Kite Landboarding

kiteboarding lessons bradentonKite Landboarding also known as Land kiteboarding or flyboarding, is based on the ever-growing sport of Kitesurfing, where a rider on a surf-style board is pulled over water by a kite. Kite landboarding involves the use of a mountain board or landboard, which is essentially an oversized skateboard with large pneumatic wheels and foot-straps. Kite landboarding is a growing sport, and there are several competitions. Kite landboarding is attracting growing publicity, although it is not yet as popular or as well known as Kitesurfing. Ideally, Kite landboarding is done in large empty areas where the wind is constant and without obstructions such as trees or people. Large hard-packed sandy beaches are seen as being ideal locations because of the large space available and the favourable wind conditions.



The rider starts off by getting the kite into the neutral position overhead. Once he is strapped onto the board, he can get the kite to pull him across the ground by moving the kite in either direction, generating a pull. As in Kitesurfing, competent riders are able to "get some air" which is essentially maneuvering the kite to pull the rider into the air, normally several feet up. More competent riders are able to do several moves in the air such as grabs, rotations and flips.

Tricks

More advanced riders can do a number of tricks that are mainly based on those found in Kitesurfing and Wakeboarding. These include tricks while the rider in the air which could involve rotations, flips, grabs, or combinations of these tricks. "Board-off" moves are tricks where the rider removes the board from his feet in the air and he can spin or flip it before putting it back on his feet and landing. On the ground, tricks include sliding the board, wheelies and riding toeside (riding with your back to the kite). Various tricks have found the transition from kitesurfing a little hard due to the harder surface of land rather than sea. One such trick is the "kiteloop" which involves looping the kite through the power zone while the kiter is in the air, giving a strong horizontal (and sometimes downwards) pull. In addition to these kitesurfing based tricks there are also a number of skateboarding style accessories that have become popular such as ramps and grinders. In recent years specific Kite landboarding parks have opened with large areas and ramps and other obstacles available.

Equipment

The kite is a large sail, usually made of strong Ripstop nylon, and is flown on either 2, 3, 4 or 5 lines. Any model of kite usually has several different sizes within the range because the stronger the wind is, the smaller the kite used. The kite is controlled via a control bar or a set of handles (kite control systems). There are various different types of kites used in Kite landboarding. Foil type kites, from manufacturers such as FreakDog, HQ Powerkites , Flexifoil , Ozone Kites, Flysurfer or Best Kiteboarding can be fixed bridle or de-power systems. Depower systems allow the rider to change the kites angle by moving the bar toward or away from them to power or de-power the kite respectively. Most riders prefer depowerable kites as it is possible to easily adjust the power in case of gusts or an increase in wind speeds. Alternatively "arcs" are growing in popularity thanks to several kites made by Peter Lynn.

There is a vast selection of boards. The landboards tend to be made out of wood, although many riders prefer lighter composite boards. Size and width of the board varies. Longer and wider boards are more stable and tend to be for larger riders or beginners while narrower smaller boards are for smaller people or for pulling off more tricks. Many boards also have suspensions which can be adjusted to preference. These can usually be adjusted by adjusting the actual suspension or by inserting a "shock egg" (an egg shaped rubber shock absorber) into the suspension.The boards also have some similar features to Kitesurfing boards.They have similar style bindings to keep the riders feet locked in. They allow the board to stay with the rider when he is airborne but they are also easy enough to remove in the case of any "board-off" tricks. Many also have a grab handle in the center of the board in order to facilitate the removing of the board during a trick.

Many riders attach the kite's handle or control bar via a strap to a harness worn by the rider, allowing the rider to remove his hands from the control system in order to do tricks. The use of a harness also allows a rider to ride for a longer time, as much of the force of the kite is taken off the rider's arms. For depowerable kites, the harness connection is used to power and depower the kite. There are different types of harnesses (e.g., waist or seat), and selection depends on the personal preference of the rider. Some riders use specially designed snowkiting harnesses that are very similar to those used in rock climbing or just plain rock climbing harnesses. Because harnesses keep the rider attached to the kite, a number of safety measures have been developed. These include easily reachable safety systems actuated by pins. The pins allow the rider to release the connection between the rider and the kite when necessary. Some harnesses also have an easily accessible knife to cut the lines if necessary in an emergency.

Other commonly used bits of equipment include a groundstake (in order to hold down the kite when it is landed), a wind meter (to read the exact speed of the wind) as well as various spares, tools and repair tape. In addition various bits of safety equipment described below are essential to the sport.

Safety concerns

Due to the power that the kites can generate, riders can hit high speeds and propel themselves several feet in the air. As this is a land-based sport, there have been several concerns about the possibility of injury to the rider or to others. As a result several safety equipment items are used by many riders in this sport. Helmets are essential, especially for the more advanced moves, where a rider may find himself rotating and flipping. Padding, including shoulder and knee pads, can be worn to protect from hard falls. Many kite-flying sites in the UK are introducing measures to only allow riders who have helmets and have valid 3rd party insurance policies. In addition to this, many kite manufacturers have incorporated safety designs in their kites in order to depower the kite in order to stop it dragging the rider after a fall and protecting any other people in the vicinity. These tend to include safety leashes connected to the rider which, when the rider lets go of the kite's control system, will completely depower the kite and bring it gently back to the ground.

If you want to kitesail year-round, you may want to get in to kitelandboarding on land.  Kitelandboarding is pretty simple, simpler than kitesurfing and kiteskiing (on snow/ice).

Similar to kiteskiing, you don't need a lot of wind in kitelandboarding (actually, kitelandboarding need roughly the same amount of kite power as kiteskiing which is around 3/4 that of kitesurfing).  So kitelandboarding on a hard pack beach or a grassy field is a perfect complement to kitesurfing for those light wind days or when the water is too cold for kitesurfing but not frozen enough for kiteskiing.

So why kitelandboarding and not buggying? First, kitelandboarding only needs simpler, smaller and less expensive equipment. Second, kitelandboarding is a stand-up sport so it is more challenging and one can also jump easily without having to strap oneself to the buggy.  However, kitelandboarding is definitely more dangerous compared to all other kiting sports: kitesurfing, kiteskiing, kitesnowboarding and buggying.

The Equipment


To go kitelandboarding, you need the following equipment

  1. A traction kite, lines and associated control device.  Any land or water kite can be used for kitelandboarding.  Similar to kitesurfing, make sure you have a safety release system that you can depower the kite at any moment. Furthermore, you may want to use a kite that provides some depowering capability such that you don't have to stop and change to a smaller or larger kite as frequent. As you can go very fast on wheels, a faster kite is definitely useful. Similar to kitesurfing, you would need a number of kites to cover the whole wind range.
  2. A skateboard type of board allowing you to steer the board by tilting it to the left or right.  The board must have larger wheels if you want to use it on sand or grass. You can use a standard skateboard on pavement of a large parking lot.
  3. A harness (waist or seat harness is fine).
  4. A helmet (a must on land).
  5. The same protective equipment used by in-line skaters, skateboarders or hockey players.


So how big a kite you need for kitelandboarding?  As wheels once rolling have much less friction than water, you should use a smaller kite as you would for kitesurfing (on the average, about 2/3 of the size you would use for kitesurfing; smaller on pavement, around 1/2 the size for kitesurfing and larger on softer sand or grass, around 3/4 the size for kitesurfing).  If you fly the kite straight over head, you should be able to feel the pull from the kite and be able to walk backward with some reasonable effort.  If you feel the kite lift around 1/3 of your weight and can barely walk backward then you may have more power than you would need for kitelandboarding.


The Place


All the following places should be fine for kitelandboarding (in the order of preferences)

  1. Dry lake bed
  2. Hard-sand beach where the wind blows perpendicular to the beach (straight onshore or offshore)
  3. Large grassy field
  4. Large parking lot (dangerous, don't fall) - you can actually use a standard skateboard in this case


Just make sure that there is no power line, airport or tall building (upwind) near the spot where you want to go kitelandboarding.


As you steer the board by turning the wheels with your weight distribution, going upwind in kitelandboarding is very easy so a curvy beach or field should pose no problem as you can easily steer your board to go with the curves.


The Technique

Before starting to learn kitelandboarding, it is recommended that you already have some experience flying a traction kite.  If you have never flown a traction kite, please review the Kite piloting and the Kite power controlling sections before proceeding.

How To Start?

Kitelandboarding is simple, simply launch your kite, jump on your board and steer the kite in the direction you want to go.  The force of the kite will pull the board in the direction it goes.  Check the Kite piloting section for information how to launch and land your kite.


On rougher surface, it helps to put the front foot on the board and then use the back foot to push the board moving while steering the kite in the forward direction. Put the back foot on the board once the board and the kite is moving forward nicely.

How To Get Going?

  1. Similar to kitesurfing, if you have enough power to get going, simply lock your kite at 30 - 60 degrees in the forward moving direction.
  2. If you don't have enough power, move your kite in a sine wave pattern to get going.
  3. To turn the board upwind, put more pressure on the windward rail.
  4. To turn the board downwind, pressure the downwind rail.

One of the major differences between kitesurfing and kitelandboarding is the body position and weight distribution.  In kitesurfing (or kiteskiing), you always lean windward regardless of whether you want to go upwind or downwind (just edge the windward rail more to go upwind and less to go downwind).  In kitelandboarding, you lean windward when you want to go upwind, stay somewhat neutral for a beam reach and put pressure on the downwind rail to go down wind (it's difficult to pressure the downwind rail effectively while leaning windward too much). This difference would make it a bit clumsy when you want to go down wind (or go straight) in kitelandboarding as the kite could pull and face-plant you any moment there is a gust.


One way to overcome this limitation is put your body weight tail-ward (and steer the board with your back foot) once the kite is in the forward moving position.  This leaning tail-ward position allows one to comfortably steer the board both upwind and downwind.

Another way to overcome this limitation is to make the it harder to edge the windward rail when you lean windward.  This can be accomplished by putting some bungee cords along the top (or bottom) of the leeward rail (from front axle to back axle of the board).  This allows you to go for a beam reach while leaning windward easier.  Furthermore, this actually does not make going downwind easier, it just makes going upwind harder such that you don't need to go downwind.

How To Jibe?

There is no need to jibe in kitelandboarding.  when you want to change direction, simply move the kite up and then steer it in the new direction.  The board will simply slow down and then start moving in the opposite direction.

If you are moving too fast, you may want to steer the board upwind to slow it down before moving the kite in the other direction.


The only time you want to jibe is to ride toe-down.  In such case, simply go downwind and keep turning the board until it's turned 180 degree and ride toe-down in the other direction.

How To Jump?

Jumping in kitelandboarding is similar to jumping in kitesurfing.  You can either jump with the help of a "ramp" or jumping with the help of your kite.  Jumping with a ramp is very easy in kitelandboarding.  Jumping using the kite is a bit harder as you don't have the same power from the kite as in kitesurfing; however, the faster speed on wheels provides the needed line tension to jump even with less power from the kite.

If you want to jump in kitelandboarding, you should only do that on sand or grass as the pavement are not very forgiving.

Disclaimer

Kiteboarding is a dangerous sport that requires adequate, professional instruction. Kiteboarding Tampa Bay, its instructors, and their sponsors assume no legal responsibility for misuse of any information contained on this website.
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