Wednesday, November 26, 2014

North Easters

Archie's & Kelly's NE 14-18 Kn (2 Hours)
Saturday was looking good. Went out for a quick go before Scott had a session in the water. Went out again with the wind building but packed up after 45 mins as Scott was heading back and I was happy with the session. Ben showed up as we were packing up so I pumped up and headed out again. With both of us out in 16+ winds we tacked right up to Kelly's and stayed out for another hour tacking and using the waves. A fair bit more blustery and I didn't get as much air into the kite that exacerbated the surging. Not really much extra learned but the first time in a while that we were both out in the open ocean. Ben stayed out further on his 12m while I worked into the beach and back to the shark buoys. Came back happy but sunburnt across my lower back where the rash shirt rode up underneath the harness.

Archie's NE ~13-15 Kn  (45min)
Quick go after work on Tuesday. Consistent North Easters have moved a lot of the sand southward and have kept me focused on Archie's as a kiting destination. Another Solo run.

Archie's NNE ~12-13Kn (15m)
Felt Ok, but not really enough to get going on Thursday. Bit of a disappointing session.

Archie's NNE ~13-15Kn (30m)
More wind for me, but Ben struggled to get going as Deo looked on.Scott ended the session with a couple of good upwind body drags as I headed off for the St John's Christmas party.  

Archie's NE ~14-16Kn (1.5h)
Everything looked almost perfect for a day out on the water. Turned out to be a great session with Ben and Scott joining in too. Sandy managed to video parts of the session and I was a little diisappointed in the height I was getting off the waves in the video. I know I had done larger jumps than the recorded section but it feels bigger out on the water. I may have to revise my 2m+ jump ideas.

Scott went out for a body drag with the board. Although the last session he made some upwind progress, we ended up way downwind after a couple of uncontrolled boosts. A little more kite control needed when using one hand. More time in the water though, and a lot harder learning in the waves.

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 in 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.