Kite Transfer Techniques

by David Dorn 11/7/2013


There are two main ways to transfer the Kite from one person to another.

Air transfer, and Ground transfer. The situation and equipment will determine the best technique to be used. Here are some guidelines and recommendations.


Air Transfers:

The traditional way to transfer a small foil trainer kite from instructor to student is the “air transfer” (aka “air pass”).

  1. While the kite is flying near the zenith,
  2. the student takes the (wrist) leash and then holds the bar with the instructor,
  3. then flies the kite with the instructor for a few moments,
  4. then the instructor hands over control.

This technique works for light steady wind, and for flying unhooked kites. This technique is good for very light wind to keep the kite high off the ground for max wind speed. This technique is usually only used for the first transfers until the student gains some flying experience and can launch the kite in the normal way on their own. This technique is not recommended for larger kites, or hooked in flying.

Tips for Air passes: Only attempt to do this method in light steady wind. Make sure that there is lots of free space all around. Do not do this on powerful kites, or whilst hooked in. Example: This method is often used on Foil trainer kites for the “first flight” exercise.


Ground Transfers:

For larger LEI kites, gusty wind, or flying hooked in, the “ground transfer” (&/or water transfer) method should be used instead. The technique is simple.

  1. The instructor puts the kite on the ground, resting on a wing tip, at the WW edge.
  2. The bar is released, and the chicken loop is still hooked into the harness.
  3. The student stands beside the instructor and hooks his leash into the safety line.
  4. The instructor un-leashes from the safety line.
  5. The instructor unhooks the chicken loop and transfers it to the student.

Tips for ground passes:

During the ground transfer, no one should be holding the bar.  The kite should be steady enough to balance on its wingtip. Avoid holding the bar whilst unhooking as the kite will power up.


General rules for kite transfers:

Make sure that the WW is free and clear of people and obstacles.

Only transfer when it is safe to do so.

Wait for the wind to be steady, and the kite to stabilize.

Always use a kite leash during all stages of the transfer.

The instructor must always test flies the kite before handing it to the student.

During transfers the two kiters must stay close together, this is critical.

The instructor must trim the kite for hooked or unhooked flying as needed. Transfers on the water can be done with either technique, but on-water transfers are safest.


Common problems:

If the student and instructor get separated they can lose control of the kite. If one person is attached to the leash, while the other one flies a dangerous situation can result.

Only use kite leashes attached properly to the kite’s safety line.



Water Transfers:

Water transfers come in three different types: Shallow water, deep water, and boat launch transfers. Transferring the kite in the water is very useful for latter stages of the student’s training. These techniques must be thoroughly mastered on land before being attempted in the water. The steps of the technique is the same as on the on-land ground transfer, but it can be done standing at the water’s edge, in shallow water, or while floating in deeper water. Water transfers can also be used to transfer a kite to and from a student getting in or out of the water from a boat.

Common Problems: The main problems encountered during water transfers are; firstly, keeping the student and instructor together, and secondly, not being able to see the bar at all times. During the deep-water transfer, the bar will be submerged, so the instructor will have to do the transfer without looking. The instructor must be well practiced and confident with the method, and very familiar with the equipment of himself and the student. Care must be taken when attaching the leash to the safety line, and when hooking the chicken loop into the harness hook. Accidents can happen when the safety leashes are not properly attached or when someone is not completely disconnected.


During the training:

Instructors in training should practice the different kite transfer methods on each other to simulate real problems and to become adept at the different transfer methods. Expect a few loose kites, so during the exercise the trainer should post someone downwind to catch any stray kites. Team up in pairs and practice transferring the kite back and forth between the partners, always using the correct steps. The trainer will observe the transfers to make sure that the correct sequence is being used.


About Kite Transfers in lessons:

Please note: Kite Transfers during normal lessons should be used sparingly. It is always preferable to teach a student to launch their own kite,. This leads to independence. Whatever transfer techniques you show a beginner student they will probably attempt to do on their own. So always be prudent and careful. Do not overuse the transfer technique as a shortcut. It is a technique that is only to be used at the appropriate time in the appropriate manner.