Sunday, February 20, 2011

Scored a hat trick with another session at Hampton

Session 129, 19 February 2011

Kite: Noise 12
Wind: 20 knots, W
Location: Hampton
Time: 3:30 to 5:30 (2h)
Board: Naish Haize twin tip

I scored a hat trick today - 3 days kiting in a row.  Not bad for such a poor season.

Stuart and I headed to Hampton after a family birthday party.  The wind was blowing above 20 knots when we arrived but dropped a bit as I was getting ready, so I took out the Noise 12m kite.

I got out for some good riding and was going upwind well when my kite fell out of the sky unexpectedly during a routine turn.  I was having trouble relaunching it when I realised the donkey dick (attachment that secures the chicken loop) had slipped out and I was unhooked, so I carefully rehooked the bar and relaunched the kite.  I have sent a note to Dano See, the kite designer, suggesting they make the DD a tad longer.

Memo to all: It is very difficult, maybe impossible, to relaunch an unhooked kite.

The wind was lulling quite a bit, so it was hard to get in a good rythym, and difficult to keep practicing jump transitions, though I did manage some good jumps when the wind picked up.

I had another go after a wait on the beach during and an extended lull.  The wind direction had changed to full onshore (west) and the shorebreak was big enough to dump you on the sand.  Three other guys were trying to get out, along with a couple of windsurfers, and several hotshot riders were riding quite close to the shore.  It was difficult and frustrating for a while.

For those that don't know, the rule is that riders heading out have the right of way.

Once out, I finished with a good fast session.

Full photo album

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Nice Bay surf at Hampton

Session 128, 19 February 2011

Kite: Switchblade 10
Wind: 25 knots, SW
Location: Hampton
Time: 3:30 to 4:30 (1h)
Board: Naish Haize twin tip
Some more good wind, this time stronger. I was able to get down to Hampton and on the water at about 3:30. The wind had abated from the 35+ knots around 2:00 but was still blowing strong, and a good bay surf was crashing onto the beach.

My neighbour Alistair, visiting Melbourne for a few months with his family, came along to check out the action. He took all the photos in this post - kiting shots I never normally get.

I did a few runs to the concrete marina seawall and back into the surf zone, where some ridable waves were breaking. It was good wind for jumping too as there was plenty of boost and some good lips to launch off.

I spent some time practicing jump transition turns and got a few happening. My approach was to cut off some speed, edge, jump, rotate the board downwind, then land and keep going. I found it difficult to generate enough power from the kite to finish the turn and bogged in a couple of times, but I did get a few happening. I was turning the kite upwards, not doing a down loop.

The surf certainly makes it fun. There were about six other kiters out and everyone was having a good time.
I got disoriented during a couple of jump transitions and dropped the kite a couple of time, and was parted from my board a couple of times too.
When I was finished and packing up on the beach I noticed a kite - mostly black Cabrinha with red flecks - jellyfished in the water. Other kiters rendered some assistance and grabbed his board. I swam out and took the board to shore, then helped him through the shore break with his kite. His lines were nicely coiled so there was no big tangle. He burst had burst the main bladder with none of the strut tubes pinched off, so lost all the air from his bladder and struts.

I think it pays to keep at least one sealed off to maintain some buoyancy in this type of circumstance. Its something I haven't been doing routinely for a while.

Full photo album

Friday, February 18, 2011

Altona in a dramatic storm with some lightning!

Session 127, 18 February 2011

Kite: Noise 12
Wind: 19 knots, SE
Location:  Altona
Time: 5:00 to 6:00 (1h)
Board: Naish Haize twintip

I got a familiar rush of blood as I drove along the Altona foreshore and saw about 30 kites out.  Some good wind, hooray!  

I rigged up quick and was on the water at about 5pm, no sign of Stuart or Tarren.

I headed south west through the small surf, then cut back into the flat-water lagoon section.  It was nice carving the flat water, but a bit nerve wracking watching out for shallow sections.  The board was snagging sea grass, and I was never quite sure where I would bottom out.  With flat light in the late afternoon it was hard to see where the really shallow parts were.

About ten other kiters were cruising in this section.  I followed some up to the creek inlet, then hit a sandbar and took a tumble, but no damage was done.

I decided to head back out into the surf section, which took a bit of doing, then did a 4km tour up to the Cheetham Salt Works.  There is nothing along this section of shoreline, it feels like wilderness.

Plot of kitesurfing session at Altona Beach
Along the way I did a few jumps and attempted some jump transitions without success.  They are harder to do than they appear.

When I eventually turned, I saw an ominous dark storm cloud just north of the CBD, so I headed straight back.  Along the way the bar was well sheeted so I unhooked (for the first time intentionally).  I was able to keep going, but there was a lot of pull on my arms and it was hard to keep the board edged.  I crashed the kite while attempted to re-hook but got it flying again.

I was doing some tacks closer to the shore working my way upwind back to the car when the storm loomed large. I saw some lighting bolts and heavy rain just north of the shoreline, so I headed for shore and landed the kite.  As I did, a very heavy downpour dumped. I could hardly see the kite from 25m away.  Several kiters were still out there somewhere.  I hoped that no lightning would strike them. Luckily, it didn't.

The storm cleared and I walked back along the beach to the car, meeting Stuart and Tarren along the way.  They had arrived just after me. 

The storm was dramatic, but the risk of lighting strike was high.

The water seemed quite clean too, which was a relief after the pollution warnings of the previous week. We were all glad to get out after a two week spell with very little wind.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Kiting in a car across Australia

Top marks to these Germans who crossed Australia in an electric car, using a kite for power assist at times.  Keen eyes will spot them launching the kite at the Nullabor Roadhouse.

They broke 3 world records:
  1. Crossing a continent with a wind-powered vehicle for the first time
  2. Traveling the farthest in a wind-powered car over a 36 hour period
  3. Traveling the most distance ever covered by a wind-powered land vehicle.

See also: Kitesurfing World record attempt to cross the continent, powered by wind

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Port Phillip Bay was full of poo

An alert was reported for unsafe swimming conditions in most of Port Phillip Bay on 11 February 2011.   Beach reports rated 22 of 36 Port Phillip Bay beaches monitored by the Environment Protection Authority as poor and one, Werribee South, as unacceptable.

Swimming was not recommended at Rye, Dromana, Mornington, Frankston Coast Guard beach, Frankston Life Saving Club beach, Seaford, Carrum, Aspendale North, Mordialloc, Mentone, Beaumaris, Half Moon Bay, Sandringham, Hampton, Brighton, Elwood, St Kilda, Middle Park, Port Melbourne, Sandridge, Williamstown and Altona beaches.  

A no swim advisory was issued for Werribee South.

At that time and since, I could find no specific warning on the Environment Protection Authority website.  

The EPA maintains the EPA Beach Report website which also did not provide a specific warning about this health risk.  To find out the condition of a particular beach you had to click on a specific location.

Given the high levels of dangerous E-coli bacteria throughout Port Phillip Bay, including areas such as Rye which are not normally affected in this way, it is unacceptable that this information is not more prominent.  These conditions prevailed for several days.

Melbourne Water were and still are completely silent on this issue.

On 15 February 2011, it was revealed that the cause of these high E-coli bacteria levels throughout the bay were due to raw sewage being dumped into a series of rivers and creeks around Melbourne at the height of this month's floods after the city's sewage network failed to cope.

Affected waterways included the Yarra River, Maribyrnong River, Merri Creek, and Moonee Ponds Creek were subjected to the dumping as Melbourne Water sought to prevent sewage backing up into Melbourne homes.  They all flow into Port Phillip Bay.

Drains in Elwood, Brighton and Hampton were also fouled, prompting accusations that authorities failed to properly warn people of the risks to human health.

It seems that neither Melbourne Water and the EPA are keeping us properly informed of health risks associated with sewage pollution.  

Kitesurfers, swimmers and sailors beware!


Monday, February 07, 2011

Point Danger Torquay waves in a building south westerly

Session 126, 7 February 2011

Kite: Noise 12
Wind: 15+ knots, S
Location:  Point Danger,  Torquay
Time: 3:00 to 5:00 (2h)
Board: Cabrinha S-Quad

We did a road trip back along the Great Ocean Road on Monday, returning from the AKSA National Wave Kiting Championship held at Warrnambool.  There was some big surf along the coast around the Twelve Apostles, but no wind.  There was some wind at Bells Beach, but not quite enough, so we continued on to Point Danger at Torquay.

There was enough wind to get going so several kiters headed out.  You can launch off the grass on the point, with some assistance, then walk down to the beach to head out.

There was a reasonable surf on the south facing beach.  I headed out some distance to make some ground.  On the return tack I was able to surf some waves on the reef break.

This is a great spot for kitesurfing waves as you can select the wave you want then hit it where it breaks on the reef, and not worry about close outs across a beach.

I ended up mostly switching feet for tacks.  I don't quite make enough ground riding toeside in light winds, and I am still practicing gybing.  I did manage to get my feet around a couple of times, but I sank back in the water.  It looks so easy when others do it!

Looking back to Point Danger

After two hours I was very tired, so I came in and took these photos from the headland.

Paul Cousins interviewing Keahi De Aboitz, winner of the AKSA National Wave Kiting Championship, open event.

Point Danger

Landing zone

In summary, I can recommend Point Danger for intermediate and above kitesurfers wanting to get into some waves.

Photo albums


Photos from Point Danger

Warrnambool to Melbourne via the Great Ocean Road

We did a road trip back along the Great Ocean Road on Monday, returning from the AKSA National Wave Kiting Championship held at Warrnambool. There was some big surf along the coast around the Twelve Apostles, but no wind.

There was some wind at Bells Beach, but not quite enough, so we continued on to Point Danger at Torquay where we had a great kitesurfing session in the waves.

The crew

Gibsons Steps

Gibsons Steps

On the road

Looking west to Lorne

Sunday, February 06, 2011

AKSA flatwater session fun in the sun

Session 125, 6 February 2011

Kite: Noise 12
Wind: 15 knots, S
Location: Main Beach, Warrnambool
Time: 3:00 to 4:00 (1h)
Board: Cabrinha S-Quad

There was a "flatwater freeride" demonstration event on at Warrnambool Main Beach in the afternoon, after the finals of the ASKA National Titles were completed.  I headed out for another session with many onlookers on the beach.

The wind was a bit light, but there was enough to get going.  There were quite a few kiters on the water, but everyone was watching out for each other.

I came in after an hour tired but happy.  Ivan Salmon, who had been judging at the Nationals, borrowed my Noise kite to try it out.

There is good camaraderie in the kiting community here, and at the Nationals.  If you get a chance to attend one of these championship events I think it is well worthwhile.

 I took these photos from the beach and in the water.

Holly and Gary

Paul Cousins

Ivan Salmon

Ivan Salmon

Ivan Salmon

Paul Cousins and Gary Becus

Paul Cousins

Ivan trying out the Noise 12m
Photo Album