This page has more information about kites
including the 14 m Cabrina 2004 Co2 and 19 m Peter Lynn Venom kites
that I used to fly.
My current kiteboarding setup is a 12 meter Cabrina
Crossbow II kite, an Underground
Wavetray WT-157 twin tip board and a Da
Kine Fusion seat harness
. In the past I have used 14 meter 2004 model Cabrina Recon
Co2 kite and a 19 meter Peter Lynn Venom
ARC foil kite.
-- Kites have advanced
technically quite a bit over the last few years.
Important points include fast response, steady power, wide wind range,
relaunchability and a good safety release system. Moderate aspect ratio
kites are good for
beginners and wave riding. High aspect ratio kites are better for big
jumps. There are now three common kite types; Leading Edge Inflatable
C kite, LEI bow kites and foil (ram air). LEI kites from different
vendors kites are similar
in performance and generally perform better than pre 2004 models. The
bow kites are now becoming very popular with a wider wind range and easier relauching and are generally replacing the C
kites. LEI kites are much more common
than foil kites but several of the Peter Lynn
ARC foil kites are now starting to attract considerable interest. The
Peter Lynn Venom has good fast turning
characteristics, a bit slower than LEI kites yet does not need pumping, has a
very wide wind range, has positive stability than minimizes relaunches
easily self lands.
I was able to test fly a 16 meter Peter Lynn Venom ARC kite and
enough to order the 19 meter model. The winds were quite
gusty during the 16 meter test flight so some comparisons were a bit
make. Transitioning from the 14 m Cabrina Co2 to the 16 m PL Venom kite
was surprisingly easy. The turning speed and power were
similar. I have since purchase a 19 meter PL Venom and found that it
works well. Flying it is similar to the 14 m Cabrina Co2 but requires a
bit more bar pressure. With the much slower response, the large 19 m Venom is a bit more
difficult to initially get on a plane, but once moving, it generates
alot of power providing good upwind performance in low winds. More
Right now I am only using the 12 meter Cabrina Crossbow II. The most noticable
differences between the three kites are:
2007 Cabina 12 meter Crossbow advantages:
1. The Crossbow has a wide wind range, from about 13 to 24+ mph. It
probably would work in still higher winds but I have not tried it in
2. The kite is fast.
3. The kite is easy to self launch and water launch.
4. It has good upwind performance.
2007 Cabrina 12 meter Crossbow disappointments:
1. The sheeting system has not been of much use. I generally leave it
sheeted in all the way. The red and black trim balls should be
different shapes so that they can be adjusted without looking at them.
2. There is no swivel on the center lines.
3. The clip for the emergency override easily falls off.
4. I used to like to ride against the stop. This does not work well with the Crossbow.
A note on sheeting the 2007 Cabrina 12 meter Crossbow: I have not been
particularily happy with the sheeting system and bar in general. 1.
There is no swivel on the center line so you have to rotate your body
to untwist the kite. 2. The sheeting system needs better human factors,
i.e., the two trim balls need to be different shapes. 3. Sheeting out
causes the kite to depower to a point where the kite falls from the
sky. I have found that at minimum, using the 3rd knot on the rear lines
and not sheeting provides good kiting. I don't even consider sheeting
out at less than solid 22 mph winds. I have added an additional knot
and in weak winds, often tie to the top of the pigtail.
2004 Cabrina 14 meter Co2 advantages:
1. As expected with a smaller kite, the 14 meter Cabrina kite turns
much faster than the 19 meter Venom kite.
2. The Cabrina Recon 1 bar is clearly nicer. The Recon has a simpler /
integrated safety leash, the depower strap design is better and is
easier to untwist.
3. The PL Venom needs a bit more bar pressure but this is probably just
because the Venom is larger.
The Cabrina kite is definitely easier to self launch. I have had
problems self launching the Venom. The PL Venom is launched partly in
the power zone for
5. The Venom control lines are not polarized so it is possible to cross
the leading and trailing edge control lines. Double check this before
PL 19 meter Venom advantages:
1. The Venom generally has a wider wind range and better low wind
2. With hands off, the Venom will rise toward the zenith while the
would drift toward the ground. Water relaunch with the Venom seems to
3. Self landing the Venom is much easier and safer
than the Cabrina. The Cabrina is very
difficult to safely self land in high winds.
4. The Venom is easier and quicker to inflate as no pumping is needed.
In general, the following seems to work for the PL Venom kite.
1. Set the internal power strap to mid range.
2. With the kite flying, set the trim strap so the bar pressure
increases fairly rapidly in the last part of the bar stroke.
3. When flying in low winds:
a. Pull in on the bar on the down stroke and also
when the kite is high. The correct amount of pull is when the bar
pressure noticably starts to increase.
b. Let out on the bar on the upstroke when the kite
is near 45 degrees and then pull back on the bar as the kite reaches
the zenith. Also edge more at this time.
c. Shaking the bar on the upstroke also seems to
help, maybe better filling the kite with air.
2004 Cabrina Co2 kite bar controls
My 2004 model Cabrina
use a Recon
control system. This system is
conceptually simple, yet provides
effective depowering, safety and water relaunch capabilities. The Recon
1 control system can be configured to include a standard wrist safety
leash or alternately provides emergency depowering using a small ball
handle on the centerline. I prefer the centerline emergency release
as it is mechanically simpler and easy to activate. This section is
very specific to the Cabrina Recon 1 control system.
Other kites, while similar, have some significant operational
differences, particularily relating to the safety and water relaunch
Power / depower loop
kite angle of attack (power) can be increased (sheeted in) or decreased
(sheeted out) by
a pair of control loops on the center line. The closest one has a red
tube on it. Pulling on this red handle will sheet out (depower) the
kite. Pulling on the upper loop will sheet in the kite.
Red center ball
-- Pulling the
red center ball toward you will emergency depower the kite. This
function is generally only used on land as crashing the kite in water
usually is not a problem. The red center ball may be used to self
land the kite from the 12 oclock position. This sort of works if the
wind is not too strong.
Red side balls
-- The red side
balls are used to help with water relaunching and to help self land the
kite. The red side balls are used when the kite lands leading edge flat
onto the water. Sharply pulling on one will unseat the bullet mechanism
on the kite, providing lift on one side, that will turn the kite onto
the side for a standard water relaunch. The bullet is easier to unseat
if you can pull from as high as possible. The red ball maneuver is not
needed if the kite lands on the side as is most common.
-- Kite angle of
attack (power) is
increased as the control bar is pulled toward the rider.
Power lock fangs
bar can be locked at full power with a fang latching mechanism in the
bar. One of three different fangs can be installed, providing no lock,
partial lock or full lock. I am currently using the bar with no lock.
Chicken loop release
red handle is just above the chicken loop.
This is an emergency only function. Use depends upon whether the wrist
leash is being used.
No wrist leash: Use this handle only if you need
to *completely* disconnect from the kite. This is almost never in the
kite will now be
completely uncontrolled. You should generally use the red center ball
in an emergency situation as the red center ball will depower the kite
while leaving it attached.
Using the wrist leash: It is necessary to either use the chicken loop
release or the center red ball release (preferred) if hooked in. If you
pull the chicken loop release when not hooked in, you will probably end
up losing the chicken loop assembly.
Chicken loop pin
-- The chicken
loop pin is used to keep the chicken loop from falling out of the
harness when not under tension.
-- The optional
wrist leash can be used as an alternative method for emergency
depowering the kite or for self landing. The wrist leash is useful, and
necessary, when not hooked into the chicken loop. For beginners, this
provides better safety as the beginner need not be hooked in and can
just drop the handle when necessary. For advanced kiteboarders, the
wrist leash allows handle passes and similar stunt maneuvers to be
performed safely. If hooked in, it is necessary to pull the red
emergency release just above chicken loop to be able to use the wrist
safety leash. My preference is not to use the wrist leash if hooked in.
All of the control bar functions should be systematically tried on
land, at least in
simulated form, prior to water use. This should be done periodically to
test the safety mechanisms and refresh your memory. I tied the 4 kite
lines to a fence
post to form a simple simulator and spent about an hour
systematically becoming familiar with the different functions. Make
sure that the bar is fully tensioned when validating the emergency
release systems. Control
activation needs to be second nature, most critically during an
A LEI inflatable
kite such as the Cabrina Co2 is rolled out downwind
with the belly up. Sand or a board is
used to hold
down the upwind end of the kite. First, the secondary struts are firmly
inflated. Then the pump is then attached to the leading edge strut,
with the hose and with a retaining line. The leading edge is pumped up.
At some point, when the leading edge starts to take shape, the kite
will try to rapidly turn 90 degrees to align with the wind. The pump
used to keep the kite from flying away. Continue pumping until the
leading edge is firm. Firm means that there are no wrinkles in the
leading edge. Then flip the kite over, point it into the wind and put
sand onto the
leading edge to keep the kite from flying away. The Cabrina Crossbow
uses a one pump system so you only need to connect the pump to the main
Important note !!!: Cabrina kites -- The main strut dump valve should be loose
until the main strut is fully inflated. Then tighten it hard.
Tightening it prior to inflation will let the bladder twist,
potentially damaging it. If it is not tightened hard after inflation,
the valve will leak, resulting in poor kite performance and an
inability to water relaunch.
The PL Venom kite is rolled out downwind. The end struts are installed.
Sand or a board is used to hold down the upwind end of the kite. Set
the internal control strap (inside the deflation zipper) as desired.
This strap controls the rigidity of the kite. Half way is a good
starting point. The downwind and deflation zippers are closed and the
upwind zipper is opened. The kite will then inflate. Close the
inflation zipper prior to launch.
Control bar attachment
Cabrina Recon / Co2 -- Unwind the lines directly down wind from the
kite. The red side of the
bar should be to the right when looking at the upside down kite. Hook
up the center
leading edge lines first, then the outer trailing edge lines. Make sure
that you bring the trailing edge lines over the leading edge lines.
Double check *everything* including that the recon bullets are free,
after the attachment is complete. The Cabrina lines are polarized so
the leading and trailing edge lines can not be reversed. Line reversal
will result in an out of control kite so if your kite does not use
polarized lines, it is *essential* to verify that the center lines are
properly attached to the leading edge.
PL Venom -- Unwind the lines directly upwind on the trailing edge
of the kite. Connect the lines from the closest to the kite to
farthest, always putting the next line on top. The leading edge
downwind line is then velcroed to the
"launch assistant" near the downwind inflation zipper.
-- Go to a launch position so the kite will be near the edge of the
wind window. Your assistant should lift the inflatable kite using the
front center of the leading edge without grabbing any lines and orient
it into the wind.
Slowly tension the lines and verify that everything is correct. As you
continue to tension the lines move down or up wind if the kite is
leaning up or down wind. When in the right position, signal your
assistant to release the kite and slowly fly it upward.
PL Venom kite -- It is easier to self launch so that is recommended
Inflatable kite -- After the kite is setup and the bar is attached;
Turn the kite over
until it is in an assisted launch position. Make sure that there is no
any of the kite control lines until you actually launch the kite. Fold
over the wing tip near the ground
and place more than enough sand to hold the kite in place. Push more
sand up near
the edge of the kite area to block any wind from getting under the kite
prematurely lifting it. Hook into the control bar, making sure that
the power is set to minimum (pull the red loop on the power control
strap). Slowly tension the lines and move laterally (up or down wind)
as needed to make
the kite stand vertical without any left right tilt. Continue to
tension the lines until the kite slowly lifts off.
PL Venom -- Make sure that the kite is properly inflated and all
three zippers are closed. Move to a position 45 degrees off the wind on
trailing edge side. Slowly tension the top lines until the far wing tip
off. It may be necessary to jerk the rear leading edge line to properly
get the kite tip into the wind. Steer the kite toward the edge of the
window to increase the
inflation before moving the kite upward.
kite -- Slowly lower the kite to the beach and have your assistant grab
center of the leading edge while avoiding all kite lines. Your
assistant should then place the kite, leading edge down onto the beach,
into the wind. Then add some sand to the leading edge to keep it
solidly on the ground. To pack up the kite, deflate the main bladder
first, then lay out flat, deflate the other bladders and roll up each
side to the center and fold in half.
PL Venom -- The assisted landing of a ram air foil kite is done very
differently than a C or bow kite. Your assistant should grab the lower
batton and walk toward
you. Your assistant should use then the batton to flag the kite
downwind, onto the beach. Fold over the batton and use some sand as a
weight to keep the kite solidly on the ground. It is important that the
assistant not use the more common inflatable kite landing technique of
grabbing the center of the leading edge.
LEI inflatable kite
-- Self landing an inflatable kite in high wind is quite difficult and
takes considerable practice.
First practice in weak winds where self landing is easier. Self landing
the Cabrina 14 meter Co2 kite is
reasonably straight forward when the winds are below 12 mph. Self
landing a LEI kite rapidly gets difficult and unsafe with stronger
landing is *very* strongly recommended in strong winds.
LEI method 1 -- Gently lower the kite toward the ground. Then abruptly
steer it up for about 10 feet and then immediately steer it back to the
ground. This causes a forward rotation of the kite so it will land
leading edge down. Immediately pull in on the upwind kite line to point
the kite into the wind. When using a leash, this is by
dropping the bar while holding onto the leash. You should
land on the side opposite of the safety leash. Keep tension on the
upper line while walking to the kite. The most common problem is the
kite taking off through the power zone with considerable power, after
LEI method 2 -- Recon system: Drop the kite from a high position using
center red ball release. After the kite lands, pull on the upwind line
to orient the kite into the wind.
PL Venom ARC kit -- Lower the kite to the edge of the wind window.
Sheet in to move the kite rearward and release the control bar so that
line takes over. The lack of the rigid inflatable leading edge will
cause this kite to flag out and immediately lose power. Walk up the
depower line, grab the upwind batten and place it on the beach with the
kite flagging downwind. Fold over the batton and use some sand as a
weight to keep the kite solidly on the ground.
Acknowledgements: Special thanks to Ron and Mike at Kite Surfari
, Kirk, Tom and Tim
from Captain Kirk's
many friendly local kiteboarders for countless helpful discussions.
Copyright 2007 by Dan Slater