The Prusik Knot

And Its Kiting Applications

The Prusik knot. Where would kite-fliers be without this great shiftable, lockable knot... A bit of a pain to tie at first, but it makes adjusting a bridle so easy!

Pulling the bridle straight unlocks the knot, letting you shift it along the bridle line. Pulling on the lines as pairs as in the last photo causes the knot to fold, locking it in place.

Knowing your knots is particularly handy if you make your own kites at home...

The Big MBK Book Bundle is a collection of downloads - printable PDF files which provide step-by-step instructions for many kites large and small.

I use the Prusik on horizontal bridle loops to shift the knot left or right across the kite, for trimming purposes. More commonly, it's also used to slide up and down the bridle line of, say, a Diamond kite to adjust the Towing Point fore and aft.

Knot Tying Illustration - The Prusik Knot.
Knot Tying Illustration - The Prusik Knot - 2
The Prusik Knot - 3
The Prusik Knot - 4
The Prusik Knot - 5
Knot Tying Illustration - The Prusik Knot - 6
Knot Tying Illustration - The Prusik Knot - 7

On kites with 4 legged bridles, arranged as an upper and lower loop plus a connecting line, this means 3 shiftable knots. For example, the Dowel Rokkaku and Dopero. At least you only have to tie these knots once.

Although it seemed a little excessive at the time, I took this approach on even my smallest Dopero. A tiny kite with a 30cm (12") wingspan. But it sure paid off, since some fiddling was required to get a decent flight out of it!

More recently, I have also used this knot on the vertical bridle loops of a large Genki. Same deal, tiny adjustments can trim the kite left or right.

There are other ways, some possibly a little simpler, to obtain a shiftable knot. However, the Prusik has worked so well for me over the years that it's the one I would recommend.

This mountaineering knot was invented in 1931 by Dr. Karl Prusik. With one 's'. At least this web-master has finally got it right. Many others still haven't! Prusik later authored a mountaineering manual, which was the first publication to feature this well-known sliding knot.

Tying a Prusik knot actually becomes fun after a while, funnily enough! Be sure to put a Simple knot into the short end of the line though, since constant use tends to pull line through the knot. The short end gets noticeably shorter than you remember tying it originally. Perhaps this happens during locking and unlocking...

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P.S. Keep an eye out for books by kite author Glenn Davison, a prominent kite person in the USA.

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Wind Speeds

Light Air
1-5 km/h
1-3 mph
1-3 knots
Beaufort 1

Light breeze
6–11 km/h
4–7 mph
4–6 knots
Beaufort 2

Gentle ...
12–19 km/h
8–12 mph
7–10 knots
Beaufort 3

Moderate ...
20–28 km/h
13–18 mph
11–16 knots
Beaufort 4

Fresh ...
29–38 km/h
19–24 mph
17–21 knots
Beaufort 5

Strong ...
39–49 km/h
25–31 mph
22–27 knots
Beaufort 6

High Wind
50-61 km/h
32-38 mph
28-33 knots
Beaufort 7

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