Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Buggy Basics - Upwind Turn

So my next blog centers on buggy basics 101. Well, this may be better in advanced riding techniques than buggy basics 101 but I like the catchy name so we’ll stick with that. Downwind turns are easy to do and most everyone can do them without much help, it just takes a bit of practice and seat time in the buggy. The upwind turn is a little more difficult and technique plays much more importance...so....here is my explanation of how to do it.

BUT...before we spin into the upwind turn, a good friend of mine Carl a.k.a. “Popeye the Welder” mentioned that walking through the upwind turn a couple times on foot will help you understand what is happening during the upwind turn and may help you get this trick under control and more consistent ... so grab your kite, walk through the turn a couple times - pretending to be in your buggy and if you feel comfortable, buggy it out. :) So....how do you do it??? Read on.

Speed is the key to the upwind turn.

In an upwind turn, there is a point where you will be facing directly away from the kite. This is when your buggy is turning away from the kite pointing dead into the wind as it crosses over to the new heading. If you don't have enough speed or if your kite is down to low in the window you will have an ejection. The ejection will be the kite ripping you backwards out of the buggy, usually bringing the buggy over on top of you while the kite does a fantastic power loop down through the window, dragging you backwards across the ground....kind of fun if you are into pain and don't like your skin where it is at. :)

The trick is to plan your turn well ahead before you begin it. As you start the upwind turn and before you change your heading, drop the kite down into the power to build up speed, shoot the kite out to the edge of the window as you start your turn upwind. The speed in which you turn upwind should match the speed of the kite heading out on the edge of the window. The kite will pull you around and begin the upwind turn for you - remember your going to shoot the kite out and past the normal edge of the window, using the buggy to keep the kite under power. Higher aspect ratio kites help with this as they can get out on the edge of the window further than the lower aspect ratio kites. Once you start passing the point that your kite stops accelerating then you need to start raising the kite to the apex while continuing your turn (normally at this point you would be frantically down-turning the kite to get it back in the wind window), don't down turn, instead use the buggy speed to keep the kite inflated and bring the kite overhead to the apex as you turn the buggy away from the kite. If your kite will fly in 5-6 mph winds, then having the buggy travel in an upwind turn at 5-6 mph will keep the kite flying even though the kite is not directly in the wind window - this is why speed is important for the turn to work. You don't want a ton of "Hail Mary" speed where your going to go balls out, just enough speed so that the buggy can complete the full turn without any power from the kite. If you turn to sharp your rear wheels will spin out and you will stop - not good. If you turn to wide (slow) then you will head upwind and stop - ejection. The speed should be constant and comfortable depending on the wind and your buggy speed. Faster speed, wider turn. Slower speed, quicker turn.

Now, when you get to the apex of the upwind turn, things start to get very hairy. The problem is that your kite will be heading overhead (and behind you), your arms will be extended out to the opposite side (direction you traveled from) than where the kite is going to go (and where your arms will need to be in the direction you want to go) and you will be putting a twist in the lines (you didn't loop the kite, you looped the buggy). This all happens at the time you are facing away from the kite - directly pointing into the wind. Here's a trick that works for me, as you start bringing the kite up overhead in your turn, bring your arms up over your head with it. Once you hit the apex of the turn you will need to flip your torso around to point into the new direction you are going to be heading and continue to turn the buggy around to match your torso. Once you flip (and after you regain your bearing and where the kite is) start to drop the kite down into the power in the new direction and it will pull you around to complete the turn.

If done properly, your skin will still be attached to your knees and elbows, the buggy will still have rubber side down with you on top of it (not the other way around), your kite will be flying with a twist in the lines but under control and you will have gained anywhere from 5 to 30+ feet upwind.

You can practice this without committing to it if the wind conditions are right. Just head out on a reach and gain a little speed, drop the kite on the edge and crank the buggy upwind hard while the kite is under power. Slowly bring the kite to apex just to get the feel. Once you star to slow down then turn the buggy back downwind on your normal reach and take off again. Do this a couple times and pay attention to how far upwind you can turn and where the kite is going. Once you get use to this and you feel comfortable with your speed and area, complete the upwind turn instead of turning back downwind, just remember to flip your torso around.

That’s about the best I can explain it...hope it is understandable.

If you have any suggestions on other buggy tips or things you would like to learn, let me know and I will try to “blog” them up here for everyone.

Till next time....

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Ok, this is my first post on our newly set up Blog and it originates from a topic discussion on one of the kite forums online. The topic was about line drag and the noise some lines make....specifically Q-Powerline. This Blog post helps explain whats actually happening to your lines and why they sing when you fly. The topic was saying that Q-Powerlines have more resistance because they vibrate so loudly. This post was to help clarify that common misbelief amoung kite flyers.

Topic Post...

Q-Power line sings quite loudly compared to other lines.

The line itself doesn't cause that much drag. The sine wave caused by the vibration as air rushes around and over the lines is what causes the most drag. Your lines aren't just restricting wind from the diameter of the line but more from the entire sine wave the line is creating. The more the line vibrates, the larger the sine wave - thus the more restriction (and disruption of air flow) the lines will create. This is the same reason that a single strand of wire will cause more wind resistance than a 6" diameter pipe. The air flows smoothly over the pipe (kind of the same way it flows over your kite) but gets very disrupted and distorted from the vibrations caused by the wire. Most of the time your lines will be causing more parasitic drag through the air than your entire kite does because of the distortion of air from the lines compared to the smooth flow of air over the kite or wing.

All lines vibrate. :) Can't help it, they are thin, long and flexible. As air hits the lines they WILL vibrate!

The frequency that your lines vibrate will determine just how much resistance the lines will give. Lower frequencies produce a very large sine wave and are much larger and more disruptive than higher frequencies that produce a very tiny sine wave. Even though you can't hear any audible vibrations from your lines - they are still vibrating. If you can't hear your lines singing to you, then the vibration is in the sub-sonic frequency range and causes tremendous line drag and resistance. As the power of the kite increases, the frequency that the lines are vibrating at also increases causing your lines to start singing more audibly when they are stretched very tightly.

Q-Powerlines are designed to load up the braid of the lines faster which means that your Q-Powerlines will start singing at a very high pitch very quickly in lower winds (as compared to other flying lines). This high pitch vibration is a much higher frequency than what is obtainable by other lines and allows Q-Powerline to have much less resistance and parasitic drag than any other line on the market. Q-Powerline is the only known company that has actually wind tunnel tested their lines against hundreds of other lines and proven that their lines have less parasitic drag (military contract requirements).

Q-Powerline can be a bit loud at times and will sing much louder and start to sing quicker than other line. Some people take this as adding more drag or reaching the breaking strain of the line faster but that is very far from the truth. It actually gives much much less drag as explained above but, because the line is vibrating at a much higher frequency, it actually helps maintain the rated breaking strain of the lines more than a line that is vibrating at a much lower frequency (think of a line that is constantly being pounded on by huge whipping yanks compared to a line that is only being tugged on in very small inputs).

So, Q-power is more audible than other lines but has less parasitic drag overall and higher strength when under load. :)

Sorry to drag on about this.... (pun intended) Just some useless information for everyone to share next time your sitting around with your buddies waiting for the wind to blow. I need to get out of this office and fly!!!!!!

End Post

So, there goes my first Blog post. Hopefully more will be coming soon. Let me know if you have any questions or comments and maybe we can even open up a new topic about them.

Happy Winds!