New year, check your gear
Another kitesurfing season is about to kickoff and our single biggest piece of advice is check your gear. Doing this properly and regularly can keep you out of unnecessary trouble, save you from having to perform a self-rescue or worse!
Our advice is to check your gear each time you use them. It’s easily and quickly done as every time you go for a kite, you already have every piece of equipment in your hands. The older your gear is, the more likely it will show wear and tear. Taking care of your gear will make it last longer, not to mention it will keep you a lot safer!
The rule is: pull both of your safety systems before every session to make sure they are functioning properly in case you need them. This will only take you 20 seconds. Sand and salt water corrosion can with block or impede your quick releases, making it hard or impossible to release. Most people don’t have to use their safety’s for months or years, never checking if they are functional. This can cause you heaps of trouble when the day comes you actually find yourself needing to use your releases. Sometimes all it needs is a good rinse. To prevent corrosion and the salt water damaging your gear, give your bar, leash and harness a good rinse with fresh water after each session. This will make your gear also last a lot longer.
Bars and Lines
A question a lot of people ask is, how often do I need to replace my lines? How quickly your lines wear depends on how often you use them and in what sort of conditions are they used. Don’t underestimate the power of the sun here in western Australia. Next to wear due to normal use, your lines can sometimes get damaged by an external factor or some sort of incident. You may not notice this until you have a good look at your lines!
Someone who kites every single day of the week may have to replace his lines after a couple of months. If you only go out on the weekends your lines might stay in good condition for a couple of years.
However, always pay attention to your lines while rigging and untangling. We are always in a hurry to get on the water, but unless you have checked your lines the night before, take a little bit of time doing so. Run the lines through your fingers and feel if there are any inconsistencies on the way. A little knot may have gotten onto a line or you might feel some fluff. Especially little knots can be missed when you never properly feel and look at your lines but instead sprint towards your kite. If the knot is there for a longer amount of time, it eventually can cause your line to break! So make sure you spot it and remove the knot as soon as you see it.
It may seem impossible for some knots to come out but you will be surprised. Even the tightest knot will loosen. The way to do it when there are no tools around, chew it! Gently chew on the knot and you will see the knot starts loosening up. If you don’t feel like chewing on a salty line, you can also use a hammer and hit the knot gently from all directions until it loosens.
After an incident where 2 lines have been tangled under tension, for example 2 kites got caught together or your own lines were tangled causing your kite to loop, always perform a good inspection as your lines may have been damaged. This will be a weak spot and eventually this can cause the line to break during one of your next sessions.
Other signs of wear on your lines is flattening of the line or when you see multiple filaments have broken. It is normal for lines to become ‘fluffy’ after a while.
Don’t forget to check the pigtails. Replace them when the coloured coating is torn as this will expose the line inside making it wear quickly. This will eventually also lead to breakage of the line.
Depower line wear depending on whether it is TPU covered or not. When your depower line is not covered this line will wear since the bar constantly moves up and down on this line. Check for flattening and breaking of individual filaments. If you find an abnormal amount of wear you might want to check what is causing it. For example, a sharp edge in the centre insert of your bar could be cutting your depower line.
When you feel your kite is not flying quite right anymore, and it tends to steer easier to one side, you may want to tune your lines. An easy way to tell is to hold the kite at 12 o’clock. If you have to slightly pull 1 side to keep it there, you have a difference in length between left and right. This is caused by shrinkage of your lines which will happen over time. This does not mean you need to replace your lines immediately. Usually you can still make some adjustments on your bar. On the beach, attach all your lines to a solid object and check the line lengths for your sets of front and backlines. When they differ in length you can change the setting of the lines to a different knot so that they become even in length again.
If you use your kite regularly you will probably know whether it is leaking or not. If you have not used your kite for a longer time, you may want to pump it up and leave it for a couple of hours. Make sure you close off your struts so you can locate the leak in case the kite goes down. A fast leak (kite goes down over a couple of minutes) is usually a defective valve. A slow leak (it takes a couple of hours for the kite to get soft) is usually a pinhole in the bladder.
When your kite is pumped up before take-off, check the kite for damage like scratches on the leading edge or canopy. Also have a look at the stitching of the leading edge and struts. If you see a bump, that means the stitching is coming loose and you risk your bladder exploding when you crash your kite hard.
Before launching have a look at your Canopy, try to look at it backlit by the sun, this is the easiest way to spot minor holes and pinholes caused by sand or debris when packing your kite away. While small pinholes will not make your kite fly any different, they can turn into a leading edge to trailing edge rip after you tomahawk your kite. If you are lucky, the rip is not too big and you can still fly the kite or self-rescue yourself. Prevention however is always better, and, cheaper than cure.
The most common way to damage a kite are during a self-launch when there is a sharp object hiding under the sand or when packing up your kite. Lots of people pack up their kite on the grass protected from wind and sand, however, these places are often full of little sharp seeds that fell from the trees. They cause multiple little pinholes in canopy and bladder.
How to prolong the life of your kites? Make sure your kite is dry when you pack it. Kites don’t usually have to be rinsed every time you use it. A rinse once per month should do. Packing up your kite when you are not using it will also make a massive difference. Flapping of the canopy and especially the WA sun will wear out the kite quickly, so don’t leave your kite on the beach unnecessarily.
In general, with aging of the kite, the canopy will get thinner and more pourous. A new kite is crispy and shiny where a kite with lots of use looks mat. The canopy of a kite with lots of use will feel thin and like paper. When this is the case, even the slightest touch with the surface of the water can make the kite rip in 2 parts. Even after repair, this kite is likely to rip again and again, often starting around the original repair as this is a weak spot. Time to replace your kite!
Most people replace their harness every 3 to 5 years. A common problem is corrosion of the buckles. Even though with some harnesses you can easily replace these buckles, you won’t have to replace them when you wash your harness in fresh water after each use. And dry in the shade.
More and more people have a rope-spreader bar. Check this rope and replace when needed.
Taking care of your gear and checking it regularly will make you go out on the water with more confidence, save you money and possibly a lot of trouble!
Whenever you are unsure about any piece of equipment, feel free to pop into our store and we will have a look for you!
Check your gear and have a great season!