Types of Kites for Sailing

by Kimberly Sharpe Google

Kite sailing or kite surfing combines sailing and surfing. Using a kite and a kite board, you are pulled along on the water's surface at speeds of up to 10 knots. The kite allows you to steer and maneuver with ease. The sport uses two types of kites -- inflatable and ram-air.

Ram-Air Benefits

A rectangular-shaped kite, the ram-air kite, is maneuverable. This type of kite also offers power because of the flat surface design. The extra power allows the kite to pull the person at faster speeds than inflatable kites. The kite folds up and packs away well, which makes it convenient to carry or store. You can quickly unfold the kite and have it ready to go because the ram-air doesn't need to be inflated.

Ram-Air Disadvantages

A sailor must launch the ram-air kite downwind to achieve lift. The ram-air also requires experience. The kite is extraordinarily sensitive to touch, which can cause problems for an inexperienced sailor. New kite sailors may wish use an inflatable kite until they acquire the skills required to operate a ram-air kite. Elliptical ram-air kites have more efficiency than square-shaped foils, and provide greater stability.

Inflatable Kite Benefits

If you're a first-time kite sailor, chooses an inflatable kite -- it offers greater stability than the ram-air kite. If you crash the kite, it will remain inflated and can work as a floatation device. It will help keep you afloat until help arrives. An inflatable kite will also water launch more easily than the ram-air kite. The kite does turns slowly in the water, which can benefit the inexperienced sailor.

Inflatable Kite Disadvantages

The bladder of an inflatable kite can leak. A two-line inflatable kite has two lines that provide control. The two-line kite can be difficult to control in wind gusts. The four-line inflatable kite does not water launch well, but it handles better in a wind gust. The four-line inflatable kite does take a long time to set up.

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