Saturday, March 29, 2008

Magic March kitesurfing to the loss of the other sports.

Between here at home in Bu and up at the C Street point break playground, there has been wind and waves 98 percent of this month. Just incredible conditions making it very hard to sneak in a workout of any other sorts. Luckily I was able to do a quick two hours of climbing in the hills with my road bike yesterday prior to a till dark wavesailing session up at County...again.. Todays anticipated trip to the pool to swim laps wasinstantly canceled with Vic's call to say Deer Creek is going off with three paragliders thermaling to the moon and you had better get up here quick.

It was a fantastic paragliding flight with bullet thermals. The wristwatch altimeter showed max altitude when chasing a beautiful red tailed hawk who was kind enough to show me the way to some great altitude. Not long after I was whited out as the clouds along the coast shot in very quickly. Jeff the "Deermaster" was up there with me when the clouds rushed in and we had a heck of a time avoiding each other when all you could see was a faint gray arc of the other guys wing coming at you in between bullets of lifting air. These were not the smooth thermals we love so much but sharp hard tight ones that whip your canopy back and you need to bank very hard as to not be spit out them and loose significant altiude while low where your really can't afford to. Casey, Vic and a couple of other guys were able to escape below the rush of low clouds/fog, as they were lower and landed at the 500 foot launch or there abouts. Jeff went for the lower launch through the clouds in hopes of some visiblity. I climbed up the mountain in a small V shaped area of limited blue sky cleared by, you guesed it, a strong thermal. Dooohhhh...Going straight up when you need to go down with what looks like a inpenetrable sea of white about to swallow you. Now I was trying to use big ears to reduce my paragliders projected lifting area to land but the stong thermal lift would have none of that as my vario screamed it's beep, beep, beep you are going up like a rocket song. Drastic measures needed to be taken or I would be forced to land in some very turbulent winds in the leeward rotor of the hills above or in the huge jagged rocks and cactus fields imediately below. By going full hands up for speed forward and then performing few tight spirals with some g's, enough altitude was lost in the base of the canyon and speed gained to accelerate towards the clearing spot just at the intersection of two dirt roads at the most wind shadowed area of the entrance to our 850 ft altitude launch area. Unfortunately, where there is a strong upward thermal, there is equally strong sink near it. With my speed increasing in the dive and the sink added, it looked like the side of the mountain in nasty terrain would be my fate but not so bad as you can flare and come in soft on a paragliding wing. Forutnately my speed through the sink was maniupulated into suden lift with a turn and flair, and a landing at the instersecion worked out perfectly.

Five minutes later, the ground hugging fog cleared up and the gang came back in the back of Casey's truck and yelled "cool, good to see you still alive Traig and that you did not crater in. We totaly lost sight of you as we escaped to a lower launch for a landing and had no idea what happened to you."

We usually use radios but today only a few of the guys had them and the conditions on launch did not suggest such rapid movement of the clouds inland and the crew thought it was not necessary...Another lesson..again.... So, after this flight, running some errands to get ready for PV, and on the way back home, finding some pre frontal winds at Zuma to share with a bunch of my buds kitesurfing was a nice addition to another great day in another wonderful month in a very fortunate life.

Saw Heidi riding her bike (or at least it looked like a very cute asian gal on a bike that was jamming in with a good lead over two other gals on PCH, that could have been Heidi and I appologize for honking if it wasn't her) on the way to the paraglide hill today and felt guilty not being on my bike but heck.. can always ride. Rode the hills yesterday morning... why the guilt? The exercise addiction has just been there since childhood so superseeds the adrenalin rush in some ways probably though that has been there from the first base jump head first when the darn doc droped me on child birth... You don't always get wind and flying conditions like this so live it while you can. Life is far too short.

Puerto Vallarta for Anushes and Hedis wedding next Wed and Gideon is down there now with a report of solid thermals each day plus there is to be a good swell hitting when we arive... Man, I won the fun lottery. Not a heap of money but at least the sport opportunities are golden.

Yesterday as John Bayless and I joked and thanked our lucky stars for another great four or five hours of kitesurfing, Ali had just shown up to get a session. My knee was too sore to hang out and kite more with my bud so got a few pictures. He got some great waves at twilight and this is one of the pictures attached. He is having a great time on his synergy kites. This is Ali on the 15 m synergy with his 5 foot UG surfboard directional. He also uses a fish surfboard for light wind wavesailing.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Sore knees.. Get rid of straps..

Since the beginning of the sport, the strapless riding of longboards, fish and shortboards as long as it is not TOO chopy irritated the damaged knee a lot less. Unfortunately the desire to jump over set waves, etc when straps are there is hard to resist. Forced myself to just use my 6'4" strapless today after a few hours on the old Becker fish strapless. The 6'4"s bottom end opened up dramatically with the ability to shift the feet around constantaly as you would expect. What a great time on that board. The 12 m synergy was perfect with that UG surf/kiteboard. Tiny waves but still a hoot. On the larger days a dreaded leash might be an idea to prevent the swim and a loose board to go boucing through the surfers way on the inside of county. Will probaly use a long board leash attached to the rear strap on the DaKine harness. This will eliminate the pull on the torqued knee. Snap back of leashes is a huge issue and even the reel leashes are accidents waiting to happen. We tell all our students to avoid leashes like the plague and for good reason. Always drag back out to see imediately when in surf and let your board wash in with the surf, with or without a (in very few instances necessary) board leash.

So, for a bit of a wrest for your knees and a good time over all, go strapless again. It is still as much fun as ever.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Wind, wind every day

I forget the last day we could not kitesurf. This has been a fantastic March and the kitesurf gang is all smiles. The waves, even when just wind swell between the frequent recent swells, have been fun on the synergy kites and a few days on the GK's.
Gave the new head local lifeguard his first lesson yesterday. He had used my small trainer kite years ago when doing a kitesurf rescue seminar for lifeguards, fire and police a few years back. John took to it very well and never crashed the kite. We got to the body drag stage on the 12 m synergy and he had a blast. Safety was stressed and he acknowledged the safety techniques in place to try to keep the public safe while we fly. John Reagan is a really great guy and has been doing all he can working with us to keep our access open while keeping the general beach using public safe. A few bad apples have drawn his attention quite a few times, but he seems to realize the over all group is quite well behaved and of good intention. We will be back in the water with him soon to get him confident in body dragging, then lots of launching, landing beach skills and finally board and then it is time to get him some gear at a team deal or free if possible. He is not only a good guy but our best possible ally in the sports continued access localy and lessons are making him more aware and able to pass on his knowledge base to those lifeguards working for him and the other local and State wide lifeguard units.

Off on a bicycle ride before the wind blows. It has a been imossible to do any other training with the great winds lately.. What a great problem to have..

Thursday, March 13, 2008

12 meter synergy and 15 m synergy fun and bozo on jet ski.

Wow, has Mother Nature been handing us the good stuff. Yesterday was all time hucking barrels at South Heavens and a perfect 15 m synergy with Xanadu seshion starting at around 11 mph average and going up to 20's. On arrival there were eight guys out surfing,and dropping into solid overhead tubes, one after another. I was about to just grab my surfboard but the spray off the top of the wave was all the incentive needed to grab a kite. Just an unbelievable seshion after two weeks of at least five days a week of kiting between here and the C Street point wave. Today was solid twelve meter synergy weather with the smaller board for the end of the session.

An early paragliding launch was blown out for Steve and I as huge white caps in the channel just briefly preceded stong gusts hitting our high altitude launch from two directions. Steve launched anyway and regreted it. Luckily he landed safely after a tip collapse and several moments of getting blown back and hucked up in the quickly escalating winds. You can always try to give friends what you think is good safety advice to wait until another day, but the final decision is always the one you make personaly as it is your neck. Steve came down to the beach to check out the kitesurfing again afterwards,and thinks this year is his year to learn down at San Quintin as he can paraglide the dunes in the mornings as well.

A kiter decided to zip up to North Beach Leo on a tow board behind a jet ski after downwinding to the new Clout owners rented house furhter south. He then did twenty minutes of tow in surfing a few feet from shore while speeding up and down North Beach Leo in the State Park. The three surfers at heavens were not impressed and it would have been a big ticket had he and his tower been caught. The ski was in a foot of water repeatedly and all the way in a few times as he ran up to his van and the gang to say "check me out" Having to tell him it was illegal and could jepordize our kiting, etc. at this location with hard shell powered vesel harbor and navs and state and county laws, should not have been necessary. Of course he and the others would not hear it and just figured it is all ok as long as they are having fun. It is very hard to ask buds to behave,and we all hate to do it, but when it comes down to closing down our favorite sport, there is no choice but to be the party pooper sometimes. We already lost Malibu Surfrider to kiteing do to a couple of knucklehead kiters. Luckily the head lifeguards who live right next to the beach were not home on their balcony to see George's tow show. Anyplace else but there and after the other kite surf screw ups this last year, you would think...Man..Bad enough to be blasting the darn skis nonstop at our old favorite wave and surf spot just south that used to be so nice and mellow but at least south of the county patroled Nicholas Canyon Beach. Sandy,the most senior County recurent guard there, already had a run in with illegal kitesurfing with the same fellow at Nicholas and even shoved by him in the confrontaion, so it won't take much to set him off understandably.

Come on gang, get it together, the season is on us. Big grins otherwise though...Been great conditions and Allan Sarlow showed up today and is showing huge improvement in his wave sailing. Zev was staying upwind no problem and riding a few waves, while looking forward to the next step with lessons on a directional. G was heavily pimping Naish Cults on the beach today and the water looked like a real mix of all sorts of cool kite brands in a kaliedescope of colors and designs. Hope some of the gang can appreciate the lifeguard's position in the future and behave or loose more beaches. The new area head guard gave me that information in a pretty straight forward way. Obey rules and respect other beach and water users or loose access.. If team riders behave in a way that can jepordize a local spot, the sponsoring shop/brand gets a bad rap...Maybe a bit of a talking to???

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Getting used to a new wavesailing board.

This evenings surf session was back dropped by a bright red sunset and a pod of porpoises cruising by the three of us out in the water. I was on my good old trusty 5'10" Becker old school fish that has seen more rocks than Elizabeth Taylor and almost as many plastic surgeries. This good old fish, kites strapless as well as it surfs becaues.. hmmmm... been lucky enough to surf it a heck of a lot over the years and gotten used to it. It could sure use more nose rocker, but know what it can't do by surfing it. So when you get that new wave kitesurfing board, surf it for a while to see how it goes and then add the straps if you need to. If you can't paddle it into a wave it is not a real surfboard to kite with and a kiteboard so maybe a friend on a jetski with a rope might help...snicker, snicker...

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Thanks again C Street

After a quick gym run to work on the old knee, dropping off the road bike for a compact front chainring set (darn light guys are making me really strain my old knees on the long hill climbs), and dropping off and picking up a repaired kiteboard from Eva, a quick stop at C Street showed wind and waves with nobody there!!!! Gasp, choke, rig really, really incredibly fast.. Yahooo. Eva our queen of board technology, had fixed the Xanadu already and it was the perfect board for the light but wavesailable winds and the 15m synergy for today. I would use whaterver kite that was on top of the 875 pound pile of sports equipment and mildewed undientifiable object in the back of the truck.

A kite bud showed just in time to throw my kite up inbetween a triple jungle canopy worth of bamboo and wood debris on the rocks and sand but mostly rocks. There were perfect A frames coming in at the point but about thirty surfers were sitting on it with the new south swell and they were giving me that "Please don't take all the good rights look, so I didn't.. A liftime of surfers and basic right of way rules mean a lot to us. We all grew up surfing. The tide was dropping fast so hit the north peak rights just up the beach. Shmack, bottom turn cut back, shmack.. Fun, fun... Not as large as a few days ago but really smooth faces and fun little lips as the tide started dropping out the next three hours. The surf droped with the tide and I though it was time to rap it up... ..

What a great bit of luck. The entire gang showed up and for once, I actually got out of the water and said, "that's it I am resting my knee after yesterdays mega hill climb three hour crusher" Of course Bayless has to tell me Leo wind just come on....DOoooooohhhh...So race down to County and the swell is showing very well there and nearly went back out desite the severe inside wind shadow with Ronny amping me up...Decided against it and went down to the slot to see George, Scot and another there well powered with one kite at North Beach and the total back stall sequence of a new slingshot at Zuma..The guys rear lines were way too tight. Finished off the day with a great swim workout at the pool with the ultra cool swiman waterproof ipod shuffle sound system cranking out tunes.. After a lifetime of swiming laps, having music makes it feal new and fresh.. Yahoooooo....To top it all off my mileage car which was hit by an AU tourist illegaly passing a parked car over a double yellow and popping me, finally is done at the body shop and ready to get back in my better mileage for trips to Santa Cruz hands.. Nice, nice....

Monday, March 03, 2008

Two days of Switch around Santa Anna fun.

Fun day yesterday on the 15 synergy at C Street in super gusty and holey winds wavesailing some nice little waves with about 17 of my closest friends. The synergy water relaunches very well by the way. The wind was all over the place and very light most of the time. Heidi showed up and did surprisingly well going up wind on her 10 m and 141 mutant in what must have been 13 or 14 mph average and maybe less.
Today was perfect with the trix 12 and waves all the way down to the bathrooms filled in with smooth wind and very few surfers. The waves were the kitesurfers and we were loving it. Used the stability of the synergy kite to ride waves yesterday and the speed of the trix to catch it when lines went loose today. What a great couple of days and today on the water with 38 of my best kitesurf buds. Wow, is life good or what?

Two more good days.

Today was perfect Santa Anna switch around to NW at C Street as yesterday but with smooth winds and waves to the bathrooms at the south end of the bay. As I put a nice hole in the bottom of my favorite fish on my kitesurf bud Allen Sarlo's elbow. (digress to yesterdays gusty wind and some waves story) I was hitting a little lip and cutting back with the arm out to point out my direction of travel but that arm does not bend all the way and sort of looks like I am incicating a U turn, while Al was coming out trying to avoid me, he zigged, I zagged and we bonked luckily laughing through the hole darn thing. All was ok but for the mid air with kites straight over head bump and fear my board had bonked my bud. Did not even notice the hole till he was checking out my board later and said, "Hey, where did this hole come from? OH YEAH!!!!" Eva has the xanadu fish toy to fix, so back to the original story, was today using a no strap fish and then a smaller board and figuring on using a differnt kite as well to mix things up. Went with the inflato 12 trix after a great day yesterday with far more unstable conditions on the PL synergy 15. It relaunches very, very well by the way...Yet another story of other friends not noticing a kite downlooping directly in front of them on the wave... doooohhh.. Crash the kite or hit a friend who is looking back at the beach at a babe. Kite now over another friends lines.. Nice.. 38 people in a small spot can do that....Sooo... on the 12 m trix today and haveing a blast using it's speed rather than the arcs inherent stability to keep it flying and catching it's loose lines while wave riding. Both methods work and both are fun and it really comes down to the conditons and mood of the day. Equal grins and there were even matching rasta synergy kites at C Street yesterday with Heidi showind up on her ten with her bike friends cheering her on. She was staying up wind in surprisingly light winds with her ten and small UG firebird 141 yesterday. These synergy kites have heaps more bottom end than the venoms did.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

County Line heaven

While sweating out a road bicycle ride with the gang today up a long climb, a fatastic sesh wavesailing at County Line kept playing through my mind. Imagine only three surfers out with a new south swell hitting and by yourself wavesailing perfect four to five foot waves from way up the point to the inside, hot air, no wind bubble.
The synergy 15 got me off the beach while the inflatos were dropping on atempted launch as the wind was shifting every which way and even going to zero on the beach. The synergy with it's light weight allowed me to body drag through the imediate inside wierdness and into the great surf just off shore. Two hours at the point by myself till George finally managed to make it out on his cult which ended up dropping three times do to wind drop outs on the inside. Sometimes it is just the tool for the job making all the diffence. After a great four hour session, having downwinded to some great surf at StairCase and Leo, we all hitched a ride back from Mike in his Van and the all inflato kite crew had to say that my synergy with the old school fish sufboard was certainly the only way to go if you wanted to hang at the top of County and pick off waves. The more we use them, the more we like them and the sle kites spend a bit more time in the back of the old truck. What a great time with just a few friends working their way out to ride a bit with me later in the day. We were hooting and howling at our luck. Even the heavy tax club of the accountant prior to the sesh could not keep the grin off of my face. Man, it is great to have the cathartic of great sports like kitesurfing.

So far the snow kite testing of the synergy has gone well with several testers and even the 19 versions we sent to testers on the East and West coasts are loving the kite. PL did a good job on this one. Might just need the 15 synergy and my surfboard/kiteboard 5'10" Xanadu old school fish design for the entire surfing and kiteing trip associtated with Anoush's wedding. This is a friends wedding that is going to be a blast. The whole gang surfs and most kitesurf. Buds, beautiful location, warm water and smiles. This is what life is all about.
Cheers!! Traig