C-kites are recognizable by their square wing tips and lack of a bridle. If you lay a C kite down deflated and look at it from above it would look like a rectangle. The lines are attached at the 4 corners of the rectangle. Their profile when viewed from the front also looks more like the shape of the letter C, when compared to the flatter profiles of most other kite designs.
As a beginner coming into kitesurfing if I could give one word of advice when buying a kite, it would be stay away from C kites. They don't have much depower so you can be fast in trouble.
Bow kites we will classify simply as any kite with a bridle (a lot of interlinking lines running across the leading edge). Again if you lay a bow kite out deflated and look at it from above it would be more triangular in shape, due to the swept back nature of the wings.
The lines do not attach directly to the leading edge. They attach to the bridle which is itself connected to the leading edge.
Bow kites, as a family, offer much more de-power than C kites (principally due to the bridle, and the flatter, more “wing like” profile) so when you let go of the bar the kite loses all, or most of its power and slowly drifts back to earth in a controlled manner. For this reason they are generally considered to be a lot safer than C kites and this is why nearly all schools will now teach on some type of bow kite.
Hybrid kites are somewhere in between bow kites and C kites and generally aim to give the feel of a C kite combined with the safety of a bow kite.
Many old school riders complained when bow kites were first released that they did not turn with enough power. Bow kites tend to turn very fast but they sacrifice power in the turn for agility. C kites tend to turn in massive arcs, which gives you a huge pull, which is great if that what you’re after…for kite loops etc, but not so good if you’re taking your first tentative steps towards riding. Hybrid kites were designed to bridge this gap offering kites with de-power (like bows) but that also turn with power (like C kites).
Delta kites are bow kites with a much more swept back wing profile.
The precise angle of sweep is what defines a Delta kite, but most manufacturers now classify any kite with this type of profile as a Delta kite. They will tend to be short and fat in shape. If I had to recommend you to buy any type of kite as a beginner it would be one of these. They are easy to re-launch, offer forgiving piloting and the power tends to ‘turn on’ slowly, giving you much more time to react. What they will do is cut a lot of the frustration out of learning and the re-launch ability will keep you smiling for years!