Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Session 17: Hampton beach in 15-20 knots

I got in the water with my 12m kite at about 5pm with only one other kitesurfer in.

I tried the "sand on the wingtip" launch but the kite launched prematurely so I had to bring it down quick - lucky to not be dragged a bit. I lauched solo using the "beach launch" method, which worked OK. But they tell me in SHQ that this method is damaging kites, if they are dragged on the sand over a sharp shell or something else that causes damage. Nobody to launch it for me so I didn't have any choice this time.

How to do the "beach launch":
  • Rig the kite with the bar windward
  • Rotate the kite about 90 degrees on top of the lines
  • Hook up the harness
  • Rotate the bar 180 degrees (so left is on the right)
  • Walk backwards - the kite will rotate around and start to catch the wind backwards
  • Pull on 1 bar end to lift a wing tip - as per a water relaunch.
  • Launch it.
The wind was a southerly. Initially it seemed a bit weak, I got out OK, but had trouble keeping enough speed coming back in. Then I did a couple of good runs - with my rear leg aching from the edging pressure. I still can't do a snazzy turn around yet. It is tricky to keep the board speed up, reverse it and keep going. No jumping yet either.

I was going upwind well. Then I put the kite in the water and it did a forward rotation, so I dragged in with the rear lines crossing the front ones and finished for the day.

Overall, a good session. I had to focus on technique as the wind strength was down a bit. Next challenges are to master turning around without plopping back in the water, try for some air, and practice downwind sailing.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Session 16: Hampton Beach in 30 knots

I headed down to Hampton Beach on Sunday 10 December, only to see the 30knot wind drop to nothing as soon as I tried to launch my new 7m Cabrinha Crossbow! I tested the kite out in the remaining light breeze - it turns very quickly.

I also tried out unassisted launching by positioning the kite at 45 degrees across the lines upside down then walking backwards with the bar reversed. The kite pulls around so that it is upside down, and can then be lauched by pulling on a rear line, as a water launch. Easier than loading up a wingtip with sand.

Another 30+ knot day on Monday 11 December, but this time I got some action. I got on the water at 4:30pm and the wind was howling. The 7m kite was well up to it. Lots of speed and big waves, particularly out a bit. Going upwind fast. Noticeably less bar pressure on the new Cabrinha 7m kite, and heaps of power.

I did several out and back runs without mishap. Still a bit rustier going to the right, on one occasion I started to gather too much speed even with the bar out (should have flown the kite high?). Put the kite in the water once, and relaunched it without any trouble.

Then on my last run, I found myself accelerating again, and eventually crashed out. The kite did not hit the water very hard, but it did rip out a panel between 2 struts. I body dragged in with the kite half in the water. Just as well I wasn't too far out.

The kite tore along a seam along a strut, and along the leading edge. I dropped it around to SHQ as it could be a warranty job - it is the first time I had used this new kite. Up until the rip, things were going great.

I would not have wanted to be out with a bigger kite in this strong wind, but others appeared to be using 9m (and possibly even 12m) kites.

Postscript: Cabrinha replaced the kite under warranty, arranged by SHQ, which I am very thankful for. It is worth buying locally from a good shop like SHQ, and they provide good advice on gear and venues too.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Session 15: Hampton Beach after a longish layoff

Snuck out from work as the seabreeze forecast for the bay was good.

Got to Hampton Beach at about 3:30pm and in the water at 4. Fine sunny day and a good sea breeze, quite a relief after all the smoke and fires in central Victoria.

Here is the wind chart for the day:

As you can see, the wind peaked at about 20 knots, and it was a bit gusty.

I did my first unassisted lauch, positioning the kite with sand on one tip to launch it.

Lots of speed, and up and going well. OK to both the left and the right. As I headed out some of the bay swell was quite impressive. I dipped the kite in the water a few times, but was able to keep going.

Pressure on the rear foot and focussing on going upwind and maintaining speed. What a blast. It has been too long between drinks!

There was only about 6 other kiters about, so no hassles with other riders or yachts.

I dug the board in a couple of times and lost it once. Body-dragging upwind was not a big success - I could go across, but not upwind back to the board. Another kiter helped me get it in the end.

I tried the snazzy turn around, but lost speed on both occasions and flopped back in the water. It is tricky to keep up. I think I need to practice the downwind technique.

Then I inverted the kite, and upon relaunching the lines were somehow tangled so I couldn't fly it properly. Eventually I fiddled with the lines and got them sorted out - not sure how.

A couple of more out and backs and my arms were really pumped. 2 hours in all.

A very satisfying outing.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Session 14: Rye for the first time - a good location

I need to visit Sorrento on the Mornington Penninsula to help my brother Donald move some furniture, so I took my kite along. The Bay winds website showed a good Northerly, which suits Rye. I got there at 11:30, three others were out a and having a good time in 18 knot winds.

It is a nice site. Not too crowded (at this time of year anyway) and no obstacles to contend with.

Launching was easy with some help. My first run was not too good, I basically tea bagged.

Then I had a couple of great fast runs out and back up wind. Not too much chop either.

A light plane flew right over me - so low I wondered whether I should drop my kite!

The weather was fine and sunny. The water was cool, but my 3mm steamer wetsuit kept me quite warm.

The wind was a bit gusty, with holes in it. It dropped to 15 knots and changed from a Northerly (one of the few sites in Melbourne for this direction) to a North Westerly. A Westerly here would be off shore.

I played around with my kites "Centreline Adjustment Strap" (CAS). The Cabrina manual says the black ball is for depower and the red one for power, but mine is the other way around - presumably an assembly mistake. Pulling the blackball takes tension off the front lines and hence puts more pull on the back lines - which generates more power. It is a fiddly adjustment to make. I will check out the new Cabrinha Crossbow bar when they arrive in Australia, and maybe get one with a 7m kite.

What I practiced:
  • Leaning back. This helps carve the edge of the board to go better upwind.
  • Diving the kite more agressively to start and then plane to get going. I have been tending to "drag sideways" when attempting to get going.
  • Using the sine wave for the kite - keep the kite moving up and down, but not going too high.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Session 12: Kitesurfing at Port Douglas

Lena, Chloe and I went to Port Douglas in July for a holiday and to visit our friends Doug and Wendy who now live and work there. Doug took the kitesurfing shots.

I am glad I took my kitesurfing gear - the kitesurfing was sensational. The south end of 4 Mile Beach is the place to go, at Helmet St. There is a small coconut palm shelter where Brett Wright operates the Windswell Kite Surfing School. Brett was a great source of local information.

The beach is wide and good for launching. There is a reef just to the South which protects the water from chop. A Southerly was blowing at 15-20 knots - the Winter trade winds. I wore my 1mm wetsuit as it was overcast and not very warm. On the tack out (to my right) I was having some trouble generating enough power - the board would stall. Coming back in (to my left), I was going really well with heaps of speed.

I went out and back about 4 to 5 times, then walked back along the beach. Eventually, I got going better to the right as I stopped the kite going to the edge of the wind window by not oversheeting the control bar.

Great to be kitesurfing again. It has been too long between outings.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Session 11. Out and back - definately a moment

Wind 18 to 20 knots, Southerly
Fine but not hot.
Back at Hampton beach

Got to the beach at about 4:45. Twisted two of the lines while rigging "across the kite'. Another kiter said its better to rig with the lines directly out in front - which avoids confusion and crossed lines.

I used my bouyancy vest for the first time - it felt quite good and did not impede my movement.

I got up and running to the left (my 'strong side') and was able to really get moving with good control. The key is to back the power off by pushing out the bar if you are getting overpowered. I could focus both on flying the kite - which I was able to keep fairly low - and on steering the board with my rear (right ) foot. The board was carving fairly well and I was alble to really zip along, which was a great experience.

Coming back (to the right) was OK too. I was able to get up and planing, but not as consistently. But then it clicked and I was able to make some good ground.

On my second run I got yanked off my board on startup but was able to kite drag back towards it, swim to it and grab it, then relaunch my kite without too much trouble. I did a couple of shorter runs out and back, then walked some distance back along the beach.

Then the moment - I did a longish run out and a then came back to where I started! A great feeling. Things are really coming together.

The key seems to be flying the kite in the right spot, keeping the speed up, and steering the board. I was able to briefly "lock the kite in" on a few occasions for the first time.

Then I did a huge run out - thinking it was time to consolidate my learnings. Cut through some biggish waves, then I headed back in. I was so far out I was not able to easily spot which rock groyne I had started near. As I came back in I was able to sneak past the last groyne with good control and get back very close to the start point.

I then did a couple of more out and backs.

Well, this really confirmed kiteboarding as a superlative experience for me. So much power, so much freedom, so much speed.

It is much nicer at this beach. Just a few kiters - some self launching and self landing. I self landed and had a little trouble getting the kite to flip leading edge down but perservered and succeeded.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Session 10. A new venue and renewed confidence

Wind about 21 knots
Fine and sunny

My first outing at Hampton Beach. It is nowhere near as crowded as St Kilda, although there were several kiteboarders about. I was able to inflate the kite on the grass at the top of the small hill next to the beach then take it down. Parking is also easier.

In the water I felt under control, and was able to get partially up and going to the left, then head back in to the right. My focus was on maintaining control and "throttling the power". I was able to get up and going to the left fairly well. The tack took me towards a rock groine, which I was mindful of. It would not be good to get dragged into it. So I headed back in before I went past it and did the "walk of shame" back up the beach.

The other kiters here keep well out of the way - they turn around when they come close rather than "sneaking past" as they do at St Kilda. This is a lot better for learning as it removes the additional worry about other kiters and crossed lines and potential collisions etc.

I was able to fly the kite well, but had some difficultly "locking it in" at a fixed height during my attempts to go upwind. The kite seems to want to adopt the sine-wave pattern.

I landed the kite solo by bringing it down to the beach, then yanking on the front lines to get it to tip leading edge down onto the beach.

A confidence boosting session, and a much better venue. I felt more in control and comfortable with the kite.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

New lines fitted

Friday 20 January 2006

I visited SHQ and got some replacement lines. They did not have the exact Crossbow replacement lines, but they did have 25m Cabrinha lines of equal length but different colour coding. However, they were about 5cm shorter than the existing lines, so I bought a complete new set (for about $200) and have kept the original two front lines as spares.

Ivan (of SHQ) fitted the lines outside the shop, which involved changing the attachment method for the front lines. We got rid of the "quick release" fitting that nobody uses and simplified the attachment. Then the lines were fine tuned for length.

Both rear lines are equal length - test with all for lines under tension and the bar being even. The rear lines are slightly shorter than the front lines.

Check the front lines for equal length by holding the together then stepping forward - both should sag evenly.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Session 9. Aborted with a snapped line

January 18 2006

Back to St Kilda for another solo session.

I was feeling a bit dubious after the encounter with the other kite at the last session.

I rigged up and joined the queue of beginners learning.

When attempting to get going, the right rear line snapped, resulting in the kite crashing not too heavily into the water. Upon examining the lines, they had been damaged during the line-crossing incident at the last session. I didn't pick this up when I was running the lines out during rigging, but there were several spots in both rear lines where there were serious wear points.

I was lucky the line did not snap when I was out from shore.

So I packed up and went home.


Always check your lines when rigging the kite. If you have any accident or incident involvling the lines, check them very carefully.

I visited SHQ and got some replacement lines. They did not have the exact Crossbow replacement lines, but they did have 25m Cabrinha lines of equal length but different colour coding. However, they were about 5cm shorter than the existing lines, so I bought a complete new set (for about $200) and have kept the original two front lines as spares.

Ivan (of SHQ) fitted the lines outside the shop, which involved changing the attachment method for the front lines. We got rid of the "quick release" fitting that nobody uses and simplified the attachment. Then the lines were fine tuned for length.

Both rear lines are equal length - test with all for lines under tension and the bar being even. The rear lines are slightly shorter than the front lines.

Check the front lines for equal length by holding the together then stepping forward - both should sag evenly.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Session 8 – Windy conditions and colliding kites!

13 January 06

Wind 20 knots – Southerly
Weather fine
4pm start, not too crowded.
Stopped about 5:45pm.
Helmet on.
Tried seat harness for the first time

I thought that the wind might be a little bit too strong but decided to have another go “at the upper margin”. The wind seemed a bit stronger than Session 7.

No problems launching!

Tentative about getting up. Headed left half in the water. When carving starts, again get a lot of pull and started slide slipping. Solution is to fly the kite more into the wind? I tried that.

Getting going is touchy: too much power and you get hoiked off your feet – this happened a couple of times. The board hit my wrist (small bruise) and my left foot (small bruise).

Then I did a a run out left where I felt in control and was preparing to go back when another kiter collided his kite lines with mine resulting in immediate mayhem. The other rider said he would try to “surf through” my lines – which of course did not work. Both kites were tangled together and both of us getting dragged. He eventually let go of his bar which resulted in his kite pulling free from mine. I body dragged in with my board. His rig was tangled, but he seemed in good spirits.

When conditions are “full” you are not the only one who may have trouble. Others were ditching their kites and flailing. But many were whizzing along apparently at ease with the conditions, dialing in as much or little power as they need.

I got lifted once about 1m; quite a good sensation and under control.

The seat harness was definitely more comfortable, but a bit harder to walk in due to the straps under the legs. No riding up though.

NOTE: The tendency to pull on the bar is a real trap for beginners. You need to focus on backing off the power by pushing the bar away if you are getting over powered. This is a bit counter intuitive. Flying the kite into the wind window is not the only way to reduce power.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Session 7 – Up and going, making progress

5 January 2006

Wind 20 knots – Southerly
Weather fine
5pm start, fairly crowded.
Stopped about 7pm. Helmet on.

I thought that the wind might be a little bit too strong but decided to have a go “at the upper margin”. My 12m Cabrinha Crossbow is rated to maximum windspeed of about 21 knots.

I rigged up with a crossed line so I had to re rig.

  • I gotup and going to the left well. Up and running, but still going too fast. Corrected by edging board and heading more upwind.
  • One big crash when I was not sure about a kiter coming towards me and distracted. The kite inverted and twisted, so I “sailed to shore”, let some pressure out of the leading edge bladder, walked back and re-rigged.
  • More successful left tacks with a controlled stop.
  • Less successful on right tack – still not getting enough power and staying too far upwind. Then I got some more power, followed by board heading a bit more downwind. This did the trick as I got up and running for a short time. Basically, I had one very successful “out and back run”.
  • I was worried about losing board, particularly as I am now getting out quite a way. So I tend to let the kite land, swim to the board, then relaunch the kite. However, this increases the risk of the kite inverting and not being able to relaunch, and is also a hazard for other kiters. Better to body drag back to the board?


What a blast, I am really getting going now and my confidence is building.

One other kiter recommended putting name on board (& “reward”) NOT using a leash. He has had his returned twice after losing it during Winter.

The waist harness still riding high on wetsuit, so I will get a seat harness.

Session 6 – Up and going but a lot of speed and some crashes

5 January 2006

I visiting the training beach at St Kilda with about 20-25 kph winds blowing. I sam my friend Geoff Butcher (also learning kiteboarding) there.

I felt a bit rusty getting going. Then I got up and heading left for some distance.

Heading back in (right) was still more difficult, but I got in one good run (the first one heading right).


  • Once up, forgetting about the kite and concentrating too much on the board, so the kite crashes out.
  • I sometimes ran out of power and sank back in (too much to the side of the wind window?)
  • The kite sometimes scooted back to the right when I was heading left – need to focus on keeping in left quadrant when going left.
  • I again sometimes gathering too much speed again and planing – eventually the board skittered out.
  • Kite “jelly fished” – upside down and back to front (?). Very difficult to water relaunch. When I eventually did the rear and front lines were crossed on each site. Kite could still fly, but this was not ideal. I landed it and re-rigged.
  • I headed quite a way out, then crashed and the harness became unhooked. Holding the bar just put the power on (no depower via harness pulling on front lines) so I let go of the kite. It then blew along the beach faster than I could swim after it. Another kiter helped out by going and jumping on it. I swam to shore (quite a way) then ran along the beach to get it. Lines tangled, kite OK. Carried the kite back along the beach.
  • Not enough air in leading edge bladder – go “very firm”

Overall, a challenging session. Making some progress, but also encountering hurdles. Losing the kite is a real hassle, and relaunching it is not always easy.

I noticed some people use retractable board leashes. This is NOT recommended as the leash can yank the board towards you, which can then collide with you. If you use a leash, you MUST use a helmet to be safe.