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Why Four Line?
Power
Position
Straight Line
Turning

  Top Turn
  Down Turn
  Flat Turn

Running
Gybing
Tacking
Racing
Confidence

How to Buggy

How To Buggy

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Why Four Line?

A four line kite gives you a measure of control and convenience that it is very difficult to achieve with two lines, especially when it comes to flying with others, as in racing. A four line kite can be parked on the beach and easily be launched and relaunched which will allow you it take a breather, adjust stuff or whatever. Having said this, usually the cheapest way to start in parakarting is with a two line power kite. But, with the increase in popularity of the sport more and more second hand kites and equipment are becoming available which may make a quad line kite more accessible.

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Power

To be in control of your buggy, you first have to feel comfortable with the power that your kite is generating. When you are in the beach check the speed of the wind and set up a kite size accordingly. The table following sets out a guide for soft foil kite sizes against wind strength. This is just a guide, different kites can be more or less efficient.

Speed (MPH) Size (M) 1
1-5
6-15
15-25
25-40
40 +
5+
4
3
2
< 2

When the kite is launched don't make any effort to brace yourself against the pull, just slide forward until the kite reaches its zenith. The length of this slide, when you are properly powered up should be between six and twelve feet. This will depend on how much power you feel comfortable with.

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Position

The position you adopt in the buggy can radically alter its handling. If you wish to slide your back out to slow down or gybe quickly then lean a long way forward. If you wish to dig the back wheels in to the sand for extra traction when reaching across the wind then lean back over the upwind back wheel.

Gybing           beating.gif (7511 bytes)

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Reaching Fast

Straight Line

The easiest way to get familiar with the speed and power of parakarting is to travel directly across the wind in a straight line (reaching). This is the fastest direction to travel. The kite will sit out to the side and be far enough forward to give very little sideways pull. The kite should be about 10 to 20 feet from the ground when travelling. If you are using four lines, a slight pressure on the brake lines can be used to increase speed and pull, useful for overtaking. If the brakes are then released the kite will accelerate forward again and give an extra tug of power. With a two line kite a tight loop over the top and back under will allow the kite to accelerate through and give a similar boost. When reaching, a good learning technique is to turn the buggy in to the wind gently to scrub off speed. If you continue turning you will feel the pull of the kite increasing in a sideways direction and your speed will fall. Eventually you will turn so far into the wind that you will stop, while the kite will be trying to pull you directly sideways. This will give you some idea of the wind window in which you can operate. During a reach the buggy will often start to slide out from the rear end due to gusts of wind, this is perfectly normal. Try to steer into the slide to recover and then regain a straight course. Setting more weight on the back wheel by leaning back can keep the kart going straighter, but if you have too much kite up you will find the kart almost continually sliding; this will slow you down, choose a smaller kite. Eventually the need to turn a corner will arise, you may need to slow down for this. There are two main techniques used to slow down. One is to turn into the wind, useful if you are cruising. The other is to slide the back end of the buggy out, useful if you need to hit a turn quick or round a mark. To slide the rear end out requires a quick flick of the front wheel to the opposite side that you want to slide to. At the same time shift your weight across and into the seat in the direction you wish to turn. As the back begins to slide around use opposite lock on the steering to steer into the slide. An opposite shift of weight and turn of the wheel will straighten you back out. If you are heading for a mark at full speed and you wish to slow sufficiently to round it, then turn away from the mark and slide a few feet. As you slide towards the mark then flick the wheel towards the mark and round it, sliding the back out slightly to keep up momentum.

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Steering Into A Turn

Turning

1. Top turn

A top turn is the easiest turn to master, in this turn the kite is brought up to about half to two thirds of its max. height. With an application of the brake on the top half, the kite it is turned up and around 180. The most common mistake is to turn the buggy before the kite, this will kill all pressure and speed in the kite and the lines will go slack. Slack lines mean no control and the kite will fold up and sink. Worse still you may run over your own lines. Make sure you begin the turn of the kite one or two seconds before you turn the kart, you will see and feel the kite begin to turn, let it start to twist and then turn towards and around it.

2. Down turn

The down turn is performed with the kite two thirds or more towards its max. height. This time use the lower brake to dive the kite around and through 180. This turn generates a lot of power but as before, let the kite begin to turn before you do. The kite will pull hard as it dives, use this power to catapult you around the mark and off along the next reach. If you get it right this turn is very fast!

3. Flat turn

A flat turn is the racers favourite, it is fast and the power stays pretty constant all the way through, allowing a smooth, consistent turn. Approach the corner as normal with the kite at about 15 to 20ft high, use a slide to slow down slightly. Now brake the kite with both lines so that it stops, as your kart draws up level with the kite use more top side brake to get the kite to start to turn. Now turn the kart towards the kite and ease the bottom brake off to allow the kite to complete its 180  spin as you exit the turn. The kite should have not gained or lost any altitude and your speed should have been pretty constant. This turn is only possible with a four line kite. Some designs of kite respond to this turn technique a lot better then others the Spider Modulus excels at it, the Skytiger Hi40 needs more coaxing.

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Running Slow

Running

When you are going directly down wind (running) you are attempting the most difficult of all kite sailing manoeuvres. The best technique for running is to zig zag the kite and buggy in opposite directions, turning both simultaneously. The kite should be flying in a figure of eight pattern. Try adding a loop in at each side for extra speed.

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Beating Slow

Gybing

If you attempt to travel against the wind (beating) you will need to turn your buggy into the wind as far as you can whilst still retaining a degree of forward motion. If your speed begins to drop off then turn slightly away from the wind, pick up speed and then start to turn back in to the wind. Eventually you will need to turn around by turning your back to the wind and heading back the opposite direction. (Gibing) When you execute a gybe turn the kite in a top turn almost at its. apex. Follow the kite around with your front wheel for 270 and then bring it down and move off up wind again. Speed should be slow enough to negate the need for a slowing down slide.

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Tacking

Turning the buggy into the wind when beating is called tacking, it is difficult. Set the kite very high, lean back and sling the buggy around. be prepared to be pulled out of the back. The only way to master a tack is to practice, high winds with a smaller than normal, under powered kite is best.

beating.gif (7511 bytes)

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Racing

Britain is lucky in that it has a very active racing scene, organised by the PKA (Para Kart Association). They organize a full calendar of races; one and two day events, orienteering, enduro, team enduro. If you would like to race, and it is very good fun, then contact the PKA and find out when the next race is and go and have a look.

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Click here for another lesson on kite buggying. Confidence

Above all when buggying, the most important aspect is to feel confident in your equipment and your abilities. If the power of a kite scares you drop down a size, build confidence and go bigger when you feel good about it. Learn to stay in control in a slide, you will spend most of your time doing it. If you want to race then practice turns when reaching as often as you can and join PKA of course!

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Kite Passion Magazine Simon Bargery
Kite Passion Magazine - Nov/Dec 96

 

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