Kite Switchblade 14
Wind 15 knots
I booked onto the second Ben Wilson Bali Accelerator Kitesurf Camp this year that ran from 2 to 8 August. Ben is at the forefront of kitesurfing big waves - he is one of the best in the world at this.
I have a copy of his Smack video which provides great information and tips about kitesurfing waves, but I decided that the opportunity to attend this trip and get expert coaching from both Ben and Bruce Exton would be a great way to learn faster with much lower risk of personal or equipment damage.
The next several posts detail my experiences on the camp.
You also read about my other experiences in Bali on my personal blog.
We met in Seminyak, a beach district north of Kuta and travellend to our destination for the camp - a lovely quiet spot with a nice surfing break.
About the location
The beach is not huge and there are some daunting cliffs and a very nasty bomby downwind. This is not the place for inexperienced kiters, and there was not room for many more than on our camp - around 12 kiters. It is also not a good place to kite alone, there were dozens of kites retrieved downwind in a pumping surf by the Bali boys paid to do so. The location is not publicised for these reasons. Its basically not cool to just drop in when there is a camp in progress.
The first kiting session
We walked down to the beach and had a briefing from Ben and Bruce. The basic warning was to watch out for the cliff area on the west end of the beach, either coming in before it or bail out past it.
I took off into the 1.5m surf, jumping in at the deep end so to speak. I got going then hit a couple of large broken waves which stopped me. The kitet then fell from the sky in a hole in the wind, so I popped the safety and swam in the short distance to the shore. Fully releasing the kite early is recommended to reduce the risk of waves ripping the kite, which is more likely if there is tension on the lines.
The local Balinese helpers (paid) retrieve the kite when it reaches the shore and carry it back to the launch location. On a couple of occasions they carried my board for me when I walked back with the kite in the air.
I went quite a distance out and enjoyed the marvellous view back the headland, the dark sandy beaches, coconut palms and some inland hills. There is little development in this area, so there is a lot of vegetation and green.
On one run in a large wave looming up. I was heading for it but was a bit taken aback by its size, so I wussed off as it broke thunderingly in front with my sitting "on top of the falls".
Exciting stuff - the adrenlin was really pumping. Getting into surf is definately a new dimension and a whole new skill set. This instructional course looks like a good way to get into it and minimise potential epics.
I mostly stayed out beyond the break and concentrated on staying upwind. I turned around just before the surf zone and went back out.
I crashed the kite once quite a way out. Having the board leash was great, as I was able to leave the board and concentrate on relaunching the kite. The leash did get tangled a few times when I reset my feet for direction changes. This doesn't happen if you ride toe down one way and heelside the other.
A downwinder was tempting,
New things today
- Board leash - this is good to have but a bit tricky to fit. The technique is to fly the kite overhead, let go with both hands and quickly do up the ankle strap, and then grab the bar. It sounds easy but is a bit tricky. Conversely, the leash is best removed as soon as you reach the shore.
- Getting out through surf- speed is good as it helps punch through and over waves.
- I changed the way I attached my safety system. I put the leash clip on the chicken loop buckle below the bar rather than through the ring of the IDS line. There are actually 3 releases - the main above the bar loop, the IDS line (with a dicky velcro attachment around a pin), then at the bar where the leash attaches. Practicing the release system is highly recommended.
- I used the waist harness, which worked well, but did get a bit sore under the ribs.