However, the wind is very variable, so great caution is needed when choosing to go kitesurfing. It is definitely not the season for beginners. Very strong gusts can come with little or no warning.
A word of warning: strong gusts can overpower you and send you airborne with very serious consequences. You can wreck your gear, get seriously injured, or even lose your life. If in doubt, don't go out.
Here is a drill for watching the weather and choosing when to head out.
1. Check out Predictwind and/or Seabreeze for a good forecast
- You can also set email alerts for good wind conditions.
- The Bureau of Metereology also provides forecasts, but its not so easy to find out their wind predictions.
3. Check South Channel to see what is coming through down south
- There is a reasonable expectation that conditions down there will reach Melbourne in about 40 minutes
- The wind intensity and gusts may drop a bit by the time they reach Melbourne's bayside suburbs
- Note the scale change due to high winds in the graph below!
Go smaller rather than larger so you can more safely handle strong gusts.
As a guide, for my 85kg weight I use:
- Wind 12-20 knots: 12m Noise kite - Benwilsonsurf
- Wind 20-30 knots: 10m Switchblade - Cabrinha
- Wind 30-40 knots: 7m Crossbow - Cabrinha
- Wind 15-25 knots: 10m Switchblade- Cabrinha
- Wind 25-40 knots: 7m Crossbow - Cabrinha
- I don't recommend going out in wind greater than 40 knots.
- The above wind range is for riders with over 1 years experience and at least 30 sessions logged.
Note that a squall can miss you but the gust front can still blast you from the side of the storm cell.
What to do if you get caught in a strong gust or squall
So you have 12 months experience, have taken all the necessary precautions, but the mother of all gusts comes in and hammers you and things are rapidly going pear shaped. What do you do?
The following suggestions have been provided by other kiters on via Seabreeze:
- If you can't get in to shore in time to beat the squall, head out to sea so you have a better safety margin away from hard objects. On the shore with your kite up is the worst possible position to be in, and landing it there can be very dangerous.
- You should keep your kite low if a squall hits. Worst case you get dragged sideways, but this is much better than being picked up in the air and thrown into buildings, cars, boats, piers or a rockwall.
- Ride with one hand on your safety so you can ditch the kite quickly if you need to.
- If you are getting dragged and there is danger, release your bar and deploy your safety #1.
- If you are still getting dragged too fast or being lofted, release your leash and the kite with it (safety #2)