Monday, September 19, 2005

Gamboling at the 'Stick

After waiting for a couple hours, I decided to gamble on wind coming up & we headed to Candlestick Point. At first the wind was very light & I had a hard time flying my 12 m kite at all. Peter, my instructor, told me to pull the bar in (power up) on the down stroke and push out (de-power) on the upstroke. This worked wonders. I did not get the timing right with reliability, but when I did my figure 8s produced much smoother power and the kite moved up faster.
The first part makes sense: powering the kite in light air produces more power. The second is not so obvious: by de-powering, the kite flies more efficiently & gets up high for a power stroke faster. (Perhaps it just makes the turn faster?)
Unfortunately, it was clear right away that the session would be short: the tear in my left abdominal was getting worse.
Soon the wind came up a bit; by that time my kite handling had improved a bit so that once again the problem was too much speed. Eventually Peter succeeded in getting me to use very subtle movements and to realize that I really did not need anything but one minor down stroke as long as my board position was good. When I did this, it was like Eos intervened. Everything was easy & I had good control -- until I didn't have good control. I think that if I had also made my hand position narrower when I no longer needed an aggressive initiation, I would have not worked the kite by accident so much -- that is where my excessive speed came from.
Looks like its almost time to try a smaller board. That would make edging much easier.
On the delta I've been riding a North Toro '05. That is their school kite, but many riders like it in the surf because its so stable. The fact is I've been dumbfounded by how stable it is -- that stability was especially useful in improving my starts because it makes it much easier to maintain good body position if you don't have to do anything to control the kite. [The stable delta winds also help] At the 'stick I was using a Cabrinha Contra '05. Nominally the kites are quite similar -- school kites from two leading kite companies. However, the Contra flies much higher & must have much better upwind potential. It flies so high, its hard to see it without cramping ones neck.
I called the session off way too early, but my gut was getting worse & with Peter's help I'd moved up a step. I've been really lucky to get such good instruction from Sandy & Donnie at Ki'topia and Peter at Kite Wind Surf .