Sport/Stunt Kite Spectator's Guide

What is a sport kite?

A sport kite/stunt kite is any kite with two or more lines that can be maneuvered in the sky in any direction. Maneuvers can be lines, circles, tricks (which can look like the kite is out of control but is actually intentional). There are two kinds of sport kites.
Dual line: consists of 2 lines attached to the kite allowing it to be maneuvered in multiple directions. Simple maneuvers are circles and arches, flyers put many hours of practice into learning to fly straight lines, snappy corners and tricks. Tricks can be fades, stalls, flic-flacs, cascades, axles and many others.
Multi-line: consists of more than two lines attached to the kite. Most have 4 lines and are called Quad kites. Multi-lines kites are different from the dual line in that they can go forward and backward and can stop and hover.

What is the rope for?

The rope designates the boundary of the flying field. It is set up to protect the spectators from being hit by a kite which can cause an injury as the kites are made with carbon rods on the edges. It also gives the boundary lines that the competitor must stay in while he/she is flying. You must never go inside the boundary of the field.

Where should I go to watch?

The best place to watch is behind the flyers and judges on the outside of the ropes.

Why is there music sometimes?

There are two types of competition ballet and precision. This is similar to what you see in skating competitions for freestyle and compulsory divisions.
Ballet: Competitors choreograph routines to the music of their choice. These routines last from 2 to 5 minutes.
Precision: There is no music. Competitors fly 3 predetermined compulsory figures with a short freestyle at the end. They are judged on each figure and on their freestyle routine. New Program Precision format: Combines the compulsory figures into the freestyle. Figure judging is called "IN" and "OUT" by the flier for each figure and the rest of the flight time is judged for the freestyle portion of the total score.

Are there skill levels?

There are multiple skill levels. The levels are as follows: Beginners, Novice, Experienced and Masters. There are also different catagories of flyers within those levels such as Individual, Multi-line, Pairs and Teams. You also have disciplines Ballet, Freestyle, Precision and Train. For Example: NIP=Novice Individual Precision MMB=Masters Multi-line Ballet. The first letter is the level, the second letter is the catagory and the third is the discipline.

How are the flyers judged?

The judges have predetermined criteria that they watch for while the flier is flying. There are 3 to 5 judges. The scores are kept from each competition throughout the season, which determines what place they will be in at the end of season. The people with the highest score in each discipline and class qualifies them for Nationals, (which is by invitation only).

What is Open Individual Outdoor Unlimited?

Open Individual Outdoor Unlimited allows the flyer to use multiple kites, and props during their performance. Audience appeal is one of the criteria by which the flyer is judged.

Is there really such a thing as indoor flying?

Yes, there is. Indoor kite flying and competitions are becoming more and more popular. There are no fans to make the wind. Indoor fliers want absolutely no wind. The kites for indoor flying are so lightweight the flyer makes enough wind just by moving backward.


Adapted by Mary Ostey from "A Spectator's Guide to Sport Kite Competition" written and designed by Stephanie Heibert for the Eastern League Sport Kite Associaton.