Why Trainer Kites are Important
The Importance of Using a Trainer Kite
By Lene Baxter
Do you remember the first time you put up your kite? Were you excited or intimidated or maybe both? That is a natural reaction to hooking yourself up to a 12 meter kite for the first time. So, was that your first time flying a kite or did you use a trainer kite first?
As an instructor, I have a lot of students who come to a lesson and want to just get on the “big kite” as soon as possible. While it is as exciting for an instructor teaching a student the sport as it is for that student to learn, it’s important to introduce people to the sport safely. Trainer kites are there for a very good reason and if you’re looking to enter into the world of kiteboarding, then the trainer kite should be your first stop.
Think of learning how to kiteboard as a crawl-walk-run. You should start with the trainer kite (crawl phase). You will learn how to fly the kite (such as using the edges of the wind window and power strokes) by only using the bar pressure. Once you have mastered these techniques and feel comfortable on the trainer kite, you can move onto the “big kite”! Although the student has moved on from the trainer kite, they still aren’t ready for the board. This is the “walk” phase where the student flies the LEI the same way they flew the big kite-except now they don’t just have to worry about bar pressure, but they need to also master how to use the depower line. Instructors will typically go through safety techniques and the same flying techniques that were used with the trainer kite (repetition is key!). Once students show proficiency with the big kite, they are ready to RUN! Now, we add the board. That process was easy, right? Imagine trying to “jump” into that without first adding the trainer kite! Remember that kiteboarding is a sport. Like all sports, you don’t just immediately jump into the game before you have learned how to play. You first learn the basics and then you can progress. It is the same thing with kiteboarding.
The school I teach for, All Out Kiteboarding, uses Slingshot B2 Trainer Kites. Slingshot is a well respected, progressive company, and you can definitely tell the difference when flying these trainer kites. If you’re unfamiliar with the sport and have never flown a kite before, this is a great way to progress into kiteboarding. The kites we use in kiteboarding use a bar system with 4-5 lines, depending on the kite you are flying (although most kites now only have 4 lines). To control the kite, you are steering the kite through bar pressure as well as controlling the power in the kite by moving the bar up and down the depower line. The Slingshot B2 Trainer Kite is an open cell foil kite that uses 2 lines. While the 2 lines mean that the kite will always be fully powered, it is only 2 meters and therefore safe when used within its wind range. This kite lets you get into the sport and learn how to steer the kite under safe conditions. If you make a mistake on a trainer kite, it’s OK! Looping a trainer kite is “no big deal”, looping a 12 meter LEI could easily lead to a “kitemare” for a beginner. A fun and safe experience for the student and instructor (and everyone else on the beach!) is key!
A trainer kite is one of the most beneficial purchases you will make in kiteboarding. If you want to get out on the water, purchase a Slingshot Trainer Kite today!
If you want more information, check out All Out Kiteboarding’s blog!