Practicing for hours with a small trainer kite is both good fun and an excellent way to start kitesurfing, or other forms of traction kiting, with plenty of confidence. This page describes a typical flying session, and hence shows how the basic skills are picked up.The Slingshot B2 on Amazon is a good example of a trainer. The B2 is the same design, only slightly bigger, for lighter winds or larger pilots.
Let's follow Fred as he starts to set up his spanking-new trainer kite...
It's a nice day down at the beach, and Fred pulls up in his car. On stepping out, he feels a smooth moderate breeze fanning his face. So far so good. Out with the kite bag and on to the sand!
Fred stoops down, removes the kite from the bag, and piles some sand on the bag to stop it from blowing away downwind. Now for the kite...
The upper surface lies against the sand, with the trailing edge facing the breeze. Don't want it to inflate just yet!
The next step is to weigh the trailing edge down with a few small piles of sand. Good. Fred has been staying upwind of the kite all this time.
Now it's time to head back upwind, unwinding the flying lines.
Finally, with the leader lines attached, Fred picks up the control bar and pulls a little tension into the flying lines. Up comes the leading edge of the trainer kite, and it starts to catch the breeze and inflate.
A little more tension, and the sand starts to shift off the trailing edge as the kite sits up on the sand, fully inflated and ready to leap into the air.
Fred keeps both hands steady, with equal tension in both lines. Now the kite really starts to pull hard as it powers up into the sky. Up and up, until it parks itself nearly overhead, still with a bit of pull in it. This is part of the neutral zone, where the kite won't go any further in the direction it is pointing. The neutral zone extends all the way down to the sand on Fred's right and left, as well, slightly downwind of his position.
Time for some fun!
Fred tries turning the kite and soon has it zipping back and forth, left and right that is, at about 45 degrees of line angle from the sand. The trainer kite is traveling quite fast, and generating a decent pull on the lines. By pulling one end of the bar more than the other, Fred turns the trainer kite in a half-loop at the end of each sweeping pass. Fun fun fun!
It's only a short step from these high passes to making them into giant figure-eight shapes. Just a matter of doing the half-loops in opposite directions, and letting the kite swoop low into each half-loop. And then high over the top, on through the cross-over point of the '8'. A large '8' on its side.
As the kite passes close to the sand, the tension in the flying lines builds up to a maximum, and Fred knows the trainer kite is really deep into its power zone!
What next? Fred decides a few loops might be a bit of a test, so he holds just enough tension into one end of the bar to keep the kite swirling around in a giant circle. And now, the other way. He's getting good! It takes practice to get the loops nice and round.
Finally, Fred starts to explore the whole neutral zone. Even close to the sand, it is possible to fly the kite so far into the wind that it just hovers there. With the nose pointed just enough away from the sand, the kite is generating just enough lift to support its weight. With a bit more turn, the kite drifts downwind and is soon pulling strongly away in the power zone once again.
It's getting late now, and the breeze seems to be dying, so Fred gathers in one of his leader lines. The trainer kite stops flying and flops to the sand. Fred walks down the line towards the kite. When there, he secures it with a few handfuls of sand so he can get on with stowing the lines.
Soon the lines are all wound on to the winder, and it's time to brush off the kite, roll it up neatly and head back to the car. Another successful practice session! Fred's nearly ready to try out his big new surfing kite over sand, having mastered the basics. And from there, it's out onto the water!