Have you ever put up your kite and wondered why it felt like it was flying strange? Maybe you thought you were having an off day? Or maybe you didn't inflate it enough? Maybe you accidently attached your kite to the wrong knots? But it couldn't possibly be the gear, or could it?
Kite line maintenance is incredibly important and something we often forget to check on a regular basis. If your kite ever feels like it's flying strange, be sure to check your lines. Or better yet, if you have never checked your lines, go check them now! Those of us at Oregon Kiteboarding can guarantee you will have a better session if your lines are equal.
This is not something that is often taught in kiteboarding lessons, so we are going to give you a quick rundown of how to check your lines and equalize them. If you have any questions about this process, always feel free to ask your instructor for advice and help on how to maintain your lines.
Step 1: Anchor Your Lines - Attach your lines to a fixed point where they can all be next to each other. Ideally this will be a string or cord affixed around something solid such as a post or fence. Be sure to remove any pigtails that may be on the end of your lines.
Step 2: Check Center Lines - Before starting this step, be sure your bar is "fully powered" from your depower strap or other bar trimming mechanism. Hold your center lines even in your hand and let them droop slightly. They should droop the same amount. If one line droops further, you will need to stretch the shorter line (the one that has less droop). We will touch on how to do this in Step 4.
Step 3: Check Steering Lines - To check your steering or outside lines, put on a harness and attach yourself to the chicken loop. Walk backwards until the center lines are taught. Now slowly pull the bar in toward you. When the outside lines both have tension, the bar should make a ninety degree angle to your center lines. If the bar wants to sit sideways, your steering lines are uneven and will need to be evened out. Make note of which side of the bar is further away from you, this is the line that will need to be stretched. One other thing to note when checking the steering lines is how far your bar is from the chicken loop. You are trying to get all of the lines to be even, and therefore there should be no more than a small gap between your bar and chicken loop. Often times the center lines will stretch more because they are always under tension, so both of your outside lines will likely need to be adjusted slightly.
Step 4: Even Them Out - Now that you know which center and steering lines are shorter, they will need to be stretched out so that all of your lines are equal. To do this, keep your harness on and grab one of the shorter lines that needs to be stretched. Wrap the line around your hook a few times, or if you know your knots, feel free to use a Clove Hitch. Now lean back and let your body weight do the work. Once you have put some tension on the line for a period of time, repeat step one or two in order to check that the lines are now equal. You may need to stretch them a little more.
As a school, gear maintenance is of the utmost importance in making sure our lessons run smoothly. As a student, it is important to learn these skills early to avoid big crashes and stalled progression. This may not be as big of a concern early on in your kiteboarding endeavor, but you will likely hit a point when you realize that maintaining your gear will save you money in the long run. Always remember that here at Oregon Kiteboarding, you're not just another student, you're family. Feel free to leave a comment with any questions or other topics you would like covered in our #tiptuesday posts. We are always here to help!