A short walk through the past. PLUS: Tell us what you’d like to see on the Kitesurfing.com.au site

Hi crew, Well, the kitesurfing.com.au site has been around for nearly 10 years now (though I’ve been posting kitesurfing photos on the web since 2001).

In the early days from 2001 – 2005 there was “KitePix”, which was just a subdomain of one of my other pages where I’d toss up the odd photo gallery. Believe it or not, it’s still online: http://www.smallwood.com.au/index2.htm

KitesurfingPage2006 Tom Kitepix Chris Tom5 Tom4 Tom3 Tom2

(With a few exceptions) almost every one of those photos on every one of those pages was taken with FILM or transparencies, then printed and scanned and uploaded via an internet connection that was probably running at about 128kb/s, at best. The water shots were all done with a Nikonos 3 water camera, vintage 1975 that contained no light meter, no through the lens focussing (you had to pick your distance, set it and then wait until your subject arrived at that distance, then push the shutter). The light was set by knowing what film you had, what time it was, which way you were facing and what month of the year it was and how much cloud there was. You had a leeway of about 1.5 f/stops to get it right. Still, the hit rate was pretty good!               http://www.mir.com.my/rb/photography/companies/nikon/htmls/models/htmls/nikonos13.htm

I originally registered kitesurfing.com.au on 19 May2001, then just let it sit around for a few years without knowing what I’d do with it. Finally, digital cameras came on the scene in a big way in 2004. I got a Nikon D100 and in July 2005 started posting photos on the kitesurfing.com.au  site. Ironically — not having any idea that I’d one day be living here, the first post on the site was a photo gallery of the 2005 AKSA Nationals which took place here in Geraldton WA.

You can view the first kitesurfing.com.au post on the WayBackMachine archives here:

https://web.archive.org/web/20050712020534/http://www.kitesurfing.com.au/

The first proper page with links and background images and all that went up sometime later that year.

Then, there’s a big gap when there are no archives and the next archive appears in August 2006:

https://web.archive.org/web/20060820190254/http://kitesurfing.com.au/

A very young-looking Coert throwing some spray at Wanda in 2006

This post contains some of the very first photos of StandUp Paddleboarding, at the 2006 Mambo. Amazing how big it’s become in such a short time. If you feel like sampling more of the historical posts, you can find them at: ttps://web.archive.org/web/*/kitesurfing.com.au

Well, a lot of years passed and we packed up and moved west. At about that time some religious zealot hacked the page and deleted all the content and nothing much happened for a few months.

Then Mr. Pete took over things and gave the site a bit of class and brought things into the 21 century, which is what you see today. So, now that things have settled in a bit perhaps now it’s time to find out more about what you’d like to be seeing on the page going foward. I haven’t looked at the page stats in quite some time. At one stage we were getting upwards of 1,000 unique visitors a week and average visits of around 8 minutes. Those number aren’t huge, but those visit times are good, suggesting that what was there was valuable enough for people to stick around.

SO, here we are in almost July 2014 and it’s time to take a pulse of the community again and find out just what you’d like to see on the site.

Pete and I would love to hear from you.

To give you some ideas, here are some possible suggestions:

  • More photos?
  • More videos?
  • More “How-To” articles
  • More Weather Reports
  • Wind Alerts
  • Stuff to buy?
  • Product Reviews?
  • Visitor stories?
  • Travel stories?
  • Location  reports/analysis of specific Kite Spots?
  • More photos of Pete having a pee?

TALK TO US! SEND US YOUR IDEAS. 

Email us by clicking this LINK .

THANKS, and we look forward to hearing from you.

Rob and Pete

Why it can pay off to understand the weather.

Hey all, it’s another amazing day in Sydney with sunshine and at 8am a steady nor-wester blowing. This is kind of how yesterday looked when I made the last post.

We were down at kurnell yesterday and did a little trip over to Towra, it was really nice over there but it didn’t last for too long after the wind started to gusty up to the point I got ripped off the water on a 9. Its been a long time since I’ve been totally spanked by a kite. I took this as a sign that it was probably time to switch to a smaller kite so we headed back knowing that the forecast was for a big westerly switch.

When back at the carpark I was about to whip the 7 out and took a look up at the sky, a BIG rolling fast moving bank of cloud heading in from the west. Hmm maybe its coming. Theae clouds when overhead looked like nothing I’d seen in a while, and as a rule if clouds look funky then something funky is going on up there. Big troughs of flat bottomed cloud banks that I really must look up.

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Taking my inner advice that things were probably about to all get ‘messy’ our little group decided that watching the impending carnage with a few beers could be better. I actually launched someone on a bws 8 and pointed him at the clouds and said you better watch that fella, he actually decided to take our advice and drop his kite again. I’m sure he’s happy he did  So off we pop to the bottle shop for 5 mins, on our return we notice a change in things, the trees are sideways, cats are airborne and the water! Fark! 45 knot squalls do something to water, it makes it separate from itself and turn into walls of spray. After a few holy shit moments we spot a kite loose about 200 meters out blowing downwind towards the oil pipe pier, we make a quick call to the cops to say there is a kite free, we find the owner on the beach and let the cops know not to panic as others will prob call in. This didn’t stop the boat, westpac chopper and 2 cop cars turning up tho!

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That’s the graphs from yesterday. It was WILD! BUT it was forecast and it was visible that it was coming. This is why it pays to be prepared, know the skys, read and understand what’s going on. You don’t need to be a weatherman but question change. Why is that big bank of cloud coming? Why is it lined up different from the current wind direction? Why did it just get cold or warmer. I feel this is something missing from a lot of todays kiters who get out of an office chair and go kiting because its ‘extreme’ the main emphasis is on the kiting, not the wind. Sure http://www.seabreeze.com.au  helps and we have more tools at our disposal that ever before. Learn the weather and become a true sailor! It takes time, I’m fortunate enough to have the background but even I’m rusty. In the next few weeks I’ll find some good basic weather stuff and throw it up and talk about the common local Sydney things that catch out people.

Anyway, when things settled it turned into an incredible sunset. Here are some pics and one of me taking a piss. Thanks Jess Digs. I think?

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New kite boarding location guide for Sydney and beyond

Hi All,

This will probably be a little controversial but to keep up a good solid base of information about kite surfing in Sydney and NSW we’ve made a new locations guide google map! This should end up being a good reference to everyone and whilst it will never be complete and may ruffle a few feathers we believe its in everyone’s best interest to highlight the local dangers at some of these spots. (rocks, dangerous currents, power lines etc)

The guide is aimed at visitors to Sydney, learners and people looking to progress their skills and try out new spots. We’ll also post up some downwinder routes for the more macho kiter.

Some of this info is out in the web already but i doubt its being maintained and added to. So have fun and head on over to the new page!

[button color=”green” size=”medium” link=”http://www.kitesurfing.com.au/kite-boarding-locations-in-sydney/” ]Take me to the maps..[/button]

or click here if the button isn’t showing :)

Beware the Alligator!

This great little pic came in from Hobbsy, he’s highlighting one of the many perils at Fishermans (brownwater) beach.

Over the past month I’ve seen 2 kites get wrecked on this puppy, numerous fins have been lost to it’s bite and I believe there is also some skin stuck between it’s teeth!

Last night I heard of the demise to another kite to this hungry monster! To those of you who don’t know where this rock is please see the image below from our ‘right of way part 1′ post.  It’s the yellow highlighted section at on the left of the image at the bottom that goes out from the beach!

Also be aware that it could be ‘lurking’ low in the water at high tide and a lot longer than you expect!

Why am I telling you this? Well as much as I love to see the kite industry kept alive in new gear and kite repairs its pretty dangerous and a PITA.. so you’ve been warned!

Nice one Davey!

TIPS : How to never forget your bar & lines again.

One thing that seems to be pretty common on the beach is lost gear! I just had a look at the lost and founds over at SeaBreeze and see lots of lost bars, helmets and cameras etc. It seems to be more common with learners who are not into a comfortable routine with their setup and de-rig and still over complicate things by having lots of gear out on the grass or are recovering tangled lines and wet kites etc. It’s interesting looking at the lost gear (we have a few unclaimed bars still on our lost gear section) is that lines are always wrapped up so the intention was to probably take that gear home! :)

Here is the ONE single thing you need to know so you will NEVER loose your bar or helmet again (if all goes to plan)..

Never put your bar or helmet down! This sounds pretty strange but its actually very simple.

When you have wrapped your bar and lines up simply use your chicken loop and donkey dick to hook your bar to the back of your harness (if you have no strap just stick it down the back of your harness) instead of putting them on the floor. Now all you need to do is not take your harness off when getting to the car and put it directly into the boot where you can put the bar in its bag etc. This will work with helmets too!

There are heaps on benefits for doing this. Less sand, not loosing stuff, less to carry and less to drop.

See the attached picture to see what we mean.

We really hope this helps you to keep your gear safe and sound.

 

ARTICLE : Who has the right of way when Kite Boarding? Part 1.

This article is aimed to help educate everyone (including myself) about on the water etiquette and the right of way when kite surfing / kite boarding. As we are Northern Beaches focused and constantly have issues at a few of our common spots I thought I’d use these as examples.

For reference I suggest reading this post on Seabreeze  ‘Right of Way Rules’ as it has some good info and adopts the ‘common sense’ approach that I will hope to elaborate on here. Ok, lets get some fundamentals out the way. Also the CLEAR system by NSWKBA / AKA should be adopted at all times.

Port & Starboard

Hmm, two slippery nautical terms for left and right. If you don’t know, PORT is LEFT and RED and STARBOARD is GREEN and RIGHT. But what does that actually mean when we are on the water. To be honest, I think the terms are almost irrelevant to kite surfing unless you are RACING. These guys know the rules, they have to. They’re are all trying to get to a common point as fast as possible at the same time (an upwind mark) and without very clear rules it would be carnage.

So how do we apply the basis of Port and Starboard to our general kiting so that it helps us? 

Let’s look at what PORT and STARBOARD technically means. In theory if you are on STARBOARD tack you have the right of way over a boat on PORT. YEAH,, but how do I know on a kite if I’m on Port or Starboard? In a boat its easy, if you are sailing in a boat and the SAIL is the left hand side of the boat you are on STARBOARD tack, if its on the right you are on PORT tack. OR you could say that if the wind is falling onto the STARBOARD side of the vessel (board) you are on STARBOARD tack, likewise if the wind is hitting the PORT (left) side of the board you are on PORT tack. Now STARBOARD should have right of way but this sometimes fails in kiting because of all the differences to us and boats. I’ve heard LOTS of different explanations of how to work out PORT and STARBOARD on a kite, a certain foot forward, holding the bar with a certain hand etc etc. But its messy. What if I’m riding toeside, or backwards (blind) or I’m body dragging and don’t have a board!

Look at the following diagram and see where this does and doesn’t work. 

In this diagram both kiters are heading directly at each other, if they keep going its going to be a mess. Working out the boards is easy but the kites are the issue here they can’t occupy the same space easily so someone HAS to do something. This is quite common in the ‘learner’ spots where a group of people will go back and forth ‘mowing’ the lawn. So who is going to do what? In theory the kite on PORT would need to take avoiding action, this would mean turning AWAY from the wind. By doing this you will end up in the much more common situation below where things start to become simpler.

OK, so this is what you are more likely to see when kiting: One rider slightly more upwind than the other rider, by this we mean that ONE of you is closer to that big invisible arrow where the wind is coming FROM. One rider, in our case here the PORT tack rider (BTW, when you hear the term ‘tack’ it just means the current direction you are heading, when you change direction and cross through the wind you have ‘tacked’ or ‘gybed’ depending which way you crossed through the wind and you are now on a new ‘tack’) MUST lower his/her kite and should keep it steady whilst the UPWIND rider must give him room for his kite by raising his kite higher in the sky and keep it steady.

In some cases you will have a better rider who is able to ride better upwind that another rider, this means that the two approaching kiters are heading at different angles and from a distance a rider may be downwind 100m away but at 50m he could be upwind. If he intends to cross you he will RAISE his kite higher in the sky as a sign that this is his intention. (FYI, trying to shout at another kiter on the water is pretty pointless, you won’t likely be heard!)

OK, so what about this then?

In this example we are all doing the same thing BUT the PORT tack rider is more UPWIND that the starboard tack rider. The dotted line shows what the PORT tack rider would have to go through to ‘avoid’ the STARBOARD tack  rider thats pretty silly so as always the UPWIND rider must RAISE his kite and the DOWNWIND rider should LOWER his kite and pass DOWNWIND of the PORT rider. Pretty simple stuff really.

Ooh, and as a side note. If you are EVER considering playing the ‘I have right of way on starboard’ or the ‘power gives way to sail’ on a boat of ANY description then you should go away and re-assess your life on this planet. And don’t forget your first obligation as a skipper of a vessel under Waterways regulations (YES, you are a “skipper” and your kiteboard is designated as a “vessel) –that obligation is to avoid a collision at all costs. Having right of way and not avoiding a collision when you could will not allow you to escape any liabilities if you end up at the mercy of the Water Police

It’s pretty simple, we are small, they are HUGE! UNLESS you are in a position where you simply cannot do anything else to avoid the other craft (downed kite, broken leg etc etc) then simply go behind them or turn and go the other way until it’s safe to proceed. Remember, no-one can hear you shouting and ‘they’ may not have seen you but you should have seen them! This brings us nicely onto the next big issue.

Observation & Awareness

When we are out on the water we have a responsibility to be aware of our surroundings, unlike driving a car on a freeway people are not all traveling in the same direction, you can’t just look ahead and we certainly don’t have mirrors to look behind us.

It’s a common problem in any sport or activity, when the brain is concentrating so hard on learning a new activity we can only focus on one thing and in essence we get tunnel vision. I’ve ridden up underneath someone whilst coaching so close that I could physically touch them and they had no idea that I was there even though I was shouting at them from a foot away. This to me shows that that person was solely occupied in going forward and unaware of anything else beyond the bar.

MAKE A MENTAL NOTE BEFORE YOU GO OUT TO LOOK AROUND AND TAKE THE VIEW IN EVERY 10-15 SECONDS WHILST RIDING.

It doesn’t take long, we’re not trying to read the serial numbers on peoples kites, you should be aware of who is behind you, in front of you, downwind of you and up wind of you at all times. it’s a glance, a check, am I safe? Is anyone else going to hit me? Am I safe to do a trick? (That’s another story)

Heading out and Heading in.

Here is another interesting point that I’ve heard different versions of over time. Does the person leaving the beach always have right of way over a rider coming in? This one falls into the common sense basket. For this I’ll use an example.

In this example of our own lovely Fishermans Beach, I’ve highlighted the great big rocks that stick out and have a tendency to munch kites, boards and feet. I’ve stuck some boards on it for an example. The rider trying to leave that very tight spot HAS to make it above the long rock out from the beach but below the flat rock section slightly further out all whilst not tripping up on the small one in the middle, there isn’t much wind in that little section of water so IF the rider coming in were to insist that the rider coming out lowers his kite (he might have to be working it to get enough power to get out) then the rider trying to leave the beach is probably going to get pinned on the rock.

So what does this mean? COMMON SENSE must prevail, the rider coming in (unless shark bite prevails) should use his new found OBSERVATION skills before he comes in to check that no-one else is just launching before he commits to riding into the beach, have a look back and tack back if clear to allow time for that person to get off the beach.

As another example let’s use Long Reef, we’ve got heaps of room at Longy, so who has the right of way? The guy riding in or the guy riding out? Well, if you are riding in, AND you see someone trying to set off why would you just ride at him? Chances are that the rider coming out will loose a bit of ground downwind starting off but with your new OBSERVATION skills you saw him way before you got close enough for it to be an issue, you could just stay upwind a little or not insist on landing exactly where you launched from. 30m upwind or downwind would probably be fine.

So what if you are about to launch and you see someone heading for you? Did you have a look before you walked into the water to see if anyone was coming in? Maybe a quick look out from where you are about to launch from is a good idea? Lets use our Fishermans example again:

In this example the rider coming in is already committed, maybe he saw the guy standing at the waters edge and maybe he didn’t, there isn’t a lot of room here so what’s the most sensible thing to do? (I really hope you are starting to get this). Are you going to just blindly head out with no speed, and get in the way of the guy coming in? Are you going to launch and CLAIM the ‘I’m leaving the beach, I have right of way’ card? Again, common sense is your guide, along with avoiding a collision at all costs.

In future parts we’ll talk about the surf! wave riding, tricks and jumping.

And just as a quick closing note whilst I think about it,

Your right of way as a kiter on the beach.

This one is really simple. When you are on the beach YOU HAVE NO RIGHT OF WAY! Nothing, not even an inch. This applies to certainly every beach in Australia EVEN if there is a designated kite launch zone. Members of the public and other beach users have the right of way, period! Even if you were there first.

Kite safe! watch out for part 2.

ARTICLE : Hydrofoil Dreaming

Thanks to Vasco for submitting this article! What a great write up on a really interesting topic that I can’t wait to have a crack at. Please take the time to read and share about and feel free to comment at the bottom. If you have an article you’d like to post please email us at pete@kitesurfing.com.au

Hydrofoil Dreaming

Ever since I saw the surf movie “STEP INTO LIQUID” I have been dreaming of being able to kite with a hydrofoil. I couldn’t kite to save myself about 6 years ago, but the distant goal always was to glide above the waves … nothing but a dream back then. Today I am so much closer :). I have been closely following R&D on foilboards and waiting for the right set of conditions to align — time / money / opportunity / skill, etc. Every year at the beginning of the season I did a little investigating and this year I found the time was right. So I went in…:) – here’s a little account of my trip. You’re welcome to join me or laugh about it. Me, I’m already there :)

A little history – I paid my dues at Tuggerah Lakes in April and FROZE my butt off at that cold place trying to get on the board after a frustrating lesson by a certain instructor (we won’t go there), until a mate of mine came from Perth to spend the weekend with me and said: by the day’s end you’ll be on the board – and he was right, thanks Adam. Most of the progression from there to intermediate was at Boat Harbour on twin tips in and the upwind, toeside, backrolls etc. Being made fun of by the KKK crowd at Kurnell (all in the best possible taste :)) made me more determined every time. I moved to QLD at the end of 2010 to pursue the next stage – waves :)

Even though I can’t surf to save myself, paddling into waves that is, I quickly added to my twintip a couple of mutants like The Wave Dr and a Shinn Wave. I liked it so much that I bought my 1st surfboard – haven’t looked back since :) :) :). Each to his own but once you’ve gotten used to a surfboard and got the first ‘cut’ into a wave you never go back. Three years of learning how to even understand what to do in front of a wave and conquering the fear of the big sets got me to today. Now I live at the beach and go out most days weather permitting. The bigger the better, cross or even cross-off as the waves are cleaner.

Ok, the boring part is over.. let’s get into the good stuff:

THE PURCHASE
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My research: I contacted every shop I knew who could possibly sell foilboards, asked about prices and advice. As I also have a Marketing degree I am fairly unaffected by ‘sales pitches’ and Marketing jargon :) or at least I’d like to think I am. I am usually fairly thorough on my research and as I wasn’t satisfied with vague answers / promises / lack of real knowledge I did what I always do – I went global.

I found a website with information on foilboarding and not brand based, run by people like me that want to know about Hydrofoils for kitesurfing. From there I emailed: JC-Kiteboards, MHL Custom, Mosses and Wind and Sea in NZ. I also emailed a couple more brands but they never bothered to answer so I won’t even mention them, boohoo to you :).

Let’s not forget that apart from the cost of the gear itself I had to factor shipping costs. By far the most helpful were Wind and Sea in NZ, but they don’t manufacture so their prices were out of the question for brand new. The others were either too expensive to start with because 3 of them are French and all is in EUR and then by the time shipping was added I was out of the race. I then asked for ‘foil only’ costs + specs (design) for a suitable board. I intended to get a blank cut on the Gold Coast and add the foil here.

This is what made me decide on my supplier. Nick Leason from www.mhlcustom.com simply said: “Hey mate give me a few more dollars and have the full set up. Our boards are already reinforced and designed to handle the foil pressures and you’ll be much happier. Besides, if you take the full set I will pay for the postage”. I said: What :)??? This guys sounded great so I scheduled a call to have a chat so I satisfied the fact that I was about to send him a bit of $$. I couldn’t have been happier – Nic completely put me at ease, explained the ins and outs and the painstaking process I would have to go through to ‘get on the board’. He then sealed the deal by offering me a custom paint job.. I said what??? “Sure mate, I can do whatever you want on the board, he said smiling :)” so I sent him a photo of the latest Drifter I had just purchased and gave his team full creative freedom. I paid via Paypal and we kept in touch. The board was shipped in 1 week and it took 4 days to get here all the way from Puerto Rico… Nic had on purpose kept the design a secret for maximum effect, he knew full well I would be pleased.

Disclaimer: I have no association or financial interest with MHL Custom. This is simply an account of a pleasant experience. Have a look at who they are

Here she is:

I know, right? I can say I am super impressed. At under 7,5 kgs complete this board is a dream. Look at the Cabrinha Drifter 2014 Orange and you will understand Nic’s colour choice.

I couldn’t wait to try it. But before I take you through the laughing stage of the learning process I would like to tell you a bit more about the sales experience. Hold on, it won’t take long and it will help define why I am so happy with Nic and MHL.

So the board gets dropped off by DHL and I start opening the package. All seems well, good protection and packaging  .. until I get to the last paper wrapper. The top and bottom of the board are a testament of their craftsmanship. But then I unwrapped the paper on the sides and found 4 marks on it. DHL had dropped it in transit and managed to make a few dings and even a little possible crack on the carbon. I was devastated. In my opinion, whatever the solution I would end up with a board that had some marks on it, repaired or not.

So I took a dozen photos and emailed Nic. He simply said: I am really sorry to hear this mate, let me look at the photos. He got back to me in 5 minutes and said: Put some resin on it and go play in the water – I will make you another board and put it in the post asap. I am going to DHL but know I won’t get anywhere, too bad. You’re my client and I am going to make sure you are happy. I was very surprised about his reply as I know that I paid over 2k for it and he most certainly would be out of pocket.

So I decided to reciprocate – I told him I would find a good carbon technician and get it repaired. When my new board arrives I will take some photos and I will advise everyone I know that I have a demo board for anyone to try, and if they want to buy it they can contact Nic and purchase it directly from him. I figured one good service deserves another. He was quite happy with my offer, we agreed on a different design based on same colours.

And I went off to find a repairer.. I was referred to Polsy from Ding Repairs – another PRO in his craft. Gave him a call, nice manner, went to see him and he said “no worries mate, I’ll make it new again”. My reservations on that were that the clear cote over the carbon would be hard to make clear again, he (Polsy) wasn’t worried. Asked for 24hrs (how dare he :)) and the next morning it was ready, charged $40 and I went to pick it up. When I saw it I went “Shite, mate what a job” – it was immaculate. Another good chapter.

THE LEARNING EXPERIENCE
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Everything you’re told won’t prepare you for what is coming. You know how to kite, right? Wrong !!! How hard can it be? Frustrating :)

I live on the beach so I thought I would take it out, body drag past the waves and try it on the other side = mistake. Seen the Castle? “Tell him he’s dreamin’..” Yep, I was dreaming alright. Not only I had the swell to content with, the kite to provide pull, putting weight on the wrong foot, leaning far too much like a surfboard or twintip to provide resistance.. what EVA. It was hilarious.. nothing worked. I didn’t last 2 seconds on the board.. I fell forward, backwards, in every way possible.. over, and over, and over again. Frustrating doesn’t begin to describe it.. Session One was a right off. Even though I expected it I also secretly hoped that my skills weren’t THAT BAD (fool) heheheh.

I acknowledge that I was introducing far too many variables. Since I didn’t have a Jetski or Ski boat on hand to try a consistent pull and flat water river experience I decided to go to the Alley. I figured I have as much right to be a knob over there as any other twin tipper newbie since I’ve paid my dues many times over – best decision I made. Nic also saw some of my progress photos and gave me a VERY IMPORTANT tip: take your back foot off the strap and place it in front.. Man oh man, it made 80% difference. I guess it helps that I can ride a bit of strapless.

Lessons from **Round I**:

  • Reduce as many variables as possible
  • You must be at a good intermediate / advance level on kite skills, otherwise hydrofoil kiting may not be for you, YET :)

Session 2 – was much better instead of not being able to get up at all this time I managed to at least stay on the board long enough to fall to the other side, and face-plant :) :) :).. a lot.
But on the positive side, I had no waves to contend with and I could at least go in one. But I still wasn’t going upwind so the inevitable walk of shame was doing nothing for my self-esteem, especially not with all the people at the Alley laughing their heads off.

But things were better, much better. I went from shot 1to shot 2 in one afternoon, dozens of splashes later! I even managed a couple of very tiny glides like this – note: 3-4 seconds, then splash again :)

Lessons from ***Round II***

  • try to not use the board as resistance to get up – this will push the board sideways and make the wing pop out. Instead I think the trick is to use the kite to get on the board quite fast, while it is still flat. Then coordinate the forward pull to displace the board forward.
  • go downwind, go downwind, go downwind :)

At this stage I have to add that a couple of friends of mine also tried the board. One had never been on a foil but is a very good kiter and quite fit … he didn’t last 2 seconds on the board as it bucked him out. He tried and tried but couldn’t do much better. The other kiter is a pro, he has a board from Carafino but hadn’t used much or been on it for 2 years.. he also couldn’t do any better than I was. I felt sooo much better :) Amazing how other’s misery mitigates our shortcomings.

Lessons from ***Round III***

  • Slow down.. get the board barely moving by letting go of the bar. This allows better control on the board direction (left, right)
  • keep the power of the kite constant, avoid jerking the bar (yeah right).
  • Balance should be on the board, not using the kite to lean (like a twintip)

… and suddenly you’re gliding :) :) :) -it’s the most amazing feeling EVER – no drag, no noise.. eyrie

by the sessions end I was able to stay upwind and this may mean no more sore muscles of carrying the board up the beach.

Does this mean I ‘got it’? Nope, it doesn’t, not yet. But I am certainly pleased. Is it all that’s cracked up to be? HELL YEAH !!!

So, what next? Well, I am waiting for my new board to arrive next week, or at least before Xmas. I made a deal with MHL and will be trying their new design – it’s a real quad surfboard, fins and all. This means that by the time I get any good at it I will be able to take it overseas with me and foil or kitesurf depending on conditions, and get away with taking one board only.

I will leave you with a couple more visuals from Sessions III at the Alley and IV in waves.

The question is: should you foilboard? I think that if you’re the sort of person that doesn’t mind the ridicule of ‘learning’ again but have your eyes on the future – GO FOR IT. Have a look at racing world as there is a foil class now –

  

And just in case you think I’m nuts.. http://www.npsurf.com/blog/damien-leroy-introduces-sup-foil.html

(c) Vasco and kitesurfing.com.au

ARTICLE : How to choose a strapless surfboard Part 3

In Rob’s last part of the choosing a strapless surfboard for kite surfing he finishes off talking about types of construction and fins and sums everything up. We hope you enjoy the last part of this article and the whole article together. Please feel free to rate it at the bottom if you have found it useful and post any questions or your views at the bottom.

[button color=”blue ” size=”small” link=”#” target=”blank” ]<- Part 2[/button]

EPOXY OR FIBREGLASS?

cab_board_constructionIf you’re going to ride with straps, there’s only one answer to this question: Epoxy. If you go to a shop looking for a surfboard designed for kiting virtually ALL of them are going to be epoxy; and for good reason. Epoxy is tough. It minimises warranty returns. But it’s not necessarily the best material for a kiteboard, especially if you’re planning to ride strapless.

I’ve ridden lots of epoxy boards as well as bamboo boards and of course, fibreglass boards.

My experience suggests that most of the commercially-available epoxy boards are for the most part too thick and too floaty. They sit ON the water. I’ve owned and ridden quite a few and at the time I really liked them until I rode other boards later.  Thick also means it’s less likely to break; again, good reason for this from a commercial perspective.

The other option is the standard fibreglass surfboard construction. Fibreglass boards are great. They have flex, they’re light, they just feel “alive”. Epoxy boards on the other hand (for the most part) feel like a cork bobbing around in the water. Bouncy, too light. They don’t seem to want to plane well and they have no inertia. I’ve never paddle surfed an epoxy board that I liked, with the exception of SLX epoxy, which is meant to feel a lot like fiberglass.

At one stage I had two different kite surfboards that were almost identical measurements; one Surf-Tech epoxy, the other standard fibreglass.  The fibreglass board was awesome, the Surftech one was terrible. Nothing to do with the shape. The fundamental difference was the bounce. Because the epoxy board was light, it sat on the top of the water and just bounced around everywhere. The fibreglass board sat IN the water.

Unfortunately the main problem with fibreglass surfboards for kiting is that the break and damage easily, which is why the commercial folks don’t make them out of fibreglass.  I much prefer the ride of a fibreglass board for both kiting and surfing. But you’ll find that unless you make some modifications to a fibreglass board you’re going to damage it straight away when you kite on it. I’ve seen folks snap a brand new fibreglass surfboard on the first go in a kite session. At a minimum, you’re going to put heel marks and create deck compression on a fibreglass board from the very first time you ride it. There’ virtually no way to avoid it.

So, if you want to go down the fibreglass road there are a couple of ways that you can avoid or at least minimise the damage potential of fibreglass boards:

Making your fiberglass board last longer.  There are several approaches here. The first and most obvious one is to just put a few extra layers of glass on the board to make it stronger. But the deck underneath with the foam is still going to compress and there’s not much you can do about that. A bit of extra weight on a kiteboard isn’t necessarily a bad thing – as long as it’s in the right places. The other approach is to use a sheet of carbon fibre over the top or around the rails for extra strength, but that can be costly, especially if you’re just learning how to do this.

My favourite technique involves taking a router and making a couple of channels about 25cm long either side of the stringer halfway to the rails from the centre. Cut the channels nearly the thickness of the board.   (Say 80% of the thickness). Drop a couple of pieces of Jarra into the channels about 25cm in length and 5-10mm wide at about the centre of balance of the board along where your front foot sits, then fill the channels with resin and glass over the entire deck with a couple of layers of 4oz fibreglass – but only over the CENTRE of the board – not the entire deck.  The reason this works is that the extra glass in the centre along with those extra stringers gives you extra strength, but if you glass the entire board, all you are doing is adding additional weight – nothing more.  All that extra weight makes the board harder to control and harder to turn. If you have the funds and the skills, you could probably use carbon fibre instead of fibreglass.

However, unless you kite like a grandmother, you’re going to find that eventually you’ll compress the deck under your feet on a fibreglass board and eventually even on an epoxy board. There’s just no way around it.  So, another trick I use to minimise this is to put a bit of padding on the deck that cushions the impact of your foot on the board. It doesn’t eliminate the problem, but it does reduce it. You can get some SUP deck grip and spread it around the area where your front foot hits the board or easier, I usually just buy a heel deck pad and put it on backwards with the heel pad just slightly forward of where you think the furthest point forward that your front foot will go, so that when you’re going out over some largish waves you can press your front foot a bit further forward against the heel pad and avoid losing the board.  It looks a bit odd but it does help a lot.

Take-away idea #5: Get a fibreglass board, but just expect that It’s going to get damaged pretty quickly, but don’t worry about it.

FINS:

surfboard-fin-guide-580-6Fins are tricky. I’ll be the first to admit, I still find the whole fin thing a bit like black magic. I have mates who surf who swear they can tell the difference between a fin with 1 mm extra rake or 1mm more splay, etc. I’m not so sure.  Everyone has different preferences. And skill levels can change perceptions.  I’m still experimenting and I’m still learning.

One thing I can say though is that dimensions and characteristics of fins on a kiteboard are less critical than fins on a board for paddle surfing, so don’t worry too much about. Try different things and see what works for you.

Several things to consider.  Remember: More fin area = more drag — so if you start putting bigger fins on your board you’re going to notice that it starts to feel sluggish as you start picking up speed on the board. To get an idea of just how much drag that comes from fins, take them off for about 10 minutes and have a go… It’ll feel silly at first but you’ll learn a lot.

Configuration. Slightly less radical, one thing you can try, especially in smaller surf, is to put some largish side fins on your board and take the centre fin out altogether.  You’ll have a lot of fun when you realise how easy it becomes to throw that board around across the top of the lip without that centre fin. Just a note here: as the surf gets bigger you’ll find it doesn’t work so well and you’ll spin out a lot.

Quad-fins? I guess some people like these and swear by them and there are lots of boards these days with quad-fin setups but I just can’t seem get them to work. The board just doesn’t want to turn when and how I’d like it to. I’m sure it’s a learning thing – many people obviously make them work and a lot of pro surfers are now riding them. If you can tell me how you do it, I’d love to hear how you did it!

In fact, Kelly Slater is now riding a FIVE-fin setup.

http://espn.go.com/action/surfing/blog/_/post/7119037/kelly-slater-fifth-wheel

Haven’t tried it for kiting but looks like it would be pretty easy to duplicate.  That centre fin seems to be nothing more than a standard kiteboard fin with FCS plugs on it! Somebody try it and let me know.

Another thing to try is to just reduce the size of the centre fin significantly, while increasing the relative size of the side fins. Experiment. Big centre fin, smaller side fins; small fins all around, big fins all around. You’ll quickly discover what you like and what works for you and what doesn’t.

Toe-in. On a board for kiting, one pet peeve is fins with too much toe-in. (Toe-in is how much the front of the fins point toward the centre of the board.) Toe-in can be great for surfing because it makes the board turn easier; but for kiting, too much of it makes for a really squirrelly ride – the board just doesn’t want to go in a straight line. Avoid. Even fins set straight with no toe-in at all seem to work well for kiting and most of the commercially-made boards for kiting use zero toe-in.

Splay. This is the degree to which the fins are tilted away from being perpendicular to the board—how much they tend to angle outward from the board. In my experience, it should be zero. Sometimes helps with paddle surfing to make the board turn easier, but it will wreck a kiteboard’s performance. The board will want to just try and constantly flick out from under you and feel horrible.

Take-away idea #6: Fins. Minimum toe-in; zero splay; everything else is personal preference.

PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER.

So, with all this in mind, what’s the optimum board for kiting?

Simple answer: It depends.

My suggestion is to experiment as much as you can.  Try going to the tip and see if you can find a couple of old boards that have been tossed out and try and repurpose them. I’ve done this several times with good results. Also, you can always find someone with an old beaten up board on Gumtree or eBay who’ll sell it to you for less than $100.

Get some cheap fins, buy some glass and resin and just play. You’ll discover the dimensions and the setup that works for you.  Alternately, you can always go to a good shaper and get them to make you something to your specifications – but this is obviously going to cost a bit more.

Years ago, I started off riding an old surfboard that I’d retired from surfing: a 6’6” X 2 5/8” X 19 ½”. At the time, I thought it was great – primarily because I hadn’t ridden anything else. I loved it.  But then, after riding a host of others, fibreglass, epoxy, wide, thin, narrow, fat,  I’m now riding a board that I wouldn’t even have considered a few years back, but after trying lots of other boards  this one finally feels like the “Goldilocks” board. JUUUUUST right.

As they say “Your Mileage May Vary” – but here’s what I like:

It’s a fibreglass board that I bought from a neighbour who was selling off a stack of boards she’d had made for her kids over the years.  The kids grew out of the boards and got new ones and they just tossed the old ones under the house. One of them turned out to be the perfect kiteboard for me. I paid $100 for it.

This one is 5’11 X 2 1/16” X 17 ¾”.

My previous board was 6’2” X 2 1/8th” X 18 1/18th”.  I thought this one was awesome til I rode the new one.  Before that I had a commercial Slingshot SST that was 6’2” X 2 ½ by about 19”. Loved it then but now the newer ones work even better for me. If I revisit this article in a year, I’ll probably have another view.

I’ve yet to reinforce the new one and after having only ridden it a handful of times, it’s already got some deck compression and a few other dings and things but hey, it works.

One of the main things I’ve noticed about the shorter board that makes it work so much better is that now I’m able to ride it with my back foot much closer to the tail all the time, which makes it loads easier to turn when I want to smack the lip or to carve a wide bottom turn, whereas with the longer boards, you have make that extra effort to pause for a moment and step back, which can interfere with your concentration and slow you down as you go into a turn or a more critical move. With the smaller board you just plough headlong into the move without having to shift your concentration or your weight.

Opportunity?

I’m going to throw this last paragraph out there to all the manufacturers who’re game to capitalise on a gap in the market at the moment. There are lots of surfboards out there you can buy that are designed for kiting. But my feeling is that right now, there’s no commercially-available board that captures all those attributes above that make for an ideal board for kiting.

So, let’s see if there are any shapers or companies who’re up for a challenge for a strapless kiteboard.

Someone design a fibreglass board with size specs as I’ve indicated above but with a difference from what’s out there now. I’ll happily test if and review if for you! Yes, there are some boards around with those kind of specs, but the ones I’ve seen are all heavily-glassed from tip to tail — and that doesn’t work. Yes, you do need extra protection in the centre of the board where your feet make contact with the board but there’s no need for all that extra glass on the front in back. It just adds weight and that ruins the way the board rides.

Put the glass under the front foot and then treat the deck with some cushioning of some sort so the deck won’t collapse with all that heavy riding. Keep the nose and the tail light and put some reinforcements around the fin inserts so they won’t get blasted out. The speeds and the pressure that kiting creates is a lot greater than surfing and if the plugs aren’t reinforced, there’s a good chance they’ll get pulled out.

Let’s see what happens!

Thanks for reading and happy kiting!

55

ARTICLE : How to choose a strapless surfboard Part 2

Following on from part 1 of Rob’s How to choose a strapless surfboard comes a few more points to think about before diving in and grabbing a board.

[button color=”blue ” size=”small” link=”http://www.kitesurfing.com.au/?p=3306″ target=”blank” ]<- Part 1 [/button] [button color=”blue ” size=”small” link=”#” target=”blank” ]Part 3 -> [/button]

RAILS: HARD AND SOFT.

RAIL-GUIDEOK, remember that you’re going to be riding the board with the rear of the rail hard into the water most of the time.  For the best grip you want a fairly hard edge on the board at the tail to about the mid-section to allow it to bite in the water and go upwind better. A soft rail makes it easy to turn but hard to edge. Some surfboards made for kiting even have an additional small wakeboard type fin ON the rail to help with this but I find they aren’t really needed and just get in the way of other things you want to do. A hard rail acts a bit like a virtual fin to grab the water, letting you edge more. But too much edge and it won’t release smoothly when you want to turn and may cause you to spin out unpredictably.

I’ve found that boards with soft rails near the tail just don’t work for kiting. You can’t edge as well and if you can’t edge, it’s tough to go upwind.

Take-away idea #2: RAILS: Look for a sharp, hard rail in the back that softens gradually toward the centre of the board.

BOTTOM SHAPE.board rails

I’ve tried all kinds of bottom shapes and IMO, the single concave is overwhelmingly the best bottom curve for kiting. I suspect that it’s because the concave, in combination with the hard rail near the tail of the board acts together like a fin; giving you more “bite” on the water and releasing nicely as you push it hard. Others will have a different view, but single concave has worked for me.
Rocker: You need rocker for two things: 1. Preventing nose-diving from steep take-offs and 2. Making it easier to turn by releasing the nose from contact form the water. In kiting, neither of these is an issue in 99% of circumstances, leading to the conclusion that you don’t need much rocker on a kiteboard.

Take-away idea #3: BOTTOM SHAPE: Single concave and generally flat rocker

VOLUME:

board_shapeNext you want to think about volume.  Volume on a board for paddle surfing is good. It helps you catch the wave, but too much volume on a kiteboard and the board will ride high on the water and that will make it bounce around, skate, and feel unstable and unpredictable. And that’s just horrible. I have a 6’0” fish board that’s 22” wide and 3” thick. It’s great for paddle surfing in onshore, sloppy conditions.  I tried once to kite on it and it was just awful in every way imaginable.  Sluggish, bouncy, skatey. Everything you don’t want a board to be.

So, remember, the key thing here is to find a board that sits IN the water, not ON the water, but NOT UNDER water. A board that sits IN the water will still plane when it’s got the power of the kite behind it but it isn’t going to bounce around on the water too much.  You achieve this by having the right total volume.

Take-away idea #4: VOLUME. Just enough so that the board should be IN the water, not ON the water or UNDER the water.

Stay tuned for the final part of Rob’s how to choose a strapless surfboard for kiting.

[button color=”blue ” size=”small” link=”http://www.kitesurfing.com.au/article-how-to-choose-a-strapless-surfboard-part-3/” target=”blank” ]Part 3 -> [/button]

(thanks to Surfer mag, shapers.com.au for the pics)

ARTICLE : How to choose a strapless surfboard Part 1

In our first article up on the site Rob talks about what he considers important in buying a surfboard for kitesurfing.

So, how do I choose a (strapless) surfboard for kiting? Well this question comes up all the time:

 “I want to start kiting on a surfboard—what’s the best size?”

There are lots of different things to think about
There are lots of different things to think about

OK, let’s give this one a shot. To answer bluntly – it’s complicated. And, it depends.

It depends on what you want/like to do; it depends on the conditions; it depends on your weight. And it depends on whether you want to ride strapped or strapless. I don’t ride straps, so, for the purpose of this article, we’re going to concentrate on a strapless board. I Tried straps in the early days and they drove me mad — no matter where I put the straps, they seem to be in the wrong place about 80% of the time and it ruined the experience for me. You have to make a lot of compromises with straps so the board needs to be quite different from a strapless board. A board with straps has to be stronger, heavier, made of different materials and It’ll probably also be smaller.

But let’s get back to the task at hand: How to choose a strapless surfboard for kiting. One of the coolest things about kiting is that as long as there’s a(reasonably) flat surface that you can stand on you can ride just about anything that floats. I’ve kited on chunks of discarded plywood, skimboards, boogie boards, a 9 ft malibu, lie-lows, SUPs – even a queen-sized inflatable air mattress!  It’s always a load of fun just to see what’s possible but finding a proper surfboard that works just right for kiting is quite a different story. In short, it’s a bit complicated.

If you want to paddle surf, you have to have a board that floats well, planes easily so you can catch the wave, and turns easily so you can do more than just ride in a straight line. All these requirements have to be factored into the design of the board. A board for kiting doesn’t need to be paddled, so it could in theory be smaller and thinner. You’ve got the kite producing loads of power so it doesn’t need to turn as easily. You’ll be travelling a lot faster so the toe-in on the fins is going to need to be less, else you’ll feel like you’re dragging an anchor behind you. So, with those initial things in mind, just grabbing a board that’s a good paddle surfing board is not necessarily going to make for a good surfboard for kiting.

For kiting a surfboard needs a lot of things to be just right: precisely balanced, finely tweaked and J U S T right in every way–to a point that even small things like a couple of mm here and there on the rail, thickness, rocker, width and length can make a huge difference in how the board surfs. A rail too hard or too soft and it all comes apart. Too much flotation and it bounces; too little flotation and it drags;  too much width and it skates; too little width and it sinks, etc. And because there are so many interactive variables, it’s not a simple thing to get it all right at once: Everything else can be right but all it takes is for one thing to be off and the board rides like a heap of rubbish.

So, let’s have a crack at it.

Disclaimer: OK, up front here and now: This is an article, it’s not a science paper. It’s not based on any calculations, computer modelling or other theoretical foundations.  It’s simply my empirical observations; there are no data presented so it’s just my personal opinion. You’re sure to find that others who will disagree with many of the things I have to say here so let me preface this and say that what follows here is my personal experience and recommendations from about eight years of riding strapless boards. Everybody comes at this from their own personal experiences. It’d be great to see someone do so proper science on this but to date, I haven’t seen it.  And also, just so you know, in everything I deal with here, we’re talking STRAPLESS riding. If you’re looking for a board to ride with straps, you may want to take someone else’s advice – I’ve never been able to get a surfboard with straps to work for me.  No matter where I’ve tried to put the straps, they seem to be in the wrong place about 80% of the time. But I’ve been kiting on strapless surfboards since about 2004 and I’ve ridden loads of them. Some of them are awesome; some of them not so awesome and some of them are absolutely horrible.

So, with all that in mind, let’s take a look at what to consider, where to start and how to pick one that’ll be good for you.

My first recommendation is to start by pushing your ‘Reset Button‘ on what constitutes a good surfboard for kiting—especially if you also surf. I’ve currently got about 10 surfboards of various shapes and sizes and IMHO, none of those boards are good for kiting, for a number of reasons. So, let’s start fresh.

Some folks argue that you can carry one board and use it for both kiting and surfing, but I don’t agree.  My boards for kiting are very different from my boards I ride for surfing.  There may be the odd person lucky enough to be able to use the same board for both but I suspect it would end up being a compromise both ways.  One of the factors seems to be your height. The taller you are the worse the disconnect between surfing boards and kiting boards. Tall people need longer boards for surfing, but not so much for kiting.

TIP 1 : SIZE—BIGGER IS NOT ALWAYS BETTER.

OK, let’s start with the basics: Catching a wave. When you’re surfing, before you can ride the wave you have to catch the wave—to catch the wave, the board has to plane. What that means is that it has to sit high enough in the water to pick up speed while you’re paddling, so that by the time the wave gets to you, you’re travelling at roughly the same speed as the wave. If you’re not moving fast enough you won’t catch the wave.  If your board is under water the entire time you’re paddling, you’re never going to plane.  If you’re moving too slowly the wave will just roll under you before you can get on it. A board that’s too thin or with insufficient volume will force you to take off later and later so that in order to catch the wave you’ll need to be sitting practically under the lip to have any hope of getting on it. The steeper, more critical the takeoff, the faster you have to get to your feet before the wave pitches you.  That’s why, as the surf gets bigger and bigger, you see surfers ride bigger and bigger boards. Big boards float high in the water and are easy to get on the plane and into the wave as it approaches. On really big waves you’ll see guys with huge boards (9ft+) sometimes actually catching the wave even before it breaks.

Bigger waves also tend to travel faster, making it even harder to paddle at wave speed, but a bigger board gives you the advantage because you can paddle it faster. Within limits, the higher a board sits in the water (generally speaking) the faster it will paddle.

If you didn’t have to paddle, a board for just riding a wave would ideally be a fair bit smaller than a board that has to both ride the wave and CATCH the wave. If you don’t have to worry about paddling to catch the wave and just want to surf, you can get by with a much smaller board with a lot less volume, which will make it much more manoeuvrable and a lot more fun to ride. And that’s the primary reason that the guys being towed in to those huge waves at places like Jaws on the jetskis are actually riding relatively small boards–They don’t have to paddle.

So, generally, when you’re surfing, you want a board with some volume that sits relatively high in the water, but not so high that you can’t dig the rail in when you need to in order to turn or hold the line in the barrel or going down the line of a steep wave. Too much volume and the board will tend to want to ride up the face of the wave and try and roll you. Too little volume and it sits too deep and the rails grab and keep you from getting any speed, or keep you from catching the wave in the first place.

When you’re kiting, the equation changes in a few ways. Firstly, like with tow-in surfing, you don’t have to paddle so you don’t need lots of volume to make the board sit on top of the water and plane. (But unlike tow-surfing, you’re generally not going to be riding 20Ft+ waves!)

Take-away idea #1: SIZE: The size for an ideal surfboard for kiting: smaller than the board you ride for surfing.

[button color=”blue ” size=”small” link=”http://www.kitesurfing.com.au/?p=3319″ target=”blank” ]Part 2 -> [/button]

Below are some photos highlighting different types and shapes of surfboards.