Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Session 21: Ripping in a good breeze then another drift in

The sea breeze picked up during the afternoon with me stuck at work watching the bay winds chart. I left the office at 4:45 and caught the train home. Hot and oppressive humidity so a quick trip to Hampton beach was attractive even though it was getting late.

I was on the water about 6:30, in a bit of a rush. The leading edge bladder was a bit soft but I thought I would manage OK - wrong!

Up and going with speed in the 20 knot southerley. I used my new Garmin Foretrex 101 GPS today for the first time to track my speed and course. Maximum speed was 43.0 knots, which felt that fast too. I found some water in the battery compartment when I got home, despite it being rated waterproof, but luckily I was able to quickly wash and dry it and get it going with fresh batteries.

Turning to the left is going well, but not to the right. I continued past the rock groynes then plopped in the water. On getting going my kite hit the water. When relauching it the leading edge collapsed (not enough pressure!!) then the kite jellyfished. I couldn't relaunch the kite despite pulling on rear lines and the front lines repeatedly. It was a tangle blob. I got blown in past the rock groynes (good) I ended up drifting to the sea wall short of the beach, with the 1m bay surf breaking against it (not good).

Yuk. I popped the safety and swam in to retrieve and secure the kite before it got pulverised. Luckily I was wearing "surf socks" so I was able to walk over the rocks without too much hassle. Then I retrieved kite lines and the board, deflated the kite and walked back to the car.

Here is my track log. You can see the drift in.

Lessons learned today:
  • ALWAYS put good pressure in the bladders, especially the leading edge (main) bladder
  • Do not be in too much of a hurry to check equipment, make sure you have enough time to enjoy yourself and avoid an epic
  • Don't trust electrical equipment that is supposed to be waterproof, put it in a protective case as well!
  • Watch where you turn while learning. If you stuff up the take off and tangle the kite where will you drift in to? Beach is good. Rocks, groyne, seawall or pier is not good.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Session 20: Hampton beach in 20 knots - the best day so far

On the water at 3pm with a strong consistent 22 knot Southerly blowing. The water was warm, the sun was shining, and there were quite a few beachgoers about. Also a lot of kites - about 10 to 15 were out, and about a dozen windsurfers too.

Managed to launch on a section of beach that the kites had staked out, with assistance. Good speed heading out and back. I did some great runs - the longest one so far I think - and I spotted some large jellyfish in the water some distance out. Not sure if they sting, but I didn't want to find out.

I tried some heel turn jibesl, and was pleased to succeed. I was much better turning to the left - I got the board planing down wind and did not have much trouble converting to a left tack. Turning to the right was less successful. Not enough planing, and I stalled back into the water.

Turns are great to do - it really puts it all together - and they reduce the risk of being pulled off your feet when doing a water start.

I was kiting for about 2 hours, experimenting with leaning back, edging and board direction to get maximum speed. Exhiliarating, fast, ripping through the water. This is my best day on water to date.

I need to perfect turns, then I will think about some tentative jumps.

One guy lost his board, I stopped to assist him, which was a mistake. His kite was low on the water, and I couldn't get away from him cleanly. When our kite lines got crossed I immediately pulled the safety to release my kite. After the last time when my lines were damaged, I was keen to avoid a repeat. He held onto his, and was hoiked into the air a bit until mine came free.

I swam quite some distance after my kite which blew into the beach and was secured by a bystander. I re-rigged and did a few more runs, but was very tired so I stopped at about 6pm.

The moral of the story is: don't render assistance unless you are quite sure you can avoid getting your kite tangled with someone elses.