No Wind Flying

Bert Tanaka asks about stalling on the "over the top" move:

> I have always had a problem trying to complete
> the over the top move you described.  My kite just dies at the top.
> Is there any change in the level of hand position or something I might
> try?  Do you walk or run forward?  Or to the side?  Thanks for any tips
> you can help me with.

There are three things I have found which help this problem (no doubt there
are more variables but these are the only ones I've fooled with):

  1. Timing and Tension
  2. Wind
  3. Bridle Tuning

Interestingly the symptoms are pretty much the same for a failure in any one
of these three.  In each case the kite almost reaches to peak of the arc, and
then stalls, or shears off to the right or left. 

First let's talk about timing and tension.  You always want tension on your
kite as it goes over you.  If you don't then the kite will lose all its
forward momentum.  Now usually when you want tension, you do a combination of
backing up, and pulling with your arms.  The problem though, is that when the
kite is directly over you, there's no place to back up, so all you have is
your arms.  Even worse, the apex of the arc is where you have the least
momentum anyway.  Thus, When you get your kite to the top of the arc, you want
to have timed yourself so that you have just completed a long tug, and your
arms are fully extended again as the kite slides to the apex.  This keep the
kite under tension at that critical apex point.  It allows you to walk swiftly
forward and pull down at the same time.  This makes the arc that the kite has
to preform, shorter at those critical moments when it is directly above your
head, and so allows you to pull nose the kite down much more quickly.  If you
have timed it so that the kite reaches overhead when your arms are in a down
position, you will almost guarantee that some slack will occur in the lines as
you walk forward.  Remember, the only thing which is going to get your kite to
nose down properly is that tension, and without proper tension, as I said
before, the kite will just shear off to the right or left.  It may if you're
lucky, even go over the top, but it won't be directly over. 

If I'm still having trouble getting the kite over, then the second thing I
have found to help "over the tops," is positioning the kite upwind before I
start the maneuver (Note: I'm talking a .25 to .5 mph wind).  Remember that if
you do an "over the top" with the kite downwind (ie: the wind coming from
behind you), you will climb to vertical easily enough, but then the wind will
be pushing back on the kite at the critical apex point, where you have the
least forward momentum or ability to get forward movement.  The result again
is that the wind makes to kite shear off to the right or left.  Thus I start
by doing a 360 to get into position, as this gives me some radial velocity and
momentum, and I can use this to counteract the wind at the beginning of the
move.  I use my radial velocity to start the climb and then back up quickly
while tugging the kite high in the air (I am effectively backing up and
tugging the kite faster than the wind is blowing).  Then just as the kite is
getting to the critical point at the very top of the arc, and I am about to
switch directions, the wind catches the kite in the ass, and pushes it over
the top.  For that matter I find that radial velocity from a 360, also
helps when I start an "over the top" with my back to the wind.

Third, and the least likely for me to adjust, is bridling.  Remember that I
set my kite a little heavy so that I can catch more air, and thus get it into
the air.  This does though cause some problems as the apex is the one area
where it would be better to set the kite light, so as to get it to turn the
corner at the top faster, and head down the other side.  Thus if you set the
kite too heavy, you will never get over the top, but if you set too light, you
won't get the kite in the air (unless you're an Olympic runner).  This means
that you have to find the sweet spot on the bridle for no wind, which will
allow you to both get into the air, and over the top.  Now the good news is
that some kites like Phantoms, Big Brothers and Stingers have a fairly broad
bridle setting area, which allows you to go over the top.  The bad news is
that there are some kites which just can't do the maneuver, because by the
time you set them back far enough to get them in the air decently, the bridle
is set too far back to get over the top. 

Now I again want to repeat that I am no expert.  I know people that are much
better than I, and they could no doubt give some better answers.  These are
just things I figured out for myself, and have written up here since you
asked.  Good luck and tight lines. 
                                Dave Butler

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