12th Annual Mille Lacs Summer Gathering

Hey fellow kiteboarders. Looking to get some riding in while hanging out with other kiters. Well, it is that time of summer for the Mille Lacs gathering. The dates are July 29-31. 

Here is what I got off the Lakawa Facebook page for details: 
I’ll need verification but something like 12th annual summer gathering of the wind souls. Coming from near and far to gather for an opportunity to share the wind. We have an abundace of kiteboarding locaitons and subsequently don’t get together as often. Bring your frisbee, dog, mistress, family, banjo, hacky sack, big cooler, slack line and most importantly smiles. It’s a unique tradition for the untrained eyed to witness with all the kiters, gear, stories, etc. Gear will be for sale, some for demo, and Elvis may show up wearing an inflatable flamingo. Several securing first come first served lake shore camping for $20/nt https://www.google.com/maps/place/22700+327th+Pl,+Aitkin,+MN+56431/@46.3434448,-93.5333498,590m/data=!3m2!1e3!4b1!4m5!3m4!1s0x52b168e17887a725:0xb34f43331005edf8!8m2!3d46.3435304!4d-93.5311775 

They may be short on firewood but the tribe and vibe is inbeatable. This is the one time a year I sleep in a tent! I’m flying in a National Team Rider Kevin Hoye to help with a kiteboarding foil clinic. Forecast is keeping us all in suspense but we’ve learned it’s better to show up and bring the stoke. Lots of 2017 gear to show off and plenty of gabbering about the techy side of kiting. OneWheel available to demo. Anyone have a grill? A teddy bear?

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What learning to kiteboard looks like – just starting out

Below is a video I found on YouTube. It is funny because it is how it is when you are learning. Kiteboarding can be a frustrating sport to learn. It isn’t for the faint of heart. It takes some determination and maybe a little something wrong in the head to get through the early stages. Seriously though, it is fun. Lessons are worth the investment early on.

Watch the video on YouTube

Now that is Independence Day

It was a couple days before the 4th of July but kiting is a great way to celebrate independence. It is truly liberating when you are on the board, the kite is parked and you are just having fun. The rest of the world seems to melt away when the kite is up. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that I am still scared I am going to kill myself doing this on the water. That is the best of kiting but it doesn’t come without its frustrations too. On this day I had both.

Watch a video from the session!

I went out on Big Cormorant Lake and measured the wind at a fairly steady 13-14mph. So I grabbed my gear and headed to the other side of the lake as the wind was on-shore where I was at. Several of the places I wanted to go were packed with day-use families and partying young folks so I headed for the only spot I could think of that would have a place to gear up and get out. This was an empty lot up for sale so I was hoping they wouldn’t mind if I used it for ten minutes while I geared up. It really felt to me like the wind had come up more and I had only brought one kite in the boat over with me – my 13.5m Kahoona. Thinking the wind had improved, I rigged for less power or set my lines long. This will come into play in a bit.

On a side note, someone did come walking over from the nearest cabin so I was expecting to get an ear full of how I shouldn’t be there. Luckily this guy, who also owns the land for sale, was a pilot. So he had an interest in what I was trying to do and even offered me his beach to use. We chatted very briefly and I put the kite in the water.

This was on the South shore with a South wind so I drift launched the kite from the beach. For those who haven’t done that much before, this can be more problematic than you would think. There was a wind shadow from the trees so the kite was manageable. The problem, and I have noticed this before, is that the wind swirls a bit near the shore. While the kite starts to go out just fine it sometimes tries to come back to shore. This messes up lines and anytime my lines are loose I get nervous. With careful patience I was able to get past the wind shadow. I was thinking that pilot watching must have thought I had no idea what I was doing. I slowly dragged out into the lake for a good thirty minutes. Every few minutes I would test the wind with little success. A couple times the kite fell behind me and even rolled once. Luckily, I didn’t get the lines inverted. I hate that. I am certain the wind died as I got out in the bay. There were white caps on the way over but now nothing.

Eventually the wind came back and by this time I was in the middle of the lake. Big Cormy is a pretty big lake too. I got the kite up and was by working it hard was able to keep it up. You will see that if you check out the video. My trim strap wouldn’t hold so I couldn’t generate any more power that way. I was really wishing I had rigged for more power at this point. The wind did get better as the session continued. I was cold and tired from working the kite and then the wind got just right and things got fun. That is when I was feeling that freedom I mentioned earlier. Finally, after all that work, there was a pay off. I actually had a pretty good ride. I hadn’t been on a board since last summer so I was happy with my board skills. There was a little air now and then.

If it hadn’t taken so long to get things right I would have liked to spend a little more time trying some things out. I was at the North end of the lake now and had an opportunity to ride into a clear shoreline and again use the wind shadow of the trees to shut it down. So I rode in and had no troubles rolling up the lines and closing down the kite. My ride was following along so they pulled up and picked me up. Away we went to clean up and call it a day.

Something about prairie winds

The predictions were for snow early and wind about 2. The snow was more like oatmeal but the wind did come up quickly about 3pm. This is a reality of our sport out here on the prairie. People often say the wind blows all the time here. I tell them to buy a kite and it will stop. Of course the wind doesn’t cease but owning a kite increases your awareness to the wind and the quality of the wind. You start to understand even when the wind is blowing it may be too light or dangerously on the other end. It isn’t uncommon to get what happened today – the wind was still as Mona Lisa’s smile for most of the day. Within an hour or two it quickly rose to around 16mph with gusts over 20mph. Then, like an angry toddler given an iPad, the wind quickly stilled as darkness fell. In just a couple hours the tantrum was over and so was my kiting session.

Perhaps I should get to the point. All the wind towers dotting the ND prairie confirm this is a windy region (Side note – you do not want to kite into one of those).  But before you join the “wind energy is all we need”  advocates you need to get a kite. You should to do that anyway. The reason I say this is because the wind is really inconsistent out here. It will blow at a perfect 15-20mph while your at work and then drop to zed when your not. Seriously, a flexible schedule is necessary to maximize the use of your kiteboard up here. Unfortunately the wind doesn’t blow just the way we want on the weekends. I have watched blizzards coming in to try and catch that sweet hour or two between flag down and flag ripped off the pole. This isn’t the gulf where the wind makes a decision and sticks with it most of the day. Our wind is variable and gusty. If you want the perfect day you need to be patient, vigilant and opportunistic. You have to watch for those perfect conditions and then drop everything and go when they arrive. If you aren’t so picky, and I am not, you go when you can and make the best of it. And there are many of those days. Don’t worry, once your kite is in the air and your sailing 25mph across a frozen lake, you won’t be thinking “I wish I was back at work.” You will be smiling, relaxed and happy.

Now a note about my session yesterday. The wind came up and the sun was getting ready to go the other way. I quickly grabbed my stuff after work and was on McKenzie Slough in half an hour. I keep my stuff together so I don’t have to look for it when the time is right. The ice was good. The snow cover was patchy but navigable. I forgot my ice screw but at 16mph the setup was pretty easy so it wasn’t necessary. It was a quick session but fun and I got to finally give my 10m Rally a good run. It will take a little getting used to .vs my 13.5m Kahoona. The 10 is quite a bit quicker and surprised me on a couple turns and jumps. Looking forward to the next session to dial in the timing with this kite.

See you out there soon.

Showing the ropes, um, kites to new blood

This past Saturday I met up with a fireman after he had contacted me with interest in learning more about kiteboarding. I gave him some basic info on required equipment and the options within those pieces like kites, harnesses, lines, etc. after we talked for a while I put him on the trainer kite. He caught on quickly and really liked it. Getting out gave me a chance to fly my 9 meter Rally too. I haven’t had a chance to use it yet and have been excited to see how it works compared to my Kahoona. This also gave him a chance to go through the steps of set up and take down of the kite. 

The thing I was most jazzed about was the fact that we might get another kiteboarder in our area. The more the marrier – and safer.

I can’t wait to see him out.

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.

Quick notes on Lake Sakakawea

I often get asked what the big lake is like for kiteboarding. I have not been out on Sakakawea but some kiters got together and hired a trainer (see video below) out of NC to come up for a few days.

Here are some notes from Courtney on the lake:

“I think the best way to Kite on the Biglake is doing a water launch in a pontoon boat or Jetski. With the high water that we had this year most of the beaches are fairly small but 15 miles east of Williston there’s good beach on the North and south side of the lake. The good part of high water is there are numerous days that are large enough to kite on in Highwinds with flatwater. Not good if you can’t ride up wind but if you’re riding up when the bays are great. We launched from shore two days and the third day we did a water launch. I boarded out of the bay at Lunds Landing on Friday with an offshore wind. The way the lake twists and turns if you are in a boat you can always find place with side onshore wind. Both beaches we were on nice sandy beaches.”

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

 

 

Fourth of July Session on Cormorant Lake

Waking after days of gale force winds and 4 foot swells I checked the forecasts for the day. They said the winds would diminish over the course of the day. With kids and chores to do I waited for nap time to go. Unfortunately it was too late. My plan was to drift launch from the South side of the lake and downwind to the North side where we were staying. The launch point is tree lined and when I tried to launch the kite it would slowly get about half my line out and then swirl back to me. After a few tries it got messier and messier. The longer I kept trying the more the wind would die so I got a JetSki ride out towards the middle of the lake. I wound up my lines, left the kite blown up and just held it on the back of the Jetski.
Even out there it was tough to get it up in the air but I have never been accused of giving up easy. It was a lot of work but during the gusts I was able to ride for a bit. After an hour or so I ran out of lake and called it a day. I was happy with the fact that even though I couldn’t stay up on the water, I actually did a pretty good job of controlling the kite. Practice is a good thing so I took some solace in that.