2016 Mille Lacs Crossing

Get ready, it sounds like Kite Crossing 12 is in the plan for March 4-6, 2016. It will be at Lake Mille Lacs near Garrison, MN as it has in the past. I have not yet been to this event but the KiteND crew hopes to represent this year. This is set up as an endurance race event but you can just come out to have fun too. Whether you snowkite with board or skis or you just like to watch crazy people run around on the ice and snow, it is sure to be a good time.

Here is what the Fleet 8 folks have to say: “A weekend of freeriding, endurance race, expression session, gear demos, instruction and more. Riders are encouraged to spend the weekend in Garrison or nearby. The Welcome party, On the Ice Festivities, Riders Party and Saturday’s Banquet is free to all registered riders and guests.”

More info is available on the Fleet 8 website

Good learning Session on Big Cormorant MN

While on vacation on Big Cormorant Lake in MN I awoke to nice wind and warm weather. I had waited three days so you know this is a treat. Winds were lower 20s, gusting to 26 mph. The wind was on-shore to our beach so I thought I might drift launch from the far shore and downwind it on back home. I took the jet ski across the lake to check it out. It was not to be as the wind shadow was a bit much and I wasn’t sure I would be able to drift out before the sun went down. Yes, it is early in the day yet. After meeting up with my friend D., I geared up and we took the jet ski out to the middle of the lake with the idea of using a shallow, sunken island as the launching point. D. was driving and I was on the back holding on tightly to my kite. Driving into the wind holding the kite is a little tricky. I had rolled my lines to the bar back at the beach after connecting them so I just had to unroll and drift from the jet ski. Or so I thought.

I connected my safety line to the ski ring on the back of the jet ski and dropped the kite in the water. I let it float out a bit and let out the lines as the kite drifted away from us. This worked for the most part except the jet ski drifted about the same speed as the kite so I had to be very careful to keep the lines from getting tangled on the machine. The kite did catch wind once and got things a bit tangled up. This is why I connected the kite to the ski loop on the jet ski instead of attaching it to my harness right away. I figured something like this could happen and wanted the jet ski to take the pull instead of me. I could still use the safety and get rid of it if things went bad. We should always be thinking of safety first. I was able to get the lines squared away and get the kite out and away from us. I had drifted out the shallow water by this point so I connected the kite to my harness and jumped in the water. D. was letting me use his Door today, which he graciously handed down to me in the water and I was about ready.

After a couple passes of the kite overhead to get a feel for the conditions I set it into power and I was off. I had a few messed up attempts because I was trying to go upwind a bit to much. Then I got it right and surprised myself to setting my board right away and was off. My first shot was to my left and heelside. The board was set and I had a good stance for controlling the kite and my power. I was really surprised. This was about as solid as I have ever felt on the water. I was even able to get up wind a little bit. That was good for me. Eventually I ran out of room and had to change direction. This is where it gets tuff, yeah. I did try cranking the kite and bringing it around to see if I could make a fluid turn. I have never done this on the water but have gotten pretty good at it on the snow. I didn’t get it and ended up wet. Going back the other direction (to my right) things were a little more difficult. I did not have near the control going that direction. I felt out-of-control and had a hard time controlling my speed. But I kept working on it back and forth across the wind. I wasn’t losing much ground to the left but a bit to the right. To change directions I was de-powering the kite, sinking and starting fresh the other direction. This might all be common sense but if you haven’t done if before, I hope this helps. I did feel better about going to my right by the end of the session. The session ended when I  ran out of lake. I got into my bay, which today was a wind hole. The wind was quite a bit lighter in the bay and there was just no way I was going to get back up wind and out of there so I called it good. D. grabbed my kite and I climbed aboard the jet ski and headed in. That was a bit of a mess since the lines ended up all around the jet ski and I had to do some messing with that. Back on shore I had a pretty good birds nest going in my lines.

As a way to improve my board skills I got my nephew to give me a few pulls behind the jet ski over the next few days. I don’t know if it will help or not but it certainly can’t hurt. All-in-all, it was a good vacation and even better that I got to do some kiting. Hope to see you on the water soon.

Found new kiteboarders in western ND but looking for more

Just by chance I met a fellow kiteboarder yesterday. He said he and his son are getting into it. So that brings the number of kiteboarders in western ND to six that I know of. Hey, the more the merrier! If you are looking to get into this sport comment here and we can talk off-line. We will all benefit from a few more folks doing the sport out here. We can learn from each other and help each other out. Besides being more fun kiting with someone it is safer as well.

November snowkiting

If you are looking to get your snowkite fix, check out North Dakota. We got a good dump this weekend. Between 6 and 18 inches fell across Western ND on Saturday. Add to that some decent Sunday winds and we have the make-up of some really good kiting. If I wasn’t laid up sick right now I would certainly be out getting in my first snowkite session of the season. Maybe you can enjoy it for me and I’ll catch up with you next time.

Kiteskiing vs. kiteboarding on snow

Obviously, both work. You can find an abundance of examples of each. But which one should you do? I think it depends on your background. If you are solid at either one, do that. Just like in the downhill environment they each have advantages and that is what I am going to quickly look at.

Kiteboarding:
I think the advantage here would be body position. Riding heelside puts you in a position to face the kite. You don’t have to twist to put both hands on the bar and your harness is facing the kite. This puts you in a relaxed position and allows the harness to do what it was designed to do in a comfortable way. The board does have the disadvantage when you need to get move around without the kite’s power moving you. Just like in the downhill world, if you need to cross flat ground or go uphill for any distance it is difficult to do strapped in.

Kiteskiing:
You can walk in skis without taking them off. If you are out of position or even when you are setting up your gear in deep snow, you can easily get around with the skis on. The disadvantage is you’re body is always a little twisted. To edge your skis they have to be perpendicular to the kite lines and your hips will be following your skis. This means the harness will likely be more closed to the lines than you would be on a board. That means the pull on the harness will be greater on one side. Not a big problem but not quite as comfortable as riding heelside on the board where your hips are more open to the lines and the pull. Also, not a big deal but you have to reach across your body with the upwind arm to two-hand the bar.

So which is better? Whichever you like better. The point here is to talk about the difference in case you are on the fence as to which you want to start with.