How to Buggy
Kite powered buggies are already well developed as regards to portability, strength, manoeuvrability, light weight, longitudinal and lateral balance, high speed handling and affordability. Kite Buggies are available for $500.00. Check out our popular models.
- First, choose a clear area, moderate, smooth wind and a kite with pull that you can comfortably hang onto when flying statically (i.e. while standing with your feet planted firmly on the ground).
- Most people start with a 3.5-5.0 sq. meter kite and progress towards a bigger kite later as their skills progress.
- You don’t need a ton of space, a football field size area is enough. Check with your local school and you will probably find an area suitable within a short drive. Be sure there is clean wind and no turbulence from nearby building or trees.
Let’s get going: Set the buggy to face slightly downwind, put the kite up, park it overhead, then jump in and take off by dipping the kite cautiously down into then, out of, its power zone. As you start moving steer the buggy up to a reaching course (cross wind). Repeating this “dipping” system, hold your reaching course until you’re ready to turn.
Turning is almost always downwind. The basic rule is: turn the kite just before turning the buggy and turn the buggy tight. A Tip: Keep your feet to the outsides of the steering bars on the kite buggy. Head back on a reach to your original starting point, turn again and practice this until you can comfortably get back to your starting point. Another tip, if you find yourself going backwards put the buggy immediately on full lock (either way works but one way works best – turning upwind). This will turn you around allowing you to try again without relaunching.
How to Stop
No! You don’t need brakes. Except on very grippy surfaces (eg sealed roads) The buggy is very difficult to tip over (and you shouldn’t be on such a surface until you’re experienced). Full lock either way at almost any speed will cause a spin out which will stop you very quickly, turning up into the wind will also stop you very quickly. The wimp-out way is to put your feet down. This works to some extent but you can’t steer without having your feet on the bars. The fastest and most dramatic braking method is to use the kite as a brake. Fly the kite back behind you, this can stop you very rapidly because stopping force is not limited by tire grip.
Once you get the hang of reaching, practise upwind courses. There is a balance to be struck between going low and fast or high and slow, the essence of upwind sailing. Your success in finding the optimum is measured by V.M.G. “velocity made good”, the component of your velocity directly to windward. Quite high courses are possible. I have registered tacks to windward that cross at less than 90 degrees which is better than most yachts can manage but the optimum for buggies is definitely to go faster and lower than this with currently available kites. The physics of kite sailing tells us that for the best upwind course the kite should be as far out the edge as it will go and as near to the ground as possible. This theory must be modified a little because the wind is unfortunately somewhat less near the ground and by the L.D.R. versus M.M.R. relationship of currently available traction kites but it is still a good rule to keep in mind.
Going Downwind After upwind courses comes the most difficult buggying course – downwind! Surprised? The explanation is quite simple, going directly downwind you can quickly accelerate to more than wind speed at which point your kite will fall out of the sky! Actually if you’re on a softish surface (appreciable rolling resistance) are using a smallish kite and the wind is light/moderate, downwind buggying is no problem. Hard surface, large kite and stronger wind and you’ll have all sorts of problems. The accepted technique is to “tack” the buggy and the kite downwind. This means heading the buggy off at about 45 degrees from directly downwind with the kite out the opposite side then to turn the kite back to your course side turning the buggy to the opposite 45 degrees downwind course about as the kite passes the centre of the wind. Turning the buggy very sharply (a minor spin out) at each change of course will help control by scrubbing off a bit of speed. I believe it is possible to attain downwind V.M.G. (velocity made good) higher than the wind speed! It is definitely theoretically possible and having often felt wind in my face when going downwind it may actually be happening! Now you know how to buggy it’s racing time!