Tip8: 2 line versus 4 line kites
- [found at this web site in their FAQ section]
What are the differences between a 2-line and a 4-line kite?
A 2-line kite has 2 control lines: left and right line. You pull on
the left line to turn the kite to the left and pull on the right line
to turn the kite to the right. That's all you can do with a 2-line
kite. If both lines are in a neutral position, the kite will
continue on its current flight path and fly to the edge of the wind
window (left, right, upward or downward edges).
A 4-line foil kite has 4 lines: 2 front lines or main lines and 2
back lines or brake lines. The 4 lines offer much more control of
the kite. With the use of a pair of 4 line handles, some 4 line
kites - especially soft foil kites - also allows you to turn the kite
to the left by pulling on the left handle and turn the kite to the
right by pulling on the right handle (similar to a 2 line kite). This
is actually the prefer way to turn the kite while kitesurfing as the
turn is smoother and the kite can generate continuous power while
turning. You can turn the kite faster by pulling on a brake line (the
2 front lines are called main lines; the 2 back lines are called
brake lines). You can turn the kite to the left by pulling on the
left brake line and turn the kite to the right by pulling on the
right brake line. Some 4-line kites can spin on the same spot if
you pull on one of the brake line while shortly after pulling on the
other main line. If both the handles are in a neutral position, the
kite will continue on its flight path and fly to the edge of the wind
window (depending on the bridle set up, some kites may not move
forward and just hovers at the same spot. To move it forward, just
pull slightly on both of the main lines). You can slow the kite down
by pulling slightly on both of the brake lines; stop the kite by
pulling harder on both of the brakes lines; or make the kite moving
backward by pulling very hard on both of the brake lines. You can
depower the kite by pulling on both of the brake lines to slow it
Some 4 line kites such as the 4 line Wipika/Naish kite allows you to
depower the kite by changing the angle of attack (AOA) by pulling on
the front lines.
Some 3 line foil kite such as the Concept Air New Wave allows you to
change the shape of the kite (therefore changing the projected
surface) by pulling or releasing the back line.
Should I use a 2 line or a 4 line kite?
If you have already known how to fly a 2 line or 4 line kite, you can
select either a 2 line or a 4 line kite. If you have never flown a
kite before, use a 2 line kite. Once you become more efficient
controlling your 2 line kite, you definitely want to have at least
one 4 line kite in your kite bag.
Following are the advantages of 2 line and 4 line kites:
2 line kites:
Can be used with a 2 line reel bar to facilitate launching in a
Easier to control
Easier to change line length
Less expensive line set
4 line kites:
Easier to water relaunch (not applicable to the 4-line Naish/Wipika
Can depower the kite (this means larger wind range)
Can launch or land the kite almost anywhere in the wind window (not
applicable to the 4-line Naish/Wipika kites).
Can spin the kite easier to untwist the line
Can turn the kite faster (very good for keeping it out of the water)
Easier to recover from lulls
So the advantage of a 2-line system is its simplicity but it provides
less control of the kite. The advantage of a 4-line system is that
it provides more control of the kite (turn faster, go backward,
depower, stall, etc.) and makes relaunching the kite easier but more
complexity (line tangle, drag, etc.).
How do I depower a 2-line kite?
You cannot depower a 2-line kite; however, you can simulate
the "depowering" of a 2-line kite by letting it fly to the edge of
the forward wind window. So when you are overpowered, fight hard to
turn your board way upwind to slow it down. The kite will fly fast
to the edge of the forward wind window. Once it is there, the pull
of the kite will become more manageable.
You can also simulate the "depowering" of a 2-line kite by flying it
higher in the wind window; however, the kite tends to lift you up and
make it harder for you to control the board.