The Tethered Launch

simplify kiteboarding solo launchThere is more than one way to Solo Launch.  This article examines the TETHERED LAUNCH technique, also know as a fixed point or object assisted launch.

The TETHERED self launch is a convenient and highly reliable method to self launch a kiteboarding kite. This launch can be preformed on all surfaces including rough or abrasive, with minimal risk of damage to the kite.  This launch involves attaching the control bar to an object (tethering) and setting the kite on its wingtip in “launch position” at the edge of the wind.

Setting up a tethered launch is relatively easy:

1) Of course ensure a clear wind window.  Once rigged (correctly), attach the harness loop of the control bar to a fixed object. A tailgate, a post or log, a large sandbag or screw-in anchor are examples.  A length of spare line with a carabiner or something similar is helpful for this, but you can also use your kiteleash as the tether.  The bar will be left at the end of the sheeting line in the depower position.  Ensure the object is strong enough to hold the force of the kite at the edge of the wind.

2) Position the kite on its wingtip in “launch position” at the edge of the wind. The best way to go about this is to begin with the kite well UPWIND of the bar and where you think the edge of the wind is. This way as you get the kite out to the end of the lines and are holding it on its side there will be no power in the kite initially, and you can walk it downwind until it is catching the edge of the wind. Let the kite go slowly and “guide” it into it’s resting position at the edge of the wind.  The kite should be resting on its wingtip and balanced steadily.

3) Move back to the control bar.  Three important tips here:  stay on the upwind side of the lines, move quickly back to the bar, and ALWAYS MAINTAIN CONTACT WITH A CENTERLINE (in other words keep your hand on a centerline as you run back to the bar). The reason for keeping a hand on one of the centerlines (and we recommend the bottom one) is so that you can use it to disable the kite if something unexpected happens like the kite comes free from the tether, or takes off and flies out of control on its own, etc.  The way you disable the kite in this scenario is by holding that centerline tightly and running a few big steps toward your bar.  This will slack the other flying lines and “flag out” or disable your kite onto the centerline you are holding, allowing you to recover the kite and start again.

4) Transfer the bar from the tether to yourself, and fly the kite!  When transferring the control bar, do not touch the bar itself, just leave it in full depower.  Handle the control bar by the harness loop or sheeting line only, leaving the kite to sit on its wingtip until you are completely attached and ready to fly it.


LOOKING BACK:    I think the most important part of this article, which I wrote probably 6 or 7 years ago in an instructor column, is the part about STAYING IN CONTACT WITH ONE OF THE INSIDE LINES (i recommend the bottom inside line) while moving from the kite back to the bar.  Do not trust your tethered launch to work perfectly every time, once in a while the kite will tangle a line on its wingtip or around the bar on a bounce, or fall over backward into the powerzone and then blast out of it.  Over the years and pretty much every season I have seen a wide variety of potentially deadly objects hurled into the air by kites that got loose during a tethered launch.  It is simple to disable the kite if it falls or tangles a line and starts to fly:  hold the centerline tight and run a few feet (usually only about 10-15, a few big steps) toward the bar.  This will disable (flag out) your kite and allow you to reset it and start over (without having to replace the bumper of your car or duck a fencepost or “dog anchor screw / self launch tool” coming at you at 90mph,followed by a 100yd dash to recover your loose kite.

The second most important tip is NOT TO TOUCH THE BAR while detaching from the tether and hooking up yourself.  Just handle the control bar by the harness loop or sheeting line, leaving the bar in full depower while you hook up.

This kind of technique, like many others in kiteboarding, is best practiced and learned in a supervised setting.  A SELF LAUNCH lesson from PROKITE is only $75, we spend about 1hr practicing as many as 5 different techniques.  Give us a call and we will see you at the beach!