Get your friends together for a gathering of western ND kiteboarding enthusiasts. If you or someone you know is interested in kiteboarding, this is the place to be. Whether you just want to watch, learn, or show-off your latest tricks. All levels of riders are welcome. This is a great opportunity for those who haven’t kited but are interested in learning about the sport as well. We would love to have you join us.
This is an informal gathering with the purpose of getting kiters together to ride, share stories, gear gawk and whatever else. If that isn’t enough, we will hook you up with some stickers or something. Come camp for the whole weekend or just show up for a few hours. Feel free to bring the family for an outdoor weekend. Tell your friends and neighbors.
Saturday: Meet around 10 am by the north side boat launch at the shelter to get things kicked off.
There is no registration so don’t worry if you miss the meet up times. We will get together with those who are around, evaluate the wind and make a plan for the first ride. If the wind doesn’t provide for upwind travel or people can’t stay up wind we can arrange for a down-wind ride and transportation to get those folks back. Camp sites are available free of charge on a first come basis. Some sites have vault toilets. The boat launches provide areas for gear set up and staging.
Don’t kite but have a boat and want to be a part of the event. That would be great. Sometimes things don’t go as planned and folks end up in situations that would make it useful to have a boat – like no wind or getting blown off course. Having someone to pick you up is nice.
North Dakota’s premiere kiteboarding extravaganza took place this past weekend on New Johns Lake, near Wilton, ND. Kite enthusiasts arrived from across the state to take part in the event which was in its inaugural year. The success of this year’s events has led the planning dept. to conclude there will definitely be a year two event.
Ok, that last paragraph may have stretched the truth a bit. While I think it is ND’s premiere event, as far as I know it is the only one. We did get a rider from Fargo and one from Beach. For those of you who don’t know, those two cities are on the bookends of the state. So technically, we did get riders from across the state. I feel better that now that you know the truth. It really was a better turn out than I thought it would be. At one point, there were six kites on the water and possibly a trainer up on land. I had expected to spend the weekend by myself so having other riders was a bonus.
The event lacked sponsored riders, big banners, live music and crowds. But Mac Kites and Kiteboarding.com provided some swag and riders appreciated their generosity. So to them I say, thanks for supporting our event. A couple guys noted the missing kite girls, open bar and band. To those folks I say, I will see what I can do for year two.
What about the weather, right? Day one started off with some folks arriving to New Johns about 3. It was rainy and cool but the wind wasn’t bad. A couple guys got out for a session. I arrived about an hour to late to take part. It rained most of the rest of the evening.
Day two started out sunny and nice. It really would have been a great day for anything but wind sports. A group of folks met up in the morning. They set up gear and waited for the wind. You all know the drill. Eventually, someone got overly confident or bored and decided to go for it. Of course that is enough to get the rest of the folks going and then it was on. Six kites got into the water. The experienced rider with the sixteen got off pretty good. The less experienced riders and smaller kites ended up floating quite a bit. One poor soul ended up on an island. In his defense, he couldn’t have known it wasn’t the main land at the time.
Two light wind sessions were ultimately had that day. Boat support was provided for the first one but an incident with gas evaporation led to a lack of support for the second try. There was some trainer kite action and some new interest in the sport. Hopefully that leads to new members of the growing ND kite scene.
As a side note, if anyone who was camping on the lake that weekend is reading this. For those of us who missed our target quitting area and washed up on camp sites not our own, I thank you for allowing us to temporarily disturb your solitude while we waited to get picked up. Also, thanks to the local popo who helped us round up our lost sheep.
Day three started with promise. The two folks that camped on the lake took advantage of a short burst of 13mph winds. They got in a quick session and attempted another after a third kiter arrived. But that was cut short due to a lack of wind.
New friends and discoveries were made. Many were surprised how well the lake works for kiteboarding. The camping was great. Minus the short rain and lack of wind, the weather was good too. No one was hurt and a board that was lost was found by friendly campers who were happy to return it the owner. The trip might sell some light wind kites so if you are a dealer and want to provide a Chicken Loop discount… just saying.
For a final point of business, several wives asked what a chicken loop is and why on earth we would call the event that? I just said I didn’t think it was appropriate to use the name of the other piece of kite gear I wanted to use. That is an inside joke for the kiters out there.
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.
What do you do when it is four below zero, the wind is blowing at 16 miles an hour and the wind chill is about twenty-five below. Well, if you are from the South you probably think the Mayans were just a little off on their dates and the end is here now. But if you live in western ND you head out to the lake to play in the snow. And that is just what this nodaker did this afternoon.
Mother nature hasn’t been good to snow kiters the last two winters. She has been stingy with the snow cover and the winds never seem to be right. A winter storm promising ten inches of snow was what the weather man was spewing all week. But those guys were wrong as usual. Instead, we here in the middle of the state were left with another sunny, cold Saturday afternoon. Those of us who grew up in the frozen north know the perfect days for anything are limited and if you wait for those you won’t be doing anything but waiting. So making lemonade out of frozen lemons, I decided to head out into the cold and get some snow kiting done.
I couldn’t convince anyone to join me in the sport but I did have a friend come out to watch and loan me his GoPro which you will see some of once I get the footage. While getting rigged up my hands got a little cold but after that I was actually sweating by the time I was done. You collect some pretty good cold weather gear after four decades in the tundra.
Anyway, the wind was WNW averaging 16 when I started and gusting over 20. One of the things I like about the setting up on a frozen lake is that I can use my ice screw. A fellow kiteboarding buddy sold me on of his extras and I love these things. Sure there are ways of securing your kite when not being used on land but I haven’t found anything as nice as these screws. They go in and out of the ice very easy. They are as secure as if they were in concrete. Getting back to the story, I ran my lines downwind of the ice screw and locked in my leash to the loop on the screw. This will keep the kite depowered once I hook it up. Then I got my kite ready. I inflated the struts in the warmth of my basement and partially inflated my main bladder there as well. I do this so I don’t have to spend the time pumping in the cold – that is when your fingers start to freeze. So I didn’t have to spend much time blowing up the kite. Next I connected the kite with the nose facing the wind. This is a little more difficult when you don’t have it anchored like I do in this case. The important thing to think about when the kite is facing the bar is that you don’t get your outside lines up on the side of the kite. They should end up underneath the kite and not tangled with your inside lines. Then I went back to the ice screw, picked up my bar and steered the kite over to the edge of the wind window and set it down to rest while I finished getting ready. This is another nice thing about the ice screw. If something were wrong with my lines I am not really at any risk by testing it attached to the screw. Sure, if something went wrong with the leash I could lose the kite completely but I am not in any way attached to the kite yet. This way, if something is wrong with the lines and the kite goes crazy, I am safe and can just let go of the kite. Then I can walk down to it and fix the situation.
Ok, so I am geared up and ready to go. I just loop in to my harness and attach the leash when the moment is right. Don’t mess this up or your kite is leaving without you. The snow was crusty on top from thirty mile an hour winds the day before. There was about four inches of snow covering most of the ice with much more near the leeward edges of the dry land. A few bare spots of ice existed but they were small and created no issues. Once or twice that crusty snow grabbed my skis and pulled me over but it wasn’t bad. The sun was out and the wind was a nice speed for the day. I had a good time working on fluid turns, jumping and just going fast down wind. Of course, that means going upwind later and that was a chore today. I finally got the feel of jumping without turning. I could only get it going one direction and I can’t really describe the feeling. I just played with it until I could feel and identify the right time when the kite was powered enough to pull it off. Once I could feel it, I would apply a little extra pressure under foot and pull back on the bar. Then get ready for the ride. I was taking it easy since there wasn’t a lot of snow in some spots so I can’t say I got any huge air but I had fun and got a little better at it.
Well, that is it for today.
Don’t be afraid of cold temps. You will be working enough to stay warm.
Get as much of your set up done indoors as you can.
Get an ice screw if you are going to be on the frozen water.
In town the air was hot and the wind was blowing so I texted some friends about going kiting. I heard back from one right away. He picked me up after work and we headed to New Johns Lake NE of Wilton, ND. This is my first time kiteboarding since my trip to Texas back in April. The lake was pretty dead – just a couple boaters out. Winds were really gusting out of the SE. We left transportation at the West end of the lake and took off from a campsite at the east side. So our plan was to just go downwind from our starting point back to the public access. Speeds at the beach were 10-18 mph but I think they were stronger on the water as there was a little bit of a rise blocking the wind where we took the reading. I was on my Best Kahoona 13.5 and my friend was using a 19 Flysurfer. I took off first and he assisted my launch. Right away I felt overpowered so I brought it down and he grabbed the kite so I could make some adjustments. I changed the rigging on the kite by moving my steering lines down the pigtail on the kite – basically making the back lines longer. Then I relaunched with his help and that felt a lot better. I had some trouble getting a good start. It took me a little bit to get used to the gusty wind. I don’t know if I ever really will. After a bit I got up and had covered some good distance before crashing. I was getting downwind. In fact, I was going a lot faster than I wanted to. I was sort of on the edge of controlling my board although looking at me you probably wouldn’t have noticed the control. I knew I needed to get more on edge but the gusty winds made it hard to keep any consistency going. Once I got going pretty good the only trouble I had was losing the wind but still going fast on the board. So a couple times the kite went down and my speed carried me in front of the kite or downwind of it. This results in a nervous waiting game to see if the kite is going to roll. The first time it didn’t but the second time it did and I got my lines inside out. I tried to mess with my bar to get things straightened out with no luck. The kite was laying nice on the water at the edge of the window so it was ok. I thought about bringing it over head to the other side and dragging back to shore but didn’t want to chance something getting worse. So I crawled on top of the kite and intended to ride it to shore like a floaty toy. It was slow going and luckily some young guys in a boat picked me up and gave me a lift back to shore. That was nice because I was going to end up on the wrong side of the lake riding the waves. It wasn’t really a concern as we had a plan for a pick up in case that happened. A walk would have been in necessary but it wouldn’t have been to bad.
It was fun. I am not sure what I learned today so I don’t have a lot to pass on. I guess the one thing I would say is cover your bases before you start out like we did. No matter where we ended up we would have been ok.
Promoting the sport of kiteboarding in central ND – come out and join us.