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Monthly Archives: June 2016

  • Hydro Foil Kiteboarding


    First off...I'm deff no expert but thought it may be worth sharing some of my experiences with starting out on a hydro foil board for a complete beginners perspective and honestly it's not as easy as it looks.

    We've all seen the video's of the pro's effortlessly gliding a metre above the water making it look oh so easy, well believe me it ain't....not in the beginning at least!

    Obviously it helps if you are a competent kitesurfer but to be honest it really is like starting kitesurfing all over again but that's part of the big attraction. Something new and exciting, a totally new challenge.

    I bought a used Sroka foil off a friend who was looking to upgrade to a new race wing, the Sroka is a pretty good setup to start with...so I'm told.

    My first session was a total disaster, I had my first go back in February on a freezing winters day, I even had gloves on that day (I rearely use gloves but it was extremely cold easterlies) which did not help. Just getting your feet in the front straps at the beginning is hard enough..it's hard to get the board up on an edge so you can get your feet in. Then there is the whole balance thing, the board just wants to shoot up into the sky..it's alive!

    12742745_10153789925126294_1662643119226238121_n Sharp enough to chop your digits off!

    It's advisable to wear all the protective gear you have at the start i.e. Impact Vest/Helmet/Boots/Gum Shield...everything :-) (both the wing and mast are razor sharp) as this thing will try it's best to kill you. I'll tell you what, go stand on your kitchen table and then imagine traveling at speed only to be thrown with force into the water several feet below and you will get some idea of what it is like!

    After each session it really felt like I'd been in a car crash, aching from head to toe from the multiple wipeouts but smiling like a fat kid in a sweet shop.

    I found that 30mins was all I was interested in doing at the start (poss as it was a lot colder then) and many times I just did a quick 15mins and stopped as soon as I felt the progression was slowing. But then I had a few awesome moments up and flying and each session it has generally got better....not always but generally.

    So far I have chosen mostly lighter wind days, using my 11m Renegade which has a huge wind range and plenty of de-power.


    But lately I have been out in much lighter winds (as I'm starting to improve) and the sheer amount of apparent wind it can generate is quite phenomenal. Today there was barely enough to keep the kite in the sky when I launched the kite, however once up on a plane your off and away upwind. Then the next problem is how to go back down wind as it really is "too easy" to go upwind.

    When way out the back today I fluffed a turn and whilst trying to restart I suddenly became aware again how little wind there actually was...the kite just slowly fell into the water...there was no way I was ever going to relaunch it so I started a long swim back for the shore, but I was stoked anyway..just to be out in so little wind.


    I checked later and the wind was dropping rapidly as soon as I had gone in, it was probably about 6-7mp when I was out...on an 11m LEI kite!

    Next I'm really looking forward to getting the new Shinn/Zeeko Hydro Foil set up asap and mastering the downwind tacks and gybes etc

    I'm absolutely hooked, OK I can't wait till the next big storm with loads of swell to use my trusty surfboard but I'm loving this so much now I'm happy with 12mph for now!

    So to summarise, it really really is amazing, it's extremely hard to put into words what the feeling is like, silky smooth, knife through butter etc etc .....but you will have to try it for yourself and see if you can describe it any better.


  • Predicting a Sea Breeze

    We've recently had a pretty annoying lack of decent winds especially when we add in the factor of trying to run our school and kitesurfing lessons.

    Early May we had a good run of suitable winds and managed to get a good amount of students through their 2 day (and even 5 day) courses.....then this fine weather we are presently enjoying, great for the BBQ's  killed the winds!

    Frustrating for our uber keen students but also extremely frustrating for us as a professional full time kitesurf school trying to arrange cover with instructors etc on a slight "chance" of some wind....it also ultimately means no lessons, no money!

    So what is a sea breeze, well the simple answer is that the land heats up quicker than the cold air over the sea, it then rises and the cold air over the sea rushes in to replace the rising warm air.

    See the image below to better explain this.


    Fortunately for us as we live so close to the beach that does regularly produce these breezes (Porthcawl & Aberavon S.Wales) we can jump on it as and when the wind may just build enough. This can be even more frustrating for students waiting on there lessons to be run and wondering why we are getting the odd sessions in whilst we are saying it's not suitable for them, what they don't see is the hours stood on the beach just waiting for the wind to pick up..just another 2-3 knots please!!

    It is normally required to be a nice warm sunny start to the day with the classic "The Simpsons" clouds in land (the big white fluffy ones! With no clouds out over the sea. If we are lucky we may get a decent 20 knots or so for a few hours, the problem is predicting when this may happen.

    It's worth noting that in general we are extremely lucky that we do indeed get any sea breezes at all, the further west you head into Pembrokeshire etc they rarely get a sea breeze. It's basically that the beaches and more importantly the hills/forestry etc inland from the beaches help produce these favourable conditions.

    For our kitesurfing lessons we ideally need 4-5 hours of at least 15mph winds pref from a westerly direction (onshore/cross onshore) Factor in tides also and it starts to get very difficult to bring all the requirements together. When it happens we take it for granted and then...it's gone again!

    Check the clouds in the distance over the land/hills in this photo....and clear blue skies over the sea. Typical of a sea breeze.


    Typically in the past, a sea breeze would kick in around 12pm as the land inland heats up and would then last until approx. 6pm when the land begins to cool back down again. So a good 6 hours of useable conditions.

    The last few weeks however the winds have been all over the place with occasionally a breeze just barely enough for a quick 30-60mins or riding and then as quick as it arrived it's gone! Even equipped with my Hydro Foil board it's barely been enough most times.

    If anyone ever comes up with a way to predict a Sea Breeze then they will most certainly become extremely wealthy very quickly....or at the very least an extremely happy kitesurfer!

    In the past we have had days of sea breeze at say Rest Bay but nothing at Aberavon 7miles away, only for it to then stop and switch the other way around, for no apparent reason.

    The bottom line is....we can't really predict a sea breeze, we can make an educated guess but little more than that.

    Anyway as I right this it looks quite likely we may be getting a change in weather here very soon and hopefully we will all get to have a great summer of warm sunny windy conditions.


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