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.

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