Kite trimming

By trimming the kite, you can control the flying characteristics of the kite and optimise how it flies. Level: basic

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.

Back line tie off knots

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

Some kites come with only one knot and allow enough length in the pigtail to tie additional knots if you want them.

Low power

Closest knot to the end

Lengthens back lines

Medium power

Middle knot

Normal line length

High power

Closest knot to the kite

Shortens back lines

Note: If you want to change this adjustment you must land the kite then re tie the larks head knots.

Power adjustment 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).

Low power

Shorten the front lines ("depower on")

High power

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.

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.

Low power

Push the bar away from you to lengthen rear lines

High power

Pull the bar towards you to 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.