Parakart: first lesson

The parakart remains a pastime and a technical sport. One must control a powerful kite, and drive a vehicle from which you can easily be ejected. Safely and priority requirements, racing tactics, obligatory equipment etc. are also needed. In short, lots of things which you could not possibly imagine and which our parakart specialists offer to teach you. Lesson one <<first go>> with Bruno Legaignoux.

Site Selection

Drive Relaxed

Fly Before Riding

Automatic Transmission and ABS Braking

First Tack

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The parakart is enticing, since you have just exhausted all your savings in the purchase of a model and of the kite which will propel it, unless you have constructed it yourself. You have found a helmet, a pair of boots or sturdy outdoor shoes, gloves and a pair of goggles. It's not a good idea to purchased a harness ! Forget about it until you become familiar with your new equipment. The harness is used strictly for comfort and can be dangerous for the novice pilot.

For your first tack, make a trajectory strictly perpendicular to the wind

For your first tack, make a trajectory strictly perpendicular to the wind

You're well equipped. You must now find the site where you can begin. If you don't know any, enquire at the Parakart Association they will be a pleased to send you the list of clubs and sites favorable to the use of parakart In addition, consult the AF2C Web (France), which is very well documented for this kind of information, if available. Do not be obsessed by beaches. Parakarting can be done on any cleared and approved site, whether it is a field, a closed airstrip, a golf course or an airfield. By the way, the buggymen sail and fly regularly on about ten airfields around the UK. A permit is always required for the use of those sites, wherever it may be. This avoids creating any tension which could lead to a ban. Before riding, carefully verify that a high tension wire does not cross the site in question, and that it is not a path frequently used by hikers or strollers. The key is that the ground be relatively hard and smooth. Of course, beaches are the perfect choice, but not all are compatible to parakarting. This is often due to the sand being too light. The ideal riding condition is firm sand, found at low tide, except when there are too many puddles and pockets of water. You can count on 3 hours of practice before and after the turn of the tide.

The first thing to do is to coordinate your outings with the tide schedule.


The second important point is the weather and wind forecast. To begin with, it is preferable to have a moderate wind as well as a moderate size of sail. The wind will determine the length of your lines. To start, I recommend a maximum of 10 to 20m. 10m if the wind is rather strong, 20m if it is weak but steady. If you have several sites accessible near where you live, select the one which, at that instant, will be the most suitable. Let's imagine a beach 20 km long and 100 m large, positioned north/south, with a 30 m dune in the back, which is generally the case on the Aquitaine coast. Ideally, you want a west wind. However, you can make do with either a northwester or a southwester. A north or a south wind will be more difficult to deal with, forcing you to tack every 100 m. There is no need to budge if it is an East wind. This is the worst condition for beginners as there is no surface wind and an occasional whirlwind. Even if you succeed in lifting your kite, an underestimated wind condition could give you difficulties. It is important to always consider the force of an easterly wind. In my opinion, the best rule of thumb is: When standing on the site if you have occasional difficulties in controlling your wing, you must abstain. Remember the so-called pigeon adage which says: <<Clean site, clean wind, cool ride>>.


Now, the length of your training will depend on your past record in terms of mastering the wind. If you are familiar with sailing or kite flying, then you will be ahead of those who are novice to wind sports. If you practice sailing and kiting, the a good part of your training is already completed. Everyone must get to know their kite before getting started. This is true for beginners as well as wind experts. Choose a well cleared site where you will be able to make a few swerves or go off the intended path, if necessary. It is preferable to take your initial ride on a day where the wind conditions are ideal and not too stressful. It is better for the moral as well as ... for safety. I f need be, postpone your outing by a few days if the best conditions are not met. Carefully follow the instructions for handling the kite. As a general rule, the instructions for traction kites are more comprehensive and more explicit than those for acrobat kites. Confirm that the lines are clear before taking off. In order to test the wind and define the limits of the wind window, fly a few minutes before sailing. Train yourself to move your kite from one window edge to the other and to maintain it in a static position a few meters from the ground. When you will be rolling, you will have to maintain a static wing position at 20/30 on both sides. The only manoeuvre that you will have to undertake will consist of moving your kite from one edge to the other. The neutral position will be when the kite is at to the top of the window with the lines almost vertical, at its azimuth. Get well trained in these two positions because they are the basics for piloting. To stop, you will pass from the horizontal traction position, to the <<neutral/vertical position. Are you comfortable with your sail? Are you capable of piloting without having your eyes riveted above? Yes? Good, because we are now going to pass to serious matters.


First check where the wind is coming from. Trace this axe in the sand.

Trace a perpendicular to this wind axe. You must adhere to your prearranged out and home course. Going off course during your first tacks will only lead to mishaps. Select distant landmarks to help you (sailors call these seamarks). Put your parakart on course. Your kite is in neutral, climb into your parakart. To do this, get into the habit of' presenting yourself under its Ice (<<under the leer>> = back to the wind). You will have to walk backwards towards your kart. It is a matter of safety. ! You are in position, feet fixed on the steering rods. Can you easily turn the front wheel ? Then everything is fine, roll on little bomb. .. Bring the wing towards the desired direction. You should begin to move. Then, there are only two things to do: maintain your bearing and keep your wing on the side. It is now the time to undertake this concept: your parakart also has an automatic transmission and an ABS breaking system (incredible, no ?). Here is the explanation: the closer your sail is to the horizontal, the faster it will pull you. You will then be able to more or less adjust your speed by pulling down your wing. If you switch your sail quickly to the opposite side, when at a good speed, you will stop immediately without skidding at all... before rolling again in reverse. As soon as you have stopped, try to pass quickly to the neutral position, otherwise ... well you understand.


You are now doing your first tack (how easy). However, the playing field has its limits. One must think of turning and coming back. Begin by slowing down and placing your kite in a vertical position. While you are almost at a standstill, you turn the wheel outright, but in which direction ? If you turn the wheel <<into the win& then you are sure to fail. The head wind turn is reserved for experts. Better go before the wind (back to the wind)- The 
kite always at its azimuth. This is commonly called a jibe. Regain your course as quickly as possible, then slowly bring your kite down on the side again. The main error is to start the gibe while still rolling at a considerable speed and to stay too long in the following wind. Your sail does not like this at all and let's you know by dropping to the ground or by becoming uncontrollable. What actually happened was that by going in the direction of the wind, you have artificially reduced the apparent wind and your wing reacted as if it was no longer under pressure. It simply de-winded itself, even though there was wind. This does not mean that it is impossible to gibe at full speed. It is just the opposite. However, this will be the theme of the next article. By this time, I feel you will be sufficiently experienced. I have one last suggestion for this first parakart lesson: <<if you should panic, cut the contact or apply your break>>. 

1 - neutralize your wing, either by simply letting go of it, or applying it's break if its a four liner;
2 - break with your feet (this is where the shoes mentioned at the beginning come in handy.)


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