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.