Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Some good jumps in a new vest at Hampton

Session 71, Tuesday 29 December 2009

Kite: Switchblade 14m
Location: Hampton
Wind: 20 knots S
Duration: 4:30 to 5:30 - 1 hour

Looks like the wind drought is over and the wind god is smiling - for now anyway. A good southerly sprang up in the afternoon so I headed down to Hampton. It is still quiet around town to driving down is very quick.

Impact vest

I stopped at SHQ on the way and bought this vest for protection while jumping. It has good protection on the front, back and sides and is less bulky than the canoeing PFD vest that I used a lot when learning, and for downwinders.

Note: The vest contains a specific warning that it is not an EN393 Bouyancy Device, and that it is not a life jacket. It is not approved by the U.S. Coast Guard of the Canadian Department of Transport or any other agency.

It is designed for tournament water skiers who find PFD jackets too bulky.

A rescue cord

I also tried out a "rescue cord" device I rigged. It is a some venetian blind cord tied to a ring on the harness with a small carabiner on the other end. I tucked it in a neoprene pocket secured on the webbing that attaches the spreader bar. The idea is to use the cord to secure an errant board and tow it, rather than try and scoop it up or do a water launch holding the board, which I have found to be extremely difficult.

Extreme caution must be exercised with a second board in two to prevent it being whip lashed into you if the kite gives you a good yank (the reason why board leashes are strongly discouraged).

It was not a great success as the zip holding the cord worked its way open and the cord then dangled behind trailing in my wake until I stowed it away again.

Today's kiting session.

I took out the Switchblade 10m which was great to fly after so many outings on the 14m. It turns fast and had plenty of power in the 20 knots wind. I did a couple of runs in the flat water behind the sea wall, then some runs out further, landing a few good jumps.

The timing is critical - you need speed, some tension in the lines, then send the kite just before you hit the top of a wave. Then keep the power on and fly the kite back in the direction you are travelling. A few times I have let the kite go too far backwards and "tea bagged" under it, which can result in landing awkwardly on your back. Hence the impact vest.

It worked well - it was comfortable to wear and certainly adds some warmth to the 1mm suit I wear.

After some really fast runs over some big swells, I headed for the surf section between the two groynes, but noticed the board behaving oddly on the right tack. On the beach I discovered that one fin was dangling by a single screw and had rotated around, having lost the other screw. Found just in time.

I had checked the screws a while ago, but one has worked loose since. Tip: check your kit regularly to avoid issues like this. It could be a disaster on a big trip if you didn't have any spares.

I walked back up the beach, had a brief chat to Rick who had just come in from his best ever session.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Hampton again in lighter wind

Session 70, Sunday 27 December 2009

Kite: Switchblade 14m
Location: Hampton
Wind: 15 knots S
Duration: 4:30 to 5:30 - 1 hours

Some wind sprang up mid afternoon so I headed down the Hampton. The wind seemed to be dropping a bit from the 17 knots on the wind graph so I took out the 14m kite.

Enough power for some good runs and a few jumps. But just enough really. Out for about an hour, practising upwind technique. Thinking about trying a back roll, but the prospect is daunting.

Spoke to Ivan on the beach about boards. He said to give the twintip a try in the surf before buying a dedicated surf board. The fibreglass ones break apparently, and epoxy boards would need to have stick on foot loops added.

Rick was about with his 14m Switchblade too. A good day for the bigger kites.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Upwind from Hampton to Black Rock

Session 69, Saturday 26 December 2009

Close up kitecam shot

Kite: Switchblade 14m
Location: Hampton
Wind: 23 knots SW
Duration: 1:30 to 4:00 - 2.5 hours

GPS log
Max speed 44.0 km/h
Trip odom 47.3km
Time: 2:45
Average speed 17.1 km/h

The wind picked up in the early afternoon, and Lena and Chloe were keen to visit the beach. Chloe was keen to try out her new scooter, and Sam (the dog) was desperate for a walk.

It was about 15 knots when I arrived so I rigged up the 14m kite, and fitted my Pentax Optio W80 in the purpose built cradle I get from Seabreaze. The camera takes photos at intervals - I have set it to 15 seconds and keeps on firing.

There were a few small whitecaps and the kite was well powered up so I headed out for a long run to gaze at the city, then back to the breakwater. A run past a couple of moored boats on the flat water, then back out. It was easy to go upwind so I decided I would attempt a small tour to Black Rock.

I came into the small surf a couple of times, suprising sunbathers on the beach, and after a few tacks made it all the way up to Half Moon Bay. There was a bit of flatter water behind the rusting nearly submerged Cerberus wreck. I did a few jumps, but was mindful of not dunking the kite.

Heading downwind on the way back was fantastic, heaps of speed and well powered up. The wind speed had increased to a bit over 20 knots. I was practising slalom moves on the ways and skipping over a few too.

Rounding the breakwater I did a fast run in behind it then augered in and crashed the kite. There was not enough wind to fly it well so I ended up ditching it and swimming back for my board. I got going again, did a few more jumps, then came in to shore.

The beach was a buzz with kiters by now, all grabbing some wind while it is there.

Overall, a great session. Covered a lot of distance, landed quite a few good

2009-12-26 Kitesurfing at Hampton with kitecam

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Kitesurfing the surf and reefs of Port Melbourne

Session 68, Sunday 20 December 2009

Kite: Switchblade 14m
Location: St Kilda
Wind: 20 knots S
Duration: 4:30 to 6:00 - 1.5 hours

Tarren and I hit the jackpot at Port Melbourne during the late afternoon. The wind was picking up to 15 knots. I was collecting a new time trial bike (yes, another bike) from the Freedom Machine in Port Melbourne. Lena and Chloe had come along to go to the beach.

Tarren and I met on the Port Melbourne beach at about 4:30 - with the Spirit of Tasmania ferry loading up at Station Pier for its overnight trip across Bass Strait. There is a good amount of sand for launching (more than Sandridge beach) and there were not too many people about.

It is a great place to kitesurf, but not for beginners. There are reefs at each end of the beach, with a good surf running over and between them. We approached the ferry to within about 100m just near a small rotunda on a pier, then zipped back towards the Port Melbourne Yacht Club. I did a couple of runs a bit further out past the Yacht Club to the surf near the small pier to the east.

I did a few jumps too, and did a big pendulum on one of them. Slalom in the surf was a lot of fun. Occasionally as set of waves would come in. Leaning back works to keep the board tip from digging into broken waves, but not always. Some broken waves seem to swallow the board and can stop you in your tracks.

Any more than 4 kiters at this beach would be problematic. Tarren and I had the place to ourselves, then another guy showed up as we were packing up.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

A good breeze at St Kilda after a lean spell

Session 66, Saturday 19 December 2009

Kite: Switchblade 14m
Location: St Kilda
Wind: 15 knots S
Duration: 2 sessions - 10:00 to 10:30 and 2:15 to 3:30

It has been a rather poor season for wind so far in Melbourne and on Port Phillip Bay. Stuart and had headed down to South Melbourne beach on Friday after work but the forecast wind did not arrive.

We were suffering cabin fever by the weekend and itching for some more wind, which arrived on early Saturday morning. Stuart and Tarren nailed it at about 9am. I caught the tail end at 10:00am and had a good run right over to the Kerferd Road Pier.

It was great to get out carving on the green water for 30 minutes before the wind dropped again. I did some kiteloops on the beach for practice. Stuart and Tarren left. I hung out for about an hour but the wind did not return and the Baywinds site showed little at South Channel, so I headed into Port Melbourne for a look around and some lunch.

I visited the Kite Republic shop - which is quite small but did have some gear. Then I called in at the Freedom Machine bike shop, where I found a nice Giant time trial bike which I bought for a good price.

Returning the beach, the wind had picked up to 15 knots so I headed out for a second session. It was good kiting. I did a couple of runs past the breakwater into the swell, then headed back in past the boats to the inner marina "small surf zone". It was good fun ripping in over and along the small surf, turning very close to shore, then back out to the boats.

It certainly gets busy in this area, you really have to watch who is coming at you and keep your kite at the right height.

I then cranked up some speed and headed back out to the breakwater. I did a couple of big jumps off the small swell, landing OK. There was a yacht race coming in so I was careful to avoid them as they headed in to the harbour.

I came it at about 3:30 as I had to get home to mind Chloe. It was time for a rest anyway as my hands were getting a bit sore. On the way in through the "beginners zone" I scooted through the many kites flying high. I passed close to one, thought I was clear, but just clipped it. Mine kept going but the other kite dunked. Sorry dude. No excuses offered - I should have been more careful.

Looking at Google maps - you can actually see some kitesurfers in the water at St Kilda on the map images! Here are a couple of the shots.

Overall shot showing kiters and windsurfers

Close up of kitesurfer; note shadow of kite

Kitesurfer turning (L) and another close to the beach (R)

Kites on the beach and a couple just offshore

Fawkner beacon wind chart.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Late afternoon at Hampton in the evening light

Session 65, Tuesday 8 December 2009

Kite: Switchblade 14m
Location: Hampton
Wind: 12 to 20 knots S
Duration: 1.5 hours 6:00 to 7:30

Some good wind was forecast for the afternoon so Tarren, Stuart and I took our kiting gear into town hoping go kiting after work.

We arrived at Hampton at about 5:30 with very little wind, but it was nice on the beach. The late afternoon sun was yellow, the water was clear, and we had the beach to ourselves.

I flew my 14m kite on the beach for a while waiting for the wind to pick up. Eventually it did a little so I did a couple of tacks then walked back. Stuart and Tarren both had a go of the 14m kite too, and were able to stay upwind better, being lighter.

Then it came in stronger so we all headed out. The wind was better off shore so I headed out for some fantastic views back to Melbourne, with the yellow sunlight illuminating the shore and the city. The air was clear due to the recent rains so the You Yangs and even Portarlington were clearly visible. I didn't see any jellyfish either.

I was trending downwind then it picked up to around 20 knots and I was able to get upwind back to the beach and even managed a few jumps. Heading back out the wind dropped again so eventually I came in downwind at Middle Brighton beach, dodging a few fishermen and then landing my kite on the concrete walkway.

I deflated the kite and walked back, tired but feeling good.