A power kite or traction kite is a large kite designed to provide significant pull to the user. Kites of related design are used for sailing, including speed sailing. Jacob’s Ladder, a kite-powered boat, set the C-Class world sailing speed record with a speed of 25 knots (46 km/h) in 1982, a record that stood for six years. A kite board was the first sailing craft to exceed a speed of 50 knots (93 km/h) in October 2008. Power kites range in size from 13 to 540 sq ft. All kites are made for specific purposes: some for water, land, power or maneuverability.
Power kites are generally used in conjunction with a vehicle or board, such as in:
- kitesurfing on a kiteboard
- kite buggying on a purpose-built 3-wheeled cart
- kite jumping, using a power kite for jumping above the ground
- kite landboarding on an all-terrain/mountain/land board
- kite skating on all-terrain roller skates
- kiteboating, on a boat
- man lifting, where a harnessed kite flier is moored to the ground or one or more people to provide tension and lift
- snowkiting on skis or snowboards
They come in three main forms: foils, leading edge inflatables and supported leading edge. There are also rigid-framed kites and soft single skin kites. There are several different control systems used with these kites which have two to five lines and a bar or handles. Most foil kites are made for use on land as they are “opened celled” so air flows in and out easily, this can be used as a safety feature to de-power the kite. There are a few exceptions for this with new foils that use closed cell technology; they float on the water while you relaunch. Research is also under way in the use of kites to generate electric power to be fed into a power grid. Kites can be used to reach high altitude winds such as a jet stream, which are always present, even if ground level winds available to wind turbines are absent.
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