So Light Wind Kiting is it really worth it?
So Light Wind Kiting is it really worth it?
As September reaches its midway point, and we are about to start a new season, It’s always good to look over what we did in our past and see where we can update, make changes and ultimately improve.
About 2 years ago we wrote a blog about light wind kiting, what it was, what you got for your money and was it really worth it.
At that point, we were looking at Hydrofoils, and Foil kites and the advantages they gave, but at that time they were very race orientated, not especially user-friendly, and horrendously expensive. These barriers put them outside the reach of the average kiter, and our feeling was that our customers were probably not ready.
Quite a lot has happened in the intervening 24 months, so we thought it was worth revisiting light wind kiting and including foil kites and Foilboards.
So Light Wind Kiting is it really worth it?… Version 2, Part 1
We do pretty well here in Perth, our Summer sea breezes average 18-23 knots. Its pretty easy to get complacent and fall into that ‘If it’s not blowing, i ain’t going’ mentality, but for the majority of the world goes kiting in the less than stellar conditions. Don’t believe me? Just ask any of the hundred or so European visitors who come and stay for 3 -6 months each year to avoid winter in the northern hemisphere and get some real wind.
So what do we mean by Lightwind Kiting? Really that question has changed over the last couple of years. Typically if we ignore foils for the moment, we are looking at around 10-18 knots.
By adding gear to your quiver that gets you out in these ranges you can add 20% more kitable days to your season especially at the beginning and the end of the season.
Big Kite Vs Light Wind Kite
Big kites are anything 12m and over, usually for larger riders to fly in the same conditions as your daily kite. A 1m increase in size will accommodate a 10 kilo difference in rider weight, so our 80kg rider will have a 9m, and a 120kg rider will need a 13m, both kites will have similar ranges for their respective riders, both will work in 18-25 and need to be resilient enough to survive being crashed at these wind speeds. Because of all the required heavy reinforcing, these kites still need a certain amount of wind to fly.
A light wind kite is designed to be crashed in less wind. Because of this, it needs less Dacron (the stuff that makes up the leading edge), and this Dacron can be of a lower density. Add to that lightweight bladder material, and you have the winning combination of a big kite and a lighter kite
Building a kite quiver
Usually a new rider will start with a 9m or 10m kite for Perth conditions. This common size will get a new kiter out in 18-25 knots after they finish their lessons, and with a bit of practice, they can maybe add 1 or 2 knots to that bottom end. The second kite most rider buy is their high wind kite usually 2m smaller with a wind range of 24-35 knots. Now for the dilemma, most riders use the same math and look at the 12m. The issue is the 12m for the 80-kilo rider is a big kite, not a light wind kite.
2018 10m North Rebel, $2019, wind range 18-25 knots, cost per knot $288
2018 8m North Rebel, $1849, wind range 24-35 knots, cost per knot not already covered $205 (divided by 9, 26-35)
2018 12m North rebel $2159, wind range 15-23 knots, cost per knot not already covered $719 (divided by 3,15-17)
As you can see the 12m kite for the average rider can be a really costly exercise in reward vs investment.
Compare this with an 18m North juice 17m, 11-18 knot wind range, $2579. The cost per knot that you can’t currently access, drops massively to $368. All for a small increase in an outlay of $420 vs the 12m!
Don’t forget the board!
If you are looking to maximise your wind range, don’t forget about the board.
A lot of retailers will try and push the bigger board as the first board with the reassurance that once you are up and riding this can become a light wind option. I have to say as experienced retailers this is not a great choice for many customers. Like regular kites vs LW kites there is lot to consider with boards.
A big board is usually defined as a twintip over 140cm in length. Larger dimension boards will accommodate larger dimension riders or are useful if you are riding with wake style boots. However, for a regular size rider in the 75-95 kilo range anything over 140cm while making the first few runs easier, will usually become pretty cumbersome for regular day to day conditions.
A light wind board is usually defined by width, not length, and typically they start at about 144cm. What this does is give a maximum area between the feet, allowing the board to plane at lower board speed and by default, lower wind speed.
Typically a wide light wind board in a standard construction will make a 2m difference in terms of kite size and a carbon version will make a 3m difference. This’ turns’ a 10m kite into a 13m, giving an additional 3 to 4 knots bottom end. Meaning the same 10m Rebel starts working in 14 knots rather than 18 knots.
In a carbon fibre construction, expect to spend around $1500 and in standard construction about $1150. This Translates into a per knot cost of $380 for carbon and $570 for regular twintip construction.
So when you look from a purely economic viewpoint even a standard non-carbon light wind board gives you a lower outlay and a better return on investment than a 12m kite.
… Part 2, The New, Accessible Foils …Coming Soon