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Kiteboarding

Lightwind Kites

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There are few things more frustrating in kitesurfing when the wind hovers in that 8 to 13 knot range. It stands as a sort of kite purgatory, offering enough wind to launch your traditional kitesurfing kite, but not enough to really use it.

Fortunately, the kiteboarding industry has recognized this long defunct niche, and responded with some chimerical offerings. Before, light wind kiteboarding kites were usually just scaled versions of a particular model. The smallest offering was much similar to the largest, just with enhanced proportions. Because of this, much efficiency was often wasted. A 17 meter kitesurfing kite does not require the same degree of reinforcement that an 8 meter kite would - the wind conditions are vastly different, which results in different amounts of force interacting with the kite. Lighter kite construction has thus led to significant breakthroughs in light wind performance, allowing for greater stability and responsiveness. Coupled with this is flatter canopy shape, which delivers more power by maximizing size efficiency. The more surface area the wind can interact with, the more power will be generated by the kite. By flattening the canopy, it reduces the surface area of the wingtips, which aren’t used in generating power. Rather, they are influential on the turning speed of the kitesurfing kite, which is why flatter ‘bow’ kites traditionally turn much slower than hybrid and c-kite designs. On a related note, foil kites specifically designed for the water (closed-cell) are excellent options as well, as their light weight and flat profile make them extremely efficient.

Determining which size light wind kitesurfing kite is appropriate for you is going to be largely influenced by what other kites comprise your current quiver. For individuals who already have a 12 or 14 meter, it is recommended to size up to something 16 to 18 meters, respectively. As a 12 meter generally becomes useful around 14 to 16 knots, sizing too large isn’t necessarily a concern. With modern depower a 17 meter handles well into the high teens, although it will certainly be powerful. For those kitesurfers who currently have a 10 or 11 meter, a 13 to 16 meter kitesurfing kite may be a better investment, as the overlap will be more comfortable. 

For the greatest light wind performance, be sure to pair your kitesurfing kite with a light wind kiteboard. Between the two, it is almost guaranteed you’ll suddenly find yourself looking forward to those light wind days that were lost to you in the past!