After some preliminary checking with the weather services the consensus in the house was the only way to accurately predict the weather is to go outside. Seriously though, the predictions for today were light but looking at the palms outside it didn’t look to bad. A couple of the guys headed to the hospital to get a cut on a foot looked at. While they were out a few of us headed to the water to see what the wind was like. When we got to the beach it was pretty empty and really wet from the storm the night before. We took a couple of wind readings and it was good. So we headed back to the house to pack up the gear.
We got packed, stopped for some food supplies and returned to the water. The beach was filling fast now. As the other guys pumped their kites up I checked out what everyone else was doing. Almost everyone was pumping and flying 9m kites. Knowing most of the people out there were better than I am I decided not to try the 13.5 in these winds. So I spent the morning helping people launch and land. I chatted with some folks and got to meet some interesting people. I did learn something from this too.
I learned when doing an assisted launch as the kiter, it is good to start downwind of the kite. Stretch your lines out and then walk back up wind keeping the lines tight as you go. This gives you a good look at the kite and lines and allows you to ease into the transition of powering up the kite.
I had a couple offers to fly some 8m kites but I didn’t feel comfortable flying someone else’s kite. If something happened to the kite I would have felt terrible so I declined. When the guys got back from the hospital we broke out the 7m kite my buddy had bought on the beach a couple of days earlier. The wind was dying now so the 7 didn’t have enough power to keep us up. But we did get some good practice with kite control. It is getting much easier to control the kite after three days of this and we are not crashing the kite hard anymore. My buddy Roger and I went back and forth playing for a while and switching the kite and board from one person to the other to let them play for a while.
While we were playing with the 7m the wind continued to drop and was now perfect for the 12 to 14 range. So I blew up my kite and my friend blew up his. With the wind to low for the 9m one of the other guys, Jeff, was flying he decided to help us out. He was a lot of help. His advice was good and his assistance was great. If I got to far down wind he would grab the kite and fly it back up wind for me so I could start over. It was a lot easier walking up wind without the kite.
With Jeff’s help the light bulb turned on and I had the aha moment. I finally got the idea of where my board needs to go. I have been unintentionally pointing the board up wind immediately after I get up. With low winds this becomes a problem because I would basically kill the kite. I was so afraid of going straight downwind I was over compensating and going up wind. I think this was a result of not being able to really go up wind and get back to my starting point. I didn’t want to get to far down wind before I even got started. I got over this and just let the board go downwind until I was up and in control. Then I would point it where I needed it to be. This made so much more sense now.
The other thing Jeff helped me with was to explain why I kept stalling the kite. It was in part due to my board direction but I was pulling back on the bar too much as well. Once I let the kite go down wind to start with and just let it fly things went better. I found that sweet spot in the bar where the power was just right. This is something no one can tell you – you just have to feel it for yourself. Once I found that sweet spot I stopped crashing the kite. When I would fall I could still feel that area of the bar where I could maintain control of the kite even though I may not be able to see it – like when I was under the water after falling. So now I wasn’t having to relaunch or put as much punishment on the kite.
By the end of the day I was riding pretty well. I still wasn’t able to make a fluid change of direction on the board but I was getting the edging down and was really happy with the progress of the day. I need to work on getting the board on edge a little more to give the kite more resistance and allow for up wind travel. This is a lot easier on the snow.
I have to say thanks to Jeff and to Dorian for their help this week and in days past.