Advanced Kite Skills Print

Tricky Kite Flying

Kite Stalling

When the kite falls backwards with the trailing edge first, the kite is stalling.  Preventing a kite  from stalling is very easy, and so is preventing the kite from crashing, if the kiteboarder allowed kite to stall in the first place.  However, preventing and recovering kite stalls is generally counter intuitive, so be prepared to go against your natural instincts.

When a kite stalls, the kiteboarder loses steering and pitch control momentarily.  To recover this control, the kiteboarder needs to depower the kite by pushing the bar away as far as needed for the kite to resume flying with the leading edge forward.  Most beginners will pull the bar in more, because they feel a loss of pull from the kite and they want correct that problem by giving the kite more "power".  If you pull the bar in when a kite stalls, it will exacerbate the problem.

There are many factors involved that will determine how quickly the kiteboarder can recover steering control during a stall, such as: how quickly the stall can be identified and reacted to, how the lines are tuned, how far the bar is pushed away, size of the kite, and wind speed.

Once the kite is moving leading edge first, and steering and pitch control has been established, the kiteboarder must still prevent the kite from being steering into the water.  This will vary, depending on where the leading edge of the kite is pointed.  After recovery, if the leading edge is still pointing to 12 oclock, then steering the kite away from the water is as simple as keeping the bar straight, balanced, and allowing the kite to fly up to 12 o'clock.  If after recovery the kite isn't pointed at 12 o'clock, then evasive maneuvers may be required to prevent the kite from crashing.

Step One:
Recognize that the kite is stalling.  Notice when the kite is falling or drifting backwards, with the kite moving or drifting the direction of the trailing edge.  Recover the kite from the stall by pushing the bar away immediately.  The kite may not react immediately to you, but that's ok.

Step Two:
Watch for effect and react.  If the kite is still stalling, wait, or push the bar further away from you or let go of the bar if you can't push the bar all the way to the trim strap.  If the kite is still falling backwards, the worst thing you could do is pull the bar in, thinking that you have made a mistake, since the kite hasn't reacted to your movement. 

Step Three:
If the leading edge is pointed at the water or the kite has starting moving with it's leading edge first, then you have recovered the kite from the stall and it's time for evasive action.  Pull the bar in and steer it aggressively away from the water.  If the kite is still stalling, keep the bar pushed away all the way up to the trim strap and wait until the kite has crashed with it's trailing edge in the water, or until you have recovered from the stall and the kite is flying forward again; repeat step three.

Recognizing a stall before it happens or before it becomes unrecoverable is the most critical point in keeping the kite flying.  In some cases, even if you miss two seconds stall signal from the kite, it may be too late to recover the kite before it crashes.  Don't pull the bar in until the kite is flying forward with it's leading edge first.