Since our first kitesurfing trip with the F.One team back in 2004 in Fiji (with our previous boat) we’ve launched and landed from a boat several thousand times. If you closely adhere to these steps, kiting sans beach becomes a safe, easy and fun alternative, and opens the world of offshore wind kiting which is often the best. We’ve never had a single incident (well, one slightly torn kite, but that doesn’t count!).
Step 1) The Rider unravels all the lines from the bar starting at the stern of the boat, zigzagging the lines while moving towards the bow. Turn the bar over so the right side is on the left (i.e. upside down as you would with a downwind beach set up).
Step 2) The Assistant attaches a line manager like the “Kitelauncher” to the lines at the bar end. The Assistant carefully holds the line manager and slides it towards the ends of the lines while the Rider winds the lines back onto the bar as you normally do.
Step 3) When the Assistant reaches the ends of the lines you are ready to attach the kite (leave about 20 feet of the lines off the bar to provide slack to attach the lines and blow up the kite). Lay the kite out in a suitable location at the stern of the boat. If you are using a kite with independent struts, fill them up, BUT DO NOT INFLATE THE LEADING EDGE. With the kite on its back (exactly like you would inflate a kite on the beach) very carefully attach the lines from one side to the other (eg steering line, center line, center line, steering line), being very careful to not cross any lines. We find it useful to only detach one line at a time from the line manager. Note the lines will be correctly attached (left and right side) because we flipped the bar over in Step 1.
Step 4) The Assistant inflates the leading edge, BEING VERY CAREFUL TO KEEP THE LINES ON TOP OF THE KITE. Do not allow the lines to go around the back of the kite. Once inflated, the Assistant can now hold the leading edge and is ready to launch the kite.
Step 5) The Rider hooks into the chicken loop, removes a few coils of lines and enters the water. The rider then swims at a right angle to the boat, removing lines carefully from the bar, making sure none go around the back of the bar (if you are in an area with strong current you may find it useful to unwind the lines and jump off the bow of the boat, which makes the swim into position easier). The Rider uncoils all the lines and the Rider and Assistant check the lines to make sure they are clean. We find it useful for the Rider to be slightly upwind of a typical beach launch so the kite is “hot launched” slightly.
Step 6) Once the kite is launched the Rider body drags towards the boat and the Assistant throws the board to the Rider.
To land the kite:
If the rider is only taking a break:
When returning to the boat the Rider should approach the boat carefully and get assistance to get back onto the boat. We have found most bridled or “flat” kites will happily sit on the water in launch position if you simply land the kite off to the side and attach your leash to the chicken loop and attach the leash to a cleat or other strong stationary object. With some foresight, if you attach a line manager to the lines before removing them from the kite and roll up the lines carefully your lines will be ready to go without having to do Steps 1 and 2 above (or just leave them on the kite and roll it up carefully and it will be ready to go).
If the Rider is done and the kite is to be deflated:
Rider should approach from a safe distance and slightly upwind of the stern of the boat and get the attention of anyone on board. Rider drops the kite to water level at least 30 feet away from the boat and LETS GO OF THE BAR. Just like landing a kite on the beach. Rider lets the kite “walk” to the boat- flat or hybrid kites will sit happily with no input from the rider- C kites will need a bit of rider input on the bar to keep it flying. Let the kite pull you towards the boat. The Assistant grabs the leading edge when the kite arrives at the boat and can then deflate the leading edge. The Assistant should be careful to roll up the kite with the lines on top of the kite so it will be ready to go without running the lines as in steps 1-3 above. Rider simply rolls the lines back onto the bar normally as he/she swims towards the boat. Retrieve your board, or simply use your leash around a footstrap to keep your board with you as you roll up your lines.
Happy and safe kiting!