First Annual Chicken Loop Event is a Success

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.

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Chicken Loop – early risers on day 2

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.

 

 

 

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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.

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

 

 

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.

2013 Gathering at Mille Lacs

I know it is a little late notice this year but I didn’t see this until now. The yearly Gathering at Mille Lacs is July 26-28. If you don’t know what this is, here is a little background from Lakawa on the event.

Every summer the wind community has set a time to “gather” in one location around the winds. We are fortunate to have a lot of options but this one time is when we all try to make it together. Lake Mille Lacs provides the best opportunity for us. See this link for some history: http://www.lakawa.com/phpBB/search.php?st=0&sk=t&sd=d&sr=posts&keywords=gathering&fid%5B0%5D=1&start=660
Learn More:

Kite tubing – the next big thing?

Want to know what the next big thing in kite sports is going to be? Well don’t look here. But if you just want something wacky to do you could give this kite tubing thing a try.  Yes, kite tubing.  North Dakotans are crazy and this is proof. It all stems from the sub-zero winters. Darin from Mandan is credited for starting this new sport. He found a way to have summer fun in a new way with his Hydra 300 and an inflatable tube.  As he put it, “Ya the tube is ok, but needs fins or a rudder because once and in awhile it would spin me around haha.” I especially like the person hanging onto the back of the tube working as ballast and a rudder. So this might not take off the way kiteboards have but fun is fun. Just be safe.

kite tubing
Kite tubing in central ND

The first ever Event at Huff Hills

Come join in the most extreme obstacle race to hit ND! The Event at Huff Hills Ski Area will feature nearly 3 miles of course, with 12 crazy and challenging obstacles! This race isn’t about getting in shape, or changing your life, it’s about having FUN! Join us on June 29th, and get ready to have your best day EVER! Race will be broken into waves, with the first wave tentatively scheduled to depart at 3:00 PM.  The race will continue all day, and will feature great music, food and of course beer!  A portion of the proceeds will support the Bismarck Cancer Center to promote the fight against cancer, and support LOCAL cancer survivors!

This race will feature 12 obstacles that will push you! Information on obstacles will be released soon, but two obstacles will remain secret until race day! You won’t know what to expect until you hit the course!

The race will be timed using chip timing, so registration will close prior to the race. We will accept walk-up registrations on the day of the event if you do not wish to be timed.

Medieval Rush – July 6, 2013

This is off topic but worth noting as an event for those who enjoy crazy sports in ND. The event will be held in Bismarck, ND, July 6, 2013. Check the website for more details.

The Medieval Rush, an All-Terrain run that tests your Guts, Glory, Honor and Medievalism will be held in Bismarck. The conquering ground is 5.1ish Kilometers with a grueling set of obstacles.  The Moat of Mud, Hells Fires, Castle Walls and Barbed Wire Frenzy are just a few. Other events to participate in during the day are Team Tug O War, Stone Throw, Tomato Toss and Medievalist Man. Medieval Rush is a day full of entertainment where participants and spectators alike have a Medieval Time of Sport, Food, Music, Live Full Medieval Fights and BEER.

Location:

Missouri Valley Fairgrounds
3805 E Bismarck Expressway
Bismarck, ND 58504

More Info: