We've passed what I consider to be a bit of a milestone. There is still much to be developed - but an outing with AW demonstrated, in very light wind,
- stable hands off sailing and
Importantly, recovery when there was too little wind to fly was also demonstrated. Yes, I'm pretty happy about this:
The "kite" is a very old Advance Sigma 5, purchased with a bottle of Shiraz, with most, though not all, of the lower skin hacked off (not even symmetrically). It is far from an ideal kite.
The launch strategy was modified slightly. The kite is raised on reefing lines to about 5m. The reefing halyard goes to 2 reefing lines which run through kite blocks at the centre of the leading edge then through the ribs to about 1m from the wing tips. The reef is largely pulled out by hoisting a different halyard, attached on the pigtails that carry the reefing line kite blocks - ie at the centre of the LE. When this is high enough to tighten some of the bridle lines, and thereby open some of the kite, the reefing halyard is eased to let out the rest of the reef.
We had perhaps 7-8knots most of the time. We could not go far off the wind as we'd be getting to apparent wind strengths of less than 5knots. That might be possible with light NPWs designed for purpose...but not for this old butchered PG. When on reasonable wind angles we were doing 3-4knots - quite respectable given a really quite small sail area. I have a couple of strategies, neither of them simple, for launching 2 kites...more on that another time if they progress.
Although we didn't sail the previous day, we did launch and retrieve the PG in 15-17knots. Some cleats and lines should be changed to handle those conditions. But it is still very much a no winches required operation.
First attempt with EJ's old 41sqm Ozone Magnum II tandem PG. Two novices (ie neither kiters, PGers nor sailors) on board as crew. All went fine, though I learned a few things. The reefing halyard was allowed to run free. It should be cleated so that it can't be too loose - eg a few 10s of cm longer than the main halyard. That way it won't do any reefing but will not be so loose that it gets tangled on other lines. On this trial it in fact went around a wing tip so could not be used. I wouldn't want to be in strong wind without access to that. We also need an emergency/backup retrieval strategy/procedure - I think that can be quite simple.