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5 line versus 4 line Kitesurfing

North Kiteboarding recently released a video promoting the advantages of the 5th line:

Clearly North would like you to believe that riding with a 5th line system is always better than using a 4 line bar. However, the video is not a good representation of both systems and I do wonder why North sells 4 line bars if they are that much worse.

We have been riding a lot of systems and the better part of the last 5 years it was all on our North Vegas kites that only fly on 5 lines. One issue that the video did not address is that of the kite rolling into its own lines. Now you might say that only happens to beginners but we can assure you, that from riding in waves and getting washed into your own luffing kite to misjudging a strong gust on a jump, anybody can get into that situation.

Once your 5th line wraps neatly over your rolled kite, relaunching is not a simple affair and will take a lot more time than a 4 line kite. The reason for that is that a four line kite will respond and relaunch just the same with its front and backlines crossed (after the roll) where as the 5 line system means you first need to get the 5th line off the canopy so that the kite can catch some wind and get into a relaunch position. We often see riders give up on that and rather pack down their kites or drift off hoping for help because they cannot free the line from the wrapped kite.

However, there is a solution to this – simply pull your quick release and let the kite flag out on the 5th line. Once its hanging off only that line, you can pull on one of the backlines while making sure you do not get tangled in it, and the kite will turn around catching the wind again. At this point you can put your quick release back together again and hook in to relaunch the kite. The 5th line will be wrapped around and behind the other 4 lines and although it looks like a mess, you can relaunch and fly the kite back to the beach. From there you will need to land and sort out the 5th line.

On a 4 line kite you could keep kiting with the crossed lines but here too it is advisable to get back to the beach as soon as possible to sort out the lines because of the added stress and wear at the areas of contact.

So which system is better?

It really depends on you preferences and the conditions you ride in. On a light wind day, a 5th line can make relaunching much easier and on a gusty day, a 4 line system can be a blessing. If you are using a camrig on your front lines, it is much easier and safer to mount than with a 5th line setup. What we do recommend though is to ensure that your 4 line system will flag out correctly on a single, front line. If a quick release only means that the kite will flag out on both front lines and therefore keeps flying, this can lead to dangerous situations since the kite never fully depowers.

1 reply
  1. Carl Surridge
    Carl Surridge says:

    I guess that is the slingshot advantage in 5th line wave grenade release BUTi have had it come off when I didn’t want it to. …. had to then clip onto an oh shithandle and get Iin with the 5thIin the breeze. That apart I love the confidence and orderly self launch and landing. Xx

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