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Linksfield, Johannesburg – 3 November 2008 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Basil Cambanis   
Monday, 03 November 2008 02:00
I missed great wind at Sterkies this past weekend as I had a bunch commitments.  I'll make sure I'm there the next time it blows as the wind inland is becoming VERY scarce.  I'd like to go to Luderitz again in January 2009 time permitting, and the last 2 weeks of October for the speed event.  I'm going to Langebaan 20 February 2009 for a week of kiting, this time without any broken bones I hope.
Walvis Bay – 20 October 2008 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Basil Cambanis   
Monday, 20 October 2008 02:00
I've been fortunate with wind throughout the trip and Walvis has been no exception, I've kited everyday while at Walvis.
I had 30 knots the day I arrived on 1 October and now I've had wind on 19 and 20 October (20-25 knots), which were meant to be layover days as I could get a connecting flight when I wanted.
The conditions at Walvis a quite different from Luderitz in that the wind is very square to the speed strip, but the run's much longer and the bank is fairly straight.
One word of caution though is watch out for the jellyfish, they come in various colours (purple, clear, black) and sizes and love staying close to the shore, just where we speed sail. I've been stung all over my legs and could hardly sleep the last 2 nights and they've been so itchy.
Walvis is better suited for Windsurfers as they perform better in a square wind angle, but it's a fun spot none the less.
The cost of living is more in Walvis than Luderitz as it far more developed. They're busy upgrading the runway at present to accommodate bigger jets.
Luderitz – 17 October 2008 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Basil Cambanis   
Friday, 17 October 2008 02:00

It blew from Monday to Thursday, with most days reaching 30 knots. It peaked at 35 knots the past 2 days, but just too late tide wise for me to take advantage.  I still managed to clock my best speeds to date and was just shy of the 50. I had 49.13 on Wednesday and 49.52 yesterday, this places me in 10th place in the peak speed ranking worldwide.  Practice definitely helps, and I've progressed a lot over the past 4 days. I now feel stronger and more confident to control the speed, and as a result I hardly wipe out now which helps prevent injuries. 

I have bruised ribs from hard wipe outs on the first 2 days, but I've been fine since then until Wednesday, when I twisted my ankle in a wipe out caused by running too shallow and I did a cartwheel.  The shape and line of the run changes constantly as the tide changes, so it's very tricky when choosing your line of attack, as what was deep enough for you last run might be too shallow for you very next one, and going too deep results in bone rattling chop and slow speeds.  I did not fully appreciate the barrier until it was removed, as then you had a fairly predicable water state and line during high tide, the irony is that high tide was in the afternoon this week had the event still be running.

Next year they might create a new barrier further out so that the tide plays a lesser role and to create a straighter run, this will almost certainly allow for greater speed.  Luderitz allows for greater speed than Walvis as the wind's at a broader angle, and it gets stronger wind more frequently; there's also no jellyfish and the water and climate's warmer.

There are a few things that took some adjustment after kiting inland :

  1. Wind strength - we seldom, if ever, get wind inland that Luderitz gets on a weekly basis
  2. Wind angle - the run is at a very broad angle (130+ degrees) compared to Sterkies and therefore requires a different technique, you need to keep your kite very low; if you did this at Sterkies you'd get dirty wind
  3. Length of run - the run at Sterkies is 250 meter at most (run up included), so it's a big jump to suddenly keep the hammer down for more than twice this distance
  4. Tide - the water state and line keep changing by the minute, so one needs to constantly adjust, no two runs are the same

My time here has run out and it's been a great trip where I've progressed more this October than since I started kiting 2 years ago.  It's going to be tough to kite inland for a while as I've become accustomed to such great conditions here, it'll be a big step backwards.  I always like to set myself goals and I feel I've achieved most of what I set out to do at Luderitz. 

I would still dearly like to bag the 50 knot peak and then work at raising my average speeds, but this seems unrealistic inland as we do not have the wind strength or length of run required; we're also heading into Summer which means 5 months of little or no wind, so this will have to be put on hold until Autumn next year.

I might consider doing another trip to Luderitz before the next event if I had a friend join me. I'd go when there's wind forecast for a few days in row, which often happens.

Luderitz – 9 October 2008 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Basil Cambanis   
Thursday, 09 October 2008 02:00

The wind blew again today (stronger than yesterday) and I had the right kite size for the first time (7sqm), but I had a single run on flattish water conditions while the tide was high enough (up to wall), but it quickly subsided.  As the water subsides, the shape of the bay changes to more of a curve and there's a shallow section at the beginning, so the run is shortened.

IF I improved on my speed today, it was marginal, but then again everyone found the conditions difficult and I don't think many improved on their speeds.
The chop at the end of the run was a killer, and I had my worse wipe out since the first day on my last run while trying to get in that fateful last one; I spend the last half of the run in the air and then couldn't hold on any longer and slammed into the deck with my right side this time.

Bottom line, never try to force the issue if the right conditions don't present themselves, leave it at that, else be prepared for some punishment.

This will most likely be the last day of competition, as the next wind is forecast a day too late (Tue next week). It was a real pity about the tide, as the wind truly thumped today. 

I'm still here until the morning of the 19th, so I'll still try to improve on my speeds after the event (even if they're not official), as there'll be a higher tide later in the day next week.
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