The “Wind Window” is one of the most fundamental concepts of kiting, and is necessary thing to understand before you ever touch a full-sized kite.
The wind window is a collection of “zones” that deliver different levels of power to your kite, based on the relative position of your kite with respect to the wind. In other words, it’s “window” that you can fly the kite in. Outside of this window, when your kite goes further upwind, you end up stalling the kite.
The wind window only exists downwind of your position, as to form a hemisphere shown in the two pictures.
Clocking numbers (9 o’clock, 10 o’clock, etc.) are used to describe the angle at which your kite is flying relative to you. 9 o’clock is down on the ground to your left, 3 o’clock is down on the ground to your right, and 12 o’clock is directly overhead.
As you can see in the image above it is made up of three main zones: the green low-power zone, the yellow medium-power zone, and the red high-power zone. Starting with the kite right above you (12 o’clock position in the green zone), as it angles back straight down wind it will cross into the medium-power zone and finally in the high-power zone as it gets closer to the ground.
The Low-Power Zone
The majority of your full-size kite practice should only be done in the green low power zone (“edge” of the window), where your lines are almost perpendicular to the wind. This green lower-power zone is also known as the “edge of the window”. The low-power zone is the “home base” safe, controllable zone you need to stay in if you are not actively riding. Any time you are on dry land, the kite should be in this zone including:
- Launching your kite
- Landing your kite
- Grabbing your board
- Walking upwind
- Walking down to the water
- Talking to someone
- Practicing flying the kite
You get the idea.
The Medium Power Zone
The medium power zone is where you want to be when actively riding. This zone can provide consistent power for cruising and basic maneuvering. Typically for a calm flight you’ll be in the low-power and medium-power ranges.
The High Power Zone
Flying into the red high-power zone will give you the strongest pull for a given day as the wind is blowing almost directly on the huge surface area on the bottom of the kite. You’ll typically only want to be in the red high power zone for a moment just to get enough initial power to either launch or perform an advanced maneuver.
Think of it similar to flooring your gas pedal to pass someone on the highway, as you don’t typically drive pedal to the metal for your entire trip. A swooping kite pass that grazes the high-power zone will be plenty to get you up on your board.
You’ll be able to feel these different zones on a much more manageable scale with your trainer kite.
Check out this video from Kitesurf College with additional information about the wind window: