Saturday, January 12, 2008

To kite, or not to kite...

...that is the question.

It's a dilemma that every windsurfer faces, and it creates a contentious, ego-fueled debate between windsurfing diehards and kiteboarding converts. There are several key angles to the debate: 1) Which sport is cooler?, 2) Which sport is easier?, 3) Which sport is more practical?, and 4) Which sport is most dangerous?

1) Which sport is cooler?

Kiteboarding is cooler. Duh. I know so because whenever I tell someone I'm a windsurfer he gives a dismissive grunt, scratches his head, maybe picks his nose for a while, then perks up and says, "Hey, so uh, you know what looks cool? That kiteboarding stuff! I saw this thing on the Travel Channel once, and those guys were catching, like, 20 feet of air!" Sometimes I try to respond by emphasizing some of the positive advantages of windsurfing as opposed to kiting, but really there's no point. We windsurfers lost the battle for coolness a long time ago. Kiteboarding is a newer sport, provides a quicker route to extreme thrills, and attracts a younger, sexier crowd... which attracts a younger, sexier crowd.

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However, along with coolness comes image-consciousness... the nagging, un-fun compulsion to buy expensive surfer-sunglasses, get a labret piercing, wear ironic trucker's caps, and put boardshorts on over your wetsuit. A wetsuit is one of the few excuses modern humans have to prance around in near-nudity, but of course the fashionistas ruin it for themselves with the boardshorts on top thing.

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2) Which sport is easier?

Windsurfing is much easier to learn. With the right stuff you can learn from a friend in less than an hour. But the kind of windsurfing that you can do after an hour is not at all the fast, cool-looking kind; witness the author with a beginner board and sail last summer:

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Cool looking windsurfing skills take much longer to acquire, and thwart many would-be sailors. By contrast, learning kiteboarding involves several days of expensive, professional instruction and is very tricky and intense. But at the end of that you're going fast and looking pretty cool, even though you may be wiping out into a garbage scow 5 miles downwind of where you started.

3) Which sport is more practical?

I have to qualify this one. In terms of storing and transporting gear, kiteboarding is more practical. The boards are small as a bath mat, the kites can deflate to the size of pillow, and there are no rigid rig components like masts and booms to worry about. However, in terms of actually getting to RIDE your toys, windsurfing wins hands down. Case in point, I windsurfed within a couple blocks of my house almost every day last summer, while my kiter buddy Sam only got out a couple times. Kiters need consistent wind greater than about 10 knots, a wide-open place to launch and land, and shallow water with no obstacles to dodge or current to fight. (Advice to windsurfers: If you want to maximize the advantage you have over kites in sub-optimal conditions, you need a longboard.)

4) Which sport is most dangerous?

Kiteboarding is more dangerous by far. When you fall off your windsurf everything instantly comes to a stop, and you get back on. When you fall off your kiteboard the kite keeps pulling, sometimes even harder than before, slingshotting you downwind until you either get it under control, pull the safety release, or hit something big and unyielding, like your mom standing there taking pictures at the water's edge. Lots of people die kiteboarding every year. You should tell your mom to stand further away from the water.



Ok, I said my piece. Now it's confession time. I want to try kiteboarding. I've been secretly practicing with Sam Lake and Paul Dovel's kites, and I watched Sam's "Zero to Hero" kite DVDs. The ones produced by Trip Foreman; the Benedict Arnold of windsurfing who founded Real Kiteboarding and created the infamous "windsurfing has been cancelled" bumper sticker. Yes, I know it's shameful. But even if I do end up learning and loving kiting (I might not) I'll never disrespect or abandon windsurfing and my windsurfing peeps. It will probably be a while before I actually get on a kiteboard but it will definitely make this blog when I do. In the meantime, it's supposed to blow 15-20 knots out of the NE tomorrow, and be almost 50 degrees F. Sounds like windsurfing weather to me. :)

PS- Just because, here's Hamlet's soliloquy, the one I corrupted from Shakespeare for the title of this post, in it's original form:

To be, or not to be: that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them? To die: to sleep;
No more; and by a sleep to say we end
The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to, 'tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish'd. To die, to sleep;
To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there's the rub;
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause: there's the respect
That makes calamity of so long life;
For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
The oppressor's wrong, the proud man's contumely,
The pangs of despised love, the law's delay,
The insolence of office and the spurns
That patient merit of the unworthy takes,
When he himself might his quietus make
With a bare bodkin? who would fardels bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscover'd country from whose bourn
No traveller returns, puzzles the will
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all;
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought,
And enterprises of great pith and moment
With this regard their currents turn awry,
And lose the name of action. - Soft you now!
The fair Ophelia! Nymph, in thy orisons
Be all my sins remember'd.

29 comments:

cammar said...

Hi James,

another great post. I'm enjoying your blog a lot.
I agree with all your four points.
Just a couple of comments.

Regarding which one is easier, no doubt that at the beginning and for quite a long time windsurfing is way easier.
But when you get to the point that you can stay upwind kitesurfing, the learning curve becomes a lot faster.
Windsurfing, instead, stays steady during all your windsurfing life. Think how difficult it is to master a power jibe...

If it's blowing 5 knots, I can be out with my sailing longboards (going upwind one the waves), but the kites can't fly.
But if it's blowing 10-13 knots, I'm still out on my longboard, eventually going down the line once in a while, but the kites are out and absolutely ripping the waves apart in front of my eyes.
The new kites can control the power a lot better than the old ones. Plus most kiters here in Maui ride short surfboards on the waves... They really rip like surfers!

Every time I see them, I think I should try to get back into it (I tried to learn 6 years ago with a two line Wipika in the super strong and gusty Maui summer wind with a board with soft rails and a leash and I almost killed myself...).

But, in the end, I hate the rigging and launching and dealing with problems in the water part so much that I let go the thought.

Who knows... maybe one day...

Sorry for the long comment. I just wanted to add some info for your readers.

PeconicPuffin said...

Which is cooler? A kite in the air looks cooler than a board on the water, that is true. And kiting is easier and a faster way to get an adrenalyne rush. However I fail to see much difference between kiting and bungee jumping on the air and adrenalyne questions. Neither sport is remotely practical (though if we're talking about the hassle factor, yes kiting gear can be stowed in less space, but kiting often requires two people...the kiter and the guy in the boat. Or the guy who has to land your kite for you. Or launch it for you. I have kited, by the way. It's exciting, but not magical imho. There is somethign specific about sailing, which windsurfing is and kiting isn't. I know some kiters who don't give a damn about sailing, and others who do (they tend to be the "both sport" crowd.)
Kiting is way more dangerous, and not in a particularly flattering way (ie it's not that you die because you go so fast or jump so high.) Kiters get killed being dragged onto land, being slammed into buildings and trees, having the wind die on them far from shore etc.

Go try it, by all means. Also try bungee jumping and water skiing, which will provide the dangling from heights thrills and being pulled across the water thrill.

James Douglass said...

Cammar and Puffin-

Thanks for the good comments.

Cammar, I know what you mean about that 10-13 knot range where kiters make us most jealous.

Puffin, good point about kiting requiring two people, and often a chase boat, 911 caller, etc. That has been one of the big turnoffs for me, since I sail by myself at least half the time now.

Another thing I neglected to mention was the apparent hassle of re-launching a kite on the water. It seems to be all the trouble of windsurf waterstarting, x 10. Not something I necessarily look forward to.

scooper said...

Nice picture of the kiter in the waves. Those bumps look nice! The waves look like fun too.

Love your blog.

USA 4 Steve Bodner said...

hope on some modern formula and you wont be jealous for much longer....

Anonymous said...

Kite. Explore your options...

If I was younger, I might kite too. Agree with everything you said.

I have a good friend who is an excellent windsurfer, who left the sport, became a good kiter, and came back. He liked windsurfing better. He is an independent thinker. My younger brother, a very good windsurfer, has left for good. He bought me the infamous sticker and calls me a "poleboarder". He is very image conscience. So am I. I think the way cool freestyle tricks and wave sailing of the younger euro/brazilian riders works for me. That said, the NA mags are full of old farts and few young women. I looked at an old windsurfing from 1985, and it was rare to find someone over the age of 25. I have made my peace. I love windsurfing. It is plenty cool for me. Decide for yourself.

PeconicPuffin said...

You should certainly try kiting...it only takes a few lessons to get up on the board. I did in Aruba. Reach your own conclusions. For me, my key discoveries were:

1. Kiting is exciting, but it lacks the magic that windsurfing makes me feel. I don't know how better to describe it.

2. It's more dangerous. And when they say "you can depower the new kites" you certainly can reduce the power in them substantially, but it's not the same thing as dropping the sail. If you get hit with a huge gust, you're going to get hurled.

3. The gear may be smaller but it's almost as much a hassle. Meanwhile launching and landing is a production with kites, while windsurfers just lay their boards down on the beach (or pick them up, step into the water, and go.)

Bill said...

Hey James,

Great posts, both this kiteboarding and the previous windsurfing one. Yea, kiteboarding is definitely skyrocketing into the mainstream here on the OBX. Between Matt Lauer from the Today Show learning at Real, to the Weather Channel's Epic Conditions, kiteboarding has been presented to the mainstream US population in a huge way. The OBX is probably the best spot in the country for learning and progressing given our consistent "kiteboard" friendly wind and water conditions. During the summer, it blows SW at 15 to 20 mph nearly every day, which is perfect range for a kite. Soundside slicks are kiteboarders' dream and we have hundreds of them! Throw in a summer swell and side off SW, and you have prime wave kiting.

Hatteras is awesome for windsurfing no doubt, but for kiteboarding it is mecca. Kind of like Maui is for windsurfing.

Summer 2008, I am sure, will be a boom for Real and Kitty Hawk Kites.

James Douglass said...

Scooper- I know exactly what you're talking about.

USA 4- I rode formula for a couple years and I love it. I switched to longboard this spring for a couple reasons but I would do both if I could. See earlier post-

http://jimbodouglass.blogspot.com/2007/08/its-lonely-at-pinnacle-of-cool.html

Anonymous- Thanks for sharing your experiences and the story about your brother. I definitely think image consciousness plays a role in people's sport decisions.

Puffin and Bill- I am definitely looking forward to trying kiting just to see what it's all about. I've TALKED about it enough, that's for sure. :) Agree that OBX is kiter mecca where the usual kite hassles are minimized.

Anonymous said...

James,

I'll come at this from a different direction for you. I'm a lifelong surfer who watched lots of Robby Naish shredding Hookipa videos over the years. I was always really impressed with the style and power of wave sailing, and I thought windsurfing would be a good compliment to surfing. I was in my early 30's when I finally bit the bullet and started building my windsurfing quiver. 3 years and well over 100 sessions later, I had learned a lot of lessons:

1. Jibing is hard! I was hitting about 50% of my jibes at flat water spots and outside the surf, but in and around waves, I was more like 5%.

2. Getting a sailboard and sail through surf much bigger than about waist high is hard! More hard dumps, rolls, booms to the face and trapped under sail incidents than I can even count.

3. Windsurfing is not the perfect compliment to surfing. I've since learned that surf gets ugly and blown out (by a surfer's standard) at 10 - 12mph. Sailing doesn't really start getting fun until upper teens, with 5.0 riding in the low 20's being best. That doesn't happen too terribly often, even in the SF Bay area. I ended up riding a 5.8 or bigger much of the time. Underpowered on a big sail and 105 ltr board in overhead surf is no fun.

4. As you know, windsurfing gear does take up a lot of room. Not such a big deal since I already had a garage full of surfboards and a pickup truck.

After 3 years of windsurfing, I gave kiting a try. That was 7 years ago, and I haven't looked back since. Even with the crappy, scary equipment at the time, I was up and riding during my first lesson, in the surf almost instantly, and going upwind after about 20 or 30 sessions. Kiting is a great compliment to surfing. I can surf in the morning until the wind starts blowing, then run to the truck, pump up and go out, sometimes while there are still surfers in the water. I even ride the same board many times. Kiting is waves is way more like surfing than anything I even came close to while windsurfing.

Kiting is also something you can do by yourself. I kite alone quite often, and even at crowded spots like Waddell, pretty much everyone self-launches and self-lands anyway.

The gear is extremely portable, and I find myself hiking into spots with a kite in a pack on my back and a board under my arm that would basically be inaccessible with windsurfing gear (15 minute walk from the truck and down a muddy cliff to an empty beach). My biggest space problem right now is that I have about 5 generations of kite gear piled up in the garage. It's old, not worth much, and some of it is flat out dangerous.

You'll never know until you try. Start out with the mindset that it's a light wind alternative to sailing and you'll be fine. Nobody's going to make you sell your sailing gear if you take a kite lesson. However, don't be surprised if it ends up consuming more and more of your water time. I kite way more than I surf now!

OK, so all that being said, after 7 years of kiting, and many trips to windy destinations, I find myself with the desire to get back into windsurfing. I happened to be on Maui for the Aloha Classic last year, and got to see the best of the best shredding Hookipa in person. It's amazing how deceptively easy some guys can make wavesailing look!

BOTTOM FISHER said...

KITERS ARE FAGS !!

Serena said...

Nice blog, James. I wish I had thought to do something like this while I wrote the dissertation: )

On the subject of which sport is easier to learn, I'd just like to add that learning to windsurf becomes that much harder when kiters scream past newbies in order to say 'hi' or show off some move. It's hard enough getting the sail out of the water, let alone dodging kiting lines and flying boards. For some reason, kiters don't seem to have the same fear of running into windsurfers while climbing the learning curve.

On another topic...this is a different spin from your original post, but your topic sparked my interest in the fact that kiting seems to attract a younger crowd. I have no statistics on this; it's just from what I see and read. And, it makes me wonder whether this is something the windsurfing community is or should be concerned about.

A friend of mine, while vacationing in Puerto Rico last fall, told me he tried kiting for the first time even though windsurfing was an option and even though he knows my feelings about kiters. When I asked him why (he would do such a thing) he responded with many of the points you brought up: it looks cooler, it's doesn't take as long to learn-at least in order to start getting air, and the bottom line my friend made was just that: he didn't want to wait to feel the rush of adrenaline.

I told my friend that it is possible to get air in windsurfing. But the thing is, as far as I can tell, only wave sailors get to experience that rush. I don't know that I'll ever get into wave sailing and if I do, I'm not sure I'd be even trying to execute any of those loops. But there are so many other factors in windsurfing that keep me interested, I'm not too concerned that I'll ever get bored or envious of kiters.

If kiting had never been invented, would a lot of the kiters out there be windsurfing or would they be doing something different for their (mostly) summer sport? However, since kiting is a reality, is the windsurfing industry lagging behind since kiting does seem to attract not only younger people but more people in general? I guess it all makes me question whether there's a certain personality type that draws people to windsurfing over kiting. Kiting seems to attract those who desire a more immediate gain, whereas windsurfing demands a lot of perserverence, determination, and time to do something that will pay off in the long run.

Oh, and to comment on Bottom Fisher's response-I've heard kiter's referred to as gays on trays. All my gay friends found this hilarious! As to the reason kiters wear board shorts. Isn't it obvious? It's to hide their small packages. I'm sure that's going to piss off some kiter here...

James Douglass said...

bottom fisher- This is a civilized blog, man. Please keep the homophobic insults to yourself.

Anonymous- I appreciated your surfer's perspective on both windsports. I think where one rides has a big influence on what wind sport works out best. Sounds like the surfing / kiteboarding combo is great for your spot. I get a lot of T.O.W. doing longboard windsurfing in crappy inland conditions, and I think that's what I'd miss most if I went to 100% kite.

James Douglass said...

Serena-

Thanks for comment. Interesting thoughts about kiting's younger crowd. Some of it may be inherent from the quicker-thrills aspect, and the fact that kiting is simply a newer sport, but I also think it has to do with better marketing and instruction on the kiting side.

Windsurfers say a lot of bad stuff about Trip Foreman, but you have to admit the man is a marketing master. The DVDs, the camps, the flashy shops, the shirts and bumper stickers, the young instructors, etc. As far as I know there's nothing like that in modern windsurfing.

Maybe if windsurfing, especially windsurfing instruction, was marketed that hard, it would get more young'ns. At vacation destinations they could play up two important angles to get people to choose windsurfing lessons:

1) You could be on the water doing it in 15 minutes.
2) You could do it in the lake back home, whereas probably not with kiting.

Anonymous said...

I agree with most of the posts here. Cammar's is probably the closest - when its a steady 10-13 knots, the kites have it over anything a windsurfer can do. Some of the guys here riding strapless surfboards are doing amazing dtl cutbacks and aerials off little waist-high beach break,pretty much without much help from the kite except to set up and pull out after, in water so shallow most wave fins would come back chipped. You can tell that with all the practice they are getting, they must rip on bigger waves!

What p'd me off about the kite-crash video was that None of the kiters seemed to be wearing helmets (almost all kiters and windsurfers around here do)and there were quite a few instances of kites being simply let go unleashed to crash unattended. Now if its a blown handle-pass there is some reason for that, but several seemed to be doing it combined with a sommersault dismount at the end of a sesh for pure stunt value. Increadibly dangerous for bystanders. I've had to run to catch newbies kites as they careered down a crowded beach several times. Scariest thing I've done, its so easy to be cut/amputated/dragged by the lines if you miss the leading edge, but when its going into a bunch of little kids.....

usually I'm out before the kites launch on a longboard, planing when they launch, and on to a small board and fully adrenalized if it builds more, so I don't think I'll be taking it up, but I've certainly considered it. If I was younger, now, grandson, :-0 !

Just discovered this blog, great work!
More Force 4

James Douglass said...

More force 4-

Good point about the craziness of dropping kites unattended. I gather that a loose kite on the beach is baaaad news. Not wearing helmets is pretty dumb, too.

Johnny Douglass said...

Those windsurfers who worry about kiteboarding becoming the sport of the young and cool can take heart from the January/February issue of AARP Magazine. An article alleges that the over-50 set is embracing kite boarding faster than any water-sport in history. The article says elderly ex-windsurfers have discovered that kiteboarding is quicker to master and easier on the body. One 63 year-old convert is quoted as saying, "Kiting is something you can learn in a day. Windsurfing is a long arduous chore that can take years to perfect." Maybe it's true; maybe it's not.

Anyway, as a declining windsurfer in the 7th decade of life, I have some advice for young whippersnappers. Lighten up, be nice to everyone, do what's fun, and don't worry about your stupid image. In what seems like two eye blinks you'll find your first introductory AARP Magazine in the mailbox. Some other generation ZZZ, barely detached from their placentas, will be prancing around in their colorful britches and thinking their new sports gimmick is the coolest thing in the universe.

James Douglass said...

Hey Dad! Thanks for the words of wisdom. I miss you and mom. Can't wait to see you when you get back from Venezuela this summer. :)

PeconicPuffin said...

There's no doubt that kiting is easier. People for whom easy is a priority should definately lean kiteward.

On the safety tip, if you actually google "windsurfer killed" in news articles, you'll find that the vast majority of the time the reporter is calling a dead kiter a windsurfer.

I agree with Mr. Douglas' advice to lighten up. It's a loaded topic...you have windsurfers who feel defensive about their sport, kiters who feel a need to denegrate windsurfing, those of us who do/have done both who have our own philosophys.
The AARP article, by the way, has been described as riddled with errors, though I myself haven't seen it. Most mainstream media reports on both kiting and windsurfing get it wrong anyway.

Hatteras is one of the few places I'd like to kite...I think the Pamlico Sound is ideal as a location with sideshore winds. Next time I'm down there and winds are light I'll probably hit Real myself.

Catapulting Aaron said...

James, Great blog again... I'll pile on here a little bit on the topic.

1. The first question I ask myself when I consider heading down to the OBX and taking a kiting lesson is: Why suck at two sports when you already are terrible at one?

2. I would like to have a big kite for 10-13 knots, and that's it. I own formula gear, and I actually like formula sailing in light wind, but bottoming out whilst wound up on a big sail falls into the category of "ouch". This happens a lot in the OBX soundside.

3. An anecdote: In march of 2002, I was given my first exposure to wind-sports in Merritt Island for their midwinters event. A buddy of mine was Formula racing, and I was just curious about the scene. On one of the first days, the wind kicked up to 30kts, and racing was canceled. It was decided to have an impromptu freestyle competition with several of the pros who happened to be there... I don't know if you've heard of any of these guys but there was a guy named Albeau, a couple of Pritchard guys, and oh yeah, these two brothers from the Caribbean named Frans. The were doing big forwards and spocka-flaka-540s literally 20 feet from the beach. I knew I had to try windsurfing right then.

Oh yeah, there was a kiter out that day too, and sure enough, he was getting big air. But while he was in the air he was just kinda hangin' out there, gyrating his hips and occasionally horse-kicking kicking his feet up in the air.

There really has never been a question in my mind about which sport, at a high level, is more gnarly.

Anonymous said...

Hey dude, great conversation here. Great blog, mate!

To me it's doesn't matter... if it's done for the good reasons.

Good reasons might be: it's better than watching TV, or my windsurfing gear is getting too heavy for me, or I wanna try and still do both depending on conditions and fun to have, or I always wanted to fly.

Bad reasons to me are: kite or windsurfing is easier - that's no good reason. Both can be learned, so doing sports is the end result.

Another bad reason: it's cooler or looks cooler or I might get chicks. To me, cool is going out and having fun and improving, regardless of the sport. Cool is not owning lotsa recent equipment that magazines told me to buy. Neither sport should be a Tupperware party.

The worst, to me: "I'm bored with windsurfing".

The latter is interesting: to date, all those I've seen are sailors with lotsa gear, that they renew every year, and yet go right and left and do nothing year after year. They do kite out of frustration almost, will buy new kite gear year after year and get bored in 5 years. Actually I can see that the kite-renewal market has started already... A new fad will be waiting for them.

Whatever you do, go out, have fun, play safe. Don't be stale. Don't fall in the fad trap that manufacturers and shops want you to. Regardless of sport.

James Douglass said...

Aaron- Cool story about the midwinters. I might be moving to Florida next year, so maybe I'll get to check it out.

Anonymous- Good points about how changing your attitude might pay off more than changing your sports gear.

Anonymous said...

Nice Blog James.

I came to the decision that I'm going to kite and "cancel windsurfing".

After decades of windsurfing, I've found that I only used my gear twice in the last 2 years. And on those days, even though I was powered up on my 3.7 and 62l board, I was wishing I was on my kite gear.

I used to think, I'll kite in 13-20, then go windsurf from 20-30. Now I just want to kite in all wind under 35.

This is why...

Light, free feeling with the kite gear. Even though I have carbon fiber everything and a board that weighs just 14lbs, the windsurfing gear feels heavy in comparison...because it is!

On demand power! In the same wind, I would use a 10 in kites vs a 4.2 in sail.

Turns, tacks and transitions. When you get good at windsurfing, you'll be doing all kinds of jibes, duck, hand drag, lay-down, pirouette, etc...Sometimes you'll nail it and go ripping out with little to no loss of speed. But most of the time, it's fast going in, slow going out or if you're in marginal wind, slogging going out til you get back up to plane.

Go check out how a kiter turns. Fast in, faster out. No comparison, plus it's easier.

How about air? When you get good at windsurfing, it's all about banging that ramp and pitching it end over or doing some other aerial trick. Even on the best days, I found the ideal swells few and far between.
what's a big jump off chop? 6? 8ft? Mast high?

If you live for air, then you better kite. There's simply no comparison.

How about carving swell? I'd rather turn something that's 125cm vs something that's 8ft long. Again, no comparison.

How about speed? Ok, I still go faster on a windsurfer than a kiteboard. But you know what? I get more scared going fast on a kiteboard than windsurfer, so to me, it feels faster, even though I'm going slower. And I get a bigger rush out of it!

Do I need a team to help me get in the water? No. Self launch, self land.

Takes the same amount of time to rig both water toys.

Coolness? Don't care.

I have friends that I windsurfed with that have moved over to kiting and some that never will. Doesn't matter to me. I can enjoy a session with both my windsurfing friends as well as my kiting friends.

Although it might sound like I'm trying to convince you to kite, I have no interest in "pushing" kiting on anyone now. There are serious consequences when things go wrong and part of me doesn't want my launch anymore crowded. Whatever you do, remember it's about the "journey" not the destination. Enjoy the trip!

-Eric

James Douglass said...

Eric- Thanks for the story. :)

I've noticed that a lot of the windsurfers who've switched to kiting were high wind snobs before they made the switch, and they love that kiting allows small-board tricks in lighter winds.

That appeals to me, too, but I also like being able to get out in REALLY light or fickle wind on my longboard, and to just sort of sail and explore with a "cross country skiing" mentality. That's one reason I don't think I would ever TOTALLY switch to kiting, even if I thought it was more fun than shortboard windsurfing.

femtofortnight said...

Good comments from all. From my perspective, Kiting and Windsurfing are not closely related. Kiting is a form of waterskiing. But unlike wateskiing, you will be harnessed in. And on top of that there will be no driver in the tow-boat. Sometimes the tow-boat will power up unexpectedly and head straight across the sand. Your board will not float you, so you will stay close to shore. Even though rules say not to kite with on-shore winds, that is exactly what you will do because you are afraid to get blown off-shore into deep water. You are especially wary of deep water because you are too image conscious to wear a PFD. Besides, the girls on the beach must see you when you grab big air.

So the end result is what we see at beaches everywhere this winter: kiters out of control at the water's edge with their lines and kites over the people on the beach.

Anonymous said...

> I've noticed that a lot of the
> windsurfers who've switched to
> kiting were high wind snobs

Agreed on that observation and on the snob part.

None that were doing fancy freestyle, few that were jumping waves. Just those quivers multiple boards going right and left all day. Nice brand new gear, often undersailed too.

The Tupperware party - being into equipment only - has been taken from W/S to kiting.

That is OK too.

Anonymous said...

Nice blog. Just a couple of comments as well about kitesurfing on lakes :

1) you can go kiting in about 7 knots of wind providing you'll have a fairly big sail (20+ m2) and a kiteboard that is longer than usual. Reason is you need to build quite some speed to go forward at a reasonable pace and not just going stop and go with a short kiteboard.

2) 7 knots is the lowest planing limit with a Formula kit.

3) below 7 knots of wind, longboard windsurfing can be exciting and challenging providing you have the right high-performance gear to excell in those conditions (long and slender hull coupled with big 11 m2 sail).

Kitesurfing is a no go, however, mainly because it's extremely difficult to get the giant sail out of the water in say 5 knots wind. You'll need a helping boat to unstick and fly the sail again. And you'll drift anyway with the wind. A big board with positive floatation is of no help in that case.

Cheers !

JM

James Douglass said...

JM- I agree. The right kite and windsurfing kits can both plane in 7-10 knots, but the consequences of a lull below that windspeed are a lot worse for a kite.

Sergei Grosman said...

Thanks everyone for your insights.

I've finally cracked and given kiting a go. My main comment is definitely give it a go, it's very easy and a fun change so there is not reason not to give it a go. Also I think my windsurfing has gotten better as a result.

Also, I love the convenience and it's fun to jump high without needing any skill.

It doesn't FEEL as good as windsurfing though.