Windfinder Forecast

Friday, December 24, 2010

Not there... Yet

Altona beach, originally uploaded by Trackingtom.

Kite run #3

Wind 18 knots
Sunny 22 degrees.

So my 3rd run wasn't what I expected. I first went to St Kilda to check the weather out, the wind was a little high and gustily for my 12 Rebel and after talking to the trainers down there I decided I should try another site. Plus there were no 12's, 11's or 10's on the water.
So i got back in the car, pointed the GPS to Altona and thought I'd try my luck down there.

Altona did look better. There were bigger kites in the air, more space to set up and more area on the water to practice. Altona is a much easier place to set up. There is a lot of grass just off the sand to set up/pack up and even near the road there is some grass sheltered by the raised walkway to make setting up a bit easier. Just got to watch out for twigs.
Looking out on the water the wind seemed a little less intense. If St Kilda was 20+ and gusting at 25+ knots, Altona was 15+ and gusting at 20 knots. There were lots of 12's and 11 kites out. Even a 14, a guy maybe an hour or two above my limited expertise.
I had a chat to some of the guys on the sand setting up their kites; asking their opinions about the wind, the size of my kite and my experience. The two that i spoke to reassured me that with the rebel and its 5th line that if anything were to go wrong pulling on the 5th line will cause the kite to flip over and fall to the water. There were 10 plus kiters there so if anything did go wrong there was always going to be someone who could help.
I pulled the kite out of the car, pumped it up and took a final look at the water also to 'pump' myself up for a session. I walked the kite onto the sand and within a minute i got a hand to launch my Rebel. I gave the thumbs up, the kite got some air and flew towards the road/trees. F#@K!.
I hit the deck, pushed the bar out, the kite dove and stopped at a post along the walkway.
F#@k again. "Is my kite damaged? Man I just did this in front of everyone! Shit, did i damage my kite."
"You have the bar the wrong way around!" Yelled out the guy who helped me launch.
"Shit, cheers mate." was my reply.
He went over to the pole, removed my kite from it and helped me launch again.
I had the bar in the right position this time and launched it without any dramas. I left the kite in the air for awhile to explore if I had done any damage to the kite.
None.... Sweet. Now to the water.

All in all it was a disappointment in the water today. I managed to get up out of the water without too much of an issue for the first half of the session but my problem at the time was staying up on the board. I wasn't working the kite enough and i think to some degree I am trying to surf upwind too much. Its something i can't help at the moment. It doesn't feel right yet to surf downwind. Both of these issues are causing me to sink into the water. I'll get up on the board, work the kite and then sink. Next time I'll get up on the board, aim the board downwind, forget about working the kite and sink.
I see that surfing in towards the left is my stronger side and if i continued at the spot I was in I would end up in the rocks. So I set the kite to 12, grabbed my board and walked up the beach to try again.
A this point it had been in the water for an hour. I could start to feel it in my arms and yet I had not really achieved what I wanted for the session. To ride for 20+ meters.
My second half of the session was worse than the first. More 'supermans's (flying head first with your feet out of the water), when up on the board more sinking and if I'm not sinking I'm face-planting.
All in all one could tell that I wasn't getting my front foot our far enough or straight enough. This is the cause to 2 of my 3 issues. Maybe even the 'superman' issue. But I think that's just because there is too much power when trying to water start.
I kept this up for another 45mins to an hour then I ran out of energy. I was disappointed with my session and knew I had a long night ahead of me packing for my trip to see my partners parents in NZ.
Reading another blog I can see that he was up and riding at my point of hours on the board but maybe I may be a little to harsh on myself. I haven't surfed before, wake boarded, snowboarded or in general sports that use a similar stance. Sure i skated as a kid, but that was 10 years ago now.
I've committed this far time and money wise so I'm just going to have to keep on trying. Keep my front foot strait and out, tuck my back foot under my ass and work the kite.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Professional lessons with my gear.

Kite run #2

Firstly to be able to kite with my gear I had to untangle all the lines. I spent close to an hour last night untangling the lines, and another half an hour this morning. Getting home from the concert at midnight and waking at 6 didn't help but these things you just have to do.

After yesterday's blunders my next kiting lesson was going to be with an instructor. Kiran from Ireland. The guy who i did the last 3 hours of my 'get up and ride' lessons with from GoKite.
The wind was southerly, good for St Kilda, but was a little to strong for my North Rebel 12M. So we pumped up the kite and he ran through the 5th line element that North use. I originally bought the kite from the RPS store in Elwood 2nd hand. The origional owner used if for a while, busted his arm and wasn't able to use it for 12 months. So this kite being a 2009 model is reasonably new.

The kites we trained on are nothing compared to what it looks like the Rebel can do. With the ability to de-power quite easily and power up on the move, plus i find it really easy to fly.
Kiran took me through general tips to look after the gear. Wax the lines once every 3 months, using normal board wax. Give the kite a wash from time to time with fresh water. There was one more tip, but i'll have to find out the proper 'kite' name for it and edit the post later.

Once the kite was pumped up and we had gone through all that was needed to know about the kite, how to use it and best to care for the kite it was decided that it was too windy/gusty to get a 12 into the air to learn on. So Kiran quickly ran up to the 'office', grabbed a 9, pumped it up and we headed upwind to launch for the last half hour of the session.

One major point that was covered in this lesson but not others is the kiters right of way. Who has right of way when and where. Follow this link to see what I'm talking about.

With all that Kiran thought i needed to know to be able to kite I got in the water and launched off. Faceplant..... Again.
Too much power. Kite at 12 O'Clock, board at my feet, set kite to 1 and through the power zone and lift off.
Well sort of.
"Move the kite tom, really work it!"
Right, move the kite, work it. Back into position and pulled the kite though the power zone again.

I got up for about 3 meters, then fell into the water again.

"Tom, what you are doing is good. Your getting the kite through the power zone, its lifting you out of the water but your not working it from 2 back up to 11 again. You need this to so the kite continues to pull you through the water".

Kiran then demonstrated this and it just looked so easy.

So I got the kite and board back off Kiran, got back into position, flew the kite through the power zone and AWAYYYYY I went.
It was awesome. This was the first time that I have ridden the board for more than a meter, and i did 20 of those suckers. Kiran did tell me to go no more than 10 meters away from him and i think he got in trouble from the kite manager/boss lady but I was just happy to move on the water with the board.
Seeing as i was a fair way off shore I needed get back. I got back into position and tried to launch the other way, went too hard (low) and flew through the air like superman. Hands in front, legs out of the water and-a-flying i was.

I didn't care, i had a good chuckle. I can get up on the board now, i can go for more than 3 meters and I now have some faith that I can do this.

We picked up the board, flew the kite into shore and said my good day to Kiran. My lesson was over, confidence restored and I was buggered.

Kite 1 - Tom 0

Kite run #1

So I was impatient on kite run #1. I was booked in the next day with an instructor to go through all of my equipment, set-up and more practice with getting up on the board.

To date, I have completed the initial 5 hours of training but struggled on the last lesson to stay on the board. My direction, foot placement and kite control all went to shit once they were all happening at once. My kite instructor relayed that I know what to do with my feet; direction and kite, now it’s just a matter of practice. So practice is what I planned to do.

Maybe another lesson may have helped? Well not 'may' .... definitely would have helped.

I pumped the kite up. Tried a self launch, the kite blew all over the shop and landed in a puddle. I managed to self launch from the puddle and get the kite in the air for the first time from my hands (the kite is 2nd hand from an experienced kiter, the kite must be wondering who the hell owns it now). It looked great in the air. I was able to control it very easily and walked over picked my board up and headed to the water.

Up to this stage I thought "it was your first time, launching will get easier".

I got in the water. Held the kite a 12 o'clock, set it to 1 o'clock pushed it thought the power zone and ................. faceplant!

Hmmm maybe a little too much power? I walked back up to my board, strapped it in, tried again and this time had more success. Got up on the board, moved a little but there was not enough power in the kite to pull me along the water. Or I was pushing my board upwind too much. At this point the next day I'm not sure.

I continued this for another 5-10 starts all varying in regards to how long i stayed up on the board. Until the last time when I started to heavy again, got pulled face first into the water and the kite hit the deck.

When I pulled my face out of the water and looked up at the kite i noticed it looked a little wonkey. Like it had deflated or something. I tried a water start but the kite wasn't responding. So i did an emergency pack down, pulled myself towards the kite and once with kite in hand went fishing for my board.

By the time I could stand again, then over onto the shore, I was absolutely buggered. Worse to add to my condition was my kite and line's condition. Kite was bruised, mentally, and the lines were reminiscent of a birds nest. I tried to untangle them but 20 mins later the sun was hot, my patience was running out and I had to be home to head off to a concert.

I rolled up the kite, grabbed my board, wrapped the tangled lines around the bar and headed back to the towel and kite bag. Along the way an experienced kiter noticed my tangles and said "don't worry about it mate, we've all been there before. Just run it under fresh water when you get home and it'll make it easier to untangle". For some reason that helped a lot, mentally, I was pretty guttered at what happened and just those few words made it seem ok. I wasn't and haven't been the only person to try and fail.

Lessons learnt:
Don't kite too far away from the shallow water.
Inflate your kite properly (I found the pressure gauge AFTER i had packed everything up.)
Get a lesson with an instructor with your gear. Unless you buy the exact same set-up as you practiced on, there are going to be differences (mine had a 5th line!).
Patience is key.

I've got a lesson tonight, maybe I'll have better luck with professional help.