Saturday, August 31, 2013

Taming the beast, first kitesurfing session on the Airush Lithium Zero

Session 252. I got down to Brighton in the early afternoon with a mild northerly blowing.  One other kiter was out testing the conditions and going downwind so I bit the bullet and decided to try my new Airush Lithium Zero 18m light wind kite.

Two other curious kiters assisted as I pumped it up and rigged it.  It takes a while to pump up the big leading edge bladder.  Once pumped up it really wanted to fly.  The breeze on the beach was lifting the leading edge, even with a lot of sand on it.   One of the kiters remarked that with a kite that big up the wind would come in stronger . . .

It launched easily and flew up to the zenith smoothly.  The power was immediately apparent.  On the water with my S-quad surfboard I was well powered and soon screeching along.

This is the B52 of kites.  Massive power and it really wants to fly!  I was having trouble slow it down, bringing it high made it want to boost.  Wow, I was feeling like a beginner again!

The wind was a bit over 12 knots though, possibly 15, so I was actually overpowered.  I came back in fast, very fast, losing ground as I was unable to hold the board edge and counter the power. I did another run out and back then decided to land it.

One of the kiters (who also took the shots of me on the water) came down and landed it.  By then, other kites were out so I packed away the zero and finished the session on my Lithium 12 and my new Firewire board (strapless).  The wind dropped out a few times, but the sunny weather was nice.  The board feels great - riding strapless puts you in closer contact to the water. Its nice.


Thursday, August 29, 2013

Bruno Sroka kitesurfs from France to Ireland

Bruno Sroka completed a marathon kitesurfing journey from France to Ireland. on 19 July 2013, covering 250 nautical miles in 16h40.

He used a raceboard for much of the journey but swapped to a hydrofoil board when the wind dropped close to Ireland.

He departed a 6:25am from Penn-Enez beach in France and averaged 18 knots for the first 100 nautical miles.

He passed the Isles of Scilly from the Atlantic ocean (west) side to get better wind.

Bruno "hit the wall" with 90 nautical miles to go when he stopped for a break and realised how tired he was and that the sun was going down.

The wind dropped to under 10 knots for the lasted 50 knots - the hardest part of the journey.  He did the last 30 nautical miles on the foil board, which is quite technical to ride.

Highlights of his trip included some dolphins swimming with him and a flotilla of small boats came out to meet him at Cross haven.

An epic achievement.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Airush Lithium Zero 18m kite and Firewire Flexfire board

I called in to The ZU Boardsports today to pick up my new Airush Lithium Zero kite.  Its designed for light wind in the range 5 to 12 knots and has no struts!

It is a big kite at 18m, yet it weighs as much as a 10m kite with struts.

The bar seems to be identical to my other Lithiums (9 and 12) but I will check it out carefully to make sure the line lengths are the same.

It is about $1,000 cheaper than an Ozone Edge 19 so I think its a bargain.

I can't wait to give it a go, but the wind was too strong today!

I also bought a second hand 6' 2" Firewire Flexwire board that I intend to use for strapless kitesurfing and possible for downwinders too.  It is nice and light and has deck grip on it.  I rang Franz to get his opinion on the board.  He said it was a great board, I should buy it and it was in fact his!

I am looking forward to trying it out soon.

I will post a full review of the Lithium Zero kite here: Airush Lithium Zero 18m - Kitesurfing Handbook

Chilly and gusty at Brighton

Session 251. A nice afternoon kitesurfing session in chilly conditions at Brighton Beach.  I called by The ZU Boardsports to pickup my new Airush Lithium Zero kite - more on that later.

There were about a dozen kiters out enjoying the punchy wind.  It was about 16-18 knots when I arrived so I took out my Lithium 12.  The bay swell was building and the water was nice and clear.  

I did some runs upwind then some downwind slalom turns on the waves.  Nice!  

I did some good jumps too and landed most of them.   The wind picked up to 25 knots then I came in, almost overpowered.

Julian was out trying a Lithium 10m kite then he swapped to his North 10m kite. 

I had a couple of runs on the North to try it out.  It turned amazingly fast but had surprisingly little power compared to a Lithium.

Track log

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Kitesurfing dawn patrol at Frankston

Session 250. Another ripping winter northerly at Frankston at dawn.  Stuart, Tarren, James and I headed down for a kitesurfing session before work.  We were not disappointed.  We took out our mid size kites and had plenty of power in the punchy wind that was around 20 knots gusting up to 25.

I did one massive jump and headed for the heavens, completely losing my orientation and smacking hard into the water on landing, very glad to be wearing my 4/3 wetsuit and vest.

The bay surf was nice again too.

Landing the kites on the narrow beach was a bit tricky.

We packed up around 8:00 and then headed into work.

It has been a very windy week in Melbourne: Windiest week in years and more to come - nice for kitesurfing but yesterday would have been dicey with gusts up to 50 knots.


Sunday, August 11, 2013

Kitesurfing at Frankston great wind nice waves

Session 240.  The wind picked up during the morning so I headed down to Frankston.  Franz was there when I arrived and having a great time.  I took out my Lithium 12 and S-Quad and was immediately loving it.  Fresh water, sun and good wind!  The swell was rolling in quite nicely too, creating small surf closer to the beach.  James came down a short while later and one other kiter showed up.  That was it - 4 kiters for the large expanse of beach and plenty of wind to go around.

I was concentrating on speeding up my feet switching during gybes, aiming to eliminate any pause in the middle.  The surf was great and I did a few nice jumps too.  

My left elbow still has some residual Tennis Elbow symptoms but it held up OK without the pressure brace today.

This was a really good session - some of the best winter conditions you can get.  I was able to shake off yesterday's torpor and have a hooting good time.  We all had a ball.


Saturday, August 10, 2013

Early morning start for Rosebud kitesurfing

Session 239.  It was an early start to get the predicted wind.  After the longish drive to Rosebud I arrived to find Stuart and Tarren already on the beach gazing out at flat water with about 10 knots of wind.  Stuart took my Sector 60 board out and got going with some speed.  There were only a couple of other kiters out in the light wind conditions.

The 200m shallow sandbars make it difficult for the Sector 60 however - great caution is required to avoid plowing the fins into the sand.

I thought I had left my bar behind so I took out Tarren's Ozone Edge 11m kite.  It flies and turns well and has plenty of power, so much so I depowered it when I came back in.  The single cord depower with a cleat above the bar works quite well.  It is very simple and doesn't jam up.  I later realised that the bar was in with my 9m kite.  Doh!  I was feeling vague most of the day.

I had a go on Stuarts Carbrinha 10m Switchblade and his twin tip.  I am getting rusty on twin tip boards and the kite was choking and back stalling with the bar right in, so I did one run out and back then called it a day.  The wind never really got above about 15 knots - nowhere near the forecast 25+ knots.

Stuart and Tarren both had a good time polishing some flat water tricks.

Tarren styling it.  Photo: Stuart Webb

Peter in bunny suit onesie, living large.  Photo: Stuart Webb

I wore my drysuit which performed well under the conditions, but I got a bit too hot with the bunny suit on under it.

It was nice to be out and about though.  

Saturday, August 03, 2013

Kitesurfing downwinder Brighton to Frankston - the big Kahuna

Session 238. With a good northerly wind forecast for Sunday, Cesar contacted me about doing a downwinder to Frankston. I was keen to give it a go so we met at Brighton at 11:30 with the wind blowing over 20 knots.  Cesar, Julien and I decided to give it a go.  We took smaller kites - I used my Lithium 9 and was so glad that I did!

I took safety gear in my Type 3 PFD pockets including:

  • marine VHF (waterproof)
  • Strobe
  • Whistle
  • Energy bar
I also carried my small waterproof backpack with sandals and the kitebag in it along with a phone, some money and a public transport card.

Powered up off Frankston
The water is still cold so we wore our warm wetsuits.  We headed off without delay.  I was cranking downwind and got some distance ahead as we passed Sandringham.  My left tacks were going well.  I was able to get good speed and stability bearing downwind, although I dug the nose of the board in occasionally and came off a few times.

Tacking to the right was a whole different story. I think it was a combination of the wind strength and the direction of the swell.  It felt weird and very awkward, and I stuffed nearly every gybe turn back to the left.  It felt like I was a beginner again, but I concentrated on getting stable and making progress.

I waited for the others, then just past Ricketts Point the wind dropped about 5 knots. I headed across the bight towards the stretch of beach near Gnotuk Avenue, the other two were further out.

Then it came in hard - around 30 knots.  I fully depowered the kite but was still overcooked.  In these conditions the Sector 60 became a beast.  I couldn't turn it quickly on the swells and the high speed with big swells made it hard to ride.  I came off quite a few times, bailing off when it dug in.  Cesar and Julien were coping better on their surfboards and got well ahead of me.

Getting going again was hard to, the wind was pulling me hard toward the board even with the kite at 12 and the BCD was floating up and getting in the way.  At one stage I body dragged for a bit holding the board, waiting for the wind to drop.  Once I was up and going bearing downwind reduced the pull a bit but the board speed was still high.  I was close to overpowered.  I relaxed and adjusted to the situation, realising I could bail to the beach at any time.

What a blast!  Really testing conditions.  Big gannets plunging into the water and the wind was whipping up big waves and a lot of spray.

Coming into to Frankston it was blowing over 30 knots.  Julien grabbed my kite as I flew it down fast.  We packed our gear and walked into the Frankston shopping centre where we had a great coffee and muffin.  Then we caught the train to South Yarra and back down to Middle Brighton.

We got some odd looks and a few comments walking along Church Street in our wetsuits carrying our boards. Back at Brighton it was raining hard with another storm front coming through. There were a few hardy souls out kiting.  But I think we scored the good one - we even had sunshine for our 40km tour - and we had plenty of wind.

GPS log