Saturday, March 28, 2020

Melbourne beach closures due to COVID-19 virus - impact on kitesurfing

NOTE: This article is being updated as directions change

Kiteboarding Victoria advised on 9 April that kitesurfers follow government rules and restrictions and stay at home to ensure they don't receive fines of up to $1652 or put others at risk such as emergency and rescue services during the stage 3 restrictions.

"A kitesurfer on the water is considered to be vessel and as such must adhere to all applicable rules and regulations". Maritime Safety Victoria.

The current ban on recreational boating therefore applies to kitesurfing.

15 April 2020. Some sources on social media claimed that kitesurfing (while adhering to social distancing) is no longer banned. There has been nothing issued in writing from the Police or the CHO to confirm this.


Increasing measures to keep people at home and prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus have resulted in closures of beaches in and around Melbourne.

Most beaches close to Melbourne have been closed by local councils (list below). Signs at some beaches specify "Visitors are permitted to surf, swim, run, walk or exercise if you strictly follow social distancing requirements”. (Hampton beach 2 April).

Beach closed notice, Inverloch inlet, 1 April 2020

Police have been asking some people to leave beach areas.

Check current local council and directions from Chief Health Officer (Victoria) and Australian Government Dept of Health.

Park Victoria is the government authority that manages recreational activities on Port Phillip Bay. See Park Victoria COVID-19 page for updates.

On 31 March Parks Vic status was:

Some beaches remain accessible for exercise if social distancing requirements are strictly followed, but the message is clear – if you can stay home, you must stay home.

Commencing on the weekend of 3-4 April 2020 all recreational activities beyond basic exercise are not allowed.  This includes fishing, hunting, boating, camping and golf.

All kiters have a responsibility to follow the rules so we don't jeopardise the recreation that we all love.

Victoria Police have the power to issue on the spot fines of up to $1,652 for individuals and up to $9,913 for businesses who don’t follow the directives of the Chief Health Officer.

There is a prohibition on social sport gatherings.

Non-essential travel is restricted across Australia

People who ignore government advice to stay at home need to consider:
  • Travel by car to go kitesurfing is non-essential domestic travel
  • If you get injured or require a rescue you will expose emergency services and medical workers to risk of COVID-19 infection from you
  • If you are taken to a hospital you expose medical staff and patients to COVID-19 risk too
The key message is STAY AT HOME to avoid transmission.

As at 31 March 2020, limited exercise such as going for a walk from your home is OK.

List of beach closures

City of Port Phillip, including
  • St Kilda
  • Elwood
  • Sandridge
  • Brighton
City of Bayside (30 Mar 2020 update), including
  • Brighton
  • Ricketts Point
  • Hampton
Frankston City Council: closed its beaches from midnight tonight until midnight on Sunday 29 March.

Mornington Peninsula Shire: all beaches (includes Rye, Rosebud)

Hobsons Bay City: all beaches (includes Altona, Williamstown)

City of Kingson: all beaches until 30 March (including Aspendale, Mentone)

Bass Coast Shire: beaches are closed, but people still allowed to people to surf, swim, run or walk as long as they did not congregate in groups.


Thursday, March 26, 2020

Kitesurf foiling at St Kilda, staying upwind with some great runs

Session 506. Staying upwind on the foil, definitely a moment! 

Better wind at around 20 knots so I had good power from my 8m kite.  Nice sunny afternoon, there were few people about. No beginners on the edge, about 15 kiters to the West and around 10 in the Kiddie Pool.  There were also a couple of windsurfer foils and one guy with a wind wing.

I was able to get going with the board down and keep good control. Putting the rear foot forward definitely helps keeping the board down. No rear foot strap makes this easier too.

Shifting the rear foot back and transferring some weight and the board rises to give a "magic carpet ride".  I continued on past the breakwater into some swell and was able to maintain control.

The board touched down on some of the bigger swells without incident.  I noticed the foil wanting to turn with the bigger swells and start surfing!

I was using my waist harness - Ivan said they are fine for free style foiling.  Seat harnesses are now used by racers. The foil broached a couple of times without me crashing - I was able to keep cruising.

I found I was still going faster a couple of times (on both tacks) and couldn't slow down, even with the kite high, then crashed. Turning the board around is a hassle, getting it flat on the water then pivoting around its tail is probably the easiest and safest method.

I tried one turn on the water and got the board around but then fell off, its quite different to pivoting a surfboard.

I practicised body dragging with my arm braced on the board deck and the foil at 45 degrees - this is a good solid position, and its useful for positioning the board for a water start.

I broke the "don't kick near the board" rule and got a superficial cut above my reef booties.  Next time I will wear full booties and NOT kick near the board or foil.

It was very pleasing to get up and going on the foil on both tacks. The speed and smooth ride is amazing.  Going back to a "basic beginner" is an interesting experience too and I'm very happy with the progress I am making.

Not sure how much more solo kiting will be possible now with the coronavirus (COVID-19) advice to "stay at home". It was great to get out today.

What I learnt this session:
  • Body dragging with one hand bracing the board works well
  • DON'T kick around near the foil (under the board)
  • Getting the balance right comes with practice, my confidence is increasing
  • Larger swell is manageable
  • Controlling speed and stopping is still challenging when you get going really fast.
  • Wear full length booties for extra protection.
Next session I intend to:
  • Focus on keeping the kite high
  • Riding toeside in both directions (swapping feet while on a tack)
  • Heelside to toeside turn (board on the water)
  • Toeside to heelside turn (board on the water)

More tips and information on kite foiling see Kitesurfing a foil board - Kitesurfing Handbook 

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Kitesurf foiling at St Kilda, making progress

Session 505. More good afternoon wind so I headed to St Kilda again, keen to backup foiling sessions. I decided to try my old Dakine seat harness this time too.

The wind was close to 20 knots so I took my 8m kite down, rigged up and headed out.  By the time I was on the water the wind dropped and I was under powered. 

It was difficult to get going.  After the power dive the kite needed to go backwards to keep powered so I was sinking back into the water.  I eventually got going with some good board speed and the apparent wind works to give you more speed.  Coming back there was less wind behind the seawall so I came into the beach and walked back for another run.

Low wind makes it hard when learning to foil as you need to focus too much on flying the kite and not enough on controlling the board and your forward balance.

On the second run I crashed, the spreader bar unhooked and I got yanked downwind.  I reconnected it but the wind wasn't strong enough to body drag upwind. I gave up and body dragged to shore.   Another kiter helped by getting the board flat on the water so it could sail in.  I swam out and got it without much hassle.  That was enough for the day.

What I learnt this session:
  • Wind speed 15 knots was not enough for my 8m kite
  • The seat harness was not a big success
  • No rear foot strap works well and doesn't impede water starts.
Next session I intend to:
  • Keep practicing micro flights to get comfortable with rising and slowing
  • Focus on keeping the kite high
  • Get the right kite size to match the wind (14.5m for 10 knots, 10m for 15 knots, 8m for 20 knots).

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Kitesurfing St Kilda - up and going on the Moses foil

Session 504. Up and foiling at last!  There was a lot less people at St Kilda and the water was flatter. I was able to water start and get going on the foil first tack. I was amazed away by the speed.

I was able to get foiling on both tacks - a magic carpet ride!

Ivan tips were:
  • Keep the kite high
  • Get some speed to stabilise the foil
I noticed I had the kite too low which made the speed was difficult to control - this is a habit from kitesurfing waves where a low kite keeps pressure on your feet.

The mast climbed high on some occasions - 90cm is a long way above the water - and it wasn't always easy to get it back down. The foil broached a couple of times then the board came down fast, dug in and and I came off.

Getting the balance right is difficult - this requires significant practice.

What I learnt this session:
  • Wind speed 15 knots with my 10m kite was good, the water was fairly flat.
  • Foils are FAST.  Keep the kite high to slow the speed down.
  • My waist harness was riding up a lot.
Next session I intend to:
  • Practice micro flights to get comfortable with rising and slowing
  • Focus on keeping the kite high
  • Put my free hand forward to help shift weight forward
  • Possibly use my old seat harness
  • Possible remove the rear footstrap to make it easier to shift my rear foot forward
  • Turn (gybe) with the board on the water then ride toeside to get going in the opposite direction
  • Turn heelside with board on the water

More tips and information on kite foiling see Kitesurfing a foil board - Kitesurfing Handbook 

Sunday, March 22, 2020

First outing on new Moses foil board at St Kilda

Session 503. My first session on my new Moses foil board I bought from Ivan and Paul at The Zu Boardsports.

The wind was stronger than I wanted - over 20 knots. I was able to get out past the lineup of learners at St Kilda.

Getting up on the board was fairly easy. I was able to get going and keep the board on the water with no major dramas. I rose on the foil a few times, it felt stable and predictable.

The increase in speed is incredible, I wasn't able to slow it down and feel stable. The forward balance to control the height is incredibly sensitive.

Out past the shelter of the breakwater the swell was more difficult to manage. I wasn't able to get going on the right tack.  The board was very hard to get in position with the wind pushing me towards shore. I gave up trying and body dragged back to shore with the board flat on the water upwind of my body which was easy.

Then the walk of shame back to me gear, a rank beginner again but feeling happy to make some progress without incident or injury!

What I learnt this session:
  • Strong wind and swell make learning to foil difficult - I think 15 knots would be better due to less swell.
  • Practising body dragging with the board is good
  • Small progressions are good
Next session I hope to:
  • Get more stable when on the foil out of the water
  • Turn (gybe) and ride toeside to get going in the opposite direction
  • Hopefully hold ground and go upwind to flat water behind the breakwater, then its game on!
Moses foil board details:

After some online research including this video and discussion with Ivan, I decided the freestyle surf 633 foil combined with the 483 rear stabiliser and the T30 carbon board would be best for continuing my learning and then for enjoyable freestyle kite foiling.  While a shorter 70cm mast would be easier for learning the 91cm mast will be better for handling bay swells in stronger winds.

More tips and information on kite foiling see Kitesurfing a foil board - Kitesurfing Handbook 

Friday, March 20, 2020

Kitesurfing Hampton with strong south westerly

Session 502. Nice late kitesurfing session at Hampton with some good bay waves.  Got a little crowded at times.  The surf and bay rollers further out were good. 

Here is a short video, you can see Jeff Steele in action too.