Inspect Those Kites Before You Put 'Em Up!

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Inspect Those Kites Before You Put 'Em Up!

Postby WaWaZat » Tue Mar 27, 2012 2:10 pm

I have seen similar topics posted from many of the kiting gurus on here since the time I was just a cat interested in breaking in to the sport and was lurking around to build up my own knowledge base so as to enter this sport safely and with minimal frustration. I certainly agree with the notion that it is our responsibility as kiters to inspect our equipment; lines, bar, line pigtails, kite canopy, etc... for any damage that could compromise our own safety as well as others or even just ruin a good session, very regularly... possibly even before every day of kiting. For instance, I like to pull my safety releases fairly often and rinse with fresh water if necessary, as I have had sand get in there and cause binding.

And as a kiter with much less experience than some of my mentors that have been at it much longer, sometimes it is hard to know when there is a problem unless you look at all the specific possibilities... perhaps having a checklist. Example, while down in SPI last Spring, I let our buddy West try one of my kites. He put it up and knew immediately there was something causing the kite to pull slightly. This is a kite I had been flying without realizing this and he threw it up and pinned it right away! We brought the kite down and an inspection revealed about and inch or so difference in line length. West was kind enough to tie those lines off on the side of the camper, run 'em and SHOW me exactly what he was feeling and then how to stretch them even. This procedure in detail would make a great post on its own! ... or it probably even already exists in the archives.

I had a Single Point Inflation tube (tubes that connect bladder airways from the leading edge to struts) explode on me right after inflation. This was a 2009 kite that had seen much sun. Closer inspection revealed that all the tubes had some degradation from the sun. My Royal kites comes with extra SPI hose so I replaced them all right there. Good thing it didn't happen in flight!!

A great time to inspect your canopy for the inevitable small cuts and tears is during your resting between session while it's pumped up on the beach. While in OBX, Amanda showed me this little trick after I noticed a small hole in a kite I had just taken out of the wrapper earlier that morn; if you can look at the canopy on the opposite side of the sun, any ripstop tears will be revealed by sun rays beaming through. I also like to take a little time while rolling up my kites to brush all sand and dirt off, get nice folds and again, inspect for little breaches in the ripstop. If you fly that kite with said small holes, it is possible that if that cut is in an area on the canopy that is under stress, the load from a crash or quick turn can cause the kite canopy to tear much further. Allow me to visualize this with an image! Below is a brand spankin' new kite that mysteriously was a victim of a small, approx 3/4", slice. While flying, the canopy was severed in two! If you look at my yellow label, you can see the orig, diagonal cut up near the leading edge. Under load, the ripstop tore along separate ripstop grids from each end of the small slice. In an instant, this repair went from just a couple dollars and a little time to possibly an over $150 repair and a big inconvenience!

So inspect thoroughly and inspect often. Also, know what you are looking for. I carry a $55 KiteFix Kit with me which has everything I need to make minor to fairly major repairs... even the scissors... on the spot! If anyone needs one of these kits or ripstop tape and even bladder patches, let me know. I have an abundance!


Kiteboard Mike
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