Foil, LEI, Ram Air, Bow, C, Hybrid, SLE...Find out the difference below.
Given the dizzying array of kiteboarding kites available, at times they can seem very confusing. Fortunately, kites can be broken down into two categories based on their design.
You might have to take my word for it, but almost all kites on the market fit into one of these two categories!
Leading Edge Inflatable Kites
These kiteboarding kites have a hollow tube framing that is pumped full of air to give the kite its shape. Because these air tubes float so well, these kites are the most common for riding on water.
The C Kite
The C- kite is the original kiteboarding kite – up until recently, this was the only kind of inflatable kite on the market. It has square corners and forms a deep C-shaped arc when flying. It gets its characteristic shape from its lines, which are attached at the four corners of the kite.
5th Line C- Kite
5th line C- kites come equipped with an extra line that attaches to the leading edge of the kite. This line helps the rider re-launch the kite from the water, and it acts as an additional safety system to de-power the kite. An important note about the 5th line is that it does not carry any tension when the kite is in flight – it is simply used to help de-power and re-launch. Since this line carries no tension, the shape of a 5th line C- kite is exactly the same as a classic C- kite, and all performance characteristics remain the same (except the de-power and re-launch).
Some Hybrid kites have a line that looks identical to a C- kites 5th line, but the difference is that it is under tension. On a Hybrid, this line can be used to hold the kite in a different shape than a normal C- kite can have, which opens up a whole new range of design possibilities that affect kite performance. This is why a C-kites 5th line isn't under tension – the moment it is, the kite becomes a Hybrid.
Provided that all aspects are identical, there are no differences in performance between a 5th line and classic C-kites since the only difference between the two is the extra line. However, when compared to Hybrid or Bow kites, C- kites perform much differently – .
The Hybrid kiteboarding kite was developed in order to merge the benefits of C and Bow kites into one kite. Since hybrids are a fusion of two different styles of kites, their specific design can vary greatly – some are almost identical to C-kites, others are similar to Bow kites, and the rest fall somewhere in between.