Have you ever wanted to launch your kite, but have no one to help you? The answer is……Just do a Drift Launch.  This is one the most common requests of new riders and in today’s blog, we are going to answer it for you.  We will go through a very detailed yet simple approach to drift launching.  In this blog and video you’re going to learn how to drift launch your kite in the water by yourself. 

We’ve listed out all the steps below as well.  

Note: Most of the time it’s much safer and easier to have an assistant help you launch.
PRO TIP: If you are going to drift launching in the water, you’ll need at least 200 feet of shallow water to make it easier to launch.


Why Drift launch?

  • You might be the last kiter to show up at the beach or maybe there’s nobody to help you launch.
  • You might have to go out on your own.
  • The shoreline may be unsafe to launch on land or at the shoreline.
  • If I have a really long distance to walk in the water before I get to my riding spot (foiling), I might just walk with my kite and drift launch once I get close to my launch spot.
  • There might be really gusty winds near shore and it’s just safer and easier to drift launch out in the water away from shore.

Skills needed:

    • You need to know how to launch a kite from the water with relative ease.
    • You need to be a decent kite flyer.

That’s about it. Ready? Here we go.


21 Simple & Easy Steps to Drift Launching

  1. Make sure your bar, lines and kite are all rigged up properly.
    • Rig your bar and lines to your kite and always double check your lines.
  2. Wrap or don’t wrap your lines on the bar. It’s your choice.  
    • You have 2 choices here:
      • If you have a wide open, clean area to get to the water with no weeds, rocks, etc. you don’t have to wrap your lines. Just let them drag behind the kite into the water.  Boat launches can be areas to walk into the water with clean waters, so dragging the lines might be a good option.  Skip to # 5 below if you are not wrapping the lines on the bar.
      • I typically wrap them most of the time. Continue to #3.  
  3. Pre-Wrapping notes:
    • Pay attention to how you’re winding your lines because you’re going to have to unwind them in the water in reverse order.   
    • This is probably the most important part in the whole process if you are winding your lines.  Be smart, be accurate.  
  4. Wrapping your lines: 
    • Start with the 2 middle lines and wrap those 2 lines over the top of the bar end.  On the way down, grab the top line and wrap these 3 lines around the other end.  Coming from underneath, grab the fourth line and figure 8 all 4 lines around the ends.  
      • Note:  You should already know how to wrap your lines, but this is an easy way to start.  
      • Note:  Wrap and unwrap the SAME way every time.  Have a routine and stick with it.  This will help ensure no line tangles when you are done and ready to hook in.  
    • PRO TIP:  As you are wrapping your lines on the bar and get about 20 feet from the kite, STOP.  
    • Add 2 half hitches with your lines to the bar to secure your lines.  Don’t use the bungees yet (if you have them).  If your bar doesn’t have bungees, you’ll have to use half hitches to secure them anyway. If you do NOT know how to do a couple or half hitches, please watch this short video.  Then…..practice Half Hitches on your bar ahead of time.  If you mess up on half hitches, it will create a line tangle and you’ll have to start over.)  
    • The reason I’m stopping 20 feet from the kite is to make it easier to keep the lines organized and clean behind the kite during the next steps.  
    • NOTE:  Do NOT put your bar under your kite.  Put the bar off to the side of your kite about 10 feet away…..AND…..put the bar on the side you are going to flip your kite.  If you put your bar under the kite and you aren’t careful, you will have 2 lines wrapped incorrectly when you go to launch.  
  5. With the half hitches on the lines, the next thing you’re going to do is set the bar off to the side of the kite, making sure the lines are still nice and neat. 
  6. Take your board off the kite and set it off to the side in a spot that will be easy to grab just before getting into the water.  
  7. Flip your kite over towards the bar that is on the ground.   
    • Note:  Double check your lines at the back of the kite, making sure everything looks good and no lines are tangled.
  8. Take your safety leash and attach it to the pump leash on the kite.  Your kite is now secure for walking into the water.  
  9. PRO TIP:  You’re going to pick up the bar and put it over the Leading Edge of the kite and carry the bar and kite in one hand and the board in the other hand.  Before you put the bar over the LE, decide if you need to wrap the lines further.  
    • If there are rocks, weeds, etc. that you have to go through to get into the water, wrap the rest of the lines on the bar.  Once all those lines are fairly tight with little or no slack in the lines behind the kite, use your bungees to secure these lines.  
    • If you don’t have any bungees on your bar, use half hitches again to secure your lines.  
  10.  PRO TIP:  NO hooking in.  
    • Do NOT hook into your chicken loop and let it dangle as you are walking out.  If you do this, you will most likely have a line wrap incorrectly around your bar and you’ll have to come back in, re-rig and try again.  
    • I cannot stress enough about making sure you’re very careful on keeping your lines organized and know exactly where they are at all times.
  11. Time to walk into the water. With the kite and bar in one hand, grab the board and start walking into the water. 
  12.  As you’re walking upwind, get about 100 feet from shore and start letting your lines out. 
    • Undo the bungees. 
    • Start letting the lines out and make sure the lines go under the kite. Don’t let anything go over the kite. 
    • PRO TIP 1: Keep your board right next to you and just upwind of you.  No need to toss it really far upwind (this might make it drift away from you).  Just keep it really close.  
    • PRO TIP 2:  Unwrap about 3 or 4 wraps from the bar.  Walk upwind a little with your board next to you. Stop…..unwrap 3 or 4 wraps again.   Walk up wind.  Stop….unwrap 3 or 4 again.  Walk upwind.  You get the idea.  If you stay in one spot while unwrapping, the lines could tangle or knot up and you might have a mess at the end of this process.   
    • PRO TIP 3:  Make sure your board stays with you.  Yes, it’s that important that I’m saying it again.  If it blows down wind by accident you’re going to have to go get it and you could end up with a mess. 
    • We’re almost done and ready to launch.
  13.  Once you get toward the end of your lines and all the lines are out, make sure you are diligent in unwinding the last bit of lines in REVERSE ORDER of how you wrapped them. The last bit of lines left on the bar is crucial.  
  14.  You are almost ready to hook in.
    • PRO TIP:  Put your elbow over the leading edge before undoing the pump leash to keep the kite in place so it doesn’t fly away on you. 
    • Hook the chicken loop onto your harness. 
    • Undo the pump leash from the kite and attach it to your bar’s safety.  
    • Check your bar and lines to make sure everything looks correct.  
  15.  Flip your kite over so it’s leading edge down.   
  16.  Double check what’s going on at the kites wingtips. 
    • The kite is leading edge down on the water. 
    • Lift one wing tip to make sure the bridles are hanging properly off the leading edge without the lines caught on them.
    • Go to the other side and check the other wing tip.   
  17.  Set the kite down on the water. 
    • PRO TIP:  With the kite LE down, rotate your kite about 90 degrees so that the back of the kite is catching the wind and the front of the kite is being pushed down by the wind. 
    • If you do NOT rotate your kite, you might end up with the LE facing you when the lines tighten up and it can be super difficult to get the kite to rotate without a line wrap at the end of this process.  
    • Just rotate your kite.  
    • Note: You are now ready to release your kite…..almost. Is your board still next to you?  If so, great job. If not, go get it and keep it next to you.  
  18.  If it’s really windy, choppy, or if you have a kite where the nose lifts up, throw some water on the LE to keep it down.  
    • If it’s not that windy, no need for water on the LE.  
  19.  Let go of your kite and let it drift downwind.  
    • As it’s drifting, walk upwind with your board to shorten the time it takes for your lines to tighten up. 
    • Note:  When your lines start tensioning during this whole process do NOT hold on to your bar.   
    • Just let your bar do what it wants to naturally do. 
    • If all goes well, the kite will go into normal launch position.
  20.  Check your lines and rotate your bar if needed to get the bar into proper launch position. 
  21.  Launch your kite and go have fun.  

Thank you for watching our video and reading our mini academy blog post.  If you found this helpful please subscribe to our YouTube channel. If you have any comments or questions please leave them below and we’ll respond as soon as we can.  

“Now get out there and drift launch – Bob”

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