Experienced kite flyers in the Hamptons and novices alike will descend on Sagg Main Beach in Sagaponack for the Dan’s Papers 39th Annual Kite Fly this Saturday, August 27, kites and hopes soaring high in the knowledge that there will be awards for a number of prestigious kite-flying categories.
Most Colorful, Best Homemade, Funniest, Highest Flying, Biggest, Smallest, Most Beautiful, Scariest, Best Nautical, Most Artistic, Most Geometric, Most Exotic, Most Newsworthy, Youngest Kite Flyer, and Kite with Longest Tail (as well as a special Best Pet Kite honor from our friends at Bideawee!) are among the categories our judges will be considering, so we thought you might want some expert insight for the big day. In order to help you prepare, we turned to Morgan Brunner, manager of Kites of the Harbor in Sag Harbor.
“I grew up going to the Dan’s Kite Fly!” says Brunner, surrounded by kites of all shapes and sizes. “We’ve come a long way from paper kites with balsa wood sticks and Mylar kites.” And you’ll go a long way this weekend by following Brunner’s ten kite-flying tips.
Be Ready for a Big Challenge: There’s little hope of going home with a world record for biggest kite, but you can still go large with “a 9-foot or 12-foot Delta,” Brunner says. “It’s a single-string kite, but in a kite that size you’re going to get a lot of pull from it. So I wouldn’t advise a 7- or 8-year-old kid to go out and grab a 12-foot Delta, because that would be like hang gliding.”
Size Matters: Smaller is not necessarily easier. “When you get into smaller kites, they have a lot less surface area, so it needs to be a very light kite, and even a light string. If you put a 90-pound test on a two-foot Delta, it would drag the kite down. If you end up have a string that’s too heavy for the kite, you end up flying out away from you rather than up into the air.”
Find Your Creative Balance: “Most Beautiful, Most Artistic, Most Unique, Most Newsworthy—these are in the eye of the beholder,” Brunner says. They also open up endless opportunities for accessorizing. There’s kite laundry like “spinners that you can add on the line below the kite, not on the kite itself, or certain versions called turbines, which you’d put on the back of a Delta in place of a tail,” as well as other touches you can add.
“They make kites you can actually draw on and design yourself, usually a very basic Delta or diamond kite. Drawing on a kite won’t really effect it, but if you wanted to paste a picture on, you want to center it and get the weight dispersed properly, because even a small amount of weight can add a lot to one side or the other. Don’t put everything on one side, because it will throw the flight off.”
Kids Tip 1: “I have a few recommendations for first-time flyers. One is a rather new kite, it’s called a Parafoil—this one is a kite in a bag. It comes with a string, and the tails and the kite all in a little bag, and you just clip the tails right to the back of the kite, and the string actually gets tied right on. It’s very, very easy, you don’t have to deal with putting the kite together, there’s nothing to lose, and it’s all made of ripstop nylon—a real kite material. You’ll have this for years. It will take off in really light winds or heavy winds. Everything comes together, so you can leave it in the back of your car and you always have your kite with you.”
Kids Tip 2: “The other one that I grew up flying is a Dragon Kite. Dragon Kites are all assembled, and then the tail goes all different lengths—we have a 10-foot, an 18-foot and a 30-foot tail. The tail actually stabilizes it, so in a real heavy wind the kite gets a nice snakelike motion but won’t go out of control and crash on you. They fly themselves. The 30-foot Dragon Kite usually wins Longest Tail.”
Kids Tip 3: “Another one for beginners is an Easy Flyer. An Easy Flyer is a Delta Kite, a triangle kite, with a tail already attached. Very simple—you have one cross-section, so you pop one strut in there and you’re ready to fly, and it has a nice tail to stabilize it.”
Beware Going Too Far Outside the Box: “If you’re making a kite yourself, the box kite is where you’ll run into more of an issue,” warns Brunner. “The bridle—the piece you tie your string onto—has to be set at a certain angle, because each one of the pockets traps the wind and lifts it. If you’re making it yourself, it’s easy to make the boxes design, but putting the bridle on to utilize those certain angles is tough.”
Know Your Wind Conditions: “As long as there’s a steady wind, you’ll be pretty good. It’s the gusty days, when you get a little wind and then it dies out, that you want to be able to get that kite into the air a little more. People always think back to the idea that you have to run with a kite, but the reason you’d run is because there’s either not enough wind to keep it in the air or you’re in a park where the wind is being obstructed by the trees.
“But at the beach you really don’t have that problem. I’d say let out 20 or 30 feet, get someone to help you launch it, and just give it some room to climb up in the air. On a low-wind day, you’d want to go with something like a Parafoil over a big box kite, because it will have less weight to lift into the air.”
Embrace Your Wild Side: If you’re feeling adventurous, looking for some action, try a “Dual Kite. It’s a stunt kite. You have two strings that are the same exact length, and when you shorten one side, it actually turns the kite. Pull it a little, it will turn to one side. Pull it a lot and it actually does a spin. You can do triple spins, figure 8s, make it dive to the ground.”
Remember Icarus: Soaring higher than anyone else has its glory, but also a price to pay. “The Deltas probably would go the highest, definitely over 1000 feet. You’d just have to have something big enough that you can keep adding that string onto,” Brunner says. “But you also have to remember, you’re working for that award, because you have to bring that kite in 1000 feet.”
The Dan’s Papers 39th Annual Kite Fly is Saturday, August 27, at 5:30 p.m. at Sagg Main Beach in Sagaponack.