Sunday, July 4, 2010

Another Post on Light Wind Kiteboarding

Yeah, I know, it's getting old. But the only other thing I've been doing lately is working in the lab, and I doubt y'all want to hear about me entering hundreds of pages of crustacean counts into spreadsheets. So anyway, on to the light wind kiteboarding...

I like my new foil kite, sort-of, I guess, so I'm going to go ahead and sell my inflatable kites, which are both currently in working order. One is a 2006 Cabrinha Crossbow 12 for $200 with no bar and lines, and the other is a 2008 Cabrinha Contra 14 for $500 with bar and lines. The same bar will work for both, and I'll knock $50 off the total price if someone wants it all. There's video of the 12 here and the 14 here.

I'm still ending about half of my foil kite sessions in disaster, but the magnitude of the disasters has decreased because I haven't been going so far offshore. I think both the frequency and the severity of the disasters will decrease soon because I'm learning some important lessons from my mistakes. Lesson #1- If there's not enough wind for the kite to fly steadily, don't go out. Lesson #2- Come back in immediately if you suspect the wind might be dropping. Lesson #3, if you crash the kite more than a lines' length away from the beach and can't relaunch, wind up your lines and roll the kite up completely before swimming in. Because if you swim in with the kite dragging behind you it will suck 100 tons of water in through the air intakes and be too heavy to pull up on the beach. #5- You can empty water out through hidden velcro openings in the wingtips. Wish I knew that yesterday.

While managing the kite in light wind continues to be challenging, I feel like I'm getting a pretty good understanding of the nuances of light wind boards. Check out the four in the pictures below. From left to right they are: 1) The Airush Sector 60 that my buddy Marc has on loan from the dealer for demos. 2) My custom freeride-raceboard designed by Mike Gebhardt. 3) Marc's Litewave Wing 153, a stiff, flat-rockered "door" style twintip. 4) My Litewave Freeride 179, a more old-school twintip with a longer, narrower shape and moderate flex and rocker.


Here's what's up with the boards, starting with the twintips. Marc's square-shaped "wing 153" gets planing slightly earlier, stays upwind better, and is faster in smooth-water conditions than my "freeride 179". But it annoyingly splashes water in your eyes when you ride, it tires out your back leg, and the nose tends to catch in chop. By comparison the freeride 179 needs a teensy bit more wind to stay upwind, but is a gentler ride that is comfortable carving and stays smooth in choppy water and waves. Now the directionals: My "Gebi" board took me a time or two to dial in, but it is wonderfully smooth, fast, and efficient upwind with its straight outline and relatively small but powerful asymmetrically-foiled fins. It's narrow enough that you can jump it and still land softly. I've only had one session on Marc's Sector, but it's pretty great, too. Despite its longer fins it felt "looser" and more turnable than the Gebi board, maybe because of the rounded outline. It was pretty easy to get going, it really liked to ride upwind when sailed flat, and it stayed floating well through slow jibes. It seemed a little slow and de-tuned compared to the Gebi board, though, like maybe the forward rear footstrap position made it harder to kick into high gear. Hoping for a chance to ride it a bit more before Marc has to give it back. When comparing both directionals versus both twintips, the twintips win for overall ease of use since they're easier to jump, you don't have to jibe them, and they make it easier to maintain line tension to keep your kite in the air or relaunch it when it goes down. But the directionals win for absolute earliest planing and staying upwind, and for having a nice, windsurf-like riding sensation where you can let the fins do the work and don't have to grind the edge of the board into the water like crazy.

ANYWAY, here's two videos of foil kite sessions corresponding with the green-circled periods of wind on the iWindsurf wind graphs from Friday and Saturday. I think the wind at my spot Friday was actually a bit lighter than down the road at the wind sensor, but the trend was about the same.


This first one was nice because I kept my kite dry. This is also the session where I tried out the Sector, but I didn't film that. The music is "Big Brother" by David Bowie.

2 July 2010 Foil Kiting with Directional from James Douglass on Vimeo.

This second was also nice, because it was with my buddies Antonio and Marc. But it sucked at the end because we all got caught out at the same time when the wind died and had to swim in with our gear. The music is "Frontier Psychiatrist" by The Avalanches.

Foil Kite Ugliness 3 July 2010 from James Douglass on Vimeo.


Boris Terzic said...

Wow so you're actually selling your inflatables and only going with the foil?

I'd buy them off ya but I currently don't need new kites.

James Douglass said...

Yep, really selling them! I also have a lot of windsurf stuff, so I don't really need more than one kite.