Monday, January 28, 2013

Kitesurfing with the madding crowd at Mentone

Session 219. Yet another great sea breeze this afternoon. 

I headed to Mentone Beach were Stuart and James were.  The wind was strong when I arrived so I pumped up my 10m kite and headed out.  A couple of guys were in the shallow water with their kites at 12, which made it difficult to get going.  I asked on guy to lower his kite. He said "I am trying to get going".  

If you are are new kiter, be aware that having your kite parked at 12 o'clock creates a real nuisance to others as it sticks up like a barrage balloon.  You are better of lowering it and only bringing it up high when you are doing a power stroke to get going.

The surf was good, I had quite a few nice runs and rode a few good waves.  It was quite crowded - about 12 other kiters were there, and most of them were in the waves close to shore.  Once out a bit further there was more room to move.  I did a long run over to the cliffs with Stuart, then another long run back towards Parkdale.  Coming back in the surf was good.  

When then the wind dropped a bit I was wishing I had my 12m kite, then it dropped some more so I came in and packed up.

After the Bay Crossing it was nice to just cruise about, go upwind and enjoy the waves again.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Kitesurfing across the bay from Rosebud to Port Melbourne

Session 219. Today was the big day.  After all the preparation and training, we kitesurfed Across the Bay to Conquer Cancer!

Cesar, Rick and I provided a briefing at Rosebud at 11 am covering the rules and details of the event which went well, then rigged our kites.

I got on the water at midday - there was more wind than last time - and did a few warm up runs out and back while the others got ready.  Cesar and I stopped and waited until everyone was on the water, which took a while.

Peter Campbell launching at Rosebud 
Then we headed off.  The wind was a tad light at first so we got well ahead and were requested by Rick to wait over the radio.  I was finding the radio difficult to use in its waterproof case but it was good to have.

The wind picked up and we were motoring.  We head around Hovells Pile then tracked directly towards Melbourne's skyscrapers visible over the horizon.  Then we tacked back towards the shore for some better scenery.

Peter Campbell behind support boat

I had a few lapse of concentration and came of the Sector 60 a few times.  Its certainly difficult to handle comms, route finding, buddy tracking and kitesurfing at the same time.

We tacked back in towards Frankston which was a welcome site, then headed directly towards Ricketts Point.  This was a fast run with some nice swell to surf down.  We waited for 5 minutes with our kites parked to regroup then kept going.

After another stack I my radio sling gave way.  I could see it bobbing upwind in the water but couldn't get to it. After a brief look around I kept going.  If you find a marine VHF radio washed up on the beach it could well be mine!

After Ricketts we were on the home run, but fatigue was building in.  I did some gybes, backed off speed and straightened my legs.  I took a while to work my way back to the front with Cesar. Everyone was handling the wind and swell great - it really was a sight to see.

The Coast Guard escort boat was nice to see too!

Across the Bay kitsurfers passing St Kilda

We came in close at Brighton and waited a short while before tackling the final run.  It was amazing how fast we passed Elwood and St Kilda on a straight tack towards Port Melbourne, then into the beach at last!

Across the Bay kitesurfers bayside

There were a lot of happy faces and tired bodies on the beach.  24 kiters started and 21 finished, which was a great effort.

Peter Campbell and Tim Nanninga at finish. Photo: Athol Hill

The event wouldn't have happened without our Cross Director Rick the support crew and boats, so big thanks to all of them.

The BBQ and drinks at the Port Melbourne Yacht Club was a great way to end the day.

Across the Bay Kitesurfers at Port Melbourne - Photo: Athol Hill

Donations are still open for Across the Bay to Conquer Cancer. Please consider contributing to this worthy cause.


Friday, January 25, 2013

Across the Bay to Conquer Cancer

After lots of training and preparation, tomorrow I and 24 other kitesurfers will attempt cross Port Phillip Bay from Rosebud to Port Melbourne on Australia Day.  The journey will be around 90km, we hope to complete it in around 3 to 4 hours.

The wind forecast is good so we are all set to go.

We are carrying safety equipment including PFDs, PLB/EPIRBs and SPOT tracking devices. We also have boat support.

You can follow @KiteAcrossBay to get live updates

You can donate to this worthy cause Across the Bay to Conquer Cancer

This will be a marathon trip - please wish us luck!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Kitesurfing the waves at Green Point

Session 218. What a summer for kitesurfing!  Got down to Hampton after work and straight out into 23 knots of glorious sea breeze.  There was a reasonable swell so I headed down to Green Point to enjoy the waves.  I am really enjoying the surfboard now and quite confident throwing in quick turns and also "parking the kite" while I ride them.  What a buzz!

Franz was out at Green Point and Cesar was enjoying the surf around the point too.  I did a massive boost on the surfboard and landed it - the key is to point the board downwind and bring the kite back to the direction of travel.

I did an even bigger boost - I am guessing around 5 meters - but came down with a thud.  Its great to get some good strong wind.

I did quite a few runs up to the point then down the reef break, then out and back up to Brighton.

I tried a few duck tacks by pointing the board upwind. I am not sure what to do next, the body rotation puzzles me.

The Spirit of Tasmania was heading down the channel out in the Bay as I headed back to Hampton. The wind dropped just as I got to the beach.

Green Point
Green Point

Geting brave - jumping the surfboard

Going back to Hampton, Spirit of Tasmania on horizon


Saturday, January 19, 2013

Kitesurfing downwinder Rosebud to Aspendale

Session 217.  We did a training downwinder from Rye to Aspendale today in preparation for the Across the Bay to Conquer Cancer event next weekend.  11 kiters participated, along with family, friends and supporters. We had one boat too.

We got down to Rosebud at 1:00pm but the wind was quite light. After some lunch I scored the task of being the "wind test dummy". I got my gear on, flew my kite, then headed down to the water with the Sector 60 board. It was a bit dicey getting out - there was some wind but there holes in it.

After a long walk out through the shallow water, I got up and going - just.  The wind coming off the land was unpredictable. Its unusual to have the normal wind direction inverted (offshore).  I did a couple of runs then headed out further, then the wind conked out and my kite landed on the water. I relaunched it after a while, got going a few times, but crashed it again.  This was a very frustrating period, but I figured those on the beach could at least see it what the conditions were like - i.e. not good!

Cesar swam out and helped relaunch my kite on one occasion.

The boat came out to watch me. I spoke to them on my marine VHF handheld and informed them that the wind conditions were not good.   It was handy having the radio as I could communicate with both the boat and the Coastguard, but I had to stop to operate it.

I decided to go downwind as best I could and head towards Dromana, figuring that was better than nothing.  Along the way another kiter (another Peter) caught up to me.  He as doing a great job getting along on a twin tip and handling the light wind.  With a companion, it was time to get moving.  The wind picked up, so we headed towards Mt Martha.

It was a great relief to have some power and get going after all the schlogging!

At around Mount Martha we were on a tack that could have taken us directly to Port Melbourne, with the tops of Melbourne's tall buildings visible over the horizon.  We came in closer to shore near Sunnyside Beach then headed out.  We made good progress, cruising past the rocky headlands and occasional beaches, past Mornington (the harbour was a good landmark) then Frankston was visible in the distance.

We were cruising on a good swell and surfing the bigger waves in a fashion. I did some downloop turns to keep the speed up and have a bit of fun.  I was able to crank up some good speed.  It's amazing how much ground you can cover when there is wind.

I had a drink and some energy gel just before we got to Frankston.   The wind was getting better as we got closer.

With some relief we cruised into Gnotuk Ave beach at Aspendale and met Wayne and Franz on the beach - they have driven back from Frankston judging the wind to be too light.   I contacted the boat to find out how things were going. Natalie had stopped at a beach and headed home.  Tim copped a big lull behind us and was picked up by the boat.  Cesar was on the beach at Dromana for a while then restarted when the wind picked up - he made to Aspendale too.

I was quite tired but didn't get any cramps.

The total distance we covered was 66km.  Moving time was 2:44 and our average moving speed was 24 km/h.  Maximum speed was 40 km/h.

Its going to be a challenge to keep track of 25 riders on the day of the Bay Crossing!  Communications is going to very important.  Its best if we travel in groups, but its not always easy to achieve this, and the launch could be very tricky depending on the wind direction and strength.

I will sleep well tonight.

GPS Track log

Friday, January 18, 2013

Kitesurfing at Hampton with good wind and waves

Session 216. It was great to get some good wind after a few session of lighter wind.  I headed to Hampton after work and had a great session of around 1 hour.  Nice swell coming in between the rock groynes and some good flatter water behind the sea wall.

I am really enjoying the surfboard. It turns really well on the waves.  There is something magical about being in equilibrium with strong winds and good waves.

After the session I  chatted to Roberto (from Italy) and Matt on the beach.

GPS log

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

St Kilda kitesurfing session after work - watch for the off switch?

Session 215. A snuck in another kitesurfing session after work down at St Kilda.  Pumped up my kite at The Zu Boardsports (thanks guys) then rigged up and headed out.  Lots of kites at 12 with newbies taking lessons, but I got through a gap OK. Reminded me of what barrage balloons must have looked like during WWII.

Out past the sea wall a good swell was building in the sea breeze, and its not crowded out there.  I went upwind to the breakwater then did some slalom turns with downloops on the waves.  Great fun.  I did a couple of runs it but the wind gets flukey behind the sea wall.  Is St Kilda really such a good place to learn to kite?

I did a couple of nice boosts too.  Someone flicked the wind off switch at around 7:15 so I scooted in.  I rinsed my gear, stashed it in the car, then headed to The Pavilion for a rider meeting Cesar had organised for the upcoming Across the Bay to Conquer Cancer event.

We discussed logistics and approaches for the event. A representative from the Coastguard attended and was able to provide some good information.  They (and the Water Police) would prefer if we stick together as a group.  But keeping 25 kites (and kiters) together for 60+km will be like herding Browns Cows.   We are considering splitting into 3 groups - fast, medium and slow - and will also have a buddy system in place.

We also discussed carrying EPIRBs, a Marine UHF Radio, using PFDs and using a lead boat combined with a trailing boat (similar to how bicycle road races are organised, but this is NOT a race). There will also be a couple of "roaming boats" that can provide support as required.

I will write up some notes on rescue procedures for the boat crews.

Its a big event - endurance will be a key factor - and not one we are taking lightly.