Windfinder Forecast

Monday, January 3, 2011

Last Day of Holidays

Kite run #4

Wind 18-22 knots
Sunny 22 degrees kited from 2pm to 6pm

With my partner being NZ'er we were over there from the 22nd Dec to the 2nd Jan and with my limited experience with the kite I thought it best to leave it at home. Although it was blowing a gale there the whole time I managed to catch one kiter on the Queenstown lake all by himself. Looking like he was having a blast.

So with one day left on my break, wind blowing Southerly at a constant 20ish knots I couldn't wait to get back in the water. I spent probably the first hour or so launching from the water and 'Supermanning' it or getting up and sinking. One such 'superman' caused me to launch quite high out of the water and on my decent noticed that there was a sandbar not to deep under the water. So I put my feet out and tried to land. BANG. Ouch, I hurt my right heel. But not too much (or so I first thought). After this last Superman I realized my feet were still not in the correct position. The launches where I would superman it were probably enough if my feet were where they were supposed to be. So remembering from my last session that I don't tuck my back foot in behind my ass enough maybe this is why when I do launch I don't have enough power and sink.

So I set the kite to 11, swung it through the power zone, placed my back-foot under my ass and I was up and going. And going. And ....... going. Man these things can get some speed! I was grinning from ear to ear. I managed to get up, head downwind and stay up for more than 10 meters. I decided when to stop, not falling off deciding when I was to stop. This is more desirable I think. So with my left foot in front, a natural stance in the surfing world, I can surf. I lost the board a few times after hitting the swell and I would estimate that half of my day was spent body dragging upwind to retrieve it. I became quite good at it by the end of the day. Boosted my confidence that if I hit the deep open water and came off that i'd be alright. Not that my confidence needed a boosting.

I had been on the water for 3 hours now. Surfing downwind, body dragging to the odd lost board and walking my kite upwind to start all over again. I was exhausted and loving it. I decided to rest my kite and body and take a fully take in the last few hours. While relaxing on the sand I looked up in awe to 50+ kites in the air with I'm guessing another 20 on the sand. I know later on I'm going to wish there were not so many kites in the air when I'm having a session but there is a beauty to seeing the sky filled with kites.

While on the sand I helped a Canadian guy who hasn't been in Australia long launch his kite. He was having real trouble. Plus watched a few others struggle with their launches. St Kilda seems to be the real "beginner" beach. As this is pretty much what I am and as much as I like St Kilda with its flat waters and big sand area to launch with, I prefer Altona. Its easier to set up, the grass keeps the sand off the kite when inflating and deflating, and there is more shallow water for those times you do come off. There is more swell which makes adds another component to riding but its something I guess I'll have to get used to.

My last stint on the water wasn't as desirable as the others. I lost my board and my upwind body dragging wasn't going to well. There was a bigger swell and my face was getting smashed by the incoming water. I lost the board at one point too. My endurance was waining, my patience running out so I decided to pull on the 5th line of the North Rebel so it wouldn't continue to catch the wind and swim to the board. I grabbed the board, tried to re-launch the kite but my 5th line pull had twisted my kite. I could no longer water launch. The Rebel still caught some wind and managed to drag me downwind to the shore and as I got closer to the shore I realized that I had little to no control over the kite and it flipped around and nearly hit a windsurfer. I called out for help asking him to grab the kite but he just stood there looking at me. I asked (yelled) again. He still stood there continuing to look at me. After my 4th request he replied "on one condition", grabbed the kite and placed his foot on the leading edge to hold it down. I wasn't overly happy with methodology of stopping the kite but at least the kite was stationary. He turned to me as I thanked him and said "The condition was that you f#@king kiter's stay up at your end, I'm sick of sharing this beach with you and those f#@king dog lovers" then turned away and put his board in the water.

As all this was happening a walker by came and spoke to me telling me not to worry about the 'sailer's' and that he was just a grump, bitter old man. Explained that the wind was tendering SSE and at this time of night a little gusty. Not ideal conditions for my 12M Rebel. I rolled up the lines and headed back to my back, with a limp. The Superman I did earlier seemed to have hurt my right heel and preventing me from walking on it with any pressure. Not to worry though, it should heal by the morning.

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