Saturday, February 28, 2009

A downwinder from Ricketts Point to Hampton

Session 43
  • Wind: 20knots, southerly
  • Max speed: 32.4 km/h
  • Trip: 25.8 km
  • Time: 58:21
  • Note: GPS was not working correctly, so the above information is not accurate.
Stuart contacted me on Saturday morning about doing a downwinder from Ricketts Point Beaumaris to Hampton Beach. The wind picked up during the afternoon, so we met at Hampton to leave a vehicle there then drove to Ricketts Point. The wind wasn't strong so I took out my 14m kite. We got on the water just after 4pm and headed out. Stuart had a couple of mates with windsurfers, but we weren't sure there would be enough wind for them so we took off after a few tacks.

My first downwinder of note. It was fantastic. Cruising at speed and time for a good look around. We headed out a way. It felt great to be out so far in the elements, travelling with the good grace of the wind.

Plonking in the water briefly I felt some stings when I came out. Looking in the water, there were heaps of large jellyfish around so I guess I one got me! I could feel some stings on my back through my one mm wetsuit and around my face, but they didn't hurt much and dissipated quickly.

We tacked back in several times to balance out the work on the legs. It is nice to come back into shore for a closer look. We came right in close the wreck of the Cerberus. Surely it should be salvaged and restored. It has mostly collapsed into the water now. In my youth we swam out to it and snorkelled inside it and clambered around the decks. It has greatly deteriorated over the last 30 years.

We had some great views all the way to Melbourne. We passed the Sandringham Yacht club, then rounded corner to Hampton. After a few tacks near the breakwater we came to shore, both stoked by the experience. Going touring on a kiteboard is fast, efficient and fun. I wanted to keep going to St Kilda.

No kitecam this time. Next downwinder I will fit it to my helmet.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Hampton in 30 knots with bushfires burning

Session 41.
  • Wind: 25 to 30 knots
  • Kite: 7m Crossbow
  • Max 36.4km/h
  • Trip: 22.6
  • Time: 2:32
  • Dist 8.7
The wind was blowing hard when I got home from work so I headed off for some kiting. The strong southerly was playing havoc with the bushfires still burning, including some near the Dandenongs, but I thought I would make the most of it.

A couple of kiters were coming in when I arrived and looked a bit overpowered, so I decided to take out the 7m Crossbow. It flew well and delivered heaps of power. Very agile in the sky too. I was tempted to try some kiteloops, but I think I will practice first in a lighter wind.

I was able to keep up wind and do some jumps off the growing swell. Good to get some use out of the 7m kite, it is only the third time I have used it.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Altona for the first time in 24 knots

Session 41. Speed, waves and jumping

  • Wind 25 knots southerly
  • Fine weather
  • Fairly busy

I finally made it to Altona Beach. After the tragic bushfires, some of which are still burning in Melbourne's water catchments and spreading smoke across the water, and a friend crashing badly in the A Grade bicycle race at Casey fields in the morning, it was great to get out on the water.

The wind speed was about 20 knots when I started, but I took out my Crossbow 12m as the forecast was for it to rise to 25-30 knots later in the afternoon.

Lot of people kiting on the water - 20 kites or more. But people all knew what they were doing, so it was good.

Closer to the shore, sandbanks create smooth water, so you can really get some speed up. However, the depth of the water varies, and depending on the tide you can suddenly find your board actually hitting sand. If you have a lot of speed, this could cause a big crash.

I took it easy for a while and then got out in the surf, kiting up to the end of the pier then back. The 1m surf provided some excitement and challenges. My board stopped in a couple of broken waves, but kiting between waves is a real blast.

I got one good jump in, landed it and kept going, which felt great.

Eventually I lost my board and was waiting for it to get washed in, but a friendly kiter brought it in for me.

I finished with some more fast flat water runs close to shore, then we hit the local pizza parlour before heading home.

Altona Beach feels like a small country seaside town. It is well worth a visit, the kiting is excellent, but as recommended, high and rising tide is best.