Performing a Drift Launch - How to Launch at Lake Weyba
Drift launching isn't the most common type of self-launch you'll see people performing, but it's a handy technique to know how to do and is absolutely essential for some locations. One such location is Lake Weyba, a popular local kiting spot here in Noosa.
In this article we'll run you through the basics of performing a drift launch. You'll also find a video based guide you can watch at the bottom of the page.
First step is to setup your kite near the water, in a regular downwind layout. If you're not familiar with a downwind layout and setting up your kite in general you should really go and get a professional lesson, but we'll hopefully have another article and video on this coming soon to help.
Run your lines out down wind as normal, check your kite over and make certain you're ready to get in the water. It's a good idea to leave your board right next to your kite at this stage (or even on it, fins up of course).
Next you want to hook into your chickenloop and safety system, ensuring everything is in place. Step to the side of your lines and walk beside them back to your kite, keeping an eye on them to make sure they're free and clear of tangles or obstacles.
When you get to your kite, continue to walk past it a step or two (on the same side you have already been walking, again being careful not to step over your lines). The important thing here is that your lines go under your kite, not over it.
Now, grab your kite from the middle of the LE/Centre strut and lift it straight up off the ground. You want to hold it quite high, probably over your head depending on the size of your kite. Don't flip it over or rotate the kite as this creates potential for tangles, just lift it straight up from the nose down position on the beach. You can now start walking towards the water, your lines will drag along behind you and now is a good time to take a quick look over your bridles and make sure they're all free and clear of tangles.
It's your last chance to fix anything now, you want to do it before you get on the water because once you're out there if you notice something wrong, you'll pretty much have to start over.
Walk out to the water dragging your lines with your kite up. The wingtips will likely touch the ground here, you want to try and avoid dragging them over anything sharp or abrasive but the grass or sand isn't much of an issue. As you walk into the water, it's a good idea to bounce and jiggle your bar and kite a bit to help your lines stay free of anything they might catch. Right on the waterline tends to be the most likely place they'll snag due to exposed tree roots, rock and other debris.
Ok, now you're on the water. Keep walking out and give yourself plenty of space. Remember your kite is going to drift downwind it's entire line length so you'll need plenty of room, at least twice this length. You want to make sure your kite is out of the wind shadow that the trees here cast. At lake Weyba there is a white buoy about 50m from the shore, walk well past this to give yourself plenty of space.
Once you're far enough away from the shoreline, you're ready to release your kite. Stand with your back to the wind, quickly inspect your release and chickenloop is all in place (it can sometime slip free while you walk without tension on it) and look over your lines and bridles on last time.
Now place your kite down on the water as if you were putting it back on the beach, nose into the wind. Push it a little to your right hand side, and push the left hand side down under water to get some water on top of the canopy, this will prevent the kite from trying to roll or lift off too early. The more wind there is on the day, the higher the risk, so more wind = more water.
Continue pushing your kite to the right rotating it slightly counter clockwise (bringing the wingtip on your left towards you). Once your kite reaches about 90 degrees give it a little push and let it go. It'll drift down wind, and you can start to walk backwards upwind at this point to speed things up.
As your lines start to go tight, make sure you're paying attention and prepared to release your kite if you need to. If a bridle or line was setup incorrectly and you haven't noticed yet, now is when you'll find out so it's always good to be prepared!
Assuming you haven't made any setup mistakes or had bad luck with tangles, your lines will all pull tight and you can give them one last look over before performing a standard water relaunch from this position. Get your kite up and off the water and you're ready to go!
Hopefully that's given you all the info you'll need to safely get on the water at Lake Weyba and other similar locations. Remember, if you're unsure at all it's always best to clarify. Kitesurfing is a dangerous sport and the most critical step is knowing how to safety setup your equipment and get on and off the water. We offer 1 on 1 private instruction and teach on location here at Lake Weyba. We're regularly on site, and we're always happy offer a little advise to anyone out there who needs it.