on his anchoring preferences.

Avoid launching/landing/anchoring kites over the top of other peoples lines or anchoring it in the middle of a tight launch zone. And it's also nice if people can consolidate the miscellaneous gear left on the beach, stow away pumps & hoses, and generally keep the launch/land zone free from anything that might snag a line or trip someone.

Always watch the pilot when you catch and hold the kite, especially if the pilot is in the water because if a wave or current sweeps the pilot one way or another and tensions the lines up things can go pear shaped in a hurry.

In general I advise that people only ask others to assist a launch if that person KNOWS HOW to do it. I strongly advise against asking an innocent bystander or uninformed person to do this. Many times with students I offer to show their girlfriend/boyfriend how to do this so they can help and not have a nice beach day turn into a panic and ultimately some of the "silent treatment" afterward.
Last edited by 4w7s on Sat Jun 02, 2012 8:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Woops...sorry! Launching and Landing.

Postby FSP » Sat May 26, 2012 10:27 pm

to the launcher: even if you get the thumbs up from the rider dont let go of a kite unless you truly feel it will rise up and take off. the rider may have a false sense of of tension or some pockets that may deceive. Only the launcher will truly know if the kite is going to rise.
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Re: Woops...sorry! Launching and Landing.

Postby Dutchkiteboarder » Sat Jun 02, 2012 7:31 pm

You guys have great advice here. The thing that I would like to add and that I really rarely see happening is where to launch the kite. When I started kitesurfing my instructor always said: Launch your kite close at the water with the kite pointing towards the water. You don't want to face plant yourself in the dunes or ever worse on a parking lot or something. If it goes wrong I rather fly in to the lake then ending up in a tree.

I some times forget about it myself especially on awesome days and get my kite launched pointing towards the dunes or something. For beginners I really would like to say get in to the habit of launching and landing your kite towards the water.
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Re: Woops...sorry! Launching and Landing.

Postby dbur » Sat Jun 02, 2012 11:35 pm

Maurice, this is how I was taught as well, ie kite pointing towards the water, however personally I am practicing just the opposite now. Mostly because of the two incidents.... One time I had my friend launch a kite for me, it was brand new (Best Bularoo 2007/2008). I thoroughly checked it after unwrapping, however I did not notice that left bridle was shorter then the right one (assembly mistake) so after we launched the kite it did 180 in a split second and I got some air followed by a nice face plant into the water, thankfully we were launching with me in the water and my friend at the beach. In another instance chicken loop disengaged, kite also did 180 but that time it was just the opposite, so I hit land but not too hard since kite was depowered, still scary... So I'm thinking older C kites should be launched unhooked pointing toward the water, modern SLE kites should be launched hooked in and pointing towards the shore (unless wind is blocked by some obstacle).
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Re: Woops...sorry! Launching and Landing.

Postby 4w7s » Sun Jun 03, 2012 12:46 pm

Towards the water or away from the water? - that is the question.

Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageously bad launches,
Or to take arms against a sea of equipment snafus and kitemares,
And by opposing end them? To die: to sleep;
No more; and by a sleep to say we end

Both methods can be appropriate at times, and both have their advantages and disadvantages. Yes, it is possible that a kite can do a quick and unexpected 180 and loft/drag/crash you if your lines are hooked up wrong, bridle problems, etc...but hopefully people can check those equipement items during a thorough preflight. And with new kites it's super important to do that - and to fly the new kite in light wind on the first day you "deflower" her. Sometimes (tho rarely) they are out of adjustment from the factory, sometimes your bar may not be compatable, etc, etc.

Sometimes it makes sense to launch with the kite toward land if there are lots of people between you and the water, but in most cases it's probably more safe for the rider to launch with the kite between you and the water, especially if it is gusty or you think you might be overpowered. Launching with the kite toward the water would be my first choice, although people need to use their best jusgement and decide which one will be the safest for all in any given situation. I like to teach people that the "danger zone" for bystanders is anywhere in that 180 degree wind window and that preferably it is clear when launching...although it is not always possible.

So it comes back to - use your head and make good decisions, even before you launch the kite.
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