ARC Tips

As wind increases, the power of a kite increases exponentially. Conversely, if the wind is decreasing, the kite size needs to increase exponentially to produce the same power. As kite size increases, so does their weight. At about 8kts, inflatables begin to fall outta the sky, and any lull at 10kts will cause them to hindenberg. The advantage of the ARC stack is that the ARC kites still fly in lower winds since they are much lighter kites by design. A large ARC can fly without input down to about 5kts, which is a big difference. By stacking a couple smaller ones, you can take advantage of their lighter-weight, and the faster steering of smaller kites, to get riding in less wind than with an inflatable kite. Pictured to the right is a Guerilla 18m stacked with a Guerilla 13m.

Launch Setup: Set up the launch similar to a side launch of one kite. Lay out the top kite first for a Window’s Edge (WE) launch. This should be the larger kite of the two you’re planning to stack. Attach four extension fly-lines (5m each in length) to the top kite and run the lines so that they are in the orientation they would be when the kite is being launched (i.e. 60 degrees into the wind). The top kite’s rear lines should be about 4 inches longer than if you were to set it up flying alone. You can easily achieve this by attaching the front extension lines closer to the kite, effectively making the rear lines a bit longer. Then lay out your bottom kite so the 5m extension fly-lines from the top kite reach the bottom kite’s attachment points easily, but without much slack. Larks-head the fly lines from the bar over both the extension and the leader of the bottom kite together

The side-launch of the stack is interesting. You have to remember to run the rear 5m fly-line extention of the upwind side UNDER the bottom kite’s LE tip (run the line under the bottom (smaller) kite). Otherwise, at launch the rear line will run in front of the bottom kite – severely rubbing and pinching the LE material on the kite. It will fly, but there will be damage, eventually. The rest of the line setup and launch is pretty much the same as when you launch only one kite. (Important Note: Stacking ARCs is for experts only!)

The original S-ARC kite designs (“Standard ARCs”), particularly the larger sizes like the 1120 or 1510, generally rig with less rear line tension than the new G-type or the F-type. They have loose handling when you have the adjuster strap pulled in during overpowered conditions giving you very loose break lines. To counteract this – learned from an ARC pro on the West Coast – a setup attaching small pulleys on the end of the bars and running your break lines through these pulleys and attaching them to the bottom of the top power lines. When finished with the setup all lines should end up the same length with the adjuster strap in the fully powered position and light tension on the top. You can check this by driving a stake in the ground, or a screwdriver, and looping all your lines around it and then streching them out with light tension on the bar. Wear your harness and hook in when doing this so the bar setup with the chicken loop will be exactly the same as on the water. Don’t guess it.

The effect of this “brake doubler” setup is doubling the effect of the movement of your break lines with each movement of the bar. It allows you to set up your rear bottom attachment lines on the ARC only about 6″ long giving you plenty of tension to turn the S ARC’s kite powered up and allowing you to sheet of a lot of brake line tension when overpowered or when you are clawing up wind in the fully powered position with the kite low in the power zone. FYI, the new G ARC’s fly with more rear line tension and don’t have the “loose” feel problem.

**Note – The “brake doubler” bar/line setup does mean a slightly more complex setup and you may experience a few tangles on the water or on the sand during setup or re-launch.

You can make a simple “ring” to hold the vent, or zipper, open during filling. Use a heating vent from your hardware store (funnel shaped) or cutoff plastic bucket stuck in the tail opening to make sure the S-arc gets 80% to 90% inflated before you launch. The square, white plastic bucket from a kitty litter brand called “Fresh Scoop” (it has a purple label) works really well. Its square, so it doesn’t roll, or fall over, and it fits the zipper opening size perfectly for all the ARC kite sizes. Cut the bucket so the large opening is about 5-6 inches thick, instead of just cutting out the bottom. This way its more manageable and less consuming in your trunk. Under inflated, the ARCs tend to fly around erratic, jerk the bar and can become dangerous if in high winds (in high winds though, the kite should fill in less than 30 seconds so you should not need to launch underinflated).

For the older 2001, or earlier, kites (yes, the nice thing about ARCs is they will last this long), you would have a feature nick-named the “butt-flap”. The kite’s butt-flap can be folded inside-out, much like pulling your arm out of your sleeve while holding the cuff. If you fold the flap inside, it should remain open for filling. The nice thing about the ARC, is the opening is large enough for the kite to fill as you unwind the lines, so you’re on the water in a few minutes without pumping up 5-7 bladders. Also, if you prefer, you can get a piece of metal duct venting from the hardware store, or cut the top and bottom off a 2-liter bottle, or something, to shove in there to keep it open. The metal will work best since the wind will have a tendency to steal your plastic bottle while you ride if you leave it out…forcing you to be a sugar-junkie.

When ARC’s get wet and full of sand, dry them on the beach by sticking a vent in the tail and filling them with air and brushing as much sand off as possible before relaunching. And, if you get sand in the kite through the vents on the beach, be sure to shake it out when you put it away. Do this by grabbing the ends and shaking sand toward the middle and letting it escape out the rear vent. Like B-17’s, ARC’s will fly fine with holes in the skin and some sand until there’s enough to affect the kite’s flying characteristics. When this happens, the kite can collapse in mid-air, or close, becoming dangerously unmanageable. This would happen with any kite.

Just burn a hole above the spar in the webbing tissue (black tissue where the spar is fitted) with a soldering iron, or a hot nail. The location is up to you, but 6-8 inches works well (15-20 cm) for the 1120 size ARC. A slight variance wonýt make a big difference. Some have even experimented with 1/3 the distance of the spar from the rear attachment point. Caution: you canýt simply cut a hole in it or the threads will come undone eventually in the webbing. The edges have to be heat-sealed, so be sure to use a soldering iron or hot hail, or something similar. Be careful with the hot metal to be sure not to burn the kite. Do this in a garage, or wind-protected area, so a gust wonýt lift your kite into the iron and burn it. Maybe weigh the kite down with something. Also, be sure to measure EXACTLY for both sides. Donýt eyeball the distance like a lot of guys. Use a ruler ý everyoneýs got one… Attach a short leader-line through the hole around the spar. You should make two knots in order to attach the brake lines to the leader.

The new 2002 kites have a loop designed into the webbing for this. The kite turns faster with less bar action. The only disadvantage to this is the rear line can get caught under the spar if you crash the kite, making it harder to relaunch.

For launching downwind, its best to launch unhooked with your leash on. This way if something goes wrong (line tangle, etc) you can throw the bar and use the leash to retrieve your kite safely. Do this if you use a shackle especially! Don’t shackle in until you’ve got the kite in the air at the edge of the window 70 degrees above the ground to one side. Don’t keep the kite at zenith. Keep it off to one side. Read all procedures to be more familiar with the process of a downwind launch. The downwind launch is the most dangerous of launches and should be respected and practiced in light winds, and should typically never be attempted in high winds (the upper-half of your kite’s wind range for your body weight). Know your kite and kite within your limits.

Hooked-in Launch
Sand the trailing edge like any foil and let the kite fill. Hook up your flying lines properly. Double-check your lines and rigging (chicken loop, bar leaders, etc.) for any potential problems. Pull the front lines and keep bar pressure so the kite material begins to come off the ground with only the trailing edge (TE) touching sand. Once the kite lifts to this position, make sure the bar pressure is going to be fairly decent so the kite doesn’t zoom up to zenith. Once the TE leaves the ground, use the bar to steer it to the edge of the window. You can control the speed of the kite by letting the bar out a little (1/4″ increments – very small) to let the kite climb a little (or fly forward). If it starts moving too fast, you should be able to pull the bar in so the kite stalls again to control speed. Your launch lines should be set so you can pull the bar all the way to the chicken loop/shackle and fly the kite backwards. If you keep the kite speed down to a minimum, you will have the smallest pull from the kite. Also, once in the air, turn it and fly it to the side of the window immediately. This is much safer than letting it fly straight up through the powerzone and doing the butt-drag. Never leave your kite at zenith. If a gust hits, you can get lofted and once off the ground, you don’t have control. If you leave your kite slightly to the side, at the edge, the most that will happen is you will get dragged a bit but you will still have contact with the ground and therefore still have some control.

Unhooked Launch
Following basically the same procedures as the Hooked-in Launch, the only difference will be the fact that you will not be able to sheet in or out, during the launch process. You should set your line lenghts for just above a stall setting – the rears almost equal to the fronts. You don’t want rear slack, or you won’t have as much steering response, and the kite will move fast to the far edge of the window. With the rear lines tighter, the kite will not move as fast, will not fly as far to the edge of the window, and you will have more control for steering. With the kite inflated on the ground, slowly walk back and pull on one end of the bar, you want the kite to move just above the ground and then imediately to the edge of the window without rising above 10-15 off the ground. Once its at the edge, you can pull in the trim strap to depower the kite a bit and steer it slowly to about 60-70 above you to one side. Again, do not let the kite accelerate through the powerzone straight up to zenith and do not leave your kite at zenith. If a gust hits, you will be inadvertently lofted and without control.

Downwind Launch
This applies for both hooked-in and unhooked launches. The key is to minimalize kite speed. Launching with the power strap set for “stall” (see “flying the arc” for tips on bar setup) with lots of rear line tension will help you control the speed of the kite. The slower the kite flies, the less power it generates. With practice and experience, this allows you to control the kite’s ascent under extreme conditions as you ease the bar out, or in, as the kite inflates fully and climbs to the top of the power zone. In the best of situations you can turn the kite on its side immediately after launch and slowly ease it to the edge of the wind window and up out of the power zone. Having said this under extreme conditions make sure you have plenty of downwind (butt slide) room. As a general rule, you should always make sure there is at least 100 yards of open space with no imovable objects, trees, or anything to hurt you imediately downwind or to your sides. Generally try to launch from the waters edge (you in the water and the kite on the edge of the sand). Make sure to turn the kite out over the water ASAP. In water, you will simply execute a “water drag” if you do something wrong as it flies up. If you get lofted, you will generally land in water. You should typically launch assisted, with your assistant holding on to your harness handle, or making sure to hold you as the kite is launched, minimizing any rider movement.

Standard ARC (S-ARC):
If the ARC is crashed LE down in the water: To re-launch the ARC on the water, simply grab the rear brake lines and pull, leaving the front lines slack. The kite should fly backwards up off the water. Once its a couple kite lenghts off the water, pull one side in and let go of the other to turn the kite right-side up to continue kitesurfing.

HAll ARCs:
Method 1: If the ARC is laying on its side in the water: In lighter airs its possible to crash the ARC in the water and have it lie on its side with both wing tips together. At this point, the best technique to re-launch your kite is to pull and then release the flying and brake line on the top wind tip to “pump” the top main line on the top wing tip. After a couple of tries the kite will usually open up and start flying. At that point its usually just a matter of steering it skyward.
Method 2: If the ARC is laying on its side, you can pull one side of the kite lines so that the kite lays totally flat on its inside belly (the side with the vents pointing down into the water). Once its in this position, you can swim to the side to “turn” the kite so the LE with the vents down is pointing into the wind. At this point, the wind should catch under the kite and lift the LE into the air, relaunching the kite on its own.

This should be practiced first several times before going to the beach so youýre very familiar with the process. Also, practicing on a light wind day will hone your skills at this complex process so when there “is” wind, you will be on the water, not fooling with the launch of your kite. Everything needs to be handled thoroughly and not rushed. Rushing will only cause you to forget something which will make you re-set everything, wasting more time on the water.

  1. First off, if you can find someone to help, it would be the best to have someone help launch the kite. This is the easiest way.
  2. Inflate the kite as much as you can prior to setup. You can do this by leaving the butt-hole/zipper closed and stand on one end and hold the other end up in an arc position into the wind so fills the kite through the vents. Or you can simply lay the kite down in the next instruction, and leave the zipper open.
  3. Lay the kite in an outstretched position downwind by holding one end and letting the kite settle on the sand. Fold the upwind side youýre holding on to and place some sand on the top to hold it down. This is to ensure that the sand does not end up on the top surface of the kite as this can make things a little difficult by weighing it down too much. By placing sand on the folded tip, when the lines are pulled for launch, the sand will slide off easily. Make sure the kiteýs bottom skin is facing up, and the vents are in the direction that will be into the wind when it launches at the edge of the window.
  4. Unwind your lines out along the beach at a 35 to 45-degree angle to the wind, making sure they arenýt snagged on any rocks, twigs, garbage, etc. in the sand. While youýre doing this, the kite should be filling with air. Make sure you’re not beyond the 45 degree mark. Launching from too close to the edge of the window will cause the kite to not catch enough air for launch.
  5. Now larks-head your lines over the flying knots on the kite.
  6. Pile up some sand under the downwind tip’s leading edge corner to lift it slightly higher. This should prevent the flapping of the kite by having wind hit it to hold it down, which typically flops your flying lines under the kite and around the spar, preventing you from getting a good launch. You can also fold a small bit (6-12 inches) of the downwind trailing edge and place about 3 handfuls of sand to prevent the flapping. This usually works really well. For the new Guerilla ARC, when the tip is folded, you would basically leave the trailing edge spar corner alone and rotate the leading edge spar corner about that point to fold it back toward the trailing edge. The leading edge should be parallel to the trailing edge forming a traingular shape on which to place the three handfuls of sand. If you do this with the G, when you pull the lines slightly, the LE at the downwind corner is facing the wind and it will catch immediatly, providing for a nice, clean lift of the tip off the sand.
  7. Get your harness on and wetsuit at this point. Basically, do everything you need to do to get ready to launch. Have your board at the edge of the water, etc. Usually, the kite fills so fast, you should have your suit and all on already, having to simply walk back to the bar to double check your lines.
  8. Walk back to the kite one last time double-checking your lines to make sure they will be untangled when the kite launches.
  9. When you reach the kite and the lines are all attached properly, make sure the downwind lines are still on TOP of the kite. This is very important. Assuming your kite is full (or close to it), close the fill-zipper. If youýre alone, you can use another trick of mine. Pull about 6-8 feet of the lines attached to the downwind end over the kite almost parallel to the kite. Place them in a “trench” you dug with your cupped hand in the sand and pile a good amount (3-4 handfuls) on the lines to hold them down, and over the top of the kite, so they don’t flop behind the tip’s spar before launch (shown in diagram below).
    (I do this when launching the Fa nd G ARC all the time since the F and G have a carbon spar that protrudes a couple inches off the kite and can easily get the line tangled around. Also, when walking back to the bar after zipping the kite, you can hold the downwind lines taut as you walk back to the bar to ensure the lines stay on top of the kite, and it can also keep the flare/tip up high so that the kite will ARC when pulled more easily.)
  10. Get into your chicken loop, hold the bar with one hand and the downwind lines with the other. Verify that you’re located at a position of 35-45 degrees to the side from straight upwind of the kite. If you’re in the correct location relative to the kite and wind….pull on the two downwind lines lightly by walking back while holding that side of the bar toward you, so that tension will be applied to that downwind rear line (brake line) immediately during launching to prevent the kite from flying too far forward too quickly.
  11. The downwind side should lift and the trailing edge should sit on the sand a bit. The more you pull, and the more wind the tip catches, the tip will lift off the ground and the kite will begin to form an ýarcý shape. It is at this point that you should recognize if anything is going wrong and abort the launch by activating your safety leash or snap-shackle safety device.
  12. If everything looks good, keep brake pressure on the kite. Let it lift slowly by pushing the bar slightly away from you as you walk a bit more back and to the side. If you’re feeling a lot of pressure already, take a few quick steps to the side to put the kite more in a position of a windw’s-edge launch. Once more ait catches the kite, the kite will slide under the airborne tip and a little tug on the bar, when the lines to the upwind end get taut, will free it of sand. The kite should now be fully inflated at the edge of the window generating very little pull. If you now let the bar out, to allow the kite to climb up along the edge of the window slowly, it should lift up off the ground with a moderate, not severe, pull. Youýve just successfully launched your ARC in high winds by yourself, safely.
    In the image below, the sand piled on the lines becomes more important if you are using the rear attachment points that are not at the TE of the kite. This makes that back line much more prone to flipping under the carbon spar and causing launch problems. Same problem described in the “Faster Turning” section above.

Note (1): Usually, I leave the kite unzipped while setting up and use a twig, or something to stick in the sand next to the zipper to hold the opening open, to keep the kite filled as much as possible until just prior to launch. The square plastic bucket for kitty litter called Fresh Scoop (purple label) works best if you cut the bottom of the bucket out. It fits perfect in the sand. If you don’t have a cat, its as good an excuse as any to meet girls. The more wind in the kite when launching, the better the kite will hold shape and launch properly. If its blowing hard, you can hold the upper flap of the zipper (downwind flap) up and let the first couple chambers fill to support the opening of the flap. Once the first few cells are full, the zipper and flap should stay open as the rest of the kite fills. If the kite doesn’t fill on its own, there’s not enough wind to fly!

Note (2): If you donýt mind the downwind launch, you really donýt need to pre-inflate the ARC at all. You can use the proper bar setup to launch and stall and launch the arc directly downwind filling the kite this way, until full enough to bring to zenith. But, if youýre setting up the kite and lines and bar, you might as well pre-inflate the kite while suiting up and running linesý

If you have a helper, you can land the ARC exactly the same way as an inflatable, but make note to tell your helper (if he’s an inflatable guy) to grab your front leader line, not the Leading edge, or the spar (which will weaken with time – the spar can handle loads axially, but if you step or grab and pull, it will bend and weaken). When your helper grabs the front leader, instruct him ahead of time that he should run toward you the length of the kite, so the kite completely depowers in his hand. You can help by taking a few strides toward him. The kite will lay out flat flapping harmlessly in the wind. Simply place some sand on the folded-over upwind tip to hold it down from the wind.

If you do not have a helper, you can still land the kite. You should have your bar set up so that you can pull the bar in and past stall-mode to get the kite to fly backwards (down). If the winds aren’t at the upper range, you can fly the kite to the edge of the window, and then turn the kite up while pulling the bar in toward you. The kite will sit on its TE at the edge of the window where you can toss the bar and the kite will then drift back, and the leash will deploy, depowering the kite. As you get better and can control the kite more effectively, you can fly the kite to a position straight downwind of you and deploy the leash so that there is minimal sliding or flapping of the kite. Obviously this will reduce wear on the kite and make it last longer. Doing this over and over can cause damage to the kite as it flops back to direct downwind, so run to the kite quickly, or make sure you have a helper! Any little stick in the sand can puncture your kite, so always care for your kite.