Kite trimming

Page at a glance

Theory on trimming the kite so it flies in an optimal manner and you are not overpowered or oversheeted. Level: basic
By trimming the kite, you can control the flying characteristics of the kite and optimise how it flies.  

There are three typical ways of doing this
  1. General adjustments for the day - At setup by adjusting the line tie offs
  2. Range adjustments during a session - Before hitting the water or during a session through depower straps
  3. Dynamic adjustments during a session - By pulling the bar in and out
Kite trimming is very important when flying the kite unhooked.  An oversheeted kite (rear lines pulled in too far) will stall and fall backwards when you fly it unhooked.  An undersheeted kite will pull you too much and have too much power to easily control when you fly it unhooked.


Kite trimming controls are also referred to as depower controls, however while they do tune the power (sheeting) movements of the bar the do not change the power of the kite.  You must still use the appropriate kite size for the wind strength.   

Before going into the details, here's a quick look at the theory.  

The theory

The basic idea is to adjust the angle of the kite relative to the wind to control the amount of wind impacting the kites surface.  The following diagram depicts trimmed (depowered) and and untrimmed (powered) scenarios.

Less Power - the flatter kite means that less wind is impacting the kite surface - decreasing the amount of pull of the kite.  This is achieved through either lengthening the back lines or shortening the front lines.

More Power - the kite moves more perpendicular to the wind generating a lot more power.  This is achieved by either shortening the back lines or lengthening the front lines.

General adjustments for the day

When setting up the kite, many kite brands have a variety of choices to attach your lines to knots on the back line pigtails of the kite.  There are typically 3 settings: low (end knot), medium (middle knot) and high (top knot).  

Some kites (such as the Airush Lithium) come with only one knot and allow enough length in the pigtail to tie additional knots if you want them. 

Back line tie off knots and power

Power settingLowMedium (normal setting)High
Tie offClosest knot to the endMiddle knotClosest knot to the kite
Action Lengthen back lines Shorten back lines

Range adjustments during a session

You can adjust your range of depower during a session through the depower strap located on your front lines.
This will either shorten your front lines (depower the kite) or lengthen the front lines (power the kite).

Power settingLowHigh
ActionShorten the front lines ("depower on")Lengthen the front lines ("depower off") 
Note that depower adjustments operate differently for different kites and bars.

If there is a colour scheme, it is typically
  • red = trimmed (depower)
  • black (or blue) = untrimmed (power)
Here is a sequence you can use to set the optimum trim using the depower adjustment:
  • fly the kite hooked in
  • pull the bar all the way in and turn the kite left and right
  • if there is any hint of back stall (kite falls backwards) push the bar out and pull in some depower
  • repeat this until there is no back stall at all. 

Dynamic adjustments during a session

This is done by either pulling the bar towards you or pushing the bar away from you.  This is explained in detail in Kite power.

Power settingLowHigh
ActionPush the bar away from you - lengthen rear linesPull the bar towards you - shorten rear lines

When adjusting your kite, keep in mind the theory behind trimming your kite.  This will help you adjust things in the right direction - something that is critical if you are trying to depower in heavy winds.

If you are having trouble reaching the trim controls (power and depower toggles) then you are probably overpowered.  Let go of the bar and pull on the front lines to bring the trim controls closer so you can reach them then adjust the depower toggle.  Grab the bar again and steer the kite to prevent it crashing.  The trim controls should now remain within your reach. 

Previous page   Home 
Next page