I am playing around with wave riding. My waves are either direct sideshore or slightly side-onshore.
Watching others and videos, seems there's two ways to attack it:
1) very active kite to pull you through both top and bottom turns...big moves, big spray, though not really "surfing" the wave
2) park the kite, let it drift, while you surf the wave ... use the wave energy to propel you, not the kite's pull.
2nd option is definitely more challenging. Hard to time it right. And also, if wave is too small or has no power, eventually need to power up the kite ... timing is crucial, or it stalls and you have no forward momentum.
So....question for the wave pros....in side-onshore wind, when kite is parked and drifting, is your kite facing out into open water or towards shore? Pointing to sea feels safer, as you can exit out the back any time, but it seems you eventually overtake the kite angle and lose power. Pointing to shore means kite can keep up with you better, but then when it powers up, you may rocket towards shore ahead of the wave....which in this case is pretty close, not a lot of distance to play with should things go wrong (as they seem to in wave riding).
What do you do in this situation? [and sorry if a dumb question]
Good question, but I'll answer it a little different to the way you've asked it. Basically, in side onshore wave riding you will find it a lot easier to ride the waves on an upwind tack (kite parked toward beach). This will keep power in the kite making it less likely to fall. To avoid being pulled off the wave try to control your speed on the wave, control position on wave with subtle board direction changes, and trimming the kite. Personally, I like a kite (Ocean Rodeo Razor) with fast turning and a lot of depower for side onshore. It's a lot harder to ride waves on your downwind tack- in the KSP extra difficulty points are awarded for riding on the downwind tack. Why is it more difficult? Basically, the wave is travelling in the same direction as the kite so there is less actual wind. In my experience, you need pretty damn strong wind (25- 35 knots) to have a good session riding waves on your downwind tack (kite parked away from beach).
I decent waves (double overhead) and light wind (15 knots or less) it will become very obvious which way to ride the waves. Get on a wave, riding on your upwind tack, then turn your kite in the opposite direction and cutback on the wave and watch as you kite drops out of the sky!!! Nothing subtle about it.
Thanks Gavin, that makes complete sense, and connects with how I'm thinking about this.
In the situation you describe, it's clear that you'd need the kite pointing towards shore ... and possibly loop it to keep it flying.
I posted this after a session with small wind waves, not real swell, and breaking quite close to shore. To surf them, I believe you need the kite flying toward shore, accepting the risk of accelerating towards the rocks. Gotta pay to play!
Personally, I always try to play without having to pay.
Looping the kite is definitely a part of wave riding in those conditions. It's about kite positioning. Sometimes a quick pivotal loop is what you want, and sometimes a long drawn out loop with more pull is what you need. Looping the kite while waveriding adds a new element and again timing is everything. When it works out it's magic.