Octopus Kite Bridle

by Robbie
(IL, USA)

Q:

How to bridle/connect the line on my new very large octopus kite? Received as a gift, it has no directions. I do own several other kites but I'm not sure how to bridle, connect the kites strings to my line. It obviously requires a piece of hardware of some type and a good knot. Can you help?

A:

The big Octopus kites have their bridle lines separated into a left and a right group, which aids in stability. Each group of lines come together at a single point - which doesn't necessarily involve any extra piece of hardware, from what I've seen in close-up photos. A strong metallic ring could be used, with each line lashed to it. However, a rather neater method involves using a Larks Head knot to attach each bridle line to a connecting line (lets call it!) which connects the 2 groups together.

Finally, the flying line is attached to the middle of the connecting line. Regardles of size, I see no reason why a good sliding knot like the Prusik couldn't be used here.

Lucky for you, I have just been to a kite festival over the last couple of days. With your question in mind, I took a really long look at the giant purple Octopus kite flying not far from the jetty to which we were confined! The grouped bridle lines seemed to attach directly to the connecting line. However, rather than come to a point, they seemed to be spread out along a short distance. This would be the case if a series of simple knots were tied, very close to each other, into each end of the connecting line. Each bridle line would then be Lark's Headed to a corresponding Simple knot on the connecting line. A very secure and straight-forward arrangement!

(I could be wrong here - perhaps all the Larks Head knots just pile up behind one knot on each end of the connecting line... It would look similar from a distance.)

Of course, all the grouped lines need to be adjusted in length so the kite 'head' flies flat. Do the adjustments on one side, then copy the lengths exactly on the other side. Also, as you would be aware from your other kites, the resulting towing point needs to be somewhere around 20% back from the leading edge. Experimentation would be required for best results. Actually, a bit of high school Trigonometry would come in handy here! Who says you never need it after you graduate...

To summarize... Imagine the kite flying now. Note how far it is from the leading edge to the trailing edge of the head part. The 2 groups of bridle lines will be somewhat longer than this (30% more perhaps), from the sail fabric to the attachment points on each end of the connecting line. The left and right portions of the connecting line will be somewhat longer again than the grouped bridle lines. Again, perhaps 30 or 40% longer. This brings us to the single flying line itself, which is attached to the 2-tier bridle lines with a lockable sliding knot (Prusik).

The above lengths were what I observed yesterday, just judging it by eye.

I have seen an image showing a very large Octopus kite flying with the 2 groups of lines widely separated! This might actually be a good idea as an intermediate step, while you are trying to get all the line lengths adjusted for reliable, centered flight. (I've read that some fliers tether octopus kites from 2 anchor points for more stable low-level flight.)

When all seems well, you could add the flying line and let the whole thing up a bit higher.

Hope this all helps - and PLEASE ... anyone care to comment, who has hands-on Octopus kite experience?

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