Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Session 26: Rye in winter with good wind

Kitesurfing at Rye, Arthurs Seat in the background.

After a prolonged period with no kitesurfing, it was great to get onto the water. A northerly was blowing at around 20 knots down at Rye so I took my kite down on a family trip to the Mornington Peninsula.

The water was cool but not cold. I stayed warm in my 3mm steamer.

I tried out my new short board - a Litewave Tsunami. It went upwind really well and turns much better than my older Cabrinha board. However, my feet with wetsuit booties would not fit through the foot straps well, so I ended up using my surf socks and putting up with cold feet. I think I need to fit some wider straps over winter to accomodate the booties, then swap back to the narrow straps for summer.

The wind was nearly on shore so the runs were close to the beach. The new board edged well but was a bit harder to stay up on. Heel turn jibs seemed much easier. The board is really easy to flick around and quite a stable platform.

Here is the wind map - quite consistent wind for winter.

And some photos of Georges who was also having a great time.

Rye pier in the background

Good air with Rye pier in the background

Saturday, July 07, 2007

An inspiring video of kiteboarding in Egypt

This is my favourite kitesurfing short video. The location is somewhere in Egypt. Great moves, fast turns, heaps of speed, big air and an excellent location with flat water and strong winds. Enjoy.

YouTube link

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Back in Port Douglas waiting for some wind

I am in Port Douglas again for some warm water kitesurfing. However, the weather is abnormal for this time year (climate change effects?) as there is very little wind and quite a bit of rain at times.

I was up at Cooktown for 2 days last weekend and the wind was howling in at Quarantine Bay. It was blowing consistently at about 25-30 knots day and night.

Back at Port Douglas, no wind though! I did some revision on the beach with Brett who detailed a means of self rescue by:
  • Pulling in one rear line at least a kitespan (about 4 metres)
  • Winding a few turns of line around the bar to lock it off
  • Then wind the rest of the lines together along the bar (as per normal) until you get to the kite
  • Hang on to the kite
  • Make a sail by grabbing both ends of the kite and bringing them together
The wind picked up at 12 noon today and I scooted down to the beach only to see the wind stop. It only blew for 1 hour which was rather frustrating.

I found a small cut through the sail fabric which needs a repair though. I stuck on a patch and am now sorting out a more permanent fix.

Hopefully I can do an outer reef kiting trip. This is where the above "rescue technique" is essential for getting back into the boat without lines becoming too twisted.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Melbourne kitesurfing locations map

I have just created a map of Melbourne kitesurfing locations using Google's new "My Maps" feature. I have entered some information about spots on the East and the South of Port Phillip Bay. You may find it useful.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

An update on the kitesurfing gear I am using

This an update on the gear I am currently using, including a few tips.

I have worn these "surf socks" the last few outings. They do reduce the feel of the board a bit, but they were great to have on when I got washed up into the rockwall and reef after not being able to relaunch my kite. They also provide protection from glass and other sharp items. This is not a major problem at Hampton Beach, but people have got some nasty cuts at St Kilda.

I wear this 1mm steamer which I bought a few years ago for diving in the tropics. I find I don't get too hot and it keeps the sun off. So far, I haven't got too cold either, but I don't think it would be warm enough for winter. I notice many people kite in boardshorts and rash vests, but I like having the thin layer of neoprene for protection.

I have taken out this Garmin Forerunner 101 GPS (minus the wrist strap) in the waterproof pouch. It is interesting to get the speed readout and track log. The unit got water in the battery compartment when I wore it on my wrist, so I now keep it in the pouch in the front pocket of my vest. So far I haven't carried out a phone in a waterproof pouch.

I wear this Gath helmet over the top of Ocean eyewear polarised sunglasses, which also have a firm retaining strap. The helmet stops the glasses coming off. I notice most people don't use a helmet, but I think the additional safety is good, especially while learning. Most fatalities in kitesurfing result from head injuries, so a helmet protect against this. So far (touch wood) I haven't conked my head on anything yet. The glasses are excellent for reducing glare.

This is a bouyancy vest I bought from a caneoing shop. It has a pocket on the front that I put my keys and GPS in. The padding provides some additional protection and it obviously means I float better. I plan to take out a slim waterproof camera soon in the front pocket too, or perhaps strapped to my wrist.

I have cut out additional toe grooves in both footpads (on the right of the picture) so I can get a better grip on the board to stop my foot "shaking out" of the straps at speed. This works well, but is less effective with the surf socks on. They tend to jam a bit tighter under the straps and also have a grip surface though.

Also note I have written my name and phone number on the board in the event I lose it in an out-to-sea epic and it gets washed up. Another kiter said his was returned after he lost it in Winter once.

This is the Dakine seat harness I am using, with an additional donkey dick on the bar (which I don't use now). I attach the safety leash below the bar so if I pull the safety the kite goes free. There is a pocket for a safety knife for cutting the kite lines in an emergency on the back of the harness.

This shows the leg loops of the seat harness - very handy for stopping the harness climbing around your ribs when the kite is above you while learning. The safety knife is in the middle. I haven't tried the waist harness since using the seat harness. It may be a bit more comfortable, so I will give it another go soon.

The kites I have are still the 12m Crossbow (15 to 25 knots) and a 7m Crossbow (30+ knots), so far with no modifications other than simplifying the line rigging for the 12m bar.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Session 24: 20 knots on Labor day holiday

A good consistent Southerly during the afternoon on Labor day holiday was a great opportunity for another outing. I was on the water at about 2 and the conditions were good. Lot of speed and not too much swell. On the water, I was pondering on how surreal kitesurfing is. Just, you, the board, the wind and the water. So much power, so much speed and so much fun.

By contrast, the politicians on the news this morning are talking about building another coal-fired power station in Victoria. If you can crank out 30km/h on a kiteboard, surely we can generate our power from a mix of wind and solar?

The turning is progressing well - I am concentrating in keeping power in the kite and getting a slight downwind run to gather speed.

I met Rick, another kitesurfer on the beach who has been reading this blog. It was nice to hear someone is getting some benefits from it.

Please feel free to leave comments on blog postings, or use the email link on the right hand panel to contact me if you wish. I am interested in your feedback.

GPS readings
  • Max speed:28.1 km/h
  • Trip odometer: 8.05km
  • Average: 8.7 km/h
  • Time: 0:55
This is a track log from the GPS, but the map calibration is not quite right yet. As you can see I did one longish run to peek down towards Brighton, and the rest of the time doing short runs to practise turns.

Yesterday the wind was blowing at 30+ knots. We made a family trip to Elwood and walked to St Kilda, where we watched a couple of kiteboarders jumping close to the pier. Spectacular air, 4m+, but no impact vests or helmets. I took some photos and will put them up in a separate posting.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Big wind day and jumping at St Kilda

On Sunday 1 1 March, we did a family trip down to St Kilda for a walk along the foreshore and to check out the kiting action. I didn't take my kite. The wind was blowing at 30+ knots. We weren't dissappointed with the action - a couple of guys were doing outrageous jumps right next to the pier in sheltered water, but with the wind raging overhead.

There were sSome serious obstacles about - like the dredge moored nearby, and no helmets or impact vests. Apparently there has been one kiting fatality with impacting the pier while jumping, but today everything was fine.

They made it look easy - edge the board in to build up pressure then release the edge and fly the kite high. Once in the air, the kites were flying around and coming low again. Landing on the heel pointing downwind seems like the go. Really impressive stuff.

This is looking from the St Kilda pier back to the main kiting area just to the West.

Big air next to the pier, with the dredge in the foreground


Getting some speed heading towards the pier.

The wind chart for the day

Monday, March 05, 2007

Session 23: Good wind, turning and my GPS onboard

A good strong consistent Southerly started blowing in the early afternoon so I headed home early and got to Hampton Beach at about 3:30 and was on the water by 4. There was a reasonable chop/swell, and the wind seemed a lot stronger than my last outing. I took it easy intially keeping upwind, but relaxed a bit and went for more speed.

The wind chart showed 20knots gusting to 25. What a difference 5 knots makes!

I had a great outing. Looking down at the board and watching it carve the water. No problems keeping upwind. Catching the swell coming back in and surfing over waves with lots of speed. Consistent turns are very satisfying. I gently dunked the kite a couple of times while practicing turning but relaunched it without trouble. It is a bit hard getting the board downwind when you are get body dragged. I hoiked on the bar to generate lift above to bring the board under me once.

This was a memorable outing on the water for about 1.5 hours. I felt tired and satisfied afterwards.

I think I am nearly ready to try some small jumps soon.

Turning tips

I successfully turned both left and right on several occasions. Some things I did that helped me:
  • Don't let the kite get too high while changing directions or it loses all pull and you stop in the water
  • Keep some power in the kite as it pulls you downwind in the middle of the turn
  • When you steer in the new direction, the kite wants to dive and will hit the water if you are not careful. Watch it, and bring it up to prevent this.
  • Get some power on as quickly as possible to get going again
GPS log

My GPS worked well in the waterproof pouch. The stats were:
  • Max speed: 37.9 km/h
  • Trip odo: 17.6km
  • Log start: 4:10pm
  • Log finish: 5:32pm
I am working on overlaying the track log on a map, but I need a lower scale digital map.

Wind chart

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Session 22: A downwinder to Brighton

The wind chart was good in the afternoon so I to go kitesurfing rather than bike racing. A Grade at Sandown has been very tough lately. I got to Hampton at about 5:30 and was on the water at 6:00 after untangling my lines. I tried my newly purchased battery operation Coleman pump for the first time. It is handy for filling the main bladder while pumping up the strut bladders manually. I think the new single fill bladders (like on my 7m Crossbow) make life easier too.

The wind seemed a bit low. I got going out OK (to the left), but couldn't keep the board speed up consistently coming back (to the right). Some others were managing better - perhaps they had bigger kites or better technique.

The Fawkner Beacon wind chart indicated about 18 to 15 knots but it did not seem that strong at Hampton and Brighton.

I decided to do a downwinder to Brighton rather than just flail about or go home. It was a good trip. I picked up a few good gusts and ended up sticking my nose around the point at Brighton near the railway station. I landed on the beach behind some bemused bathers then deflated my kite and walked the 1.5km back to my car.

Lighter winds are good for perfecting technique (or realising you don't have any), and downwinders are fun.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Session 21: Ripping in a good breeze then another drift in

The sea breeze picked up during the afternoon with me stuck at work watching the bay winds chart. I left the office at 4:45 and caught the train home. Hot and oppressive humidity so a quick trip to Hampton beach was attractive even though it was getting late.

I was on the water about 6:30, in a bit of a rush. The leading edge bladder was a bit soft but I thought I would manage OK - wrong!

Up and going with speed in the 20 knot southerley. I used my new Garmin Foretrex 101 GPS today for the first time to track my speed and course. Maximum speed was 43.0 knots, which felt that fast too. I found some water in the battery compartment when I got home, despite it being rated waterproof, but luckily I was able to quickly wash and dry it and get it going with fresh batteries.

Turning to the left is going well, but not to the right. I continued past the rock groynes then plopped in the water. On getting going my kite hit the water. When relauching it the leading edge collapsed (not enough pressure!!) then the kite jellyfished. I couldn't relaunch the kite despite pulling on rear lines and the front lines repeatedly. It was a tangle blob. I got blown in past the rock groynes (good) I ended up drifting to the sea wall short of the beach, with the 1m bay surf breaking against it (not good).

Yuk. I popped the safety and swam in to retrieve and secure the kite before it got pulverised. Luckily I was wearing "surf socks" so I was able to walk over the rocks without too much hassle. Then I retrieved kite lines and the board, deflated the kite and walked back to the car.

Here is my track log. You can see the drift in.

Lessons learned today:
  • ALWAYS put good pressure in the bladders, especially the leading edge (main) bladder
  • Do not be in too much of a hurry to check equipment, make sure you have enough time to enjoy yourself and avoid an epic
  • Don't trust electrical equipment that is supposed to be waterproof, put it in a protective case as well!
  • Watch where you turn while learning. If you stuff up the take off and tangle the kite where will you drift in to? Beach is good. Rocks, groyne, seawall or pier is not good.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Session 20: Hampton beach in 20 knots - the best day so far

On the water at 3pm with a strong consistent 22 knot Southerly blowing. The water was warm, the sun was shining, and there were quite a few beachgoers about. Also a lot of kites - about 10 to 15 were out, and about a dozen windsurfers too.

Managed to launch on a section of beach that the kites had staked out, with assistance. Good speed heading out and back. I did some great runs - the longest one so far I think - and I spotted some large jellyfish in the water some distance out. Not sure if they sting, but I didn't want to find out.

I tried some heel turn jibesl, and was pleased to succeed. I was much better turning to the left - I got the board planing down wind and did not have much trouble converting to a left tack. Turning to the right was less successful. Not enough planing, and I stalled back into the water.

Turns are great to do - it really puts it all together - and they reduce the risk of being pulled off your feet when doing a water start.

I was kiting for about 2 hours, experimenting with leaning back, edging and board direction to get maximum speed. Exhiliarating, fast, ripping through the water. This is my best day on water to date.

I need to perfect turns, then I will think about some tentative jumps.

One guy lost his board, I stopped to assist him, which was a mistake. His kite was low on the water, and I couldn't get away from him cleanly. When our kite lines got crossed I immediately pulled the safety to release my kite. After the last time when my lines were damaged, I was keen to avoid a repeat. He held onto his, and was hoiked into the air a bit until mine came free.

I swam quite some distance after my kite which blew into the beach and was secured by a bystander. I re-rigged and did a few more runs, but was very tired so I stopped at about 6pm.

The moral of the story is: don't render assistance unless you are quite sure you can avoid getting your kite tangled with someone elses.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Session 19: Hampton beach after work

On the water at 6pm after work for and kited for one hour. Nice to be out again. I didn't try anything too radical. Just out and back a few times, keeping the kite out of the water. A few others were out too. One guy had a large C-shaped kite (14m) and said he was going for more wake style riding after using a Crossbow for a while.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Session 18: Hampton Beach, body dragging upwind

A good Southerly at last, after several days of strong hot Northerlies which have been bringing down smoke from the terrible bushfires.

On the water at about 11:30.

There was only one other windsurfer at the beach so I self launched, not to elegantly. The wind seemed a little variable but was OK. Some good runs out and back, but good turns still elude me. I lose speed and haven't yet mastered the art of flicking the board in the opposite direction.

I lost my board when getting up to come back in, a fair way out - yikes. No real option but to body drag upwind, so I gave it a good go. Intially not getting upwind enough - the board stayed just upwind. Then I got the hang of it. The trick was to keep your windward arm in the water near the surface, like you are about to start a side stroke, then fly the kite upwind and low until you feel pressure on the arm - at which time it is acting like a keel. Don't put your arm deep as it tends to pull you down. I recovered my board, then returned to the beach and walked back a bit.

Landing the kite was not too elegant either. Keep hold of the front lines to ensure that there is no power in it, and try to yank it so the leading edge comes down.

After a rest I headed out again, with the wind speed increasing. My good side (going left) seemed less good today, but I really got going coming back in (to the right). Concentrating on letting the board plane a bit and gather speed - which I got a lot of - and caught and planed down quite a few bay waves. Great fun.

Tired arms due to the bar pressure, so I stopped. One other kiter showed up as I was leaving. I launched is 14m C kite for him - it seemed huge.