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Speed Event News PDF Print E-mail
Written by Basil Cambanis   
Monday, 11 May 2009 06:13

Last updated : 15h30 14 May 2009

There are spots still available, so ENTER NOW !  First come, first served.
The 1st 20 paid entries get a contest t-shirt. See who's entered at present here
You may not compete without having entered online or given me an entry form, and paid in full.

Speed Event Update 

The event is going ahead for sure now. The forecast is changing constantly, but the just of it is that the wind will build from Friday through to Sunday. Sunday will have the strongest wind and blow from first light, so we need to get on the water as early as possible. If you're not convinced about the wind expected, check out this report from Steve Pike (Wavescape) : West Coast Storm Alert

It's advisable that you plan to stay until 2pm on Sunday, as we want to take full advantage of the strongest wind, and you might miss prize giving if you leave sooner. Prize giving will be held as soon as the wind starts to drop OR when the top 6 places remain unchanged for an hour.

Expected ambient wind (does not factor in gusts)
This information is supplied by Steve Pike from Wavescape who's given me his opinion on the wind for the speed event. Thanks Spike !

8am       10-15kts N to NW
Noon     15-18 kts N to NW
2pm       15-20 kts N
6pm       15-18 kts N
8pm       10-15 kts N

2am       15-20 kts NW
8am       20-25 kts WNW
11am     25-28 kts WNW to W
2pm       20-25kts W
5pm       15-20 kts W

Latest News from IOL :

Cape Town is bracing for massive cold fronts that are set to hit the peninsula this weekend, bringing "absolutely huge waves" and gale-force winds.
The pending storm is expected to be so severe that disaster management workers are already on full alert and rescue organisations have warned hikers to avoid mountain paths and bathers and sailors to exercise caution when at sea.
But while sea-goers may be deterred by the predicted sea swells, big wave surfers say they will make the most of it.
Yesterday Steve Pike, a surf forecaster who tracks the weather, said "a massive storm" was expected when a double cold front hits at the weekend.
"During the first part of Saturday there'll be fresh winds and some rain. It’s nothing major but there will be strong winds.
“The swell actually starts arriving during the day and you can expect waves to reach six metres.
“By Sunday, when the second part of the storm hits, waves may reach eight metres and there’ll be even more vicious gale-force winds,” he said.
SA Weather Service forecaster Carlton Fillis said “a very windy episode” with waves reaching seven metres was expected between Table Bay and Cape Agulhas on Saturday and Sunday.
NSRI, however, yesterday warned sea-users to be extra cautious as wind speeds were expected to reach more than 50 knots and swells in the deep sea more than nine metres. 

With the speed event about to take place, I thought you'd like some advice on how to prepare and what to expect.

Speed Course
A start buoy is placed upwind near the point (Northern side), and a finish buoy is placed inside the bay (Southern side). Competitors will do circuits around these buoys, but should never cross between the buoys as that can result in a collision. After your speed run, be sure to stay well clear of those doing their speed runs.
If you decide to abort your run for whatever reason, first make sure it's clear downwind of you to do so.
You are NOT permitted to kite back upwind anywhere near the bank, this will create wake for those doing their speed run and could result in a collision.

Speed Course

Heats will only be run when the wind average is over 20 knots and is from the NW-W.
Even on the windiest days, it does not blow flat out all day and ideal speed conditions will only last an hour or two each day. So we need to act quickly and be ready for when this happens.

Since the event's held in strong wind, the most likely kite sizes you'll need are usually between 7 and 10 sqm.
To attain 40+ knots, you have to kite FULLY powered, even overpowered. The reason for this that the speed run is at a broad angle (130 deg.), so as you accelerate and bear away, the pull from your kite will lessen. Since this is a fun event, you don't need to kite overpowered if you feel uncomfortable doing so. My main concern is for your safety, so rather kite within your limits. 
There are still no dedicated speed kites available, but generally speaking, any kite that is quicky through the wind window will do. The most common brands used for speed are : F-ONE, Naish Helix, Genetrix, Cabrinha.
This is the only speed event that caters for both twintip and speedboard divisions, so you decide.
The plan shape and flex pattern vary depending on what conditions it's designed for; a stiff board with a square and straight heelside rail is used for square (flat) conditions, whereas a board with a lot of flex in the tail is used for broad (rougher) conditions.
I've been asked many times, why bother with a speedboard, here's the reasoning :

  1. The speedboard has a cutaway/taper towards the tail which reduces the wetted area and therefore drag, this gives you a higher top-end.
  2. You are able to handle stronger wind with the same kite size, as you have less lift due to the reduced surface area and therefore have better control at speed. 
  3. Some boards have weighting near the nose which helps with control in strong wind, as it maintains a better angle of attack without the rider having to keep their weight forward, which is a compromising position.

A seat harness works best for speed as it lowers your center of gravity and allows you to counter the pull of the kite better. It also gives you a better speed posture and reduces fatigue.

Seat Harness

The type of fins you use depends on the water state, run angle and wind strength, but in principle you want a narrow cord tail fin (taking M4 or M5 bolts); the thinner foil reduces drag and you don't want lift for speed. The shape thereof varies and is up to personal preference.
Long shallow (Microfin type : 20x3cm) fins tend to be used in square conditions, and shorter deep (10x7cm) fins used in broader wind. 
Some pro's have a specialised quiver of fins to cater for all conditions, while others stick with their favorite throughout.

Slowing Down
Once you're at top speed and running out of speed strip, your next objective is to slow down without incident. At Sterkies the run allows a high top-end (45+ knots), but it's short (300m in total) and a bank with trees awaits should you come in too hot towards the end.
At top speed you cannot edge hard to slow down or you'll wipe out for sure, and there's not enough time to raise the kite and slow down gradually. 
  • The best way to slow down is to move your kite past Zenith so it's slightly behind you and sheet in briefly, then ease off and bring the kite forward again before it stalls. This acts as a parachute behind a drag racer, and takes some practice to master. If you do this too aggressively, or sheet your bar in through zenith you'll get air borne which is the last thing you want in howling wind and the bank looming.
  • Another less elegant, but effective option is to raise the kite around Zenith, sheet the bar in slightly and raise your legs to get the board to clear the water (if it catches the water, it could spin around and hit you), then sheet out the bar and drag in water on your back or butt, then sheet the bar in again and kite normally.   

If you do wipeout, the key is to stay clear of your board. If your one foot comes out the strap, try to get the other out ASAP and kick the board away else you can twist your ankle badly or worse.
If the tip of the board catches, you'll hit straight into it and probably break the board, and yourself in the process.  
Try drag on your back if possible until you slow down, as this way you're less likely to spin and get injured.
Never turn your head sideways, rather face the water head on or roll onto your back, else you can burst an ear drum. If you face plant, close your eyes just before impact, but don't turn your head sideways.
If you have enough time, try protect your sides, as I've cracked a rib before by worrying about my bar. This depends on how hard you wipe out and what's in front of you.
Most wipeouts during a speed run look worse than they really are, and you cn keep it that way by following these tips.

Other Considerations 
  • An impact vest is well worth wearing, especially in stronger wind, as you can really injure your ribs in a wipeout at speed. 
  • A helmet offers vital protection, and your board might hit you in a bad wipeout.
  • Ear plugs will prevent a burst ear drum, but then you cannot hear if someone tries to warning you. Some helmets have optional ear inserts, use these when available. 
  • Weight/Sand bags are a must to keep your kite weighed down properly in strong wind. I recommend you use several sand bags to stop the kite flapping itself to pieces or from dragging along the ground in strong wind. A kite that's not weighed down properly in strong wind represents a serious threat to everyone; I've seen people getting injured and kites being shredded when the kite flies off unexpectedly.  
    Sand bag

GPS Settings
For those of you with your own GT-11 or GT-31, please check the following settings :

  • Under the [SETTINGS] menu, set the [SPEED AVG TIME] to 8 SEC (8 seconds) and [SPEED GENIE] to [20 KTS]; the reason for this is that I want to read the average speeds directly from the GPS screen to save time. I'll get the GPS track files afterwards to verify the speeds. 
  • To enable the [DATA LOGGER], set [INTERVAL] to [1 SEC], set [MIN SPEED] to [5 KTS].
  • Under the [MEMORY] menu, ensure the [ON-FIX] is set under the [LOG SWITCH] menu, and set [MIN SPEED] to [1 KTS], set [NMEA ITEMS] to [SBN].  
I'll help you with these settings at the event, but please bring your GPS to me well before the first heat.

The Speed Run
You can expect to take off and land at the beginning of the run due to the wrap around swell, but it soon turns to glass in mid-section, then you bear away progressively after the tree to maximise your run.
The average speed over 8 seconds will be used for the speed event ranking, this equates to just less than 200 meters when travelling at 40 knots. This gives you enough time to decelerate before the end of the run, but the key is to start your run fast.
Start of speed run


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