An age-old debate in the kiteboarding community is whether a kiteboarder should set their lines upwind or downwind of the kite? What is the difference and does it really even matter? The answer and truth is that both set up methods can be done, however the IKO strongly recommends teaching the downwind setup as it is safer in many aspects.
Let us examine the advantages and disadvantages of both set ups-
To set up your lines downwind of your kite we recommend you loosen up some line and put some sand over the lines extremity so they do not move with the wind. Unwind the lines starting from the kite walking downwind. When walking your lines make sure to match the bar ends with the kite lines colors (red on red for example).
*It is important to note that the bar is not “upside down” as many people who do not like this method claim. It is just a point of view because we are on the kite's back. As Examiner Vincent explains when he is teaching: “When you are side to side with someone, watching the same direction, you will see their left hand as your left. If you were face to face with them, you will see their left hand to your right, but that does not mean that their left hand is now on the right, it is just your position that changed".
- Easy to do the preflight check.
- There will not be power in the kite until you walk to the launching position.
- It is much safer because of the two advantages above.
- When it is very windy the lines are pushed away while you unwind them. It can be easily solved by putting sand on the lines ends and/or placing them underneath the kite.
To set up your lines upwind of your kite, unwind the lines starting from the kite and walking upwind. Make sure to match the bar ends with the kite lines colors (red on red for example).
- Not as easy to pre-flight check.
- The kite is directly in the power zone if tension is put on the lines (dangerous).
- During launching, the back line could wrap around the kite.
- The assistant has to walk between the kite and its pilot to lift it, it is more challenging to do it right especially for non-kiteboarders.
When examining the advantages vs disadvantages of both set ups, it is clear despite a bit of an inconvenience when the wind is strong that setting up your lines downwind of your kite is optimum for many logical and safety reasons.