Sportkite Characteristics

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So, are you thinking of designing your own kite? I’ve played with the thought several times, but so far, I’m nothing but a copy cat. However, here are a few general rules of the thumb on sportkite characteristics.

Although nothing is guaranteed on any kite, the general rules are as follows:

  • High bridle = tracks well, flies forwards well, turns slowly
  • Low bridle = tracks poorly, flies slower, turns fast (the dynamic bridle effectively combines the best elements of each)
  • Inboard bridle = difficult to turn, therefore tracks well
  • Outboard bridle = easy and fast to turn, may oversteer, track badly
  • Inboard stand-off = kite is stable (because more air is pushing against the outer panels)
  • Outboard stand-off = kite is less stable and more inclined to turn
  • Long stand-off = deep sail, stable and solid in the air
  • Short stand-off = shallow sail, less stable
  • Slack sail = noisy, inefficent, flies slowly and sturdily
  • Tight sail = quite, smooth and slick but may be sensitive
  • Straight leading edge = tracks well, better at precision
  • Curved leading edge = turns and tricks well

As you can see, there are trade-offs between the two extremes of any feature.

If you want a radical trick kite, you might have a tight sail, curved leading edge, outboard and low set bridle and outboard stand-offs (like the Stranger, for example) but you loose precision.

At the other extreme, a straight L/E kite with slacker sail, inboard bridle and stand- offs (say the Northshore Radical) tracks like it’s on rails, has excellent speed tolerance and great precision, but it doesn’t trick well.

Remember this when you start experimenting, and you might save some time during the development phase!


This article was first published at AERIALIS-DOT-COM on November 11th 2005

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