Innaugural flight of the Zephyr 17

Kitable days are limited in ND. Winds, work, family, weather, difficult travel, commitments and a million other things keep us from getting out and riding whenever we want.  Therefore, it is necessary to make the most out of each opportunity. After several days this summer when a 14 wasn’t enough kite I decided if a good deal for a light wind kite came up I would take it. Come November, I ran across a good deal on a demo Zephyr but it sold before I could get the deal done. The sales lady at Kiteboarding.com new I was disappointed and called me back a bit later with the same deal on a new 2016 kite. I was all over that. Fast forward a few months and a couple no-wind failures for a first flight I finally got my chance.

I met a friend at McKenzie Slough. The wind read 15 on average with a high of 18. I am pretty sure it was gusting in the mid 20s by the time I got rigged up. I was hesitant about putting up a 17 in that wind but I really wanted to give my new toy a shot. Justin’s encouragement gave me the juice I needed to blow it up. We decided he would watch for a bit and if I was too overpowered he would help me get it down.

Just a note about the oversized pump – worth it on a big kite like this.

Justin gave me a launch and I was off for first impressions. I was initially surprised by how much control there was over this big kite – especially since this should be the upper wind range for this kite. I was definitely lit completely depowered. The kite was rigged on the middle notch so no tweaking there. I was hesitant to unleash the hounds and found it surprisingly easy to tame this lion. I don’t know if they intended this kite to be flown in 20+ with ND gusts but the kite handled it so I would say it has good depower. After a few overpowered runs back and forth I decided to switch kites so I could work the kite a little more. I dropped the kite with help and switched to a 9. That might give you an idea of the range of the Zephyr. I rode my 9m Rally until my legs and core were shot. We played on the snow drifts for quite a while. I was working on landing my jumps softly rather than the alternative – it feels a lot better. My legs were burning and ready to quit but since the wind had let down a bit, I decided to give the 17 another try. I got a few good airs in and made some fast runs up and down. It was a good day but I was gassed and decided to call it a day before I got hurt.

Takeaways:

  • I like Ozone’s fit and finish. The kite seems solid, durable and there are some nice features like the big valve. Not sure why kite makers don’t have a valve you can lock the hose to either by screwing it in or some other method. Something to prevent hose blow out would seem to be a good thing.
  • I think the Ozone bar is decent. Because the wind was strong I didn’t really play with the power adjustment much.
  • I was surprised by the big Zephyr’s wind range. Although I have tried it around 9-10mph and had trouble getting the kite up. I had hoped it would fly in the 8-9 range.
  • I have heard the kite referenced as being fast for a big kite. I thought it responded a lot like my 13.5m Kahoona. I suppose that comment validates the claims that it flies like a smaller kite. I wouldn’t say is fast or nimble. But I didn’t really expect it to be real agile. I did make a few turns too fast and got downwind of the kite – causing it to fall out of the sky. I didn’t wait for the kite to get around before I started my turn. My Kahoona usually ends up with inverted lines when that happens and the Zephyr did not so I was happy about that.
  • I haven’t found it to be the easiest to launch either. When it is leading-edge down, it takes a little effort to get those big wings turned and off the ground.
  • From what I have experienced thus far, I am thinking this kite has enough range to replace my old 13.5 in most conditions.

 

 

2014 Regatta Update

Calling all kiters! Don’t forget about the Regatta this August 22 and 23 in North Dakota’s Fort Stevenson State Park on beautiful Lake Sakakawea. Kiteboard and other wind riders are welcome. A sign-up is available on the DYC Racing site below but if you don’t want to or forget or whatever just show up on Friday or Saturday and hang out. There are a handful of kiters already planning on coming but you are all welcome. Come to kite or just watch. Just come.

More info:

Hope you can make it up for the fun.

2014 Fort Stevenson Regatta

The sailboat crowd has invited the kiteboarding crowd to join them in their regatta this year. The events take place at the Fort Stevenson State Park on Lake Sakakawea starting Friday, August 22, 2014. This will be a great chance to get together and meet other wind sport enthusiasts. For those just getting into the sport of kiteboarding, this will be a good place to ask some questions and check out gear.

The sailboats will be racing on Saturday with an exhibition area for the kiteboarders. With enough interest we may be able to set up a kiteboard race as well. Without enough interest we will just get together to freeride and hang out. It may be possible to arrange for a professional kiteboard trainer to come out and join us as well if we could get enough interest in that.

There will be Saturday entertainment for those who stick around. Tickets and food will be extra, I will try to have a few bracelets available for sale on the docks for those interested. Those who want to stay in the park should make arrangements through the Fort Stevenson office by calling 701-337-5576.

If you’re interested, sign up through the link below and we’ll make sure your contact info gets filtered to the right folks. Yes this includes the kiteboarders.

Feel free to call if you have questions, comments or ideas,

Josh Wolsky
701-340-1763

Sign Up:

Please sign up for the event so we can get an idea of how many folks are going to show up. It will help organize this and future events.

Sign-up here

Location:

Follow this link to find Fort Stevenson State Park on Google Maps.

Schedule:

Friday, Aug. 22

  • 7:00 pm: Social & Rules Refresher at De Trobian Marina

Saturday, Aug. 23

  • 9:00 am: Skippers Meeting at De Trobian Marina
  • Noon: Race Start at the mouth of De Trobian Bay
  • 7:30pm: Garrison Beach Party at De Trobian Marina with music from Billy D and the Crystals

 

 

Multiple kiteboarders spotted at same time in western ND

Kiteboarders

Kiteboarders are used to sharing the beach with their brethren but in western ND wind lovers are more likely to go it alone. This picture shows three kites which is an unusual site out here on the prairie. But it isn’t like the beach was overcrowded. No, there is a lot of room for more so come join us next time.

Chris, Al and I met up at New Johns Lake, NE of Wilton, ND. We didn’t get a good reading so we aren’t sure what the wind was but our guess was about 15-20 mph with gusts of 25+ when we started about 2 pm. and it went down slowly to probably about 10 mph by 5 . The wind was tough from where we started. We were going to try and stay up wind and if it didn’t work we would just ride down wind and have someone pick us up. That is pretty much what happened. Both Chris and I found the wind going one direction to be nice and very rider friendly but coming back was difficult and we couldn’t get back up-wind. The closer we got back to the South side, where we started, we would lose the wind. There isn’t much out there to block it but it did. So we both ended up down the lake. Chris got a ride back from a nice lady camping along the lake and I got a ride from Al’s wife who was nice enough to come get me. Al didn’t trust the conditions with his kite. He got it in the air but backed it down and elected to go fishing instead. The water temp was warm enough to go without a wetsuit but I wore a shorty anyway.

It wouldn’t be a day of kiting without some kind of story right. I was trying to get upwind of an island and I knew I would be cutting it close  but I really thought I was going to be able to ride the edge of it. See where this is going? I should preface the rest of the story with some background info for those who have not kited in ND. The wind is gusty here. On this day it was more variable than usual. Back to the story. I was edging hard just a few feet from land and the wind died so I wasn’t going to make it anymore. I ditched but not without issue. I did slide across a couple submerged rocks that led to some scrapes on me and the board. The thing that I was most concerned with was the fact that the kite lines were now caught up in the three foot grass leaving he kite hanging out on its own without supervision. The lines were slack and I was worried if the kite powered up it was going to be hard to control the power. I am writing this so you probably already know it turned out ok. Afterwards I asked myself why I didn’t just stop outside of the danger zone and look for another route.  All I could attribute it to was my competitive nature and a need to push my limits. My wife would likely give you a different reason and it would likely rhyme with dupid.

Next time, you should come out and if nothing else, just sit back, enjoy the outdoors and watch the folly.

Possible Event for Western ND

I have been hearing folks say they would like to learn more about the sport of kiteboarding and want to get in touch with area riders. I am thinking it might be time to have Bismarck’s first kiteboarding event. Don’t set your expectations to high but it could be the start of an actual community. Let me know if you have any interest or ideas for a get together.

First winter kiteskiing session with Best Kahoona 13.5

After getting the feel of kiteskiing behind my Hydra I was hooked and had to pick up a bigger kite. I was hesitant to go to big coming from a trainer but I ordered the 2009 Best Kahoona 13.5 from Wind Power Sports. It arrivved and I headed out to Lake Josaphine in ND. The sky was cloudy with some light flurries and wind was light (9-10mph). I checked the ice and found some holes frozen over that were at least a foot deep so I figured it should be safe. Then I got my kite blown up, stretched the lines and connected everything. It took me a couple tries to get it up in the air but it was really pretty easy to launch off the snow. I moved the kite back in forth overhead for a while to get used to the pull and the fying characteristics of this kite. This is the first time I have had the kite out of the bag. 

I don’t have a lot of patience so I quickly got bored flying the kite. So I stepped into my ski bindings to get ready while keeping the kite in a neutral (overhead) position. Then I dipped the kite into the wind window and my skis started gliding across the wind-blown lake snow. The snow wasn’t real hard but blown. It almost always is in ND. Josaphine isn’t a real big lake so I was able to go from edge to edge back and forth pretty easy. I didn’t try to go up or downwind, just across it. This is where I got my first real taste of the depower bar and how to use it that made sense. I had played with it a little while body dragging but it didn’t really make sense to me until using it on the snow. This was a great experience. I didn’t go crazy and found myself using my skis to brake quite a bit so I would need to use the bar more for that but I was happy with my first attempt. The snow started moving in and I needed four wheel drive to get back in to the access of the lake so I had to cut my session a little short. It would have been nice to have someone else there to enjoy it with so if you are in ND and want to kite, let me know.

Buying my first depower kite

While kiteskiing behind my trainer I really got hooked. So I decided to take this sport to the next level and get some real equipment. Unfortunately I didn’t have anyone in my area who kites. So I didn’t have anyone to bounce questions off of about what to buy. I scoured the web and called several dealers looking for answers. This might not be the best way to go about it but I bought my first kite based on advice from dealers and blog posts. From those sources I was able to narrow my choices down to a few options. From there I just looked for the best deal I could find. I ended up going back to the same guy I got my trainer from at Wind Power Sports. I bought a Best Kahoona 13.5. This was not an easy decision.

Picking a kite type:

My original reason for getting into this was to ski in the winter so a foil kite was my original plan. But my research on the web and talking to some dealers pointed me towards an inflatable. Even though I planned to use it mostly in the winter my research showed for a first kite it might be best to get something I could use all year round. This would help with the learning curve by getting used to just one kite. It seemed to make sense at the time. The arguments for greater depower with a LEI over a foil helped too. This means you can use an LEI in a greater wind range than you can of a foil of similar size. Having not used a big foil I can not say if this is true or not but I have to believe the so called experts. I wasn’t excited about blowing up a kite in zero degree or below weather but it isn’t really that bad. Some people blow up their struts at home so they don’t have to do it in the cold. In the end I think you have to decide what is best for you.

Choosing a kite size:

A lot of factors determine the best kite size. Your weight, height, season and the winds you expect to ride in will direct you here. I went with the 13.5 based on the manufacturer’s suggested wind range of 10-20 for the Best Kahoona. This seemed like a pretty reasonable range for my area. This is sold as a beginners kite with good depower and relaunch capabilities. Those were important factors to me. Derrick at Wind Power Sports recommended it with the idea that I would be able to grow into it but not out of it to soon. It was hard for me to imagine going from a three meter to a thirteen but he assured me it would be ok. I was thinking a seven or nine originally but am happy with the thirteen because the winds haven’t been as strong as I thought they would be. Keep in mind I live in one of the most consistently windy spots in the country. In the end it is a personal decision based on where you plan to ride, how you plan to ride and your size. No matter what you decide, just make a decision and get out there.