Updated: Feb 24, 2019
You may have seen our article on 10 Things Beginner Kiteboarders Want to Know and are now asking yourself what you need to know to master your safety system.
How does your control bar work?
Kiteboarding control bars are an essential piece of equipment, used to steer inflatable and foil kites, and it is imperative to know your bar inside out.
Let’s start with the basics:
The back lines are the lines attached to the end of the leading edge which connects both sides of the bar directly. If you bring the bar close to you (pulling the bar in), you make the back lines shorter, changing the angle of the kite and giving power to the kite (+ POWER). If you move the bar away from you (pushing the bar out),you make the back lines longer, changing the angle of the kite in the opposite direction and diminishing the power of the kite (- POWER).
Symmetrically, the lines connected to the depower system located at the center of the bar are called front lines. By pulling on the depower (depowering),the front lines will be shorter which in turn reduces the power of the kite.
The depower system: The increase in power of the kite can be done by pulling-in of the bar in making the back-lines shorter. All the pulling in and out of the bar and its effects on back-lines and front-lines shows it’s depowering system.
The chicken Loop and donkey dick: Chicken-loop is the interface between the kiter's harness and the bar. If you unhook from the harness, the whole power of the kite will be in the rider’s arm (for advanced riders only!). Last but not least, the donkey dick is a piece of plastic preventing chicken-loop'sunintentional unhooking.
Safety Systems in kiteboarding
There are always three steps you need to follow when you are in any trouble when kitesurfing. The order must be respected all the time. There is no reason to use step number 2 if we can solve the problem with number 1.
The safety systems have to be activatedin the following order:
1) Release the bar
2) Activate the quick release
3) Activate the safety leash
1) Releasing the bar
Releasing the bar is the first and easiest safety system in kiteboarding. When releasing the bar, the kite will automatically lose power and fall into the water. Once the bar is released, and you take control of the situation you can relaunch the kite and continue kiting. Sometimes, and notably in lighter winds or on big kites, you can gain control again even before the kite even touches the water. Holding on to controls tighter when getting nervous is a common mistake but, although this may sound counterintuitive at first, a kiter should try to relax and leave the grip.
2) Activating the quick release
After releasing the bar, if you still don't have 100% control of the situation, you can go for the second safety system releasing the chicken loop. This way the bar will go away from you. When lines are crossing another kite as well as when the kite becomes uncontrollable in very high winds, or it starts looping out of control, the quick release should be activated to depower the kite completely (flag position of the kite). If parts are not jammed with sand or other impurities, the chicken loop will work smoothly assuring the success of the safety system. As always, the components of the safety system and notably the quick release should be regularly checked by an experienced kiter or an instructor.
3) Eject on the leash
Activation of the safety leash is the final option if in danger. Remember that when using this technique, you will not be connected to the kite anymore. Ejecting the leash is only meant to be used in extreme situations, for example, if there is a jam in the quick release and failure in depowering the kite this system.
In a nutshel
As a general rule, remember that adequately knowing his safety systems can help avoid major accidents and being dragged away by a kite. More experience kiters should also avoid sending tricks in straight onshore winds or area close to people in the water.
Lastly, when buying second-hand gear, an instructor or an experienced kiter should inspect all essential parts of the gear before use.