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.