Kite (sailboat)

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The Kite is an 11' 7" cat-rigged sailing dinghy (class inactive) designed circa 1962 by Carter Pyle as a Olympic Finn class trainer. Like the Olympic Finn, the Kite's mast is flexible, unstayed w00d (Sitka spruce); wood boom. The boats were built from 1963 to 1972 by Newport Boats in Newport Beach, California and also by Mobjack Manufacturing in Gloucester, VA, East Coast Boats on Long Island, Lancraft, Santa Ana, CA, the latter two maybe after Brunswick acquired the company. Some 1200–1300 plus (I own hull 1306) were built. Build rights were acquired by the Browning Arms Corp in 1965 and Brunswick came later.

The Kite is a lively planing dingy, with a self-bailing cockpit, easy righting and speed for 2 people or as a single-handler and planes easily with one person in moderate breeze. A boom vang, out- and downhauls for sail control were standard. It is not a board boat like a Laser or Sunfish.

Specs: LOA 11" 7" Beam 5' Draft 3.5" - 3.5' SA 78 sq feet hull 160 lbs - 205 all up.


The hull is all glass and two section: deck and hull, hollow in between, with foam billets in the outer spaces between the sections, making it nearly unsinkable. The deck has sections of molded-in nonskid, wide gunwales (rails). Most were built with teak rub rails but later boats had stainless steel rails. Pop rivets were used on later models to hold deck to hull section, hidden by the rub rail.

The boat is open, there are no decked-over portions of the cockpit. The rails (gunwales) are near 10 inches wide at the widest point, extending from bow to transom. A mast step is molded into the deck shell and the mast is supported by a cast aluminum bracket attached to the bow section. There is a (slight) flared spray molding that surrounds the forward deck section, extending aft about two feet. While the beam is 5', the interior itself is only 39" wide at the widest point because of the wide rails.

A mid-section stainless traveler and blocks from Nicro-Fico and hiking straps were also standard.

The transom has two drains at the bottom center and an single exterior hull drain plug and both had materials that varied by manufacturer. The first boats had a stainless steel ID plate with Newport Boats and the hull number stamped onto it inside center of the transom; later boats had the hull number molded into the transom: "Kite XXX," XXX being the hull number. Later boats have no plate or molded hull number. It seems the masts had the number also. The Kite dinghy was originally offered with optional oarlocks, outboard motor bracket, and kick-up rudder. No bow eye.


The daggerboard is moulded glass 44" x 15" wide, with a handle cutout in the top and a molded trunk-stop. The daggerboard trunk is moulded to the hull and deck.

The barn door style rudder (like a Finn) is 3/4", glassed 7-ply Baltic birch plywood. The fairing of the fore and aft sections are clear-finished blade so that the wood grain is visible. Early rudders had a tang mounted to the forward edge that prevented the rudder from detaching should the boat capsize, later boats mounted the tang to the hull just above the lower gudgeon. A wood tiller is mounted into a stainless rudder head bolted to the rudder and hinges up and down, fore/aft adjustable. The original hiking sticks were also made of wood with a brass pin for a finger grab point. Kick-up versions were few but made with a cast aluminum upper trunk and the rudder is shorter than the standard type, fitting inside the head, with a spring mounted pin which, when pulled, allows the rudder to tilt up 90 degrees, generally of white fiberglass construction.


The mast is unstayed like the Finn, approximately 19' long, Sitka spruce. Luff grooved, for bolt-rope luff sail. A stainless flexible keeper plate slides through the mast yoke to hold mast in place if knocked down. The mast can have a plastic protective sleeve which fit around the mast to prevent chafe damage to the mast as it turns in the yoke. The original masts were supplied by the Royce company of Costa Mesa, CA.

The flexible mast allowed for flattening of sail in winds, with controls adjusted properly, like the Finn. The spruce boom is 10' in length, rectangular, grooved for the bolt rope, with down haul and outhaul. Some early outhaul designs had a metal bail attached to the after end through which a wire outhaul ran, swaged to a wire and run to a cleat on the bottom of the boom near the mainsheet block through a groove in the boom's and the tag runs to a cleat.

The gooseneck is pin-style with a 90 degree tang that has a hole in it and sits over a screw below the stainless pin receiver on the mast, preventing the boom from swinging independent of the mast. The mast rotates. The halyard is wire and rope, and has a ball-type stop on the wire that fits into a fitting at the masthead.

The downhaul is attached to a small track car mounted on the tack grommet, which rides down a 6" long track mounted to the mast. Either the downhaul cleats off below the track, or run to a deck-block and run aft to a cleat behind the daggerboard. Next, the boom vang block should be mounted to a point on the boom halfway between the gooseneck and the mainsheet block. There are two variations on how the inboard end is mounted. There is a stainless bail with a mounting hole bolted to the mast - the boomvang block with built in cleat can be mounted to this, or, as in the downhaul setup for the serious racer, the vang can be run to a deck mounted block and then aft to a cleat behind the daggerboard for easy access. The vang should have a 3:1 purchase.

The mainsheet traveler is a ringed slide riding on a 5/8 track mounted amidships, with small fairleads and cleats mounted inside the gunwales. The original fairleads and cleats were cast aluminum. The mainsheet block is a fiddle attached to the slide, and a dual sheave block on the boom with the upper. The sheet comes off the upper large sheave to a combination block/clamcleat mounted to the deck swivel for a 6:1 purchase. Most of the original hardware was made by Nicro/Fico in Australia.

Variations are common, with some very late boats reputed to have been made with tube travelers and so on. Note: replacement masts run $1,000. Original traveler parts and blocks are difficult, if not impossible to acquire.


The Kite's sail is a bolt-rope style (luff and foot), having a 6-inch headboard with a brass halyard grommet, three battens, the top and bottom ones being 24", 30", 24". Because of the mast flex, the sail can be flattened and, with down/outhauls/vang, adjusted for speed in wind and can absorb puffs. The Kite Class logo is a black stylized "fat Nike whoosh" shape, with a stylized "K" inside it. Newport Boats apparently had a manufacturing agreement with McKibben Sails of Irvine, CA to make all of their OEM sails. McKibben has long been out of business, and since the Kite class is inactive, finding a sail manufacturer for a replacement is difficult. Only one company, Super Sailmakers, of Ft. Lauderdale, FL, is currently making them, and the cost is $500 plus shipping and handling as of 2009.


The Kite Class is inactive, but the Kite Dinghy has a Portsmouth Yardstick of 100.9. Corrected for wind velocity using beaufort numbers, at BN=4 (11-16 knots), the rating is adjusted to 101. The formula is as follows: Corrected Time (CT)=Elapsed Time (ET)/rating X 100. Seeing as how close that is to a 0 rating, the Kite could conceivably be a benchmark rating boat for Portsmouth ratings. However, the Thistle, with a DPN=83 is the benchmark from which others are compared. At one time, in the late 1960s, however, it was one of the most popular classes in Newport Beach, and one race, The Flight of the Kites, had as many as 200 competitors. The little boat suffered more from corporate malaise than sailor interest, unfortunately


See above also.

The boot stripe was the most commonly checked option. The boot stripe was in-the-mold gelcoat.


The Kite is designed to float if knocked down and will not sink, if hull integrity is not breached and the internal foam functions. It is very difficult for it to "turn turtle," and the self-bailing, high deck floor can quickly drain a water-full boat underway. It's wide gunwales are comfortable, and the high freeboard make it fairly dry. It is not a "tender" boat and does not capsize too easily. A Kite dinghy is ideal for one adult or two adults and one or more children. It takes winds of about 15 knots to plane, depending on crew weight. The Kite is very sturdy and not a one-man wet board boat, with room to carry a cooler or other necessities.

Kite dinghies can be found for as little as no cost or $100, but, the mast, rudder and daggerboard can raise that figure if repairs/replacements are required. A Kite dinghy in good condition with all the equipment and a trailer could easily run $1000, which, overall, is much cheaper than a Laser or a Lido 14.