Saturday, December 13, 2014

Aspendale to Frankston downwinder, Across the Bay training

Session 305.  Another training session for Across the Bay to Conquer Cancer 2015.  The forecast was for a 10 knot easterly so I opted to hold this at Aspendale (Gnotuk).   I provided a short briefing on skills and equipment for downwinders (summarised here) then a strong northerly whipped in - 27 knots at Fawker Beacon.  This was not forecast so it was a very pleasant surprise!

Aspendale to Franskton was on!  We rigged up and got going as quickly as possible.  I took my Lithium 12 and started a bit overpowered, but I was keen to have a bit of grunt up my sleeve. As it turned out, this was a good choice.

One kiter crashed their North kite and "bow tied" it - the fifth line wrapped around the canopy.  Personally, I think this is a major flaw with 5 line system.  The kiter performed a self rescue and wound in their lines.  I stopped by and suggested they attach their board with the leash to make it easier to swim in, then  I kited to the beach and told a lady there to keep an eye out for the kiter coming slowly in.

We continued on, heading further out to get better wind.  I directed a few kiters to head in closer though as a 1km swim would not be much fun.   I was having a nice time well powered and doing some downloop slalom turns, then at about half way the wind suddenly dropped (as northerlies often do).  Most were forced to stop and concentrate on keeping their kite flying.  I was able to just keep going with repeated downloops on full power.

Then it picked up again.  Everyone headed back towards shore which was a good thing!  Nearing Frankston the wind dropped again so I headed for shore coming in about 500m north of the Gould St beach. I walked along the beach a bit then kited the final distance to where the lead kiter (Graham) was waiting).

We regrouped on the beach then walked back via the BP (stop for refreshments) then caught the train back to Aspendale.

One board was lost about halfway between Aspendale and Frankston.  It is likely to be blown into Seaford or Frankston. It has kiter's phone number on it. Please call him or call me if you hear about it being found.

Lessons learned today and tips:
  • When you are self rescuing and you have wound your lines in, detach your leash from the bar and attach it to your board by looping it through a footstrap. You can then concentrate on sailing the kite without juggling the board.
  • Northerly winds are fickle.  Don't go to far off shore.  Always think "how will I manage the swim in if the wind conks out here"?
  • Summer is here - my calves got sunburnt with my shortie wetsuit on.  Its time to wear full suncream and my tropical suit (full body, 1mm).
  • Learn how to downloop to get maximum power when the wind backs off.
  • Make sure your name and number is written on your kite and board.
  • Use a larger kite if there is some chance the wind will drop off
  • Carry some thongs or sandals in waterproof backpack - sand and tar roads can be extremely hot under your feet on the way back!
  • 2 waterproof layers are recommended for valuables (e.g. put your mobile phone in waterproof case or pouch then put than in a waterproof backpack).  
Overall it was a good day, if challenging.  Downwinders are always an adventure!



HGS resi said...

Just interested to know why you chose gnotuk for a 10knt easterly?

Peter Campbell said...

Good question Luke.

I wasn't optimistic that we would have enough wind to kite - if that was the case we would have done some self rescue practice close to shore. If the easterly was a bit stronger we could do a downwinder to Mentone. As it turned out, the strong northerly meant would go to Frankston (just!).

Kiting in any offshore wind is not recommended, but this is what participants must face when launching at Rosebud for the main event.

It also makes conditions on the water much more difficult which is also good training for the main event (e.g. variable wind, gusts etc.)

This stretch of beach has the fewest obstacles of any in the bay so its also one of the safest for kitesurfing, and the Frankston train line provides good transport.