Small STACK Logo Image STACK-UK Competitive Kite Flying in the United Kingdom

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IRB Competition

The advances in kite design and performance in the 1990s led to kites that were very controllable and precise. Soon after the controlled flying of kites evolved into a sport, with competitions to test how well - or precisely - the flyers could control their kites.

The traditional sport kite competition is similar in concept to a figure skating competition. There is an component testing precision, and a musical component - a kite ballet.

Competitions are run at local, national and international levels. There are separate competitions for individual flyers, pairs of flyers, and teams of three or more flyers. Dual line and quad line kites compete in separate events.

Competitions are organized and run according to a set of rules. The flyers performance is scored by judges, who are normally experienced flyers.

The national bodies from Europe, America and Japan formed a committee which standardizes the rules and processes for competitions, and defines the various precision figures, in the International Rule Book (IRB) which is used for competitions at national and international levels.


In the precision discipline the flyer must demonstrate three compulsory figures selected from a set of about 12 figures published in the IRB. The idea is to fly these shapes as neatly and precisely as possible.

Figure DI07 - The Jump

There are specific figures for pairs and teams, which may require the flyers to turn simultaneously, and match one another, or even to each fly at different speeds to achieve the shape.

Figure DT10 - Team Diamonds Figure DT05 - Arch de Triomph

There are different figures for dual and quad line kites.

Figure MP12 - Split Square

In some events, the competitor will also fly a precision freestyle - a short routine which they must design to show skill and complexity. For pairs and teams, spacing and timing are also important considerations.

If only figures are used they will each be worth a third of the score. If a routine is required, each figure will contribute 20%, and the routine 40% to the score. The Precision discipline normally contributes half of the total competition score.


A kite ballet involves using the kite to provide an artistic interpretation of a piece of music. The flyers must still demonstrate skill and control, and in the case of pairs and teams also spacing, coordination and timing. However in the ballet discipline the majority of the marks (60%) in the score are given for choreography - how well the routine fits and interprets the music. The Ballet discipline normally contributes half of the total competition score.

You can see some of the latest kite team ballets along with some classic ballets on STACK's Kite Ballets page.

UK Competitions

Competitions at local level are quite informal and are often run at local club flying days, often during the autumn and winter months. These are usually called local leagues or winter leagues.

The UK National level competition is normally run during the spring and summer months and usually consists of three or more separate competition rounds, which are run either at kite festivals or special kite competition events. The national championship is awarded based on the average of the best two results recorded by a competitor in national level events.

International Competitions take place at European and World levels.

Diagram credits

The diagram of the figure is taken from the IRBC sport kite rule book.

Kite Montage Picture