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What Is A Sheetable Kite

Snowkiting Sheetable Kite

4-Line Sheetable Kites

Four line sheetable kites represent the largest majority of kites used for snowkiting and kiteboarding. We could almost say they are exclusive with a few exceptions.  All inflatable kites are sheet-able but not all foil kite are.

What is a Sheetable Kite?

Think of "Sheet-ability" like a sailboat sail that you can adjust the angle of the sail to the wind. ( Trimming the sail ).
When you let the sail out you reduce power
When we pull the sail in you gain power.

The Basics Of Sheet In... Sheet Out

Sheeting in and out is a pretty simple concept to grasp. With a sheet-able kite the same principle applies. The leading edge becomes like the mast of the sailboat and the control bar is used to not only steer the kite but also to sheet in and out.

When we pull the Control Bar in (sheet in) we gain power
When we let the Control Bar out (sheet out) we reduce or depower.

Line Configuration Of A 4-Line Kite

  • With a 4-line kite there are 2 center lines (front lines) and 2 outside lines (steering lines)
  • With both inflatable and foil "Sheet-able" kites the center lines are the Front-Lines. They connect to the kites front which is called its "Leading edge" (LE)
  • The Front lines from the kite pass through a hole in the center of the Control-bar and terminate into the "trim-loop" ( aka Chicken-Loop) that hooks directly to your body via your harness.  The front lines remain a fixed position with the exception of when trimming your kite.
  • The Back-Lines. connect to the outer ends of the Control-Bar and are also called "Steering lines" or "Brake Lines".

The Technical side of sheeting In and Out

When pulling on "one side" of your Control-bar. (the right side for example), the right line pulls tighter, and creates more drag on the right wing-tip slowing it down. The kite then rotates around that point, causing your kite to steer ( turn ) to the right.

IF.. "Both" Back-Lines are pulled and tighten at the same time...

  • Initially you will feel more power from your kite.
  • If you continue to pull the control bar in you will slow down the kite equally on both sides. ( called Braking).

If you continue to pull both back lines, your kite will reach a point in which its angle to the wind is excessive, and it will cause your kite to stall and lose power.   Inflatable kite fliers like to call it "back stalling" because it causes the kite to slow down, stop, and then go into reverse.

Problem Solving 101

Problem - Kite won't launch or quickly stalls

IF you see your kite or someone else's kite not wanting to launch, not wanting to climb in the sky, or appearing to want to fly back-wards... you'll now understand that it's mostly due to too much back line tension. ( too much brake) The problem is normally NOT the kite, but rather the fault of the kites owner not having the kite tuned (adjusted ) properly.

Key Point For Proper Sheeting

Your back-lines should have some slack when flying normal.  

    • Too tight ( braking) and your kite will lose lift and stall.
    • Too loose, and your steering will be sloppy or non-effective.

As you sheet-out (slacken the back lines), you allow the kite to open more.
Sheet-out for less-power.

Problem - Sheet Out Kite Powers Up / Does not depower

Sometimes people find that sheeting-out has the opposite effect than what's
IF.... your kite is powered well and trimmed properly to the wind,
it will lose power when you sheet out.

IF.. you at first had your kite set-up with too much back line tension
( causing it to stall / lose power ),
when you try to sheet-out, you are essentially letting off the brakes, and
allowing your kite to gain "lift". This WILL create power.

Sheeting In Is Different Than A Car

  • Kites , windsurfers, and Sailboats are NOT like cars.
  • In a car, foot off the gas.. less power ( EVERY TIME ).
  • Foot to the floor.. max power ( EVERY TIME ).

With a kite, there is a point of diminishing returns.

  • If you're lines are slack.
  • Pull in and you get more power.
  • Pull in too much and you lose the power and lift ( Stall ).

That's the basics to understanding how a 4-line sheet-able kite works.

You can learn more about Sheeting, lift, drag, and angle of attack both by learning the theory and by learning to feel it while your kiting.  We strongly recommend that you learn and understand it from both sides.  Practice and feel, and also understand how and why it works ( to some degree).

The beauty of a sheet-able ( depower) kite is when you get hit by a strong wind gust, and want to spill off some of the power, you just allow your control-bar to slide out a few inches / away from your body.

  • Sheet-able foils and Inflatables function in the same way:
  • Bar-In = Sheeting In = More power or if excessive can cause Stall.
  • Bar-Out = Sheeting-Out = Depower / Less Power.

Steering with a Control Bar is pretty much the same regardless if it's a 2, 3, or 4 line kite or whether it is a fixed bridal or sheetable kite.

Just like a mountan-bike...., or Left Left
Right Right: Pull Right and the kite Turns Right. ,
Left Left: Pull Left, and the kite Turns Left.


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