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 Post subject: INLAND KITING, things to know and think about
PostPosted: Sun Apr 25, 2004 2:17 am 
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Location: Florida
This is an excellent article about some considerations related to kiteboarding on inland lakes with applicability to riding in sheltered coastal waters as well. That is in areas in which the wind recently passed over land. A whole different set of conditions apply to inland/sheltered water riding, key among which is the common gust potential of the wind.

This is a repost from ikiteboarding.com where the article first appeared with slightly different photos at:

http://www.ikiteboarding.com/article_detail.aspx?id=79

Special thanks to the author who wishes to remain anonymous. He has done a nice job of pulling together facts and insghts into the special riding conditions that can apply to inland kiting. This is something we should talk over and contribute ideas/experiences about.


Originally posted at:

http://www.kiteforum.com/phpbb/viewtopic.php?t=2297514

"INLAND KITING

For those of you who live inland or are moved/transferred inland, kiting may still remain an option, however it offers very different conditions to those experienced at the coast. This includes Gustier conditions, unpredictable wind, changing wind directions, and thinner wind, all of which effect the kiting, but should still allow you to have a really great time. Each has their own little quirks and may require some slightly different techniques, but some have positives as well. That doesn’t mean the coastal kiters will ever pack their bags in search of better conditions, on the contrast trust me when I say, the coast is the best and you will miss every moment away from it, but sometimes, you just have to live with the conditions you are given.

Image

I have tried to address each of the problem areas you can expect to encounter, these include:

1. Location
2. Gustier Conditions:
3. Changing Wind Directions/Lulls
4. Unpredictable Wind
5. Thinner Wind
6. Protection

Location

The location can often be the most important part. If you can’t find an area free of obstructions, don’t even try. The wind may be way to gusty anyway and you’ll end up damaging yourself or your kite. Try to avoid areas too close to cities even if it means driving a little further away. You’ll be surprised how much a city can affect the consistency of wind. The ideal is a nice large area for launching and an open dam free of other sailing vessels, particularly if you’re still learning. Its even better when there are no large buildings in site.

Image

Gustier Conditions:

When people say gusty at the coast, they don’t understand gusty inland. A 5-knot wind range is a beautiful clean wind inland, and a 10 knots wind range can sometimes be the norm. By this, I mean, if it’s a 12-17 knot wind, shut up and kite. If its 10-20, live with it, and you’ll start to enjoy it. If its 10 to 22, its still good wind to kite in.

Firstly, launching inland is the same as at the coast. The only recommendations I can make are standard kiting precautions: Keep the kite low (so gusts don’t lift you onto rocks) and try to use an assistant holding your handle on your harness if you are unsure of anything relating to the conditions. Much like you get squalls at the coast, you get 20-knot gusts. Again, always launch downwind of any hard obstacles. These may include Trees, cars, fishermen, rocks, etc. Hopefully if you’re an existing kiter, I’m not telling you anything you shouldn’t know. If you’re a new kiter, or just at very basic stages, I would recommend launching unhooked so you can drop the kite if you get into trouble.

Riding is slightly different but if you’ve ridden gusty conditions at the coast, you won’t have any problems. If you’re a beginner, take out a small kite if you can until you learn the conditions. Rather go downwind and walk back than get overpowered. If you want extra edging skills, take up wakeboarding, but don’t take out big kites until you know what you are doing. If you go downwind, don’t walk back with your kite in the air like you see guys doing on the beach. Its different to the beach and you could get lofted on the way back. Rather drop your kite, wind in your lines, and take 20 minutes longer to go back than chance your life. If you can stay upwind, I would rather recommend going with the largest kite you can hold and being slightly overpowered in the gusts than having to work the hell out of the kite just to stay upwind when you’re underpowered. In a 10-22 knot wind, I’d take out a 16 (see thinner wind as well) because the flat water lets you hold your edge when you are overpowered and believe it or not, 22 knots is about the same as 18 knots at the coast, depending on the altitude of the inland spot. Keep your kite low and keep an eye on the water. You can often see gusts coming on the water, so if this happens get ready to load your edge while you hang on. The gusts are not sudden 5-second gusts and may last up to 5 minutes, so use these opportunities to cruise upwind and if they last long enough, you have gained enough ground to do jumps before some of the lulls arrive. The main tip, again, keep the kite low. The only other advice I can offer is protection. You be surprised how much damage a gust can do if it catches you unaware and breaking a rib on the water during an involuntary low fast jump can be a possibility so wear an impact vest.

Changing Wind Directions/Lulls:

I have put these two together because they often happen at the same time. The wind switch may result in a slight lull depending on where the wind changes direction. Obviously there is very little you can do about a 180-wind switch, but 15-30 degrees seem more the norm and its something you can live with.

If you are kiting in conditions where you can see the wind is switching, there are some precautions you can take and some methods you can use ensure you don’t have problems with your kite dropping out the sky.

The first is ballooning (keeping the kite above you)…don’t balloon. Firstly it’s dangerous for gusts and secondly if the wind is gusty, the chances of the kite hinderburging, or falling out of the sky in a lull/wind direction change is real. If you fall, and are trying to get your board, either get the board on quickly while the kite is above you, or keep it slightly to one side of the window. When I say slightly to one side (and this advice applies ONLY while you are in the water) don’t keep it low, as mentioned above, this is purely a precaution while on land, but slightly higher in the window, about at about 45-60 degree’s.

The reason for this is two fold. If a gust hits it’s not a major if you get lifted slightly on the water, the problem is when the lulls hit and the kite falls out of the sky. Above you, it will fold through itself and leave you with crossed lines…if you’re lucky. If you are not lucky, you could even get tangled in these lines and if the kite happens to power up on the way down, you’re in trouble. Whatever happens, trying to relaunch a kite from this position is not always possible due to tangles, so you might be stuck with a swim. If the kite is slightly to one side, you can sometimes yank on one of the lines, steering it towards the water and if it powers up, it won’t power up directly in the power zone. I use this technique and 90% of the time, I don’t even have to relaunch. The other 10% is usually when the lull is so light, I can’t relaunch anyway. If you’re wondering why you shouldn’t keep it to low to the water, the lulls are sometimes minor and enough to drop the kite into the water, so it gives you a second or two extra on the light lulls.

The reason I have approached the lulls in this manner is the lulls are normally as a direct result of the change in direction. If the wind actually picks up, this is a different story, as you may find the kite in the center of the powerzone with stronger wind. In that case, if you’re overpowered, edge the kite to the edge of the window or do an enema stop (sliding on your ass) and use the kite at the edge of the wind to get yourself back to shore. If the wind is too strong, dump the kite or put it on the leash, its not going anywhere, it’s a dam. Whenever you come into shore, try to dump your kite close to shore unless you have someone who can catch your kite and someone to hold you. The inland shore are often muddy offering little resistance against the kites pull, even with booties. If you feel you are overpowered and you don’t have the people to hold you, dump your kite a safe distance from shore. There is nothing worse than being dragged over rocks overpowered while someone is running to try catching your kite, and you’ll probably end up tearing your kite anyway.

Image

Unpredictable Wind:

One of the most frustrating parts for any inland kiter is the unpredictable wind. You can take a 2-hour trip and find no wind. The next weekend, there is wind and you’re not there. Its one of those frustration you live with. If you can’t, you’ll learn to or give up the sport. If you have the funds, try to install a wind device connected to a phone. They cost anywhere from $500 to $30000 depending on the model. It’s a safe option and at least you don’t drive through based on a non-kiters perception of the wind. He may think 5 knots is a strong wind. If you don’t have this option, learn to study the conditions, its not very difficult. Where we kite, a cold front almost always brings through a strong wind, so if we see a cold front coming, we know we have good kiting for 2-3 days before the front hits. These happen almost twice a week so our winter kiting is great. In summer, well, we wakeboard or phone the wind metre and see when the wind is happening. Its frustrating, but we kite inland, its one of the sad things you live with. These conditions I am referring to are local, so keep an eye on your conditions, and try to find a surface wind prediction based on synoptic charts, not the average weather bureau. The average weather bureaus are terrible when it comes to wind. Airports can sometimes work, but they are not always close to kiting spots. A website like http://www.csag.uct.ac.za/Forecasts.html is a good example of synoptic based wind predictions and our experience with this site is about 90% accurate.

Believe it or not, this photo is the calm before the storm, so smooth a wakeboarder would be in love, but the wind blew 20 knots in the afternoon as predicted.

Image

Thinner Wind

The wind inland may be a lot thinner than the coastal wind, so don’t just pull out your 16m in 10 knots and expect to go. Its very different depending on the altitude. Where we kite, 21/22 is like 17/18 at the coast and I need 10 knots to stay upwind where I need 8 knots at the coast. Its something you’ll get the hang of, but don’t be surprised when you suddenly find out you can hold a 16m at 22 knots AND you’re only 70kg’s. Your skill hasn’t miraculously improved overnight and whatever you do, don’t try going back to the coast and pulling out your 16 in 22 knots or you’ll be in trouble.

Image

Protection

Protection inland is more of a requirement than at the coast due to the gusty conditions. We try not to let people without helmets go out and I always advise impact vests. Booties are a nice to have but will save your feet from thorns. Often guys use leashes inland due as the gusty conditions make body dragging upwind difficult, but if you do, a helmet is not optional, wear it. I have seen more than 5 people lofted inland, some coming down on there heads, so believe me when I say it happens often. Some were experienced kiters so this is not a beginner thing.

Well, if I haven’t scared you off, its time to get out there and have fun."


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