“Got kitesurfing on the mind, mixed with some search & classification tech, and a dab of political ranting”

Archive for April, 2008

Great coverage of the Cabrinha Race Series 2008, first event

Posted by direwolff on April 26, 2008

Steve Gunn from Cabrinha Kites wrote up a great recap and shared some cool pics of the first Cabrinha Race Series 2008 event from Thursday April 17th here.  While it’s a beautiful site to see all of these colored kites nicely ordered making their way to the start, being in the pack of racers is pretty crazy and feels a lot less organized ;)  A blast was had by all though, and I highly recommend this event.

Here’s the newly designed perpetual trophy for the event…

Very cool to have Cabrinha involved in this event and even nicer to see two good friends in Anthony Chavez (as 2006 champion) and Jeff Kafka (as 2007 champion), have their names mounted first.  2008 should bring some great fun and competition to this event, if this first race is any sign of what’s to come.


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Preparing for the U.S. Kite Board Racing Championship 2008

Posted by direwolff on April 25, 2008

Well, the preparations for the U.S. Kiteboard Nationals being held this year here in San Francisco, are under way. Last night was the first meeting of the organizing committee and it really sounds like it’s going to be an even better event than last year’s. As a kitesurfing addict myself, thought it was worthwhile to channel some of that energy in a positive way for the sport in general, and in this spirit I accepted John Gomes’ (head honcho and responsible for making this a great event last year) invitation to be part of the organizing committee.

The event is expected to host somewhere between 80 and 100 riders from all over the world, who will travel to the San Francisco Bay Area to participate. Team riders from many of the top kitesurfing companies will be here ready to mix it up for what will be an exciting week of wind action in the San Francisco Bay, hosted by the St. Francis Yacht Club.

Last year’s event was the first Kitesurfing Nationals and drew an excellent field of riders. Word spread, and we’re likely to see increasing numbers of riders showing up for the event.

This year’s event will be taking place the week of June 9th, 2008. Check here (, for registration information.

What’s important to note about this event is that it’s being run like professional sailing regattas with similar rules so that kites can simply be considered a different class of vessel. This really lifts this sport to a new level, not reached so far by many of the other racing events out there. The hope is that in subsequent years, this event can be held in other locations around the country and eventually around the world, so as to spread the sport’s popularity and get more people exposed to its breathtaking nature. Who knows, maybe some day it will be worthy of Olympic attention.

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Cool Aussies and a discussion about Plaxo

Posted by direwolff on April 22, 2008

While at the SocialMedia Happy Hour this afternoon met some cool Aussies, one of which I knew while the other two became new acquaintances. One of them is involved in some of the social media standards work going on behind the scenes, but for the purposes of this post, it’s not necessary to mention who they were.

As we discussed the various social media services we somehow got to Plaxo with me stating that since the beginning of Plaxo’s release, I was always impressed with the service. But while I found it theoretically elegant and worthwhile, I was never able to get past the point of distant admiration to the point of becoming a registered user. For the life of the service and the changes and evolution that they have undergone, it’s teams have always been bright, but some how that just wasn’t enough to get me over the hump of adoption. Even where I’ve been an early user of just about every social network that came out during the initial years, services like Ryze, Friendster, LinkedIn, Tribe, MySpace, Vox and Facebook once it opened up, Plaxo was just never an option.

In discussing this with my acquaintances, I was surprised by the fact that both of them echoed the exact same sentiments. Both praised the service yet neither one of them was a member. Now with Comcast having acquired them, or so the very persistent rumors go, it’s not likely to be a choice for any of us at all, but what was it that kept us away, I wonder. It’s very perplexing to me how many folks I’ve talked to who understand the service (pre-Pulse), who thought it was a useful service, who thought highly of folks like Joe Smarr, but who never joined or leveraged this power to maintain their address book in this distributed service. It’s something I’m going to ponder further, as it’s requiring me to be very introspective about what seems like it should have been a natural choice application for me.

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Best Bularoo Quiver; the Good, the Bad & the Ugly

Posted by direwolff on April 16, 2008

So this season I decided to sell my Best Waroo ’07 11m kite and move full-on into a Bularoo quiver of a 7m, 10m and 13m kites. My main reason behind this move was that ever since I decided to spend more time riding the waves on the northern California coast, I realized that the ’07 Waroo just didn’t have the turning speed nor the ability to stay ahead of me enough when riding down a wave at speed. In learning how to ride the Bularoos I noticed several differences between each size which takes some getting used to. I’ll start by saying that I’m generally super pleased with these kites, but do have some beefs which I’ll lay out here as well.

On the pro side, all three sized Bullies are super stable kites. You can literally let go of the bar if you need to fix something while in the water and not worry about the kite moving suddenly into a power zone and yanking you to attention. The kites move very deliberately, and can basically stay put in one position while taking your eyes off of them. In big waves, their stability has been most welcomed, especially after getting caught in an overhead break and noticing that the kite didn’t fall from the sky as is customary when getting washed up by a big wave. The other positives is the turning speed which never leaves me wanting for more power especially when carving a toe-side turn off the top of a big wave (note, I ride goofy footed) on my surfboard. Even when I start my kite turn late coming into the face of a wave, it never feels like it’s too late to complete the motion and get the kite ahead of me with good speed. The exception to this rule is with the 13m kite, which really doesn’t turn proportionately at the speed of the 10m or 7m. While it may be obvious, the difference is more significant than it should be.

The low-end grunt in these kites is also amazing. This is what gives them their range. I’ve been out comfortably on my 10m when people are riding anything from 9m up through 12m kites. In that range, I’ve never felt over or under powered, which I guess is a good thing given the spread in the quiver. When winds are light for any of these kites, moving them up and down seems to generate some serious apparent wind which for now I’m attributing to their mid-aspect nature. I’ve gotten myself out of trouble quite a few times by moving the kite when the wind was clearly low for the Bully I was riding. A very welcomed feature.

Now for the bad. Last week, on a very gusty 7m day at Crissy Field in San Francisco, I was riding far out into the channel when suddenly my kite sputtered out of the sky. First some herky-jerky motion which eventually led to the kite crashing hard. It temporarily relaunched, but it was obvious that it wasn’t going to last nor was it happy. Finally, the kite settled down in the water and had obviously lost its air. After further inspection, it turns out that the small bladder valve, despite being velcro’d down, opened up and let the air out. Because the Bularoo is a one-pump with a one way air flow from the leading edge to the ribs, the air simply flowed out of the leading edge into the bladder with the valve opened. I don’t know how long this was opened, but suffice it to say, it was a very unpleasant experience. Still trying to figure out how the valve opened. Of course this happened on a cloudy, cold, god-forsaken day, but fortunately, there was another kiter nearby who was able to drag me away from the shipping lanes until the Coast Guard came to the rescue. (Quick note here, the Coast Guard out here in the San Francisco Bay ROCK!!!)

Where it gets ugly is that after only having ridden my 10m kite 6 times within the past 3 weeks, it appears that it developed small slow leaks in two of the bladders. After an hour of riding at Stinson Beach yesterday, with no warning, this time my 10m did exactly what my 7m had done at Crissy. But for those not familiar with Stinson, the web cam we use to check the conditions there is called the “Shark Cam”…for a reason ;) Once again, I was fortunate to be riding with some good buddies who came to the rescue and dragged me to shore. The water was super cold for a drag, but far better than the alternative. Fortunately, given that I’ve had the kite for less than 3 weeks and have only ridden it six times without dropping it (except due to this bladder failure), the dealer I bought it from is getting it exchanged for me, as these two leaks constitute an obvious defect. The reason I consider this “the ugly” is because unlike the Slingshot one-pump system, where you can clip the bladders so as not to loose the leading edge if anything happens to those, the Bullies totally conk out when a bladder is affected. Both in the case of the valve opening and the slow leaking bladders, I was out of commission without a chance to get back to shore once I realized what was happening.

Having said that, I hope these incidences don’t become a standard part of my Bularoo experience, as I really love the good aspects of this kite so much, but they certainly are cause for concern. Today on my 13m kite, I was so nervous after 20 minutes of riding that I brought it down on shore to check the pressure in all of the bladders before going out again. Lest you consider me too much of a newbie, I’ve been riding for 8 years now and feel pretty proficient in most conditions.

Oh yeah, one other cool aspect of the Bullies is the land “hot” self-launch maneuver that is relatively easy to perform. Worth learning this trick, comes in super handy.

*** UPDATE 5/2/08: See my follow-up post and update titled, “Bularoo Update…“.

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The geek in me couldn't resist…

Posted by direwolff on April 16, 2008

…trying out Six Apart’s new BLOG IT Facebook app which lets me post to my SEND IT WordPress blog from Facebook while also then posting it into my news feed. Pretty cool if it works and sure is a nice effort saver.

Gotta love the level of constant innovation taking place in this space :)

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Google & Salesforce getting just a lil’ closer to my prediction

Posted by direwolff on April 14, 2008

Activities since August of 2006, have been bringing these two behemoths of the post-bubble Web closer and closer together.  Most recently is their announcement about integrating Google Apps with Salesforce’s CRM service.

In the last paragraph of a post back on October 4, 2005, I wrote:

So I posit here for a minute, what if Google were to acquire…hmmm…they don’t really overlap in their product offerings, and if anything complement each other quite well. As well,’s market cap is only $2.6B, and Google just got $4B in cash…doh! All I have to say is that Microsoft better not sleep with both eyes closed at this point, as I believe the assault on its operating system is coming from both Google and (at this point separate companies ;-), and could be very difficult to combat in the not-so-distant future.

Well, it looks like that “not-so-distant future” is a little less distant.  Marc Benioff’s response to Erick Schonfeld from TechCrunch when asked about why Google doesn’t just acquire Salesforce was, “You should give them a call and ask them about that”.  This is very telling that Marc probably agrees with the logical conclusion as well, these two companies should get married :)

One important change from my original October post is that Salesforce is worth a heck of a lot more, now having a market cap of $7.17B, but at Google’s $141B market cap, I’d say this is still somewhat of a rounding error acquisition that would catapult Google into a very stable and competitive position versus Microsoft and Oracle.  The clear advantage for Google here is that they would be playing the role of the progressive solution and have the significant advantage in the small-to-medium sized business market.  This surely is a case of the combined entities being worth a heck of a lot more than the sum of the parts.

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The Kiddie Pool: a Stinson Beach locals kitesurfing video – 2007

Posted by direwolff on April 5, 2008

Dave Renaud, Stinson regular kitesurfer, spent some time in the water last season shooting the following video for fun.  He did an awesome job and captured the addiction we’re constantly subjected to.  Not to mention, he made most of us look much better than we really ride :)  I was fortunate enough to make a few appearances throughout the video (the guy w/the yellow shorts w/the blue stripe down the side).

While it was great to see the Stinson crew out there having a blast in this video, I was brought back down to earth when I also saw one of the crew, Steve Shannon, who recently suffered a terrible tragedy and sadly is no longer with us.  He will be sorely missed.

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