Types of Kites and getting Traction

Posted by Tim Stockman at

Ram Air Foil kites - Power Kites

'Ram Air Foil' kites are a double skin kite, the leading edge of the kite is open to allow air to enter & pressurize the kite.

Fixed or flat ram air foil kites ranging in size from 2-8 metres are popular and compact, very efficient in light winds, with no ridged structure, so they pack down well into a small bag.

The shape of the kite is maintained through 'bridles', these are strings that hold the kites shape & are fixed with very little adjustment for depower.

These kites can come with two flying lines, or four flying lines, the controls can either be on a bar or four line handles.

Better kite control can be achieved with the four line handles, so it is quite common for four line models to come standard with handles.

Foils that can be flown & be depowered (bridles adjust with pulleys) quite extensively when the wind increases are usually flown on a bar, these depowerable foil kites are usually larger in size (6-15m) to get the same power as a 'fixed foil kite'.

'Ram Air Foils' are now an industry standard for either training purposes or landbased kitesports, & their use can extend to kitesurfing in some models.

Flying all these types of kites is easy, especially on short lines (5-15metre lines can be purchased for training)

Longer lines (20-30 metres is standard with most kites) can be used in places where you need to get the kite into cleaner wind, or when you get more experienced with flying the kite.

The longer the lines, the larger The Wind Window, this is where the kite flys.

Getting Traction involves flying the kite through the wind in a continuous figure eight motion horizontally up high to start, then further down in the wind to develop power from the kite.

Leaning against the pull of the kite makes the kite want to pull you more, also the more wind, the more pull.

Moving the figure eight motion vertically to the left, you develop pull to the left.

The same works by moving the kite to the right, the pull is to the right.

The more wind, the less you have to work the kite through the wind to develop power, the kite and wind do all the work.

So, the aim once you get mobile with your kite is to be able to get pulled across the wind, and upwind of where you started.


Using a larger 'depowerable' kite that will develop a lot of power (5-15m), you can get pulled across water on a surfboard or small wake style board, sailing across the wind and upwind of where you started. It helps if these types of kite water relaunch, that way you feel confident even in deep water if you crash your kite.

The most popular of these kites at present is the SLE (Supported Leading Edge) inflatable kite. The SLE does everything well, the water relaunch is very easy, power control is huge & allows precise handling of the kite. The SLE has better upwind ability to previous models & certainly is making kitesurfing/kiteboarding more accessible to more people.

Innovation from 'Peter Lynn Kites' has now brought the next generation of Ram Air kites, that will water relaunch if used for Kitesurfing, and have a wide wind range, so one kite can be used in a wide variety of wind conditions. Being very robust they are perfect for landbased kiting also.

Kite sports & the Adventures that follow...

Getting your first Power Kite, be it large or small, for whatever traction purpose is where the adventure begins. The uses are endless and only limited by the imagination. The popular ones include:


With or without a kite these Off Road Skateboards take you anywhere. Sand, Shingle, Grass or Dirt.
Here in Christchurch with our prevailing onshore wind we're using them at the beach and local parks with small or large Power Kites. Downhill riding without a kite is also very popular.


On a Snowboard or Skis, or even to be pulled on a sled. Open flat snow covered areas here in Canterbury, or on the side of a snow covered hill (usually backcountry & not on skifields). In the right conditions using the kite to ascend the hill. In New Zealand  snowkiting is very accessible with good winds in the Wanaka & Queenstown areas.


Has a long history in NZ Power Kiting, invented by Peter Lynn in Ashburton (just up the road from us:-), & proving to be very popular with all ages. These three wheeled carts can go over pretty much any type of terrain, & vary in models...small or large kites work well.

Kayaks and Boats

Power kites are a realistic option to excellerate your ride downwind, even small kites work well on short lines. Kiteboats from 'Peter Lynn Kites' are another option that excellerate you upwind with ease, even in light winds. Currently the 'Kite Cat' is the main vessel being promoted by Peter Lynn Kites.

Roller Blades and Longboards

Used with small or large Power Kites these can be a huge amount of fun, especially if you like to go fast. Roller Blades with kites will go across hard grass easily, but Asphalt is fastest. Using kites with Longboards brings a whole new dimension to the sport.

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