Tack / Upwind Turn
Speed is the key to the upwind turn.
In an upwind turn, there is a point where you will be facing directly away from the kite. This is when your buggy is turning away from the kite pointing dead into the wind as it crosses over to the new heading. If you don’t have enough speed or if your kite is down to low in the window you will have an ejection. The ejection will be the kite ripping you backwards out of the buggy, usually bringing the buggy over on top of you while the kite does a fantastic power loop down through the window, dragging you backwards across the ground….kind of fun if you are into pain and don’t like your skin where it is at.
The trick is to plan your turn well ahead before you begin it. As you start the upwind turn and before you change your heading, drop the kite down into the power to build up speed, shoot the kite out to the edge of the window as you start your turn upwind. The speed in which you turn upwind should match the speed of the kite heading out on the edge of the window. The kite will pull you around and begin the upwind turn for you – remember your going to shoot the kite out and past the normal edge of the window, using the buggy to keep the kite under power. Higher aspect ratio kites help with this as they can get out on the edge of the window further than the lower aspect ratio kites. Once you start passing the point that your kite stops accelerating then you need to start raising the kite to the apex while continuing your turn (normally at this point you would be frantically down-turning the kite to get it back in the wind window), don’t down turn, instead use the buggy speed to keep the kite inflated and bring the kite overhead to the apex as you turn the buggy away from the kite. If your kite will fly in 5-6 mph winds, then having the buggy travel in an upwind turn at 5-6 mph will keep the kite flying even though the kite is not directly in the wind window – this is why speed is important for the turn to work. You don’t want a ton of “Hail Mary” speed where your going to go balls out, just enough speed so that the buggy can complete the full turn without any power from the kite. If you turn to sharp your rear wheels will spin out and you will stop – not good. If you turn to wide (slow) then you will head upwind and stop – ejection. The speed should be constant and comfortable depending on the wind and your buggy speed. Faster speed, wider turn. Slower speed, quicker turn.
Now, when you get to the apex of the upwind turn, things start to get very hairy. The problem is that your kite will be heading overhead (and behind you), your arms will be extended out to the opposite side (direction you traveled from) than where the kite is going to go (and where your arms will need to be in the direction you want to go) and you will be putting a twist in the lines (you didn’t loop the kite, you looped the buggy). This all happens at the time you are facing away from the kite – directly pointing into the wind. Here’s a trick that works for me, as you start bringing the kite up overhead in your turn, bring your arms up over your head with it. Once you hit the apex of the turn you will need to flip your torso around to point into the new direction you are going to be heading and continue to turn the buggy around to match your torso. Once you flip (and after you regain your bearing and where the kite is) start to drop the kite down into the power in the new direction and it will pull you around to complete the turn.
If done properly, your skin will still be attached to your knees and elbows, the buggy will still have rubber side down with you on top of it (not the other way around), your kite will be flying with a twist in the lines but under control and you will have gained anywhere from 5 to 30+ feet upwind.
You can practice this without committing to it if the wind conditions are right. Just head out on a reach and gain a little speed, drop the kite on the edge and crank the buggy upwind hard while the kite is under power. Slowly bring the kite to apex just to get the feel. Once you star to slow down then turn the buggy back downwind on your normal reach and take off again. Do this a couple times and pay attention to how far upwind you can turn and where the kite is going. Once you get use to this and you feel comfortable with your speed and area, complete the upwind turn instead of turning back downwind, just remember to flip your torso around.
Thats about the best I can explain it…hope I didn’t inverse anything and hope it is understandable.
Just to add to what Kent has put, I think it is a good idea to get out of your buggy and walk the turn first, get used to where the kite is. Do that a few times then run it…..then get in the buggy.