Author Topic: Ex Windsurfer, now SUP-man tries kite boarding  (Read 4219 times)

Off-Shore

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Ex Windsurfer, now SUP-man tries kite boarding
« on: September 29, 2015, 06:56:11 AM »
Now you can SUP, have you ever thought about ticking off those "waterman" sports. I have, but have not got too far... However this may change if I make it through the next few days in an attempt to master kite surfing while I'm here in Bali for a week.

Day 1. Sign Up. So here I am in Bali to SUP surf (SUS) and there are 20knot winds blowing and not a downwind board in sight. So what to do? I've been coming here for 4 years now to SUS from the Rip Curl School of Surf's Centre in Sanur. It's in a fabulous location with great local and a few overseas staff and they teach surf, SUP, windsurfing and Kite Surfing. I've been wanting to kite surf since I first saw it in the early 90s. But like all things, career and family all took priority and I really had thought that I'd never get a chance.. Some things in life, if you don't get on with them, just never get done.

So there I am talking to the owner of the Rip Curl School of Surf centre in Sanur and he tells me, look, there's enough wind this week. If you start tomorrow and dedicate around 5 hours total for our lessons you'll be kiting by the end of the week. So... Okay I'm here with the family... An hour or two a day could work... So sign me up.
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Off-Shore

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Re: Ex Windsurfer, now SUP-man tries kite boarding
« Reply #1 on: September 29, 2015, 06:59:45 AM »
Day 2. Level 1. Some background. I windsurfed from '83-91; all short board and got to Maui, Lanzarotte, Tiree and sailed mainly on the south and west coasts of England. In Hong Kong, I Hobie Catted from 93-97 and then took up SUP in 2011. Being in my 50s I'd say I am SUP fit but nothing else. So I should be able to kite; right?

Level 1 was spent on land. 2 hours with one other student from Denmark. After reading the theory and realising there are a lot more safety bits and strange names like "donkey dick?" to remember than I thought we get our gear and head out to the beach. We learn how to pump up the kite, until it sounds right (by pinging the blown up part with your finger of course), how to flip it over, lay out and untangle the lines downwind and attach the lines to the kite. Now it's flying time! But not before being shown the quick release functions for the kite and safety line. These really are impressive bits of kit with super simple mechanisms. Hope I'll not have to use them..

We are then given 3m training kites to play with. Mine was white. These have shorter lines. Having had a 1m training kite from Naish for some years which my sons trashed slamming it into the ground in death dives in 30 knot winds, I knew the basics. If you've ever wondered what it would be like flying your grandmothers bloomers, then I recommend you try the white 3m training kite. We were then given a proper 12m kite which is only for land and given a go. Interestingly this was less punchy than the 3m ones. After showing we could "figure of 8" the kites between 10am and 2pm points in the sky, we were asked to land them gently and the day was over. I felt ready.
« Last Edit: September 29, 2015, 07:31:19 AM by Off-Shore »
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Re: Ex Windsurfer, now SUP-man tries kite boarding - day 3
« Reply #2 on: September 30, 2015, 03:06:59 AM »
Day 3 - Level 2

I arrive at the Sanur Rip Curl School of Surf Centre at 2.55pm for a 3pm lesson. Hurry they say. Wind is dropping. One of their great staff grab a buoyancy aid and seat harness and ask me to put on... Both too small... I guess I must look thinner than I am.  She goes off to fetch larger ones and tells me laughing that I need to lose weight... That's why I'm learning kite surfing I tell her.. Gear on, I head out to join the other 2 students

So I had no idea what to expect. I didn't do my homework or read the Level 2 book. Which was bad. Since the tide was out we had a long walk to water deep enough to start. One of the Rip Curl instructors came kite surfing speeding up to me and stopped just at the edge of the water and introduced himself to me. Then he asked me to get into a small rib with a 15HP engine on it with a 2nd guy driving. Conditions were light. Not a white cap / horse in sight. So what's with the boat I think? To drag me? I help the boat driver pull the rib off the reef into the water and hop in. So does the instructor with the 17m kite still harnessed to him and flying above his head. And then we set off. Wo. These guys do it well. This is my personal instructor and boat for the lesson.   

First off, it is body dragging time. The urge to put my feet in front of me was hard to stop to start with, but after figuring out how to go right and left body dragging and keeping the power on it was actually quite fun. I had trouble with when to pull the bar down (for power) and push up (to de-power). Seems my windsurfing instincts are the opposite, but whatever I did, the instructor was right  there beside me. The boat driver must have been good as I was lurching all over the place from body drag to fully out of the water to being partially submerged. Rag doll comes to mind. Once I went too far downwind it was back in the boat for a quick ride upwind. Amazing way to teach.

Next was the technique on how to retrieve your board if it falls off upwind from you. Now I had imagined the board would be tethered to me, but not in this lesson. I also thought it was impossible to go upwind with a kite. Whatever, the technique involved holding the bar at the centre with one hand, moving the kite to the 10am or 2pm position and extending the other arm on the side of the direction you want to go superman-style and laying sideways in the water. I nailed this one. Must have been all those one-armed body-drags I did windsurfing...

Next the board was introduced to the water and I was shown by the instructor how to put my feet in the footstraps with either one hand or no hands on the bar. I opted for the one hand method. Then it all went pear shaped. Big time. Something about doing one thing with your hands and another with your feet while being tethered to a 17m kite a few inches above the Crown Jewels seems to mess with the usual logic. I would be looking at the board as I tried to squeeze my toes into one footstrap and then... boom.. The kite had done a nose dive into the water. The next time I managed to get the kite to do several loops before it hit the water. This was not easy. "You need to spend 95% of your time looking at the kite and 5% of your time at your feet" said my instructor. That fixed it and the board was on my feet and the kite at the prescribed 12 o'clock in the sky above me. I felt like a kite boarder now, ready to do my first waterstart. Should be easy. I've done a million water starts windsurfing...like 25 years ago..

You know when you are first learning something everything seems to happen so fast and there seems  too much to concentrate on? So you have a kite in the air attached to a harness around your buttocks, and a bar that controls the power and direction in your hands and a board attached to your feet.,,, how difficult could this be? What could possible go wrong?

Before I go on; remember I said that the centre rushed me to get my gear sorted as the wind was dropping. Well it was now 4.30pm, and when I scanned the horizon I could only see 2 other kites in the bay. My two fellow students. So this was not exactly kiting weather.

Getting on the board involves lots of knee bending and seemed completely unlike windsurfing water starting. More akin to wake boarding. First time I got up, I went directly downwind like a novice snowboarder, caught an edge and was launched head first into the water. I rose to hoots from my instructor. "Keep the kite at 2 o'clock" he said. With light winds, this made no sense to me as in order to get enough power I had to yank my right hand down so the kite dropped head first vertically and then hard left hand down before it dove into the ocean... which of course is exactly what it did.. And righting the kite and lunching it back up in the air in light winds is a beetch.. After 5 or 6 of these I finally got the kite to recover from its death dive and head back up, only to have to repeat the manoeuvre to stay vaguely on the board. With the wind dying and my lesson coming to an end it was time for my instructor to take the kite and board for himself. When I realised that even he had trouble getting the kite out of the water and getting going I did not feel so bad...

Back at the hotel I'm feeling that my shoulders had a good work out. I recognise that feeling. Not like SUP at all. It's that old windsurfing I used my shoulders feeling. Life is good.
« Last Edit: September 30, 2015, 03:11:18 AM by Off-Shore »
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eastbound

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Re: Ex Windsurfer, now SUP-man tries kite boarding
« Reply #3 on: September 30, 2015, 04:52:24 AM »
thanks for this enjoyable read--been tempted to try kiting--nice to do so via you!

looking fwd to day 3!
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Off-Shore

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Re: Ex Windsurfer, now SUP-man tries kite boarding
« Reply #4 on: September 30, 2015, 05:32:58 AM »
Eastbound. It has been an adventure I can tell you, but worth every moment. Level 3 happens tomorrow at 3pm, and I have to say I'm visualizing skimming across the ocean like I used to on my 275cm wave gun windsurfer with a 4.5m back in the 80's...  We'll see...

I thought windsurfing was technical, but this is a whole new level. I've been told it is simpler that windsurfing and easier to learn.. but the chances of things going wrong seem way much more serious.. I can't imagine self teaching myself kite surfing, as I did windsurfing and SUP... a board, paddle and leash seems so much purer and attractive.. but then there is the word all my kiting friends say... addictive... I understand that. Like all complicated things, when you figure all the chit out, and the central on board computer / subconscious handles it all, it's all pure adrenalin and enjoyment so of course it is ADDICTIVE...
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PonoBill

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Re: Ex Windsurfer, now SUP-man tries kite boarding
« Reply #5 on: September 30, 2015, 10:20:50 AM »
Yeah, kiting is a flying sport, and teaching yourself is asking to get hurt--but plenty of people have. The ambiguous reference is intentional--some taught themselves and some got hurt. There's no question in my mind it's easier than windsurfing, at least once you get past the first week. I think the biggest advantage of kiting is that you can almost always kitesurf. The biggest disadvantage is that gusty wind is a bitch.

Windsurfing is one of those sports where there are always people way better than you. Kitesurfing, not so much, other than acrobatics.
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Off-Shore

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Re: Ex Windsurfer, now SUP-man tries kite boarding
« Reply #6 on: October 01, 2015, 04:23:51 AM »
So Day 4 - Level 3 arrived and went. As I was biking down the Sanur promenade from the hotel to the Rip Curl School of Surf, conditions looked good.. and WindGuru showed winds strengthening as the afternoon went by.. But as I headed out on the rib with the instructor it was clear kites were falling from the skies, and by the time we got in position, the wind would hardly hold up the 17m kite... So after 2 series of attempts to get going, it was decided to abort the lesson, and reschedule for tomorrow...
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lunchbox

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Re: Ex Windsurfer, now SUP-man tries kite boarding
« Reply #7 on: October 01, 2015, 07:05:18 AM »
Great read....

Kitesurfing is a blast and a perfect compliment to surfing!

What a great location as well...Man, I'm jealous!

surfcowboy

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Re: Ex Windsurfer, now SUP-man tries kite boarding
« Reply #8 on: October 01, 2015, 09:40:02 PM »
Keep it coming man. You're gonna make me go get a trainer kite.

Off-Shore

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Re: Ex Windsurfer, now SUP-man tries kite boarding
« Reply #9 on: October 02, 2015, 06:15:16 AM »
So... Day 5 arrives, and a Level 3 repeat. Except this time it was with wind. Good wind.

Kite surfing: 1. Prescription sunglasses: 0. Seawater in stomach. Lots. Full dialogue coming soon.
« Last Edit: October 02, 2015, 06:48:59 AM by Off-Shore »
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Off-Shore

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Re: Ex Windsurfer, now SUP-man tries kite boarding
« Reply #10 on: October 02, 2015, 08:19:10 AM »
So... Level 3, day 5. I can say this was an experience filled with seawater... in the belly... The wind was good, which meant that there was no faffing around trying to keep the kite aloft.

I was met by my instructor who was the same guy who taught me Level 2, and remembered my excellent progress there in the light winds, and immediately led me to an awaiting boat with its 15HP outboard running. We sped out to sea, upwind, with the instructor harnessed into a 17m kite above him. When we got to the launch point, and the kite was transferred to me, and I felt the power in the kite, I was already feeling nervous. I mean I've flown a training kite many times in high winds...and  into the ground.. and know that there comes a time when it all goes out of control...and the ground awaits with open arms..

At least it was water I'd smash into.. So once I had the kite, and slipped seal-like off the side of the boat and the board was accurately launched towards me, I knew there was no turning back. Get the board on the feet, without any double or triple loops of the kite beforehand, and off we go...

There is something fundamentally different from windsurfing to kitesurfing, and it's hard to put my finger on it, but I think it is the bar vs boom thing. In windsurfing to depower, you generally pull the leading edge hand in and let the trailing edge hand out, so it is always a pull/push thing. With kitesurfing it is push both hands out to de-power and pull both hands in to power up. Doing the push/pull thing does not work.. Not at all...

The other thing is the board is small. Real small. Smaller than any windsurfer or SUP you are ever going to experience, with fins like fingernails. So the delicacy needed to steer / balance / trim the damn thing is tippy-toe crazy. When I got going, which was on what I would call a "broad reach" in sailing terms, and definitely a rookie direction kiting-wise, I felt like the board was spinning-out (windsurfing term) the whole time. I looked behind me at one point, and that 15HP outboard was no match for me, so I must have been motoring, but out-of-freekin-control motoring.

And the thing is, it's such a great feeling, but you know (as Pono has pointed out), this is a flying sport, and you have no idea with the apparent wind what the F you are doing, and with so much to compute, no matter how much I tried to relax and let the subconscious take over, it was overload big time. So much so, that somehow I lost my prescription sunglasses (with floating tether) but did not even realize until I got back to shore.. That's how freekin' awesome this session was.

Did I fall? Yes. Multiple times. On the edge of WTF I am I doing, launch into the air, leave the board behind and get dragged through the water head first falls. In windsurfing you never let go the boom. Never. So for me to let go the bar, was a primal don't. BIG PROBLEM. In kitesurfing if you fall, you MUST let go the bar and the kite drops and dies. Hang on, and you're in for the ride of your life behind a kite the size of a 3 x king-sized beds, determined to stay airborne, whilst you will mainly spend your time underwater. Which is of course is what I did.

So now post-level 3, would I go and buy the kit and head out myself? No. Would I take more lessons? Yes. Would I do it again? Hell yes. I can recommend this to anyone, but make sure you get a good outfit to teach you..

This is an unedited run I did, downwind sort of, where I went from feeling completely relaxed, to "I'm cruising" to "woah..Out of control" to "Chit, that's the freekin' beach right F'in there..."


At least they gave me a helmet so the others could see the kook coming..
« Last Edit: October 02, 2015, 08:51:47 AM by Off-Shore »
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SuppaTime

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Re: Ex Windsurfer, now SUP-man tries kite boarding
« Reply #11 on: October 02, 2015, 10:02:11 AM »
I totally love down-the-line wave sailing. I pretty much took up SUP surfing as something to do when there is no wind, but now I am addicted to SUS also and really don't care if there is wind or not.

The trouble is, there is a hole in the wind spectrum when it is too windy for SUS but not windy enough for wind surfing, around 12-19 kts or so. That I think is the perfect time to pull out a kite. I haven't taken it up yet but it is just a matter of time. Hopefully this winter, if you can call what we have here on Maui a "winter" :)
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Re: Ex Windsurfer, now SUP-man tries kite boarding
« Reply #12 on: October 02, 2015, 11:10:22 AM »
OS, very cool the way you shared this. Thanks, Jorge
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Re: Ex Windsurfer, now SUP-man tries kite boarding
« Reply #13 on: October 02, 2015, 04:26:45 PM »
A thought on SuppaTime's post. You mentioned that there was a hole between wavesailing and SUS at 12-19 knots. The is a solution; wind-supping. Put a sail on your SUP (many have mast base attachment points), and you are good to go in anything from about 8 to 18, though I usually go to my largest windsurf board at about 15. Don't go with too big a sail on a SUP, because the goal is not to plane with the sail, which most SUP boards do very poorly because of too much rocker. Something between 5.0 and 5.5 is usually good in 8- 16 (probably uphaul, not waterstart), so that you can cruise your way out to the surf zone, and pump yourself onto a wave. After that, its basically just wavesailing on a bigger board. It sets up a very mellow long boarding sort of day, without worrying about balancing an SUP in chop and wind, or trying to waterstart in insufficient wind. I have enjoyed it every time. My favorite boards so far for this are the 8'5" Fanatic AllWave, or the 8'10" Sunova Speeed, though there are lots of other options with mast base attachments.
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Off-Shore

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Re: Ex Windsurfer, now SUP-man tries kite boarding
« Reply #14 on: October 03, 2015, 05:48:14 PM »
Day 6. The wind was blowing again but instead of kitesurfing I took the kids on a downwbreezer. Great service from The Rip Curl school of surf again. Loaded up 5 boards onto one of their boats and headed directly upwind from their beach and got the whole family paddling back to shore through the kite surfers going up and down the beach. Awesome way to end a holiday.

Some postscripts and tips from the kiting community that frequent the centre in Sanur. This community is as friendly as the SUP community.

I was told that the next stage for me was to just get out there and figure the rest out for myself. That more lessons can actually confuse you and now you know how to let things go and stop safely that this is the best way to learn. I can understand this. After Session 3 I was beginning to get the feel of how to start and stop and keep direction and the kite stable.

I was told it was easier and safer to learn in lighter wind conditions on a 17m kite than in strong wind conditions with a 7m kite. Bali has more lighter wind conditions.

There were some people windsurfing on 8m sails and barely managing to get going while the 17m kites were flying along. So kiting has a greater wind range. I can see it being a good compliment for downwinding. Kite in downbreezer weather and downwind SUP when the wind is stronger.

Will I continue kiting? Absolutely. I am keen to get my kids doing it with me. If anyone has kids who kite, I'd be interested at what age do you think is reasonable to learn.



« Last Edit: October 03, 2015, 05:52:10 PM by Off-Shore »
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