Human Anchor for large KAP kites

edited April 2014 in Technique

Some of my KAP techniques and experiences. Maybe common practice, not sure. :)

Large kites for KAP require anchors. There is just too much tension on the kite-line to keep you happy. A good habit is to use an anchor, a fixed strong place to connect your line. A fence, a bridge, your car or a tree. I'm using a thick strong rope to start with. Generally I find an anchor point, but you can bring your own, good for sandy beaches or meadows. You can use pins, sand-filled bags or whatever, as long is is strong enough to be safe.

A bad aspect from a fixed anchor point is that it does not allow you to walk around with your kite and rig. It is a good habit to start your kite in a safe place, lift your rig, and when everything flies fine, to walk to your photographic destination, as long that the landscape allows you to do that, and everything is safe. Kind of dog on a rope. It works just excellent, and gives you many extra opportunities. Kites with a high flight angle (like the KAP Foil) are very useful, to dodge poles, trees and lanterns. Doing your homework with Google or Bing helps here.

I experimented with climbing tools. They work great with KAP Foils, but this can be used with almost any KAP kite and frees both your hands for other tasks, like operating your radio control set. When you start using your own bodyweight as an anchor, you keep feeling the pull of your kite. That's much better in changing wind conditions. If the wind drops, you get a notice immediately and change your focus from photographing to kite flying.

To get rid of the line pull I use an climbing harness. (Black Diamond) Works great. I'm using two sets of interconnected carabiners and a figure eight. That setup allows you to switch from a fixed anchor point to yourself. The black and orange stuff is my climbing harness. You can transfer your kite easily when desired. When you fly an KAP Foil 5 or larger, you immediately understand that there is just too much pull, even with gloved hands. So, for every transfer you use an interconnected set of carabiners, providing a safe transfer.

The figure eight is used to get rid of the line pull. Use it in the normal manner, and then add 10 turns of kite line to the smaller ring, before you attach a carabiner. NO KNOTS. You will have serious trouble with knots under tension. I secure the line through the highest carabiner, and add 5 turns of line to the lowest one. That usually takes away all slip in your line. Again, no knots. Make sure that you always can remove one of the carabiners. A KAP Foil 5 can give you a hard time, providing there is enough wind. In normal conditions you can walk around hands free. You can hold your spool with one hand, or fix it and wear it around your shoulders. Be safe, and always carry a one handed knife, like when sailing a boat. A Leatherman tool works great.

Finally, you need to bring your line up and down. I'm using an Petzl mobile pulley. Open it, put it over your line, close it with a carabiner and walk your kite down. Almost effortless. The carabiner serves as an handle. Then recover your kite, disconnect and put your line on the ground, and recover your line.

The photos provide you with some explanation. Strong enough for a DSLR Rig. All comments and good ideas are welcome!

Finally: these techniques serve you for ANY KAP kite, not only the big ones. It also brings instant kite feeling, removes stress, and adds safety.


Gorinchem, Netherlands


The climbing harness with attached kiteline:

Take away line pull with a figure eight:

Climbing tools for large KAP Kites:


  • FCB
    edited April 2014
    In addition to a one-handed knife, you may want to consider a quick-release lanyard used in sailing or a "chicken loop" used in kite surfing. Quite important not to be anchored to a really large kite where a gust can cause you to lose your footing and be hurt. And on cliffs, roofs, steep slopes, moving vehicles, boats, etc. better not to be attached at all.

    This summer will involve a lot of experimentation on my part. Certainly some competing problems with mobility and anchoring when the kites get toward 50-100 square feet. Thanks for the thread.

  • Nice how-to guide. Are there any good videos of this sort of setup in action? It's hard to visualize some of it, as I'm still using either a stratospool or halo winder without supplementary tools. I get the walking the line down part (but still don't use it for lack of motivation), but not really how the tie-offs onto carabiners and the figure-8 all work exactly. Right now I just tie off the stratospool with a bungie to prevent it spinning and let the pull of the line help offset its weight.

    I agree though, I prefer moving around the landscape with my kite to get different angles as I adjust the height. Knowing just how much tension is on the line at all times is handy too if I have my eyes off the kite while walking on unstable ground or scouting out new angles. I'm fighting-fit and regularly haul my rokkakus around against heavy resistance, which is a fun challenge when walking into the wind. I guess part of why I haven't moved on to some of these more advanced techniques is never seeing anyone else do it!
  • I use Scott Dunn's method for this. It's just a shoulder strap with a carabiner at the end. He clips the carabiner on the kite line on top of the Halo winder, then wraps the line backward around the Halo and through the carabiner again. The line doesn't know whether it's coming or going, so it just stays put. Then the pull on the line supports the winder, and both hands are free. So you can rig up the picavet, or walk around at will, and not have to worry about where the winder is.

    Here's the video of Scott. The "parking" method starts at about 8:00 in.

    I've never been able to make out exactly what Scott is doing in the video, so I've had to make up my own version. He looks a lot more professional doing it than I do. But the reverse winding does really work.
  • edited April 2014
    One of the handiest things I have found for a tie off is a big dog collar ( a collar for a big dog). I use one rated for a 60kg dog. It uses a snap clip which can be operated with one hand and it's never slipped. Very handy for fence posts, park benches etc...

  • I use also for my PILOT 6 square meters the harness and the EIGHT PLUS plate as shown in :

    the green plastic material is very "gentle" with the line and EIGHT PLUS can be keppt always connected to the harness and line can be loosed, tied, fixed or leaved free with actions easy and under control

    when anchored this way hands are FREE for all other necessary operations

    other infos about anchor bits in :
  • edited December 2014
    smac - I really like your clever green device. The one in your second link above, labeled "DSCF1257," is really neat, too.

    One aspect of some of these tie-offs that I find really entertaining -- not pointing out any particular devices seen in this vast forum :-) -- is that these are often far, far (FAR!) stronger than the line they anchor! Not making fun of anyone or any device here, but sometimes we definitely all forget the old axiom, "A chain is only as strong as its weakest link."   Heavy steel, exotic alloys, many multiple wraps of line (coming from one line and a simple knot at the kite bridle)...etc.  Please take no offense. We do tend to over-engineer at times, yes? Not always a bad thing, either.

    Should the anchor device be stronger than the kiteline and attachment point to the kite? YES, absolutely!  Should it be 50x  stronger? No so much.

    My 2 cents. It's all good.

    ***EDIT 14 Dec*** Paul and Hamish - Of course you are correct. At the risk of sounding like a politician, I need to clarify that the human attachment point should certainly be of quality construction rather than something of dubious strength or difficult to handle. I was only referring to some truly massive, and pretty much extravagant solutions.  Did not intend to ruffle anyone if I did so.
  • Phil-

    Though "over-sizing" rigging may seem over the top -  an aluminum alloy figure-of-eight,  on which a climber's life might depend, to secure the
    18 pound tug of a kite line might seem like a bit "much".  But I think ease-of-handling enters the picture.  The same reason many of us use a
    thicker,  more substantial,  200 # line for the same 18 pound load.  Easier to handle.  'Specially with gloves....

    Another 1/2 cent added. It's all still good!
  • edited December 2014

    Another half cent

    For anchoring I'd rather use spare bits of my climbing gear which has strength ratings and I assume is produced somewhere which has some reasonable quality control than use a cheap piece of something stamped "Not for Climbing" which you have no idea of strength and may fail at anytime.


  • thanks for all comments and remarks !

    I like climbing products, good quality and proven quality; it's clear that we all want to avoid the risk when the RIG with maybe an expensive camera is taking pictures to have other troubles of a poor anchor point,...

    I just put on the table some figures:

    climbing EIGHT are designed and sized for good quality ropes size  9 to 12 mm

    standard climbing carabiner are sized for loads 25 kN (5600 lbs) thus the ratio with for example a line "200 lbs" is 28 times bigger

    with reference to my

    the climbing PLATE suggested or today equivalent KISA are rated to approx 5-6 kN (1100-1350 lbs)

    my construction EIGHT PLUS is made with "S" GREEN material from Murtfeldt - Germany, plates thick 5 mm, machined; I know that supports quite well my weight,... and more, so I feel confortable enough also for the engineering sizing

    the limit of a plastic material solution is temperature, in case of emergency use for braking with several meters of line at severe load,  Ok but the limit of friction and heat on gloves - hands is very similar

    anyway the subject is "HUMAN ANCHOR,..."

    wishes of best wind and wonderful pictures

    SMAC  from Italy
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