Sunday, November 20, 2016

2016 11 19 - Cruising at Beaumaris

Just enough wind for the new Switchblade at Beaumaris.  Met up with Grant, Stu and Pete for a sweet session on a beautiful day.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

2016 11 13 - Brighton with Job

Great early morning session at Brighton.  Wind was north westerly, which made for some great flat water.  New kite is super powered - it gusted up to a bit over 25 and was at times hard to hold down.  Had to go for quick release on landing as the lines are so hard to hold with the waxy coating.

Monday, November 7, 2016

2016 11 05 Surfs Hampton ?

Arrived at Hampton with a steaming 28 knots coming through after a windy night - and there was a surfer out.  Nice little swell and solid wind made me put up the little kite - which was great fun, some nice big airs and lots of waves to ride made it quite an adventure.  Stu and Anthony arrived, after which we did a tour down to Green point - the waves down there seemed even bigger which was fun.  It was nothing compared to the monsters we were out in at Ocean Grove - nice to have a semblence of control back.  Great session after which I was completely knackered.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

2016 10 31 - Big surf at Ocean Grove

After an epic day out the day before, we were keen to have a somewhat lower key session.  But that is not what nature had in store for us.

We waited for Pete to grab a new board, then headed to Ocean grove to grab some of the 17 knot westerly.  We were greeted at the beach by absolutely massive surf.  It was the biggest surf I'd ever been out in, kind of scary.  I got my new kite up and the wind was fickle - slightly cross offshore - crappy wind conditions for big surf.  Ideally you want solid wind - this was anything but.

I did a couple of runs and realised that I was losing ground - not enough wind and the big surf pushing me down the beach.  I decided to do a long run out the back, so I had to jump over some big waves.  Pretty exciting/terrifying - the waves were huge.  I was a little too intimidated to actually surf any of them  - I didn't want to kill my kite.  I took a long tack and again - couldn't make up any ground.

After a while I headed out towards two waves breaking over each other.  I tried to jump them - although I got pretty high it was not quite high enough - so I hit them at full speed (or they hit me).  It was like hitting a wall - I had the wind knocked out of me, then got tumbled under water.  I wanted to keep the power in my kite so I looped it - but to no avail, I could feel the lines go slack and wrap around the bar, while I was being held underwater.  I came up to see my kite in the water, the next wave about to hit and a mess where my bar and lines were.

I swam with the kite whenever I could to keep the tension off so that it didn't get busted from the waves.  Washed in to shore and decided to let nature win the battle.  Kite was good, I was fine except for bruised ego, and looking forward to a benign kite back in the bay!

2016 10 30 - Hurricane at Point Lonsdale

The day had been absolutely perfect - an early morning kite, a magnificent day at Bremlea beach with the family, boogie boarding, suping, having a great time with the kids.  The wind was forecast to come in for the afternoon - so the stars were aligned.  What could possibly go wrong ?  A freakin hurricane could, that's what.

With the ladies and kids headed to the Queenscliff market, Pete and I had the afternoon to ourselves, with a 25-30 knot breeze on the go.  We checked a couple of locations at Ocean Grove, before making the call to head to Point Lonsdale surf club.  I'd walked past it with Darren a couple of months before, beautiful water and some nice breaks - I thought it would be perfect for us.

First impressions were fantastic - strong wind, good surf but with some ominous clouds on the horizon.  We'd been out for our share of storm fronts so it did not appear anything to be particularly worried about.  On setting up the wind felt very heavy, I toyed with depowering the kite - but decided not to as there is nothing worse than not having enough power in the waves.  Turns out there actually is.
Pete on a wave, me in the background (credit Pete Campbell)

With kite in the air I got a sense of how heavy it was.  I warned Pete - depower as much as you can, it felt like at least 30 knots.  I asked him to hang around as I might bring the kite in to depower - but fun can kind of get in the way of best laid plans.  Once on the water it was amazing, great waves, good solid jumps and sparkling water.  I probably had the best surf kite I've ever had, I managed to really cut back into some solid water and hit the lip beautifully - I was having a ball.  I abandoned any thought of depowering the kite - why change anything when you are having this much fun.

About 30 mins in I got a warning.  A big gust came through that I could barely handle.  It pushed me off my line a bit, but soon dissipated and the wind dropped a little.  Overhead a big black cloud was going over, I figured the main frontal part of the wind was possibly over.  About 10 mins later, I got the wake up call - wind was on and here to stay.  It hit 50-55 knots and was very consistently strong. I'd been working my way upwind to stay the hell away from the rip (the tidal flow that goes through the heads of port phillip bay), the heavy wind pushed me massively down wind.  I was trying everything I could to hold my ground but to no avail.

At this time,  I looked out to sea and saw Pete was getting smashed. He had gone kms out from shore, and it looked like he had lost his board and was massively overpowered.  He was so far out there was no way I could help him without booking a one way ticket to Wilsons prom.

I tacked back in to shore trying to hold the kite as well as I could.  I was just south of Point Lonsdale surf club, and could see the lighthouse - a place I definitely wanted to avoid with its rocks and impending channel.  I headed in to shore and toyed with yelling to the family on the beach to land my kite.  Decided against it as it is mostly more dangerous than helpful if people have no idea about kites.  I kicked off my board onto the sand, tried to stand up but got dragged on my stomach for about 20m along the beach.  It was emergency time.  I finally got some amount of control, jumped back in the water to get more resistance and deployed the emergency release.  I always try to avoid the emergency release - I've had one fail on me about 6 years ago and I almost lost my kite.  On this occasion it worked a treat, the kite fell out of the sky, right into the water, to allow me to pounce on it and let it down to make the danger stop.  But the adventure wasn't over yet.

While on my way in, I watched Pete seemingly get dragged through the heads.  From my perspective, he appeared to be body dragging out of control, then unexplainably it looked like he hit emergency - I saw his kite drop from the sky.  I thought that he had ditched his kite in the middle of the heads - a dire situation.  With a powered kite, he would have made Sorrento pretty quickly - about 15 mins by my guess.  With a ditched kite, he would be stuck in the channel for a very long time - an emergency.  I quickly packed down my kite to prevent any further chaos, then ran to grab out bags.  I headed back to the stair to run and call 000 when Pete emerged from around the corner.  I was very thankful to see him alive and well.  He had landed in the last beach before the heads - having lost his board and had an epic.

Pete body dragging in huge wind (credit Peter Campbell)

I've been out in some crazy conditions - but this really takes the cake.  The wind measurement was 55 knots - about 100km/h. The minimum for a category 1 hurricane is 64 knots - and I can guarantee I would not want to be out in one !  The main learning for me is the combination of a new location, not knowing the intesity of the approaching front and not much margin for error will be avoided in future.  The upside - my emergency works a treat - thank goodness I keep the maintenance on these kites up to date.

2016 10 30 - Ambitious Barwon river session

For the Melbourne cup weekend, we had decided on mixing it up a bit from the standard Inverloch 4 day weekend.  We headed to Barwon heads, a place with a few more shops for the ladies and some new kiting locations for the boys.
I woke early to a fairly strong north westerly, so I thought I'd give the river a go.  I woke up at 630, checked it out, then tried to wake Pete with an SMS.  No dice as he'd been up playing pokemon!  I waited around until 715, then went solo over to the south of the Barwon river.  Luckily the tide was out a little, so I had a limited amount of sand to set up on.  Wind was intermittently howling through, so I went small kite.  Once up in air, I got the first signs that this wasnt such a great idea.  Very up and down.  Hit the water and it was all over the place, enough wind for a jump sometimes, then I'd have to loop the kite to get enough power to land.  I did about 6 runs before starting to get close to the powerlines.  Lesson learned - not worth kiting there on a northerly.