Rigging and Launching Your Kite From A Boat


Rigging and Launching Your Kite From A Boat

This video shows one technique for rigging and launching a kite from a boat. In this example we are launching from a catamaran (sailboat) but this technique also works well when launching from dinghies, powerboats, or really anywhere that you have limited space to rig but plenty of water to ride.

WARNING: Rigging and launching from a boat is an advanced skill. Do not attempt this unless you have the experience needed to understand the risks and you have the skills needed to mitigate them. Failure to do so could result in severe injury or death. In other words, try this at your own risk!


Preparing Your Lines
Unwind the lines off your bar by flaking them in a pile. “Flaking” means to lay down the lines in a long back-and-forth pattern so the lines avoid becoming tangled.

Wind the lines back onto your bar while separating them from each other like you would when you rig on the beach.

Leave enough line unwound from the bar to prevent the bar from being moved when you attach the lines to the kite.

Separate the lines all the way to the end then either lay the ends down in a place where they will not get moved or attach the lines to something. For example, you can tie them to the boat’s lifelines.

Rigging the Kite
To inflate the kite just secure the leading edge like you would on the beach, flop the kite in the water, and inflate. Take care to keep water out of the valves.

Attach the lines like you would on the beach but be careful to attach the lines in an order that prevents the lines from crossing each other. This is most common step that people get wrong.

Make sure the attached lines are kept between the wingtips and on the bladder side of the canopy from the time they are attached until the kite is launched.

Launching the Kite
Place the kite in the water with the leading edge “down” and upwind and with the lines placed between between the wingtips.

Grab one of the front lines and make sure it is always much more tensioned then the rest of the lines until all the lines are unwound from the bar. This will keep the kite de-powered and orientated correctly.

Allow the kite to drift away while you unwind the lines making sure to keep one of the front lines under much more tension than any other line.

When all the lines are unwound, and the kite has drifted as far away as possible, release the front line you’ve been keeping under tension and water launch the kite as normal.

It is MUCH safer to do this step with your bar connected to a line (rope) that is attached to your boat rather than having the bar hooked into your harness. You can put a carabiner on the line to make it easy to connect to your harness loop. If you’re using a Fireball system you can use a small carabiner clipped to the tendon above the ball. For additional safety you can attach (clip) another line to the leash connection so the kite will flag if it is released.

It is easier and much safer to have a friend help.

When you’re winding the lines back onto the bar be careful to keep the bar always facing the same direction or you will put twists into the lines.

When the lines are wound on the bar make sure you lay the bar down “upside down” if it will be positioned upwind from the kite as shown in this video. This will ensure the colorful end of the bar will be in your left hand once the kite is launched (as normal for Cabrinha bars). If you accidentally lay the bar “right side up” don’t stress, just remember the colorful end will be in your right hand instead (and the pigtail colors will not match the colors of the line ends when you attach the back lines)

When you unwind your lines as the kite drifts away take care to keep all the lines unwinding at the same time from the bar (while still keeping more tension on one front line).

If you keep tension on the left front line as the kite drifts away it will drift to the right and vice versa.

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Ryan Levinson has been kiteboarding for over 20 years. He is currently on an extended sailing voyage seeking wind and waves in the tropical South Pacific. Over the years he worked as the Instructional Editor at Kiteboarding Magazine, owned a successful kiteboarding school, and was the EMS/Rescue Team leader for the Big Wave World Tour. He also worked as an Emergency Medical Technician, super yacht captain, professional athlete, and as an instructor for Kiteboarding and Sailing. You can follow his adventures at TwoAfloat.com