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Trainer kite?

Post new topic   Reply to topic    Northwest Kiteboarding -> Gorge / Portland / Oregon Coast
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Since 05 Jun 2018
11 Posts
Portland, OR

PostTue Jun 05, 18 10:55 am    Trainer kite? Reply with quote

Is having my own trainer kite an advantage after some ground lessons to get better kite skills before heading to the next level? I'm getting a lot of mixed messages from friends who kitesurf, some say spend weeks with a trainer kite, some say it's only takes a few hours.

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Since 21 Jun 2015
131 Posts
White Salmon

PostTue Jun 05, 18 11:48 am     Reply with quote

I still fly mine. If you can’t get on the water it’s better than not flying.

I added a harness loop. Practice flying one handed, think through new sequences, try it with a skate board....share with a friend..

A slingshot B2 is like $120 brand new and ready to fly. Not much dough in the kiting big picture.

Pull the cork.

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Since 05 Jun 2018
11 Posts
Portland, OR

PostTue Jun 05, 18 12:04 pm     Reply with quote

Thx, also been told by a friend who kites a 3 line 3 or 4 meter can be more fun /safer and allows you to practice with a control bar rather than loops, plus can drag you around the water when you are ready. Any thoughts on that? I like the trailing edge safety for sure.

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Since 09 Mar 2005
1686 Posts

PostTue Jun 05, 18 12:20 pm     Reply with quote

Dude: If it gets you in the mindset of wanting to learn how to kite then purchase the trainer. Yes, it is similar to the other inflatable kites, but differs too.

As singlemalt said, $120 isn't much in the grand picture of getting yourself outfitted for kiting. And if it is, try and purchase a used trainer as well as used gear with bigger/other purchases.

It gives you something to do while you ponder your next purchase and you can learn some skills.

Plus a 3 meter will be handy when trying to learn out at Rooster in the 70+ mph winds this fall.

Razz Wink Laughing


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Since 21 Apr 2007
1676 Posts
Doin' The Dalles

PostTue Jun 05, 18 12:21 pm     Reply with quote

ALL flying time is valuable time but trainer kites are typically only for a day or 2 to help you understand the wind window.

IMO beginners do not come prepared with enough 4-line flying time so when they try to put the board and kite together in the water it's a cluster because they don't know how to keep the kite moving. Buy a small 4-line kite, harness and a helmet and go fly in a wide open safe area until you can fly at Noon, catch air, reverse launch, self-launch/land, escape Hindenburg's etc. It's still fun because you'll begin to understand how to control the massive amount of power it can and will give you instantly. It will also scare you but I guarantee you if you know how to fly the kite with a little prior experience your chance of success, happiness and clean underwear factor in the sport increases 10x.

The Event Site (funky wind shadow) has been quite interesting lately because the new guys don't even know how to keep their kite in the air (sheet out boys) because they're watching the experienced guys make it look easy. It's not. Go put as much time into flying a 4-line blind and then go to the water.

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Since 21 Jul 2009
1097 Posts
Hood River
XTreme Poster

PostTue Jun 05, 18 1:06 pm     Reply with quote

What is a ground lesson?
Did you fly a trainer during the lesson?
Did you do it well or struggle?
You should learn to fly a trainer before the real thing. If you've mastered the trainer move on.... otherwise buy one, master it, and then pass it on to another person.

P.S. - mastering the trainer only takes a few hours.

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Since 01 Aug 2014
116 Posts


PostTue Jun 05, 18 1:08 pm     Reply with quote

I worked on the road and never had time for a water lesson so I flew a two line trainer for 3 years! I did all kinds of goofy stuff with it, including body drags in the water. When I finally took a water lesson I was so confident with the kite that I was up and riding first try.

I’m not saying you should fly a trainer for three years, but I will say you can learn a lot with it. Plus, it’s nice when your friends ask if they can “try your kite” and you can pull out a trainer for them to use on an empty beach.

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Since 06 Jul 2005
360 Posts


PostTue Jun 05, 18 6:46 pm    Let Go!! Reply with quote

Sella and ldhr are spot on.
Fly a trainer kite for an hour or so and then move on to 4 line kite.
In general, flying a trainer kite for extended times is not good for kitesurfing skills. It will reinforce one of the worst habits (and deadliest) to have as a kitesurfer. Not letting go.

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Since 03 Jul 2008
740 Posts
In Ft. Stevens, OR

PostTue Jun 05, 18 8:27 pm     Reply with quote

I agree with Luke. Ram air kites like the B2 are good for learning the wind window for an hour but then your done with it and it leads into bad habits of your muscles thinking they always need to pull and hold on hard to the bar when in reality you can fly a real kite with 1 finger and pulling the bar to hard is every beginners hurdle to get over, learn to relax and let go.....

Take your $120 and use it toward a lesson on a real 4 line kite in a harness.

F-One, Blade, Litewave, Liquid Force
Kiteboard LESSONS

*CALL: 503-791-7372 *

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Since 17 Oct 2011
245 Posts


PostTue Jun 05, 18 9:06 pm     Reply with quote

Put in 10 hours
Learn to fly with your eyes closed
Learn to fly laying down and backwards, so your brain has to think opposite
Learn how to use the kite to pull you up from a sitting position
Learn to fly the kite with a skateboard
Have your buddy pass you the kite, but flip the bar upside down during the pass

Ok, now you're ready for a 4-liner

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Hazard to Navigation

Since 12 Sep 2016
57 Posts
Hood River

PostWed Jun 06, 18 9:20 am     Reply with quote

Good tips above. We teach even first-timers using only smaller 4-line kites and in close to waist-deep water. Get comfortable flying with one hand, not staring at the kite, body dragging upwind and downwind with or without a board, small powerstrokes. Very few problems occur with the kite in the air, invest the time learning to keep it there before trying to waterstart.

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Since 13 Mar 2012
405 Posts


PostWed Jun 06, 18 8:29 pm     Reply with quote

Hazard to Navigation wrote:
We teach even first-timers using only smaller 4-line kites and in close to waist-deep water. Get comfortable flying with one hand, not staring at the kite, body dragging upwind and downwind with or without a board, small powerstrokes. Very few problems occur with the kite in the air, invest the time learning to keep it there before trying to waterstart.


mowing the river like Jack Nicklaus was comin to town.

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Matt V

Since 26 Oct 2014
356 Posts
Summer- OR Coast, Winter - My van near good snow
Explosive Diarrhea

PostThu Jun 07, 18 7:26 am     Reply with quote

Some good and bad on the advice above. Here is the current state of trainer kites with relation to kiteboarding.

Most schools have moved away from trainer kites. Schools have the success of the student in mind and skipping trainers can speed up the learning curve. BUT THIS ONLY FOR STUDENTS WITH AN INSTRUCTOR IMMEDIATELY AT HAND! If trainer kites are used, they are mostly used to see if the student has any detrimental issues with going straight for a very small depower kite. So again, the trend is for schools to do away with trainer kites.

If you are going to learn on your own, a trainer kite will do very much to keep you alive.

But while trainer kites have fallen out of fashion with schools, I think this is a huge loss to kiters. And I am 100% positive that trainer kites are the key to developing not just basic skills, but exploring advanced concepts and learning pro level control. My kiting foundation was with non-depower traction kites. And I have learned if you can even get moving on a snowboard or skis with a non-depower traction kite, you are already likely better than most intermediate kiters that are using depower kites. Many times have I had someone with terrible kiting skills on a traction (non-depower) kite, immediately get up and kiting upwind when they are first allowed to try a depower kite.

Given this experience, I typically offer pretty much anyone I come across regardless of skill level, a free trainer kite lesson. And the lesson is pretty much the same for a newbie-never-flown-a-kite as it would be for an advanced rider.

Here are the principles I go over with a trainer kite:

Beginner focus (advanced check)

1. Let go of the bar first! Before a student even gets the kite up in the air, we practice just dropping the bar. I teach them to really imaging being dragged towards rocks and letting go of the bar first. This is an essential skill even for depower kites as you need to let go of the bar before you activate the CL release. So practice letting go with a trainer and make sure you have developed that to the point it is instinct before you ever move on to a depower kite. A good way to do this is by finding a line or mark on the ground that you can stand on while flying the kite, and let go of the bar anytime the kite pulls you downwind of that line.

2. Look around (away from the kite) while flying the kite and keep awareness of your surroundings while placing the kite where you want it to be. This is too difficult with a depower at first, but an instructor at hand keeps awareness of the area around the student while they are flying a depower kite.

3. Fly the kite to individual points of the window edge, and keep it there without looking at it. Loop the kite without looking at it. DO NOT DO THIS with even a smaller depower kite as you will wreck it or hurt yourself as a newbie.

4. SUPERMAN! Learn how you can depower the kite by moving downwind towards it. When it pulls on you, go with it instead of resisting it. Then learn to run at the kite to kill (or reduce the windspeed) the kite power. This is the only beginner concept that you can actually do with a depower kite, but you need to be in waist deep water for it to be done safely on a depower kite.

Advanced Focus (touched on for beginners)

5. Tight loop vs broad loop. Most kiters, especially those learning a trainer kite, believe that zooming the kite around the window by turning it fast generates tons of power. The speed of the turn is not what generates the power, but rather how much of the window the kite runs through. So I teach how a very slow turn loop goes through the back of the window for longer and thus generates TONS OF POWER. But when you turn the bar all the way to turn the kite faster, the kite only goes through a smaller portion of the window and thus you wind up with MUCH LESS POWER. So turn the bar more for a faster loop = less power. Turn the bar less for a slower loop = more power. And the reality is that most kiters today are deathly afraid of tight looping their kite because they think this generates more power than a long drawn out loop. This concept is disastrous to teach even some advanced kiters with a depower kite.

6. Move downwind to stall the kite while the kite is in the back of the window, and increase how much you turn the bar to compensate for slower turning speed while moving at the kite. While stalled out (due to low apparent wind speed, not oversheeting like on a depower) suddenly stop your downwind movement and experiment with running across the wind. Play with running across the wind in the opposite direction the kite is pointed (if it is pointed left, you go right) and vice versa. Similarly, run downwind with the kite on or near the edge of the window and recover by moving away from the kite's location to induce a wind window orientation shift. Much like #4, power and the window itself changes when YOU move. You are not going to teach this one with any success on a depower kite. You can convey this concept, but you cannot show someone how to do it with a depower and then have them do it. Most kiters pick this concept up either on their own, or only subconsciously, or never at all.

7. Fly the kite on one side of the window (left), while you are running to the opposite side (right). Then stop. Or reverse your motion while keeping the kite off to the same side as you are moving. This builds window edge (overfly) recovery skills and is paramount to using a non-wave kite in wave conditions where the goal is to simulate prone surfing (like strapless kitesurfing). This can also be used in a way that simulates "pendulum" timing and recovery via jumping and looping your kite on the way down (NOT MEGA LOOPS) our of necessity because you over ran the kite or "milked it" too long. To do this, fly the kite on one side of the window (left), while you are running to the opposite side (right), then try to switch directions of the kite and you at the same time. This will fail, but try to figure out what timing can make this work the best. Lag the kite turn (most difficult, but try moving upwind for a split second), or lag your direction change (easiest) until you figure out which combos work to keep the kite up. This concept could be taught with a depower kite on a soft open beach, but a trainer is WAY better for at least the intro to this.

8. Handle passes. Simple concept, very easy to do at the trainer kite stage with a beginner on a 3-line trainer, but extremely difficult with lots of accidental releases and a real danger to the student's shoulders on a depower kite. Doing this with a trainer kite in light winds will determine if a persons shoulders are up to handle passes with a full sized depower kite. DON'T DO THIS until you are very experience, with a depower kite

All of these concepts I learned myself with a trainer kite, then refined on depower foils. As I am an average speed learner (I need to sleep on things for a night before I fully grasp new concepts) I could not have ever conceptualized AND turned that conceptualization into a instantaneous instinctive reaction without trainer kite experimentation and regular usage through out my kiting skills development. Trainer kites are the MOST IMPORTANT kite for a kiter to have and use, at any level. But if kiting is just on your "bucket list" and you just want to learn to ride, get upwind, and do simple jumps, an instructor on a depower kite is your quickest way to check that one off. If you want more, you need to own and use a trainer kite too.

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