Friday, November 14, 2014

Pumping the Board

Archie's NNE ~12-14Kn (20m)
Enough wind to get out for a quick solo session. First couple of tacks felt like there was enough there to go upwind, but eventually pulled out at the bottom of Archie's. Walked right up to the middle beach between the rock that was almost exposed on the outgoing tide to get a bit more of a run at it as well as clearing some kids out in the surf. I knew that there would be sand out there, so even though there were a few more rocks than normal on entry, it turned out Ok. Couple of good tacks with more pace out the back (surprising since I was expecting the NNE to make the air cleaner even on the beach), but I didn't really make too much headway. The wind dropped off 1-2 knots to make it a task even getting up on the board, so I brought it in to the beach just as Ben had arrived to set up. Ben's not having too much luck at Archie's.

I was trying to explain a technique to Ben that I'd been using inn light winds to generate pace on start. I was releasing the edge and pushing out on the board to carve into a new line with more speed. It was hard to explain, but I knew I'd used the technique somewhere else. Skating? Tried to equate it to tic-tacking, but the forces applied weren't right. Surfing? Pumping a wave for speed? YES! Unfortunately Ben hadn't surfed either, but the parallels are really close.

On a wave you push down with the board while extending out your body, then compress as the board floats back up to the top of the wave before pushing hard again driving the board down. The extending and compressing keeps your head height (and body weight) about the same on the wave, but generates speed by applying more power on the down stroke to "raise" your weight (in relative terms compared to the board), then using that stored potential by dropping the weight (in relative terms compared to the board by crouching) to allow the board to float back up to the top of the wave without much power used.

In kitesurfing, the kite pulls at an angle that, when combined with gravity, makes the flat water surface act like the angled part of a wave. Pumping then works in the same way, but you don't need to keep positioning yourself back to the top of the wave as any part of the water surface will be "angled" as long as there is enough kite pull. Hmm. I wonder if this means that pumping is better with the kite lower?

It seems as I was too hasty to ditch the skate reference as it's more or less the same when pumping a halfpipe or when pumping over long distances (rather than just tic-tacking).

Archie's & Kelly's  NE ~13-16Kn (1h)
All fired up about pumping, I went out on Thursday to check out what I'd learnt. It seems that the initial pump when combined with a relatively backward kite position leads to a lot of acceleration, but continued pumps didn't feel worthwhile. I tried a couple of other techniques but didn't really achieve much past the first pump off a turn. It interesting that going over waves also forced me into a pump, but there were only a couple of times when it also resulted in acceleration.

I gave up on pumps for a bit and tacked hard upwind to up above the Kelly's flags for a little bit more practice on wave jumping. The mid-tide and moon rock positioning meant I kept out from the real shallow water, but there were still enough ramps on offer to boost off. No floaters this time, but one 2m+ jump again that I landed with speed.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Wind Shadows

Archie's ENE ~9-11 Kn (5mins)
Sweltery Saturday and I was keen to get in the water after mowing the lawn. Called Ben down after looking at it from the beach as marginal but building. Turned out it didn't build and the kite could barely launch. I had thought that I was getting better at picking the wind strength by feel on my face, but the lack of ANY white caps and only light palm tree movement should have been a firmer giveaway.

Archie's ENE ~11-14 Kn (40 mins)
Sunday looked to be a little better and I was keen enough with Scott around to go down even if it was going to be just a beach session. I went out first, but could barely make headway through the surf with the wind only barely cross-shore. Board-dragged out about 50m off the beach and could get up and going a lot easier, enough to do a couple of long reaches back and forth while slowly going upwind away from the shore. The wind definitely felt stronger that far off the beach, possibly 1-2 knots more.

Came in to let Scott have a go as Ben was hitting the water. He struggled too on his 17m and even board-dragged further out than I had to get a good run at it. The wind might have dropped another knot or 2 and Ben barely got up on the plane. I had a go on the 17m for comparison and, convinced that the wind was going to be stronger further out, took it out about 50m to try. I failed 3 times to get up on the plane due to the kite not reacting quick enough to give a 2nd dive while going forward and not changing my technique to the larger kite. Pretty sure the wind had dropped off too, but wasn't really in the mood to take mine out again as a final comparison.

Last night I'd watched this video about wind shadows. Applying the "3 times height" rule in front of the trees at Archie's it should be clean by the time I'm in the water at low tide. Added to this that the kite should be higher than the trees so it shouldn't really be affected too much even closer in. I think there's something else going on about it being more windy out further. It's not the first time I've noticed it, but it was really noticeable today. I'd like to find a little more official wind shadow video if possible.

Saturday, November 08, 2014

Solo session to the Basin

Elliott Heads ENE ~9-11Kn (15m)
Planned to go down to Elliott after work on Wednesday regardless of conditions as Ben's dad was in town and he was keen to see the kite fly. The 17m felt marginal, and Ben's first few runs didn't get onto the plane. I had a go in the middle but could barely get going, certainly no upwind. Missed the turn back and hit a lull that kept me floating downstream on the incoming tide. Eventually bodydragged to shore once I was well behind the point, but the kite still fell out of the sky just as I was getting to land. Walk of shame back out to the front for Ben to have another go. Only another 1 Knot would have made the difference I think. So close to being able to go out with no white caps.

Archie's NE ~14-16Kn (1h)
Thursday afternoon had enough going for it to head down to the front by myself. 1/2 tide made setup a little easier on the exposed flat, but I kept all my gear up high for the return trip. Wind felt almost ENE on start and could easily make upwind on the first few tacks. Enough wind to sheet in 1/2 to make it a little more pleasant on my lower back, which is starting to ache after all the kiting. Kept heading upwind and it took about 20 tacks to get right up to the basin again. Looking back down the beach to Archie's felt good. Lots of progress.

Up the top end of Kelly's there's a lull spot behind the rocks near the basin. It looked like it should have been getting clean wind, but I hit it 3 times in a row. Maybe it's got a ball of air tucked in behind the headland that pushes out onto the water? Didn't bring the kite down, but a little scary. Headed downwind to about mid-Kelly's to play around in the surf. Getting confident in going almost all the way to the shore, carving upwind before transitioning to a backhand carve to get going. When I get it right I'm hitting the first wave with power, but usually absorbing it and looking for a more useful ramp. Almost every run out had a good looking ramp somewhere, sometimes another 20m out past the break though.

Ramps. Ramps are fun. I'm starting to like the open surf more and more. Certainly pleased I learned on the flat stuff, but hitting a ramp at full speed just LAUNCHES you. I managed to do a 2m+ jump on one wave. Up long enough for the kite to kick in and keep me up there a bit longer. Very sketchy landings off the larger jumps though, and I'm not getting the kite in motion to keep going after the landing.

Solo landing the kite still has its issues. Kept the kite low and immediately hauled in on the main line to pull it over. However, the kite stayed semi-propped on the ground while I worked my way up the lines to the junction. Pulling a single line to the bottom side made it flop a little, but as I headed more upwind to give it more angle to drop the kite, it caught a gust and flipped over. Much easier to reel in once it was on its back, but it felt ungainly and not completely under control. I think heading upwind was a mistake. Thinking about it now, I should have followed the top line rather than the bottom line too.

Sunday, November 02, 2014

Scott is Sand Skating

Archie's Northerly ~12-18Kn (30mins)
Went out on Monday back to the same sand launching spot with Ben. He helped get mine up in the air but then had lots of difficulty launching his own. Turned out to be REALLY blustery and the kite probably needed a little more air to keep its shape. Wasn't particularly pleasant and didn't do much past get out on the water.

Ben finally got his kite up, but dropped out of the sky when getting ready to go near the rocks. The kite fell onto the rocks before catching a gust and shooting off. No damage to the kite, but scary for later solo efforts at low tide. After one run he then lost his board in the surf and had to park the kite to find the board swept all the way down to the south of the beach. Not a great day.

Archies NNE ~13-16Kn (1h)
Early Saturday and I was a bit surprised to find the wind up enough for a session even though WillyWeather and PredictWind had it pegged below 12 and coming NW. Airport reading of 13-15 felt about right though. Scott had a much smoother launch with lots of beach to work with. He eventually got up enough courage to start diving the kite and going for a sand skate. Not sure if it was on purpose but the technique he was trying was very similar to a water start so I encouraged him to keep at it. The beach was furrowed with about 20 heel carves by the end of the session. Carina had her first go too, and with Scott holding the kite I could help Carina get the launch under control. Went much smoother. I could also hold her on the ground using the back rope on the harness when it got a bit big on her.

Went out for another 45 min session with a fair bit of headway upwind to start off, then a couple more jumps on the way out when the kite had the power. Got slowly worse and had to really work the kite to get going. Eventually had lost all the upwind gains and dropped the kite for Scott to have another go. More furrows for 15 mins before I was was keen to go out for another quick session.

Felt very refreshing to have an extended break and watch someone else working the kite to get some ideas to test. Thought it might be a little odd to have to give up the board for Scott & Carina to practice, but it's probably going to be more interesting overall and make me want to go out hard.

Archie's NE ~13-15Kn (45min)
Even though the tide was in late Sunday afternoon, Scott was prepared to help launch and watch from the beach. Had to go into the water to get it up, but the wind felt constant enough to not be too much of an issue. Made some initial headway, but struggled again with lowering winds. Felt a little odd to be heading skew to the beach. Got to work on feeling my way for upwind potential regardless of heading.

Managed a couple of wave jumps. Landed all of them, but I'm not getting enough speed to continue. Might be partly due to the wind, but I'm also possibly thinking too much about the oncoming ramp and getting a good pop that the kite position isn't even really registering. I know sometimes I'm diving it as I'm approaching the wave to give more power to pull against, but it's not really a load & pop, more like power up and launch. For the moment I'm happy that I'm staying upright even after more air.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

To the buoys & back

Archie's ~11-13 Kn (45min)
Lots of family down for the weekend, but it looked Ok to head out for a quick go and possibly try to get Scott & Carina or Grieg a go in the lighter winds. Dad helped launch it and I could go out from the middle of the rocks where the low tide had revealed a sandy spot.

Went out to the shark buoys and back a couple of times, but just wasn't enough to make upwind progress. Pulled out before I got to the swimmers and walked it back up to the sandy spot for a another go. Made a couple of small jumps off the waves going out, but wasn't keen on pushing it as I was losing so much downwind anyway.

Archie's ~13-18 Kn (1h)
Launched Scott for his first go with the kite but it dipped and pulled him along the beach for about 40m. We both got it under control before it got to people or trees, but Scott's without some skin. Once he'd got the hang of the kite we put it down and swapped over.

Went out from the same sandy spot and could immediately make upwind, although starting and turning still needed a couple of dives to really get going. When out at the shark buoys I couldn't really do my normal pivot & carve to maintain kite speed, preferring to drop back into the water and do a clean start. This was more for fear of losing the board that far out and having a long way to go to get back to shore. I did lose it once about 1/2 way out, but a body drag both ways of about 20m was enough to easily get ahead of the board. Pivot and carves were a lot easier in close to the beach and the shallow water practice at Elliot helped a lot.

Made a couple of wave jumps: one felt like a skateboard ramp where I launched off the first and landed on the back shoulder of the next, one long floater that ended up with the kite heading back the other way, a couple off the waves about 20m out from the break. Most had me leaving the front of the board up high (about 45 degrees) to make sure I landed on the tail. Felt ungainly, but I only had about 10% jump fails.

Fun session.        

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Windy Wednesday

Elliott Heads ~18-20Kn (1h)
Following a big weekend I'd intentionally taken a break on Monday even though it might have been just enough to get get going. Tuesday looked really good but almost forgot an after school meeting at that time. Ben got out for a decent session, but it was down more toward the 12Kn range.

Wednesday remained above 15Kn from lunch on and was closer to 20 when Ben and I finally got down there at 4pm. Really surprised that there wasn't anyone else down there as it was getting big for our 14m & 17m kites.

Another 20 or so load & pops and 1/2 jumps. I figured out that the kite is ending up high on the load & pops, so at some point I'm subconsciously dragging it up and then back down during the trick. Since it's not ripping upward it's not giving the the lift that it should for a proper jump, but I'm happy getting a little higher each time. Managed a 1m+ height jump with about 4m travel. There were other of similar length that I released the bar to land early as I hadn't got the positioning of my body right to land. It feels like I should be working on the kite next to go for jumps proper before coming back to look at load & pops in a different light.

Next task: go higher, land better.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Windy Weekend

Elliott Heads SE ~16-20Kn (4h)
The predictions all had this weekend being a windy one. Ben and I headed down after an early lunch on Saturday to get stuck into a big session out on the water. Top of the list for me was to try some hooked in load & pops, as well as getting confidence in going faster rather than working on upwind ability.

Tried the sand anchor again for launching with Ben and Mark keeping guard of the kite in case something went wrong. Much better having the caribina hooked onto the chicken loop rather than the flag-out line. Relatively easy to get down to that level and I could even massage the kite with handlebar pressure if needed. 2nd launch went a lot smoother but I'm still not sure I've got more confidence using it over a beach launch.

Spent the first hour tacking and generally playing about. Found that the bar pressure was a little much so I sheeted it in completely and left it there for the rest of the afternoon.

After a bite to eat we decided to try a circuit of the island. I could quite easily cut upwind through the proper river mouth but Ben had difficulty cutting upwind as much. By the time I got to the point, the chop was getting annoying, and decided to bail when Ben crashed and lost more ground. We tried again later on in the day, but once again the chop just made the ride uncomfortable.

Went back to runs straight off the beach while the tide was up to give a lot of knee-high water to play around in. Attempted about a dozen load & pops with about 1/2 being successfully landed. The rest made sure I was going home with more water up my nose.

Parked the kites at 4pm for another break, but the wind picked up substantially to bring the rest of the kiters in. We hung around for 1/2 hr and got a bite to eat, but it still kept up over 20Kn. Called it a day on a happy note rather than going out for a blustery session that may not have allowed me to practice much more.

More chats with the locals to learn more about the conditions and equipment choice. Everyone's still amazed we're out on larger kites, but it doesn't seem to be that big a deal to me. In truth I haven't been out on a smaller kite so I guess I don't know what I'm missing (if anything).

Elliott Heads SE ~18-20Kn (2.5h)
The predictions were for the Sunday to be even windier, but after church it was reading 16-20 at the aerodrome. We got down by about 1:30 and it looked about the same across the water. Enough people around to launch us both and get out quick.

Spent most of the time at the top of the old river mouth practicing load & pops, varying turns and going faster. Did a couple of runs right out over the breaking waves, but losing the board out there meant it got pushed in by the waves a long way, and was a lot more work in the body. Maybe for later when I'm bored of the flat stuff.

I landed almost all of the load & pops, but the amount of height I was getting didn't seem to be very controllable. It's very likely that there's a technique I'm not quite getting that's making a bigger impact than the setup and pop timing or that I'm timing it wrong and I'm going higher when I think I've executed incorrectly.

Came in at 4pm again and the wind picked up past 20Kn on queue. Couldn't see anyone on the beach to help land, so I dumped it in the sea from about 8 o'clock while punching out, then kept pulling one of the centre lines until I got to the kite.

Overall a great weekend. No injuries apart from a sunburnt scalp, and lots of progression.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Lonely Day

Archie's NE ~12-14Kn (45mins)
Both forecasts had today as a bit of a lull but it seems there's nothing like looking at the beach yourself. Seemed good enough. Kids were tied up with homework so I snuck down for a solo run. Launched by putting the kite out and attaching the lines to the back side, then then pulling the kite to an offset upwind position with tight back line (red), then hurrying back to hook in and launch. Flopped a little, but didn't go completely downwind like last week's failed launch.

Board-dragged out past some swimmers and was able to get up pretty easily. After 2 runs it felt like I had enough upwind to go almost directly parallel to the beach, and with no real reason to stay out from Archie's, I headed north to the swimming flags at Kelly's.  Next run was right out to the first shark buoy off Archie's, then another long run right up to the far end of Kelly's. Kept heading upwind until I made it out the front of the basin.

One thing I noticed was that aiming for a buoy when going south was pretty easy, but once I'd run out of buoys it was a bit hard to keep a tack with no sight marker.

Pretty tiring session, and most tacks toward the end were to just give my back leg and arms a little rest. Pulled the line adjustment in to 1/2 to see if it had less bar pressure, but still the same upwind. Yep, less pressure, but not the same upwind. In fact the kite was struggling to get me up on turns, but it could keep an even tack or slightly better once going.

Headed back to Archie's before the wind died and I was completely knackered. With no-one to help land and a pretty short beach, I decided to dump the kite into the ocean. Still not happy with flagging out the kite, but it took on enough water over the sail the that it was going nowhere. Kite was now drenched and made for a wet, sandy pack up.

There happened to be a photographer from Gladstone on the headland while I was out over Kelly's, and he'd come over while I was packing up to offer the shots.

First successful solo day. Feels good to just get out and have fun. Hope there's more to come. Big weekend on the way though, so it's most likely a return to Elliott heads.  

Kitesurfing - Start of Season 2015

I've been kitesurfing more and more after picking up a new 14 metre F.One Bandit 7 back in February.  It seems that most knew the windier season was mainly summer, but with the extra sail I was able to get out every 2-3 weeks or so. Hopefully I'll have time some day to write down the journey up 'til now, but here's at least a record of progress and thoughts to keep me stretching further ...

26/09 (3h) – Wind a pretty constant 18kn from the SE for the majority of the day. About 15 kiters down at Elliott for the first good day of the season. Holidays also brought 3 young guys from Noosa up to give the local spot a shake up. First time I’d seen anyone ride with boots, and light enough to be out on 7’s.

27/09 (15m) – Predicted to be a little stronger than yesterday, but turned out to be well up over 20Kn. First time the kite felt like it was going to lift me off the ground while directly overhead with full sheet out. Scary. Decided eventually to test it on the water and it actually performed easier than expected. Heading upwind was easy and the kit pull was less on the water, more like a normal run. Turning was hairy though, and gusts coming through caught me off-guard a couple of times. I possibly could have stayed out, but felt dangerous if something went wrong. Pulled the pin after 4 runs and helped Ben launch his 12m. First day when I’m the one on the beach watching Ben get out rather than Ben watching me on marginal days.

29/09 (45m) – Got down late to Archie’s and Ben had already got his 17m self-launched. He’d also done a couple of runs, but had lost ground in the ~12kn winds and had popped out before the south rocks. I was keen on testing the sand anchor, so got my kite pumped while Ben tested another run only to find himself exiting the water back down at the rocks again.

The sand anchor worked Ok to give a solid footing, but needs serious work to figure out how to effectively self-launch using it. I’d tied the flagout line to the anchor to give me enough time to attach the handlebar to the harness, but I couldn’t put the flagout line back onto the harness without taking the weight of the kite off the anchor. The kite also needed a lot of Ben’s attention to sit stable. I’m not sure whether it would have inverted or rolled, but the blustery winds didn’t give the kite any real time to just sit and wait for it to be launched. Also the sand anchor was a little too close to the sand to work effectively. I had to be on my knees most of the time while attaching the handlebar, and if there was a serious pull I’d be on my face.

Made a couple of runs, but couldn't make any upwind. Eventually pulled in a little too close to the rocks and got hand and knee scrapes while trying to exit. Hand signals don't seem to be very effective either.

08/10 (30m) - Another 20+ day at Elliott. Enough wind to push the kite even with the board holding it down. I'd set up the sand anchor to test it out again but eventually decided to watch Ben on his 12m before going out on his gear for ~1/2 hr to test the conditions. Almost pulled off the sand in the heavy gusts, but pretty controllable on the water. Mistakes mean you take the the air though ...

12/10 (15m) - Not enough wind to go, but it felt like there was enough to get the kite up and let Scott & Carina have a play. There were enough lulls to make it VERY touchy and decided to park it instead.

14/10 (5m) - Tried a self-launch off the beach in variable ~12Kn. The kite dragged back to almost downwind and couldn't catch enough to flip up the top edge. Was kinda stuck until Sandy arrived in time to help launch. Wind felt really dicey again and parked the kite without going out.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Gaming in Ed - TeacherCraft

Some notes from the Gaming in Education conference on Seann Dikker's presentation: TeacherCraft - Amazing teachers using Minecraft in the Classroom :

Games involve Play, which is a VOLUNTARY, explorative activity where the player has an internally compelling story or challenge. Once you make it a WHOLE classroom activity it's not a game anymore, but an assignment or task.

Minecraft is a blank slate - literally, it's like the old slates or nowadays paper. How does paper help in your classroom? Well, Minecraft can help in the same way.

Teachers see themselves as learning experience designers.

Good designers look for NEW WAYS TO ENGAGE rather than specifically best practice. Addressing a room of good designers you would expect them to all take the core concept, but express it in new and meaningful ways.

Teachers finding ideas in non-subject areas. Goes against the Highly Qualified teacher status.

Out of the 49 investigated teachers, 0% had gaming as a hobby or had a conference session that validated gaming as a teaching tool. The majority heard about it in various ways, but drew the validation from personal play (29%) or watching the kids play (42%). Leans toward PD with both teachers and students, or PD with actual use of the product.

Teachers need a place to test where failing is Ok. Relax, take it easy. Especially with students in a lunchtime or after school setting so that failure doesn't impact curriculum.