Sunday, November 28, 2010

Gusty wind at Hampton with the kitecam

Session 112, 28 November 2010 

Kite: Switchblade 10
Wind: 25 knots, S
Location: Hampton
Time: 11:30 to 12:30
Max speed: 36.6 km/h
Distance: 10.7km

I found a knot in my lines while rigging.  It took a while to get it out.  Biting it gently and soaking it in saliva helped.  Then when I finally got on the water, a screw mounting my left footpad came out again, so I returned to beach, got a screw driver and remounted the footpad.   I had to shift it to new holes in the board to get the screw to hold.

Once out on the water, it was very gusty.  I had plenty of power even with the kite powered down.  Some good jumps, and some good sized waves standing up in the strong wind.

It was definitely not the day for a big kite.  A couple of others on the beach launched 12s and had some difficulty controlling them.  Stuart was on his 10 fully depowered and said later he could have used his new 7.

If in doubt, don't go out!  Also, flying your kite directly overhead on the beach while trying to figure out whether there is too much wind and/or depower it is not a good idea - you might end up taking a quick trip over Beach Road.

There was a large piece of floating timber in the water too.  It pays to keep your eyes open.

Launching.  Nice and green after all the rain.

Shore break

Life saving club and another kiter

Flat water

Landing a jump

Look at the gusts!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

My new Benwilsonsurf Noise 12m kite unboxed

I have just taken delivery of my new Benwilsonsurf Noise 12m kite.  The kite is a pre-release version for the thousand odd people who subscribed to Ben Wilson's Test Team.

The first thing that impressed me was the simplicity of the bar.  All controls are below it.

The kite is designed for stability so that you can "park it" and ride the surf.  Dano See, the lead designer, has also achieved more power than similar sized kites, and optimised it for unhooked riding.

The kite design characteristics are:

  • fast turning with smooth consistent power delivery.
  • a great wave kite that also performs in all other disciplines.
  • smooth and consistent pull in all phases of the wind window.
  • consistency , hooked or unhooked.

Here are some first pictures.  Stay tuned for my reports on using it.

The nice clean bar

 The full monty
These kites will be available commercially online in early December 2010.

You can download the full spec here (PDF)

Saturday, November 20, 2010

St Kilda to Williamstown crossing

Session 111, 20 November 2010 

Kite: Switchblade 14
Wind: 20 knots, SE
Location: St Kilda
Time: 4:30 to 6:00

The Predictwind forecast indicated a good southerly sea breeze would come at around 4:00.   Stuart and I headed for St Kilda and arrived about that time.  There was some wind past the breakwater but not much behind it in the takeoff area.  After about 20 minutes the breeze picked up so we headed out.

The wind was south-east so it was much better past the breakwater.  After a couple of tacks we both headed across on a long tack to Williamstown, a tour we have been considering for some time.   We crossed the main shipping channel behind a good distance behind a big ship heading for the docks, and reached the point at Williamstown.  Its a desolate spot  - no public access is allowed there.  There were lots of Blue Blubber Jellyfish in the water.

After some short tacks we headed back upwind towards St Kilda and continued until we reached the entrance of St Kilda marina, then headed back, doing a few jumps along the way.  

A great adventure.  We were both tired but very happy on our return.

Heading across to WillIiamstown

Turing around at Willamstown

Returning from Willamstown (in the background)

Peter (foreground) and Stuart (background)


Sweet flat water behind the breakwater at St Kilda

On the beach

St Kilda beach

Turning off the camera, and tired!

Kitesurfing death at St Kilda

A kitesurfer was found in serious difficulty floating in the water at St Kilda on Friday 19 November. Some kiters on the scene rendered immediate first aid and CPR.  The ambulance took him to hospital, but reports today indicated that he later died. The cause may have been a cardiac arrest.

Great work from those who helped on the scene.  Its good to see kitesurfers looking after each other.  If you see someone in difficulty its always worth checking them out.

Condolences to his family.



Saturday, November 13, 2010

Kitesurfer dies in France

A 24-year-old kitesurfer crashed to his death in early November 2010 when wind swept him from the sea and hurled him over a nine-storey building at Saint-Jean-de-Luz, a resort town on France's southwest Atlantic coast, according to French emergency services.

The kitesurfer was Adrian Monnoyeur, 28, from Toulouse.

"He was overwhelmed by the force of the wind while he was kitesurfing at sea" by a central beach in Saint-Jean-de-Luz, a resort town on France's southwest Atlantic coast, an official in the rescue services told AFP on Sunday.

"He crashed into a nine-storey building and then went over it," the official added. "Afterwards he was carried even higher and then lost force in the sail and crashed down."

Reports said the weather was wet and very windy on Sunday afternoon when the accident happened.

Local media cited witnesses saying the man, a student, was slammed against the wall of a hotel and then blown over the top of it, hitting another building from which he fell seven storeys with his kite sail stuck on its roof.

This unfortunate and tragic accident highlights the importance of assessing conditions carefully when planning a kitesurfing session.

Some factors that need to be carefully considered include:
  • Checking weather forecasts carefully
  • Don't go out if there is a storm or gale force wind warning
  • Make sure you fly a small kite that is conservative for the conditions.  There is no information on the kite size or wind strength, but if this kitesurfer was using a 12m kite (he was clearly overwhelmed by the wind strength) he may have been able to handle the conditions with a 7m kite
  • If you are new to the sport, don't go out in wind speeds higher than 20 knots during your first year
  • Practice using your safety releases, and jettison your kite sooner rather than later if conditions dictate
  • Wear a helmet
Kitesurfing can be as safe (or as dangerous) as driving a car - it all depends of training, experience and good judgement.


Sunday, November 07, 2010

Gnotuk in a gusty northerly

Session 110, 11 November 2010 

Kite: Switchblade 10
Wind: 20 - 30 knots, N
Location: Gnotuk Avenue
Time: 21 noon to 1:30pm

Headed for Gnotuk after a morning bike race at Casey Fields (Cranbourne) with a strong northerly blowing.  Stuart  was already there and headed out into the cross offshore wind.  I rigged up and joined him.  I was able to do my  first reasonable standing start, with my rear foot guiding the board.  I sank back into the water but kept going. 

The wind was fairly mild close to the shore but was much strong about 300m out.  But it was patchy with some big holes in it.  We were able to stay upwind for about 15 minutes then it dropped to below 20 knots.  I headed in, not wishing to get caught offshore with no wind.

I waited on beach for the wind to pickup and kept my kite flying, practicing repowering it using the front lines - a handy technique for when  your kite threatens to drop out of the sky.

Then it picked up again, so I headed out for some very fast kiting. I ended up depowering the kite to keep good control.  I also managed one jump transition to a turn,  After about 20 minutes of fun I headed back in.  The wind dropped about 150m offshore and my kite hit the water, close to a marker pole which caused my some concern.  

I guided the kite and lines away from the pole and eventually relaunched it and got back in.  Swimming in towing a kite would be hard work against the wind.

The water was lovely and clean and still fairly cool.  There were a couple of windsurfers out and one kite some distance down the beach.

We discussed the conditions and agreed they were difficult - definately not the time to crash your kite and do a self rescue - but good fun none the less. 

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Cranking upwind at Inverloch to the surf

Session 109, 2 November 2010 

Kite: Switchblade 14
Wind: 20 - 25 knots, SW
Location: Inverloch - Andersons Inlet
Time: 1:30 to 3pm

Some good wind arrived around noon after a morning of showers and squalls.  Stuart and I drove to Andersons Inlet and launched in marginal wind, but it soon picked up when we were on the water.  

I did several fast flat water runs right across the inlet behind, getting heaps of speed on the flat water behind the sand bar right.

Looking to Inverloch
I then headed upwind, eventually working my way up to the point we passed on the downwinder two days ago. The outgoing tide still covered a lot of the sandbars but there was plenty of shallow water to negotiate in places.

Then I was out in the surf.  The blue water behind the waves was certainly different from the protected water of the inlet, and the waves were not huge.

On my third run out through the surf one of the screws securing my left footpad came loose, which was a bit alarming a long way from home.  I turned the pad around to tighten the remaining screw and headed back. It was time to return in any case.

I was getting a lot of speed on the downwind runs, keeping a wary eye out for shallow water.  I tried alternating to toe side riding, which really whipped me round the turns, but going to far results is a stalled kite at the edge of the wind window.  Memo to self: practice more downwind runs and wake-style slalom runs.

Tired but satisfied, we packed up and headed back for lunch.

There were a lot of other kiters out today enjoying the fantastic conditions.  I took some photos from the shore of the crowded channel at low water.   There were some beginners about too, so if you kite at Inverloch make sure you keep out of their way.

Passing Stuart

Flat water near the sandbar

In the surf

Going downwind

Screaming back downwind

Monday, November 01, 2010

Inverloch downwinder from surf beach to Anglers Club

Session 108, 1 November 2010

Kite: Switchblade 14
Wind: 15 knots, SW
Location: Inverloch
Time: 3:30pm to 5:00pm

Returning to Inverloch after a visit to Coal Creek with the kids, there was some wind at the beach.  Stuart had been kiting in the surf earlier.  We decided to try a downwinder to the Anglers Club.

There was plenty of room to launch on the wide beach, and the water was very clear.  We headed off without delay  into the smallish surf and crossed the inlet channel.  There was just enough wind to keep going with aggressive kite flying. 

Eventually we made it to the small headland right across the wide mouth of the inlet, then headed onto the flat water inside.

The inlet seems to funnel the wind in - the wind was stronger inside.  We had some fun picking our way through small channels and across some shallow sandbars before we got to the kiting zone near the Anglers Club.

We finished with a few runs there, with just enough wind to stay upwind.

This short downwinder is a great tour - I highly recommend it.

Starting on the beach

Through the small surf

Clean water

Looking back towards Cape Paterson

Shallow water in the surf zone

Clean smooth water in the inlet