Sunday, February 21, 2010

Long Lines

I've been on sort-of a kiteboarding kick lately. I don't know why, exactly. It might have to do with the fact that everyone I ride with is a kiter, so all the socializing, tech-talk, and gear-swapping I'm doing on the beach (or in the bar afterwards) is kite-centric. It's like I'm in the middle of the chain of kiteboarding stoke, learning from the good riders, commiserating with the dudes at my own level, and trying to help out the beginners.

Today was an interesting session. The weather reports and some of the inland sensors indicated a southeasterly seabreeze, but standing on the beach I could barely feel any wind. Far off in the distance, though, I could see Mike Gebhardt and Sean Farley's kites weaving around in tandem, meaning they had somehow found enough wind to do course-racing practice on their kite gear. One funny thing I noticed about Gebi's kite, and to a lesser extent Sean's, was that it was extremely high in the air. I.e. the racers were using lines significantly longer than the 20 meter default lines for most kites. That enabled them to tap into a layer of strong wind well above the surface level, and to a get longer "power strokes" when flying their kites. When the lads returned to Kimberly Bergalis beach where we were launching (in order to do some fin-changes on their course racing boards) I was amazed to see how high Gebi's kite actually was. My pal Marc talked to him and found out he was using 54 meter lines! So his kite was 177 feet up, almost as high as the top of the "wing sail" on Oracle's giant Americas Cup trimaran.

I optimistically decided to rig my own 12 meters squared kite, hoping my 20 meter lines would be enough to tap into the upper level breeze. Sure enough, even though it seemed like less than 10 knots on the beach, which usually means your kite is going to fall out of the sky, there was plenty of wind aloft to kite comfortably with my big 180 cm twin-tip kiteboard. I did notice that I lost much of my power when I flew the kite low to the water, which made sense.

Marc hadn't been planing to kite, since his two biggest kites are both busted at the moment, but he decided to double the line length on his 11 meter squared kite to (hopefully) give it a little extra pull. I was surprised how well it worked for him. He couldn't quite stay upwind, but it was still impressive that even though he's bigger than me he was still able to get going on a smaller kite. Part of that was his special board, a litewave "wing", which is very flat and wide at each end to help it plane early.

Here's the sensor reading from the nearest sensor to where were riding. I think the sensor must be fairly high up, since this seems to jive more with what our kites were feeling than with what we were feeling on the beach.


Catapulting Aaron said...

Are you wearing boardshorts over your jeans when you write blog posts like this?

James Douglass said...

Most def. I also put my hair in dreadlocks and wear some oversized fly-eye sunglasses, which look badass with my new labret piercing. :P