Wind - 16 - 22 knots
Sunny 22 degrees & kited from 5pm to 7.30pm
It has been a while since my last session. My only reason for such is I have been hitting the books trying to get over my last license test to become an electrician. I've done two of the three tests and only have the practical test left, meaning I don't need to spend as much time studying, leaving me some time to get back on the water.
I arrived in Altona at 5pm, the wind was consistent and there were plenty of 12Meter kites on the water, which all were good signs for good session. Pumped the kite up, received a hand to launch it and headed out into the water. The tide was further out than usual, might need to remember this when crossing the shallower sections. To start with I directed the nose of the board to my preferred side, left, and got strait up. No worries at all from the outset. Headed all the way up the left hand side of the water and was having a blast. There were no clouds in sight, the temperature was ideal, the water was a little choppy but all in all a great afternoon for Kiteboarding. Altona wasn't too busy, there were a few boarders out there and it seems to be a place where a lot of beginners/intermediate boarders surf. With 20 people on the water there is 10 or so that can ride, 5 that can get up on the board and surf but don't look as comfortable as the first 10 (intermediates, me) and the other 5 or so are pure beginners. Everyone seems to be friendly and cautious of each other.
Today was the first time Clint came out for a surf. He and I did the initial training with GoKite and since our finish in December hasn't been able to get out on the water with his new gear. Clint got there earlier than I and was having similar issues to mine at the first session. Dealing with the small waves, remembering how to stand (or not to stand) on the board, and controlling the kite while being conscious the first two. That I think is one of the harder things to kite boarding to master. Keeping the kite in a position where you are being pulled at a controllable speed and also the ability to go upwind. This is what messes with me at times. I have the kite in a too powerful position and I am unwillingly heading downwind at a fastened/uncontrollable pace, or I don't have enough power in the kite with the added direction of the board pointing upwind I'm finding myself stall. In so much of your training you spend your time looking at the kite and making sure your in the 'power zone' that when you are on the water with your own kite and heading along the water you still find yourself wanting to look at the kite but also realize that if you don't look ahead you could crash into someone else. Knowing where your kite is and the power its generating is the skill you need to master. Because I believe that if you can control your kite without looking at it and 'feeling' the force its giving you, all things will improve from this. Board control, stance, speed, negotiating waves and other boarders.
The big step forward for me today was my placement of my feet on the board. I had not paid much attention to this until I stumbled upon it today. The last session I had gave me cramps in my left foot for a week. My instructor kept telling me to ride with my heels. So I would place the front foot out, 80% of my weight on the back and pull my toes skyward. This is what was giving me the cramps, the strain of pulling my toes up continually. But for what I stumbled upon today was placing my feet on more of an angle in the feet holders to get the desired 'heel position' I knew I needed. It was amazing the difference this made, it made a HUGE difference. I was feeling more comfortable in the water and I could lean back and head upwind. This all leading into the heading of today's blog.... Bidirectional! Utilizing this new stance gave me the ability to head to the right. Now it wasn't as smooth as the preffered side but it sure beats the hell out of body dragging all the way up the right hand side of the beach to start again. My lauch is rusty, kite control rusty, stance ..... still getting used to, but I am surfing both ways now and feel the confidence that I will be able to do this sport well.
My aim is to do some downwind riding. Hopefully Clint sticks with it and we can do a St Kilda to Williamstown crossing. Riding with a destination instead of up and down the beach. Don't get me wrong, I am loving this at the moment, but I can see it becoming tiring.