Monday, December 29, 2008

Mounting a kitecam

I am setting up a kitecam to take video while kiting. The model of the camera is an Oregon Scientific ATC-2K which can take about 1h of footage (VGA 640 X 480 30 frames per second) on a 2 gig SD card. The device uses 2 AA batteries. It is a bit tricky to navigate the menu using the small LCD screen, but once set up it doesn't need adusting.

Side view

Top view

I may get lucky and get some footage like this amazing still photo from a kite-mounted camera taken by Dave Sheridan of him kiting over a whale! [link]

I have had the camera for a while and have been "too busy" to set it up. But a light wind day at Gnotuk Ave was a good opportunity to rig it.

After a bit of research on the Internet, it seems the best place for the camera is mounted on the main central spar. This puts it out of harms way and points it at the rider.

I also rigged up a nylon safety line to secure the camera in case the main mount system fails.

Camera mounting, kite leading edge down on beach

Camera mounting, kite upside down on beach

Camera mounting detail, note safety line to kite securing loop (used while inflating)

Now I just need another windy outing to shoot some footage. The camera will only be "right way up" for one tack - for the other one it will be upside down.


Saturday, December 27, 2008

An unexpected southerly at Hampton

Session 36. No stats. No buoyancy vest, no GPS. Naked this time!

In the middle of the afternoon the wind picked up to a good southerly at about 20 knots, which would not help the Sydney to Hobart yacht race in progress. I got down to the beach with Lena and my daughter Chloe at about 5pm with the wind still coming in strong. About eight other kiters out and several windsurfers.

I was intending to trial my kite cam, but was in too much of a rush to rig up the attachment to the kite spar. More on this later.

I took out the Crossbow 12 and got plenty of power. Several fast runs out into the waves to the buoy, then back surfing down onto the waves on the return leg.

I wore the surf socks again, but they are a little tight in the footstraps of my Litewave board.

I was inspired to try a few jumps and succeeded. Not a lot of height, but I got a bit of distance on at least 3 occasions. Dunked the kite too, but I was able to relaunch it, albeit a bit soggy.

I met Rick there just when I finished after about 1.5 hours of kiting.

We were having a chat on the beach when we noticed a fellow with his kite in the water heading for the rock groyne so we trotted over to help him out.

Previously Rick had his kite tangled with another one on the beach and had to use the safety release to get out of trouble. Watch out for others when you kite! Remember the beach is the most dangerous place, and please don't endanger others.

Here is the wind graph for the afternoon.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Inverloch kiting with a strong south westerly.

Session 35 stats:
  • Max speed 44.5 km/h, distance 21.1km, duration 1h40
  • Wind 35-45 km/h, south westerly
I spent three days with the family at Inverloch from Tue 16/12 to Friday 19/12. Very light winds on Tuesday and Wednesday so we visted the penguin parade at Phillip Island and I tried my hand at some fishing.

On Friday a strong south westerly arrived. It was blowing during the night and continued all day. I got to the inlet launch site near the angling club and scoped the conditions out carefully. Nobody else about. My wind meter showed a steady 35 km/h gusting up to 45km/h. I was tempted to give the 7m kite a go, but decided to try the 12m first.

I launched about 8am off the beach, a little of which was revealed by the receding tide. Heaps of power in the kite. I overcooked my first water start, so backed off the power for my next attempt and got up and going.

In a word: fantastic!

Great fast runs across the inlet across water with a slight chop. This first map shows the high level view of my tracks. The second one shows the detail.

Good variety on the run. Strong wind while exposed to the prevailing wind, then a bit of a whole about halfway across, then strong wind again. Over near the other side the wind dropped close to the shore due to rotor effect from the headland. I had to fly the kite around to get going and back out into the wind.

It was a bit hard to hold the board edge due to the strength of the wind and the strong gusts. The really cool feature of this area is when you get close to the sandbars, just down wind, the water is flat so I could really crank up the speed. I clocked 44.5 km/h which is my fastest to date.

This satellite image shows location of the bars - which are completely exposed as sandbanks when the tide goes out further.

After 1.5 hours I was tired enough to stop. The wind kept blowing all day. A couple of other kiters and sail boarders were out later enjoying the good wind too.

In summary, a great spot when the wind is blowing. You can also kite out at the entrance, but an incoming tide is recommended for this. Another kiter said that you get great clean smooth water between the incoming waves. Next time maybe, with a companion. . .

Saturday, November 29, 2008

New 14m kite in lighter wind off Hampton

After a long break - too long - due to work and other commitments, I got back on the water with my new 14m Cabrinha Switchblade. I bought the kite for those fairly frequent lighter wind days, and today was one of those. The wind was blowing SW at about 15 knots.

Here is a photo of the kite on the nature strip.

After scratching my head a little to rig the kite (the front and rear lines were connected, and they are a bit different from my older Crossbows), I got the kite up and was immediately kiting.

For a large kite, the new 14 turned well. As I got out a bit the wind increased and I was able to get going better. Not quite enough wind to stay right upwind though, so I continued with some runs further out, tacking back in towards Brighton Beach. There were a couple of guys a bit further out, but it turned out they were on a long downwinder to St Kilda. Good job I didn't follow them, or maybe they would have given me a lift back . . .

It was great to be out on the water again. Quite a lot of speed. My smaller board (the Litewave Tsunami) seemed a little hard to keep going - I was wondering if my larger one would have been better - most likely it would be for lighter wind conditions.

The new IDS control system was interesting to land. Pop the quick release and the kite just falls out of the sky slowly. But you can't control it, so I pulled in on the line to get to the front bridles and gently flip the kite so it landed edge down into the wind.

Maybe this quick release landing method is really on good for extreme conditions and beginners. You still have to secure the kite when it lands.

Here are my GPS logs for this session.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Session 33: Jumping!

Hampton beach at about 20 knots was on again at about 5pm today (Tue 12/2/08) after a couple of out and backs to get going I tried some jumps. This time I succeeded. Initially I was carried in the air for about 3 - 4 meters just off the water.

It definately helps when you get airborne first off a wave, then fly the kite back to vertical and pull the power on. It was a bit daunting to do this right out from shore as a wipeout and tangled kite would mean probably a half hour swim in, so I kept my jumping moves closer to the shore.

I got one really good jump in (probably not very high, but it felt fantastic) when I launched off a wave and swung the kite back to vertical quickly with the power on. The touch down was not too rough, but it is easy to lose the board. Ivan advised me afterwards to turn both feet out in the loops to lock them into the board when in the air.

I augured in on one fast return leg chasing a speedy windsurfer and nearly stopped another kiter coming towards me in his tracks. He jumped over my horizontal lines though without too much trouble, then I retrieved my board and got going again.

I took my GPS out again and logged 29.4km for this session. I didn't reset the maximum speed though. Here is the track log.

I was out for about 1.5 hours. There were about 10 to 15 other kiters out too.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Session 32: Good wind and some jumping practice

Got on the water at Hampton Beach just after 5 pm with a good wind blowing at around 20 knots. Cranked a lot of speed leaning right out and carving upwind with the power on.

There were about 15 kites out. I did a reach out past the Middle Brighton headland and enjoyed the view. Not a good place to ditch the kite or lose your board though. It would be a hell of a swim in.

There is something really cool about having that kite flying and boosting you across the water.

I kept the power on going over a few large waves and was plucked airborne for a short distance which was a great feeling.

I also tried a couple of edge releases and was lifted just off the water too. Jumping is much harder than it looks. There is some real skill involved in setting up the jump and executing it, which surprises me as I thought all you had to do was "send the kite back" and up you went.

I lost my board a couple of times augering into waves. Upwind body dragging is not hugely successful, so I let the kite touch the water at the edge of the wind window and swam some strokes to get the board. Relaunching the kite from this position was easy. I also saw another kitesurfer swimming back for his board with his kite parked directly overhead, which is better than landing it on the water.

Tired after about 1.5 hours so I came in and landed the kite on the near empty beach and headed home.

Kitesurfer in Geraldton WA rescues father and two sons

Here is a remarkable story of kiteboarder Matty Kalajzich's brave rescue of a father swept offshore holding on to two kids who couldn't swim at Geraldton in 30 knot winds.

In an act of great bravery, Matt used his kite to body drag one of the kids to shore, then the Dad and remaining child.

Source: Kitesurfer saves drowning family, via

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Session 31: Another great day at Hampton

With a good southerly forecast for the day and blowing late in the morning, I headed to Hampton beach and got on the water at about 11am. The wind was consistent and in the range 20 to 25 knots, so conditions were really good.

After a goofy launch when I downed the kite I was up and going hard. Good speed and upwind tacks. The tightened footstraps were an improvement. I kited for about an hour then came in for a rest.

The wind kept on blowing and more kiters arrived and got going too, but it wasn't too crowded. I headed out for another session. I got hoiked off my board when doing a turn and couldn't really get back up wind to retrieve it, so I came in to shore waited for my board to wash in. A lapse of concentration saw me dive the kite into the beach too - yuk. Luckily there was no damage, they really are quite tough.

After untangling the lines I did a finals session getting upwind to the breakwater to get some real speed on the flatter water then came back downwind slalom to the beach. I tried a few more jumps without much success. I think I am starting with the kite too low. It is harder than it looks. I did get a little bit of air though.

I am finding "toe down riding" a bit disconcerting too so I intend to practice it some more.

Ivan showed up with his "surf style" board and departed to do a downwinder from Ricketts Point back to Hampton Beach, which he said would take about 2 hours.

I dropped my kite into SHQ to get the bridle lines checked for wear. After a couple of years use they may well need to be replaced.

I will try out a surf style board as they seem have advantages in a biggish swell and on light wind days.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Session 30: Fast upwind at 25 knots

The wind stayed less than 20 knots most of the day, but then picked up above 20 at 4pm, so it was time to have another go. It was blowing fairly hard at Hampton Beach and quite a few kites were out enjoying the wind.

I was on the water at about 6pm and immediately going places. Good wind makes it easier to kitesurf, as long as you keep control.

I used my shorter Litewave Tsunami board, but the straps were adjusted wide so I could use wetsuit booties during winter. Consequently, I was having a little trouble keeping my feet in the loops. I hit a wave crest and had the board plucked off my feet. I retrieved it by upwind body draggging, which was tricky in the strong wind. You need to keep power in the kite flying low above the water and really work the keel with you free hand, which is quite tiring.

Locking the kite in and going upwind was no problem in the 25 knot wind. No real danger of the board stalling. Some gusts tend to soak up most of the depower of the kite though.

Going out in the big swell was fun. The swell near the offshore reefs marked by buoys really stands up.

Turns were going well. With so much power in the wind I could almost stall and then get going again.

I got upwind as far as the breakwater, hoping to get some flat water behind it. However, at the flat water you lose the wind, so I did some wakeboard slaloms to go downwind.

I tried jumping for the first time by edging the board and sending the kite back to 90 degrees. I succeeded in getting lifted a bit, but not a lot. It seems I have developed some "anti lofting reflexes" which I will have to unlearn in order to get bigger air.

Lost my board again while cranking turns, but another kiter brought it over to me, which was most appreciated.

I finished after 7pm, feeling pumped. One of the best days ever.

I met Rick and Oz at Hampton - both had a great day out too. Ivan and the boys for SHQ were out kiting with their surfboards too.

Now I will tighten up my footstraps.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Session 29: Ripping at Hampton

A strong wind forecast of 30 knots came through at about 1pm, breaking the recent three day opressive heatwave of 40 degrees plus. I got down to Hampton at about 3pm. The wind was strong but perhaps not 30. I elected to give the 7m kite a go in case the wind picked up or big gusts came through.

I got up and going, but the kite was a bit underpowered. Also, it flys so fast compared to the 12m kite. I had to fly it to generate more power and also go downwind a bit. Great to get going though. Unfortunately I dunked the kite a coulple of times, then couldn't relaunch it off Brighton.

Speaking to Ivan from SHQ, he advises putting in as much pressure as the pump will allow to make sure the leading edge keeps its shape.

Another drift in to the beach. This time I tried he self rescue techique and wound one of the rear leaders around the bar and eventually got to the kite. I managed to get through some keen surfers in the swell at the beach, but then found alarmingly that I had heaps of line wrapped around my right ankle! The amazing thing was there were so many loops it was like I had attempted to do this. I thought about cutting the lines, but the kite was under control with me holding he tip and I was able to secure it on the beach immediately.

I then set about dealing with huge tangle - which took me about half an hour to resolve. Back at the car, the wind was still strong so I took out the 12m kite. Finally, some good wind! Great to get some speed up, go upwind and get some turns happening in the swell. Interestingly, the wind was 20 knots but a Southerly, which seemed to be easier to get out from behind the breakwater.

No dunkings, no swimming and some slowish turns. I tried the "one hand technique" briefly but found that I wanted to keep both hands on the bar to allow up and down direction for the kite. I was contemplating trying some small jumps - or at least board edging - but was a bit hesitant.

I would have finished at about 7:30pm, very happy and pumped.

It was sensational to feel the power of the wind and the kite and really lean against it. I think the larger board helped in the chop too.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Session 28: A downwinder in light wind at Hampton

Very keen to get out so I headed for Hampton with the wind speed showing around 15 knots in the afternoon and the forecast saying it could reach 20 knots. It was a very hot day so I wore board shorts and a rashvest rather than my 1mm wetsuit.

I rigged up and had a go but I struggled for wind again. The Crossbow 12m kite is rated for this wind strength but I struggle to go upwind and 15 knots. Maybe I am a bit too heavy at 82kg?

The wind didn't pickup above 15 knots, but it was so good to get the kite flying and into the water I elected to do a downwinder to Brighton which went quite well. I was again frustrated to see others whizzing along upwind off Hampton - maybe on bigger kites, or just with better technique.

Coming into the beach I picked a spot with some sand and not too many bathers. However, there was a nasty little reef exactly where I floated in on my back with my kite still flying. When I stood up my leg went right into a "rock hole" and I grazed my shin. If you were not careful or were unlucky you could even break your leg at ths spot.

I walked the kite back inflated, but struggled a bit to get past the first main groyne. Deflate next time, it is not worth the hassle.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Holidays at Sorrento, strong winds but sideshore

With the new year just arrived we headed down to Sorrento, Victoria for a short family beach holiday. I took the kite gear hoping for some wind.

Last year there was virtually no wind so I left my 7m kite behind. Space in our Suburu Liberty wagon was at a premium with baby gear for our daughter Chloe, the sea kayak and fishing gear on board too. It was a mistake to only take the 12m kite - heaps of wind this year and the 7m kite could have been used.

I saw a couple of kiters out in the strong Easterly, I think they launch at Sullivans Bay just east of the Sorrento sailing club. They were heading way out to the North and looked expert. They would need to be. If you dunked your kite and had to "float in" it would be a long way to the shore and you would be blown onto cliffs, boats and possibly the Sorrento pier!

Wind map for Thursday 3 Jan

View Larger Map

Sullivans Bay

There was only one other kiter out off Blairgowrie. However, the wind was basically sideshore, the beach was crowded and I thought the wind was a bit too strong for the 12m kite. Nobody was kiting at Rye. Frustrating . . .

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Session 27: Desperately seeking wind

I injured my shoulder skiing in September and was forced to rest from kitesurfing until late December. I have been really hanging out for some wind and to get back out.

Finally, I was able to get down to Hampton on New Year's day with favourable conditions.

Fawkner Beacon wind graph - 1 January 2008

However, although the wind was reasonable out past the breakwater, there was a lull behind it on the beach. I launched the kite but couldn't really get going. Eventually near the rock groyne I started to get it together but there was another kite pfaffing around where I was headed so I turned around. Dunking the kite I drifted into shore and was assisted by another kiter who grabbed the kite.

There were heaps of kites on the beach and quite a few on the water. It seems like Hampton is getting more crowded. Quite a few people sunbathing and swimming too.

Frustrating. It seem that sheeting the kite in too much in an effort to get power sends you upwind and you lose too much power. I was on my small board too - which is harder to get going in lighter wind.

Saw some snazzy beach launches and many new kites. The Switchblade 12m kite is reputed to have as much power as the 2006 16m kite, and less bar pressure. I am holding off buying a bigger or newer kite for now.