Comments on the IRBC compulsory book

(The text of the compulsory book)

These are my comments on the compulsory book. They follow the CB paragraphs and figure-list closely.

Priority however are, in my opinion the following issues:

differences in scores for compulsories (same compulsory, same competitor, different judges) show an great increase over the last 5 or 6 years (my scoring program monitors those differences now for more than 9 years) scores start to look more like the result of a lottery than the result of judging.

discussions over how figures should be flown and judged repeat themselves (going back 13 years) without really being solved, and for "new" figures I get remarkably similar questions as to "old" ones.

That is why I included a note about the old grid too.
( you can find an explanation of the old grid, and its relation with the windwindow here )

The above is also the first reason to strongly advice to change the "value" of compulsories from 60 to 40% (max.)
The second reason being the relation between the 1 1/2 to 2 min time for compulsories and the 3 or 5 min of the technical routine.

I have added a small list of existing figures, that, in my opinion are (better) suited for competition than the ones on the list now (a bit depending on the way they are defined, "gridwise). More can be found on my,
website ,
and you can also find on the extended "Stack" list I made (which contains more figures than the be familiar with some of the AKA sport kite committee members) as well as new figures I designed in 1998 for my "common rules".
A way to have a look at figures, almost real, is possible too on the 3D page .
You can walk around on the field, see figures from behind or top (there are predefined viewpoints) and click away (click "grid?) all lines in the sky. It would be possible to program new figures, to have some idea how they look like.. (you will need a plug-in for your browser; Cortona 4, from Parallel Graphics works with almost all browsers, even IE)

The grid

We all know, the map is not the world. On a "normal" map the North pole is just as wide as the equator, and we all know that isn't so. (Still it surprises some people they don't fly over L.A. if they go from New York to Tokyo, or that the distance between Amsterdam and Moscou is less than Amsterdam-Madrid. )
Most of the time we can work well with the flat, paper model of the world. And if the "normal" version map does not work, f.i. to plot the shortest sailing routes another version is used.
The "map" that is used for the compulsory figures however is no map at all! It is a recipe for the real world. For competition it is turned into a large (virtual) projection screen, with lines on it, and the way the shadow of the kite follows the paper diagram is judged. .
The grid is "real", the world (the sky) is flat.
For the pilot it is almost impossible to check if the 'shadow' follows the diagram, for the judges it looks almost possible, if they are a great distance away (back), in theory at infinity. There is no need for the judges to try to see what the pilot is seeing!

In my opinion it can be done simpler and better.

To start with the pilot "in real life". There are the wind, the ground, the lines, enough to specify the position and moves of the kite unambiguously. The two angles that the lines make with the wind direction, and with the ground give two coordinates (called "polar coordinates" usually) that specify the kite's position (like 30deg to the right, 15deg high). A horizontal line is defined as flying a path where the angle between kite-lines and ground does not change, a vertical where the angle between kite-lines and wind direction does not change. (and we forget about the word "straight" of course)

Just like with maps, there are several ways to "map" curved flying paths on flat paper into a diagram; the way I proposed (and used in World Cup 1998) gives accurate information for pilots and judges, as well as an impression of what can be expected to be seen, but of course other ways are possible.
As long as the differences and similarities between diagram and reality are stated clearly.
If compulsories are defined using the coordinate system I described, then the pilot can reasonably easy check if the kite follows the prescribed path, and if the judges stay close by (the pilot) they can check too. It does not make a difference if the pilot moves while flying the compulsory (as with the current system) nor if wind direction changes. Length of lines does not matter. The size of a team does not matter either, nor the way they 'spread out' over the field (as with the current system). There is no difference between wind window and "grid" since the grid depicts (models) the wind window itself.
But the definition of compulsories, and what they are testing needs changing.

Comments on the compulsory book

Wind window and precision grid


The use of color in the diagrams is not very consistent (individual versus pair/team) and turning them into grayscale versions leaves out significant details. I include on of my versions (pair figure below)
The size of the 4line kites in the diagrams is too small (given the line length most flyers use) It gives a wrong impression about the relative sizes of components of the figures, especially for the judges.

Critical components and explanations

only two components, and each worth 30% (only International? Still the AKA Guadeloupe White Elephant syndrom?) lays a heavy burden on designers of figures, and writers of C.E. It complicates score-databases, scoring sheets and programs, and it did not get scores on compulsories any closer (World Cup)
So I don't think multiplying the number of raw scores given will improve either judging or flying, and in general the CE's for most figures do not really say anything about what is to be tested in a figure.
It might be wise to explicitly give an explanation of what is to be tested with a figure, as a guide for both flyers and judges, especially for pair and teams, where being (or flying as) a pair or team can be part of the test.
A big problem is that, just as with the 'old' figures, there actually is only a choice between 100 and 0 points. Neither this book, nor the judges book gives any clue how to judge imperfection. I introduced "margins of error" a long time ago and that worked and works well with both flyers as well as -beginning- judges. Stating the actual to-test-item might help in judging too; if a competitor "avoids" the test, by changing -slightly- parts of the figure, scores should be lower. (see also comments on pair figures)

Glossary of terms

And in general

why "multi-line" (and "dual-line") since two lines is "multi" too? (in abbreviations "four/4" will not conflict with "master" and "two/2" not with "discipline") what to do (how to judge) kites without a leading edge?


In my comments on figures I generally assume the old grid is maintained. For all figures my advice is look at them with "hard to fly, easy to judge, fun to watch" (I wrote that line for the first time, in 1993, and I think it is still valid) in mind, and add to it "discriminating well between the good and the better flyer". If every flyer gets the same points for a compulsory, it is of no use for a competition. Ideally a beginner should score something and a master should score 95, with great effort and a bit of luck. "Well defined" might be added too..
Also to state what is to be tested with that figure, and if defaults like even speed are not to be followed (like, as obvious example "Quadouble S") to explicitly state the difference.


  1. a test of walking ability, not flying ability. Useless
  2. The circle is on the diagram, what exactly is "critical" about it . A circle is a closed arc. Closed in reality (same point in 3 dimensions) or "on the grid" (very hard to judge)
    The same goes for IN/OUT at the same point. (and what is worse, missing the exact IN- point and having the OUT at the same -wrong- point or the OUT on another -the right- point?)
  3. why are the defaults (speed control, place in the grid) mentioned as "other components"
  4. you have to do a difficult circle, and a tricky landing, and yet the verticals are critical?
  5. you are done "executing a landing" when the kite is on the ground, so what is "executed close to the ground"? And as far as I can see there is only one right angle (as in 90deg angle?) Beginners figure, not very suited for competition
  6. Without a proper, well know (amongst judges) definition this is a tricky figure. Also how to judge multiple "axels" of very different quality within one figure? Can all the "axels" really be flown cleanly, given the in and out lines of the axels?
  7. Danger, where? Who is going to judge that? Should not be judged! "Parallel lines" might add something to it, but not enough to make it a usable figure.
  8. not for competition
  9. not really suited for competition. "Equal size of IN and OUT horizontal lines" should not be there; especially in this figure it will be very hard to judge anyway.
  10. the original figure without the landing was good enough as a test. Of course there still is that problem of the start: if the grid <0> point is at the flyers position at "IN" the start point does not exist. (lies outside the wind window)
  11. have a look at the old description, (or ask the designer) the two center parallel lines, at the given distance, and the equal size of the arcs are the critical points
  12. there is more than one stall, and, indeed, one has to launch the kite to do the figure, but as "other component"?
    Most pilots as well as judges don't realize the kite has to go down half a kite height with the last two stalls to keep the nose "on line" Adding "snap" adds little or nothing. And why "speed control" ; it has to differ from default, you can not do a stall with even speed.

With pair and team figures I assume there is only one grid, not one for each kite. This means that a number of figures (where the kites fly the same figure parallel) loose a serious degree of difficulty if the distance between the pilots is kept the same as the kites need to have. That would not be the case if the angle between lines and wind direction would be used in defining the figure.
Only some descriptions mention "timing" no description mentions "simultaneous" although that is a major part of the test of a lot of figures. In fact with the current descriptions most figures can be flown completely separate without a penalty!


  1. as DI1
  2. as DI2
  3. why "speed control" , what are the "other angles". See remark about "simultaneous"!
  4. as DI4
  5. "timing" is not explained; may conflict with "speed control". Have a look at the old description. This figure does not work with just calls from the leader, #2 flyer must decide her/himself, as part of a "pair"test.
  6. walking allowed, so not really a difficult figure for a pair, just usable with string wind.
  7. simultaneous moves are essential here, as is symmetry. Neither one is mentioned in critical elements
  8. the squares are the test, not the parallel lines. Define "timing"
  9. the second meaning of "speed control" here? It does not state that both kites fly the downward stretch simultaneous!
    A shorter diagonal, and defining the little circles as "spin" might help too (see old book for def. of loop, spin and roll). A dangerous figure, but don't mention it.
  10. have a look at the old description. Define "timing". Only the two diagonal lines will be (need to be) parallel. Again, just flying this on calls of the leader will not work (very well)
  11. Define "timing". If done right, speed control, that is different speed of the two kites, is essential, not the circles itself
  12. as DI12. I would emphasize symmetry and "simultaneous" here, but maybe one should leave out one of the stalls.
  1. useless
  2. "simultaneous" is the missing word here. Good enough for competition, one of the figures that works with 3,4,5,6. Not as good as "Speed Up, Domino Down" I think.
  3. equal simultaneous squares. Becomes quickly a lot easier with bigger squares. A little simple (not very discriminating)
  4. very uneven degree of difficulty for odd versus even numbered teams. As such not suited for competition.
  5. quickly becomes more difficult for larger teams."Simultaneous turns" missing
  6. Easy with proper distance between team members (and most teams are "wired" nowadaysto do the calls) see DP6
  7. no use for 3,5,6. With a bit shorter rectangles nice for demo and practice, not for competition.
  8. forces even a four person team to get kites touching. The phrase "Kites come abreast in the middle of the diagonal descent." is hard to understand (maybe "shoulder", not "breast" would be better?). If I understand it well, and kites get "shoulder to shoulder" ONLY on the diagonal descent, it has to be flown totally different, than it used to be. I would not have this figure in competition, in this form.
  9. useless as, even if it works, it only does so for 4 person teams
  10. even with "timing" defined too simple
  11. where is that diagonal line kites should form on the descent? One of the nicest old figures now is nothing
  12. even with four, and the circle size defined (bigger) it might do in competition, but it will work in demo's. The specification for the placements of kites for 3 or 5 person teams does not work here, for 3 it is too easy, so not suited for serious competition.

One of the main consequences of the grid definition, combined with -most- four line kites in -almost any- wind is the time competitors have to walk, sideways, and so leave out a lot of the difficulty of the figures. Even more so for pair and teams. Size of the kites in the diagram should be altered to give a better view on relative size of components.


  1. fine
  2. define the wanted quality of the rotationS, skip "parallel lines", shorten in and out line, fine
  3. a bit too many elements to make judging easy, one step less; for strong wind.
  4. forget speed control (as extra), add STOP and rotate, not really complex for the masters, but workable
  5. nice and simple. Forget "launch and land" , that's clear. Not really discriminating between the very good and perfect flyer, but will work in most competitions.
  6. Does not add much to the list. Diagonal flown nose first would be better (if the kites have a leading edge..) second yellow kite turned the wrong way.
  7. perfect figure for "relative size of components" . Figure should be a bit bigger (better relation to size of kite). Fine
  8. "Follow the Flow" was definitively more challenging. "Relative size etc." should be added. Hard to judge the "sloppiness" if not flown well. To be exchanged
  9. forget speed control. Weighting all 16 elements in a final score isn't easy. Not for masters competition.
  10. should just have kept The Lollypop
  11. as with more figures, it is hard to find three scorable elements in an otherwise"competitive" figure. Forget position and relative placement. The horizontal a 20% lower will make judging easier .
  12. plenty of time to walk, not the test that is suggested. Skip.
  1. wrong description.( half-) circles (shape and size) are important, speed isn't. Simultaneous flight. Touch allowed, not necessary. Spacing: Joke?
  2. straight horizontal, the same for both flyers, is essential, as is rotations without stops! Speed control in rotations too.
    There is no way in escaping the challenge in this figure, and as such ideal for competition, but maybe too hard for beginners.
  3. the whole idea is lost if the arcs are not flown simultaneously. spacing is important, should be specified (at least half a kite -length leading edge- in between) Size does not matter. "Speed control" not needed if simultaneous is specified.
  4. very "walkable" figure. Just two kites, no "pair" test
  5. fine figure, but not that easy to judge. Timing should be specified
  6. see indiv. figure. no real pair test
  7. too many elements. right circles can be left out, horizontal lines shorter. Add some arrows (on the field usually only the diagram is used)
  8. both kites make all the turns simultaneously I assume? A bit complicated, hard to weigh scores. would change "spacing" for " parallel lines" as critical
  9. slightly bigger circles bottom at about 10%. Simultaneous.!
  10. does not add anything to the list. to be exchanged
  11. in this form add symmetry as critical. Would be easier to judge (and slightly easier to fly) if done parallel (15% apart). Watch linelenght/size!
  12. time for something round or for some close flying. skip.
  1. there was a good reason in the original for the "tilted" descent. Timing/sim. essential. should be improved
  2. one of the few that would work well with kites without a leading edge. again timing/sim.
  3. with an odd-numbered team how much up, how much down? Rotations at the same time?
  4. only possible with a lot of walking, if at all (start) nice demo if a bit smaller, not very usable
  5. see other comments on same figure
  6. the IN place does not exist, but if size does not matter? Any rhythm?
  7. kites will touch so inbuilt penalty, hard for bigger teams. specify speed control and timing
  8. nice, but who is turning when?
  9. kites are bigger than 7.5% so they touch. adding "IN" might help. shouldn't they leave the left top side of the square at the same time too?
  10. for three or five? "Iris" works better. skip.

Have a look at:
Two and a half square
Square and circle
Circle and slide

Double double U
Triple Diamonds
Circled Eight

Team graduated circles
Knit one, Purl one
Roll Back
Turn in Turn

Lazy Eight
Circle and square

Square Dance
Circled Eight

Follow the flow


februari 2005
Hans Jansen op de Haar