Over the years a lot has changed in the kite technique. Where you were heavily overpowered a few years ago in the gusts of wind, you now sail happily because you can easily depow the kite. You can almost get all the power out of your kite by pushing the bar away from you. This depower possibility, however, differs in terms of model kite. Every brand has a number of different models that differ in sailing characteristics. Think freestyle, freeride, wave and race / low wind kites.
Overall you have 2 types of kites. C-shape kites and SLE (or Bow) kites.
The difference lies in the constant pressure, bar pressure, speed, explosiveness in jumps and depowering possibilities. A C kite is usually used most by freestyle kitesurfers, or kiters who want to jump high and are of the 'old guard'. These kites have more bar pressure and direct steering behavior compared to most SLE kites. With a C-shape kite you always have more constant pressure in for example jumps and kiteloops. If you crash, then the pressure will still remain in the kite, causing you to crash harder. If you depowered a C-kite in a gust of wind, you will notice that there is more power in the kite than a SLE kite. This makes a SLE kite so much broader and easier to sail. This type of kites are therefore often used by wave kiters who like to sail in the waves on surfboards. With a SLE kite the jumps are often slightly less explosive than with C-kites, but you often have a longer airtime and softer landing.
Since a few years there are also kites on the market that have the best of both. They call this hybrid C-shape kites, these kites have a C-shape with the bridle setup of a SLE kite. This gives you a fast, explosive kite with the depower and relaunch of a SLE or Bow Kite.
Is there a difference in relaunch then?
Yes. With a C-kite you have to pull the kite in the water to the 5th line. This will turn the kite on its back and you can use the steering lines to steer the kite up and continue sailing.
Because a SLE kite (Supported Leading Edge) has a bridge on the leading edge, it replaces the 5th line and is therefore redundant. You start an SLE or BOW kite by simply pulling 1 of the 2 steering lines while keeping the bar de-powered.
Is every system equally safe?
Opinions are divided on this. Every brand has its own idea to open a chicken loop, but it ultimately comes down to the same thing. SLE kites will fall 100% without force when a safety system (chickenloop) is pulled, but a C-kite will do the same. In the c-kites, the kite will hang on the 5th line, causing it to lose all pressure. With SLE kites this is usually 1 of the 2 power lines.
Buy kite, what to look for
Are you looking for a new kite for kitesurfing? We have an extensive collection of kites from famous brands such as: Cabrinha , Naish , North , GA-kiteboarding . If you want more info about kites in general, then read our buying help for kiting . We supply kites for all types of kite surfers and conditions. Both experienced kite surfers and novice kitesurfers find the right kite in our collection. We also have occassion and cheap kites! The used kites are always checked and in good condition including guarantee.