I’ve been flying sport kites for more than twenty years now. I started flying DLKs (dual lined kites) back in 1998 and I soon found that there was more to flying than just keeping your kite in the air. A LOT more actually. I dived deep into rec.kites and read all about the cool tricks you could do. I got hold of several learning videos too and by the guidance of Dodd Gross and Mike Reed (Prism Kites), I soon had a useful number of tricks in my repertory.
Down the road of learning new tricks, I soon found myself developing a kind of learning methodology. A way of standardizing how to learn new stuff. It can all be summarised using the three words: breaking it down.
In addition to learning, this methodology works as well, or maybe even better, when teaching too!
Ok, let’s take a closer look!
I’ve found it useful to split the performance into three separate phases:
- The Setup
- The Execution
- The Follow Up
We also got to get the lingo synchronized so here are the most important.
Wind window – The Wind Window is the three-dimensional region of sky downwind of the pilot in which the kite can be flown. You can read more about the wind window here.
Inner hand – The hand (arm) closer to the centre of the wind window.
Outer hand – The hand (arm) closer to the edge of the wind window.
In order to get this as clear as possible, I will use the trick I mention in the excerpt – axeling a QLK – when going through the three phases in the following.
Oh, and by the way, this methodology applies off course for both DLKs and QLKs alike!
1. The Setup
For quite a few tricks, the kite needs to be positioned right before executing a certain trick. We’re mostly talking about how to position the kite in the air but also to some extent – where – in the wind window – execution is easiest.
This set up is vital for quite a few tricks and will enhance the execution significantly. You will need to fly your kite into this correct position and then you’re working on another skill too; intentional flying.
Ok, for the QLK Axel I like to fly the kite towards (but not all the way to) the right side of the wind window. The height should be something between 30 to 50%. I fly it to the right side of the wind window because I’m going to pop the axel with my stronger, left arm, and having the kite out at the right will make things easier (for me).
(IMO I find it easier to do the axel closer to 30% than to 50%, but that could be me. You might find it different.)
Ok, fly your QLK so it’s hovering in a sideways position – the LE is vertical and 90° to the ground. Try to do the hover placing the kite at left 50% and height 30% in the wind window.
Then start twisting your hands – slowly – like your going to do a downward turn until the LE is at about 45° and the kite is well on its way flattening out.
Now, THIS is the position you’re after. At least for me, THIS is the position from which I can pop Axel’s most consistently.
2. The Execution
Having the kite in the correct position you’re ready for step number two, the execution (of the trick) and for the QLK Axel it goes like this:
Make a sharp and significant tug on the outer hands break line, almost a kind of a whipping motion followed by slack, loads of slack in all four lines.
Presuming the kite is in a good position, the tug will start the axel rotation and the immediate slack in the lines will prevent the rotation to be choked.
Now that’s all there’s to it … to execute the trick!
3. The Follow Up
But it’s not over yet. You must allow the kite to spin flat on its belly all of the 360 degrees to complete one full rotation.
You must follow up making sure the trick can be completed.
For an Axel this means you need to make sure all four lines are slack enough to allow the complete flat spin. Extending your arms out in front of you might not be sufficient. Then you will have to walk or even run downwind. This will maintain the slack in your lines and allow the full rotation.
When completed you pull on both lines again to take up flight.
…and when you manage to do the set-up, the execution and the follow up fluently, you’re pretty close to nailing that trick!