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Into The Wind's Flight Blog

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Into The Wind Customers Know Kites

I think it's fair to say that we learn as much from some of our customers as we share with them. Not too long ago, a kiteflyer posted a review on our website about the Canard. He said, "What a GREAT kite. But 150-lb. line??? That's absurd." And he's right. It's taken us a little time to fix our Canard line recommendation and a little sleuthing to figure out how it snuck in there in the first place. In our 2009 Into The Wind print catalog, we recommend 50 to 100-lb. Dacron line depending on conditions and that's reasonable. But the manufacturer, Premier Kites, suggests 150-lb. in their 2009 print catalog which is most likely where we picked up the information for the website.

After checking with Val, the General Manager at Premier, he admitted that the 150-lb. line recommendation was probably an error. But he also said that as kites get more expensive (the Canard is $108) Premier tends to be more conservative in their line recommendations because losing a $100 kite is more painful for a customer than losing a $20 kite when a wind gust causes the kite line to snap. Not only that, he said that you can't always count on the knots that connect the line to the kite and the reel being tied correctly. And any time a knot is tied in the line, the overall strength of the line is diminished. So providing a little extra strength to begin with can be beneficial and compensate for the strength lost by the necessary knots.

To give you an idea of the effect that tying a knot in the line has on line strength, I'll remind you of some tests we requested years ago. In 1991, we asked Ashaway, our line manufacturer, to perform some tests for us on stunt kite line and the value of sleeving. Sleeving is a hollow braided line, usually Dacron, that you put onto the ends of your stunt kite flying lines where knots are tied to help maintain the strength of the line. Tests that Ashaway performed indicated that sleeving improves the knotted strength of Spectra from 45% to 65%. In other words, tying a knot in unsleeved Spectra effectively makes 100-lb. Spectra more like 45-lb. Spectra. By sleeving the Spectra and protecting the low melting point fiber from friction caused by tying a knot, the 100-lb. Spectra line maintains 65% of it's strength. In short, tying a knot in line reduces the strength of the line. But how much the line is diminished depends on the knot that is tied and how well it is tied.

Even with that knowledge, the 150-lb. line recommendation for the Canard may still be overkill. But flying the Canard on 30-lb. line is a risk we wouldn't suggest our customers take even in the lightest winds. However, Val summed it up best when he described the Canard as a "kiteflyer's kite." Because of the finesse required to fly it, it's a wonderful second kite but can be more challenging for a first time flier. The aerodynamics of the Canard allow it to respond to give and take of the line, much like a fighter kite. Kite connosoiurs can get it to glide on 50-lb. test line in really thin air. Val describes it as "deep sky thermaling." He says it's one of his favorite kites and George Emmons, owner of Into The Wind, shares the sentiment.

Val did offer one hint about assembling the Canard. He said that when putting the kite together the rigging lines can get twisted and knotted creating a nightmare. According to Val, the easiest way to avoid this problem is to remove the kite from the case and pop off the clear vinyl tubing pieces that cover the nocks. White marks on the bridle lines will help you to correctly tension the kite again. When the kite is assembled, replace the clear vinyl tubing pieces and fly. Or should I say, glide.

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