SEND IT!!!

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

Posts Tagged ‘crissy field’

Loscoco Captures the Essence of the 2008 Kiteboarding Champiosnhips

Posted by direwolff on June 15, 2008

Erin Loscoco, one our local Bay area kiteboarders who also participated in the early days of the Nationals, is also a gifted photographer. He spent the latter part of the week snapping some great shots which really capture the mood and intensity of this year’s event. You can check out his site here. He also set-up a “BEST OF” page which has fewer pics but still conveys the mood, here.

Advertisements

Posted in Kitesurfing & Extreme Sports | Tagged: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

2008 Kiteboarding Nationals: Final Standings…the Pros take over

Posted by direwolff on June 15, 2008

Well, another great week of kiteboarding course racing comes to an end here at Crissy Field with many of the pros taking over the top spots. Where last year, amateurs Anthony Chavez (Naish) and Jeff Kafka (Cabrinha) from the SF Bay area were able to secure the top rankings, this year, many of the well known freestyle names, riders like Damien LeRoy (Cabrinha) and Sky Solbach (North), roared into the event taking no prisoners. Even 16 year young pro rider, Jon Van Malsen (North), managed to come away with 6th place after some great racing on Saturday.

What made this year more competitive is that now that the PKRA has picked up on course racing, many of the pro riders are more exposed to this form of the sport and are evolving the style and the technology. Tech played a big role, though everyone, pros and amateurs alike, are still experimenting. Here is a look at some of these new custom board designs:

It was great to see the spirit of sportsmanship alive and well here in these races, as many of the competitors would frequently trade boards between races, if only to get a feel for what the new designs had to offer. Some designs were amazing upwind machines, but were less effective on the downwind legs of the event. Different board styles suited styles of different riders, but it was nice for them to be able to do head-to-head comparisons between boards and between each other on the race course.

Here are the final standings for the week long event, with Damien LeRoy (Cabrinha) taking 1st place after dominating most of the week, Sean Farley (North) in 2nd place, and Sky Solbach (North) sealing up 3rd place. Three of the Bay area’s finest managed to lock in top 10 performances, among these were Anthony Chavez (Naish), 2007 Kiteboarding Nationals champion, working his way back up the standings to 5th place; recent Maui transplant, Shawn Richman (Waiman Kites) with a 7th place overall finish; and Jeff Kafka (Cabrinha), of Wind Over Water fame, finishing up in 9th position.

Here are the overall standings:

2008 US Kiteboarding National Championship Preliminary Results – Championship Series

Jersey # Name QR #1 QR #2 QR #3 QR #4 QR #5 QR #6 QR #7 QR #8 QR #9 QR #10 QR #11 QR #12 CR #1 CR #2 CR #3 CR #4 CR #5 CR #6 CR #7 CR #8 CR #9 TOTAL
Y v R W v B R v W B v Y Y v W R v B Y v R W v B R v W B v Y Y v W R v B
1 Blue 8 Damien LeRoy 2* 1 2 2 1 1 2 2 1 1 3* 2 2 2 2 21
2 White 3 Sean Farley 5* 2 1 3 5 1 1 1 2 12* 5 1 1 1 1 25
3 Blue 11 Sky Solbach 1 2 1 1 3* 2 4 3 3 3 1 3 6* 4 3 31
4 Yellow 10 Jon Modica 5 8* 5 6 2 2 9 5 8 10 6 5 13* 5 4 72
5 Yellow 3 Anthony Chavez 2 3 2 8* 4 3 9 11 6 5 11 13* 3 11 8 78
6 Yellow 12 Jon Van Malsen 9* 5 4 4 5 5 10 9 18* 8 4 8 12 3 6 83
7 Red 12 Shawn Richman 7* 1 3 1 1 3 DNS* 10 4 2 2 4 8 OCS 5 87
8 Blue 9 Kent Marinkovic 3 4* 4 4 4 4 6 8 9 6 10 9 11 10 12* 88
9 Red 6 Jeff Kafka 8* 7 5 2 2 7 16* 6 7 4 7 15 7 9 11 89
10 Blue 12 Ken Winner 4 DSQ* 12 8 6 5 8 12 14* 9 8 7 5 8 9 101
11 Red 4 Michael Gebhardt 1 5 9 10* 8 6 14 17* 13 14 9 12 4 7 7 109
12 Yellow 5 John Gomes 4 7 7 5 DNF* 7 3 4 11 13 14 22* 18 6 15 114
13 Red 11 Marc Ramseier 3 4 7 7 6 8* 7 DNF* 5 15 15 11 16 13 14 123
14 Yellow 6 Geoff Headington DNS* 6 6 3 8 14 13 13 10 11 17* 10 9 12 10 125
15 White 11 Nils Stolzlechner 6* 3 3 6 3 6 12 DNF* 12 7 12 42 10 14 16 146
16 White 13 Chip Wasson 18 11 9 7 7 DSQ* 5 7 15 19 13 14 15 23* 23 163
17 Red 9 Donny Parker 16* 6 8 11 10 9 24* 14 17 17 20 15 14 16 13 170
18 Yellow 7 Clarissa Hempel 6 10 13* 9 7 8 18 15 16 20 22 17 24* 17 17 182
19 Blue 1 Kristin Boese 9 9 15* 10 9 10 15 18 19 21* 18 19 17 20 18 191
20 White 10 Marcelo Segura 10 8 10 13 14* 12 19 25* 23 18 16 20 21 15 19 204
21 Red 13 Frank Wittke 12 10 12 13 12 15* 11 16 20 DNS* 25 18 20 18 24 211
22 Blue 4 Eric Due 11 14* 10 9 10 11 23 21 24 16 16 16 25* 24 21 212
23 White 4 Melissa Gil 8 9 11 12 13* 11 22 20 21 25 19 21 22 21 27* 222
24 Yellow 2 Christopher Brown 17* 13 8 12 12 8 25 19 22 24 26 26 31* 26 20 241
25 Yellow 13 Arnaud Vuillermet 18 12 14 DNS* 11 10 17 22 25* 22 24 24 23 19 25 241
26 Red 5 Steve Gibson 15* 14 11 15 9 14 21 27 30 29 28 31* 19 22 26 265
27 Yellow 8 Bret Herscher 11 16 16 14 14 DNS* 31* 23 27 27 23 28 26 28 29 282
28 Red 10 Sandy Parker 10 12 18* 17 15 13 27 26 29 32* 30 30 28 25 22 284
29 Blue 5 Eric Geleynse 14 15 17* 14 13 12 26 24 26 28 29 29 34 DNS* DNS 307
30 White 5 Mo Hart DNS* DNS 15 11 11 13 20 OCS* DNS 23 21 25 29 DNS DNS 325
31 Blue 13 Kris Youngberg 15 13 19* 15 15 16 DNF* DNS DNS 26 31 27 30 29 30 333
32 Yellow 9 Bruce Johnson 19 17 18 18 16 DNS* 32 DNF* DNS DNF 27 23 27 27 28 338
33 White 6 Ella Johnson DNF DNS* 19 16 16 DNS 28 28 DNS* 31 33 34 32 30 31 354
34 White 2 Dave Broome 7 13* 12 5 4 4 DNS* DNS DNS DNS DNS DNS DNS DNS DNS 376
35 Red 1 Vladimir Belinsky DNF DNS* 14 20 DSQ DNS 30 DNS* DNS 33 32 32 33 31 32 384
36 Red 14 Vlad Morozz DNS* DNF 16 DNS DNS DNS 29 29 28 30 34 DNS* 35 DNS 33 389
37 Red 3 Caroline Freitas 13 15 13 16 DNS* DNS DNS* DNS DNS DNS DNS DNS DNS DNS DNS 429
38 Yellow 11 Brendan Richards 14 11 17 DNS* DNS DNS DNS* DNS DNS DNS DNS DNS DNS DNS DNS 442
39 White 14 Peter Schiebel 13 DNF DNS* DNS DNS DNS DNS* DNS DNS DNS DNS DNS DNS DNS DNS 469
40 Yellow 4 James Donaldson DNS* DNS DNS 19 27 27 DNS* DNS DNS DNS DNS DNS DNS DNS DNS 473
41 Blue 3 Raymond Deiter DNS* DNS DNF DNS DNS DNS DNS* DNS DNS 34 DNS DNS DNS DNS DNS 475
42 White 7 Erin Loscocco DNS* DNS 20 DNS DNS DNS DNS* DNS DNS DNS DNS DNS DNS DNS DNS 476
43 Blue 14 Shawn Murray DNS* DNS DNS DNS DNS DNS DNS* DNS DNS DNS DNS DNS DNS DNS DNS 484
44 Blue 10 Michael Scott DNS* DNS DNS DNS DNS DNS DNS* DNS DNS DNS DNS DNS DNS DNS DNS 484
45 Blue 2 Steph Bridge DNS* DNS DNS DNS DNS DNS DNS* DNS DNS DNS DNS DNS DNS DNS DNS 484
46 Blue 6 Bobby Hall DNS* DNS DNS DNS DNS DNS DNS* DNS DNS DNS DNS DNS DNS DNS DNS 484
47 Blue 7 Lance Larivee DNS* DNS DNS DNS DNS DNS DNS* DNS DNS DNS DNS DNS DNS DNS DNS 484
48 Red 15 Ryan Lamb DNS* DNS DNS DNS DNS DNS DNS* DNS DNS DNS DNS DNS DNS DNS DNS 484
49 Red 2 Shawn Ewing DNS* DNS DNS DNS DNS DNS DNS* DNS DNS DNS DNS DNS DNS DNS DNS 484
50 Red 7 Jeffrey Klein DNS* DNS DNS DNS DNS DNS DNS* DNS DNS DNS DNS DNS DNS DNS DNS 484
51 White 1 Darren Bass DNS* DNS DNS DNS DNS DNS DNS* DNS DNS DNS DNS DNS DNS DNS DNS 484
52 White 12 Jason Trupkin DNS* DNS DNS DNS DNS DNS DNS* DNS DNS DNS DNS DNS DNS DNS DNS 484
53 White 8 Jeffrey Ruoss DNS* DNS DNS DNS DNS DNS DNS* DNS DNS DNS DNS DNS DNS DNS DNS 484

Posted in Kitesurfing & Extreme Sports | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

U.S. Kiteboarding National Championship – Day 2!!!

Posted by direwolff on June 11, 2008

My good buddy Gabe Brown was kind enough to share some of people shots he got today at the Nationals taking place at Crissy Field…

(Damien LeRoy) (Clarissa Hempel and Chip Wasson)

(Shawn Richman) (Chip Wasson)

Noteworthy in today’s standings is that Florida boy, Damien LeRoy (Cabrinha) is and Sky Solbach (North) (who has come out from Australia and Oregon to participate in a few of the Thursday Night Cabrinha Kite Race Series events), are tied for first in leading the points race with St. Francis Yacht Club flag bearer, Shawn Richman (Waiman Kites) close at hand in 3rd place. Sky Solbach (North), who has come out from Australia and Oregon to participate in a few of the Thursday Night Cabrinha Kite Race Series events, is holding on to the number 2 spot. Here are the standings as they stand after two days:

2008 US Kiteboarding National Championship Preliminary Results – Qualification Series

Jersey # Name QR #1 QR #2 QR #3 QR #4 QR #5 QR #6 QR #7 QR #8 QR #9 QR #10 QR #11 QR #12 Total Score
Y v R W v B R v W B v Y Y v W R v B Y v R W v B R v W B v Y Y v W R v B
1 Blue 8 Damien LeRoy 2* 1 2 2 1 1 7
2 Blue 11 Sky Solbach 1 2 1 1 3* 2 7
3 Red 12 Shawn Richman 7* 1 3 1 1 3 9
4 White 3 Sean Farley 5* 2 1 3 5 1 12
5 Yellow 3 Anthony Chavez 2 3 2 8* 4 3 14
6 Blue 9 Kent Marinkovic 3 4 4 4 DNS* 4 19
7 Yellow 10 Jon Modica 5 8* 5 6 2 2 20
8 White 11 Nils Stolzlechner 6* 3 3 6 3 6 21
9 Red 6 Jeff Kafka 8* 7 5 2 2 7 23
10 Yellow 12 Jon Van Malsen 9* 5 4 4 5 5 23
11 Red 11 Marc Ramseier 3 4 7 7 6 8* 27
12 Red 4 Michael Gebhardt 1 5 9* 9 8 6 29
13 Yellow 5 John Gomes 4 7 7 5 DNS* 7 30
14 White 2 Dave Broome 7 13* 12 5 4 4 32
15 Yellow 6 Geoff Headington DNS* 6 6 3 8 14 37
16 Red 9 Donny Parker 16* 6 8 10 10 9 43
17 White 13 Chip Wasson 18* 11 9 7 7 9 43
18 Blue 1 Kristin Boese 9 9 15* 10 9 10 47
19 White 4 Melissa Gil 8 9 11 12 13* 11 51
20 Blue 4 Eric Due 11 14* 10 9 10 11 51
21 Blue 12 Ken Winner 4 DSQ* 6 8 6 DNS 52
22 Yellow 2 Christopher Brown 17* 13 8 11 12 8 52
23 White 10 Marcelo Segura 10 8 10 13 14* 12 53
24 Red 13 Frank Wittke 12 10 12 12 12 15* 58
25 Red 5 Steve Gibson 15* 14 11 14 9 14 62
26 Yellow 7 Clarissa Hempel 6 10 13 DNS* 7 DNS 64
27 Red 10 Sandy Parker 10 12 18* 16 15 13 66
28 Blue 5 Eric Geleynse 14 15 17* 14 13 12 68
29 Yellow 8 Bret Herscher 11 16 16 13 14 DNS* 70
30 Blue 13 Kris Youngberg 15 13 19* 15 11 16 70
31 White 5 Mo Hart DNS* DNS 15 11 11 13 78
32 Yellow 13 Arnaud Vuillermet 18 12 14 DNS* DNS 10 82
33 Red 3 Caroline Freitas 13 15 13 15 DNS* DNS 84
34 Yellow 9 Bruce Johnson 19 17 18 17 16 DNS* 87
35 Yellow 11 Brendan Richards 14 11 17 DNS* DNS DNS 98
36 White 6 Ella Johnson DNF DNS* 19 16 16 DNS 107
37 Blue 14 Shawn Murray DNS* DNS DNS DNS DNS 5 117
38 Red 1 Vladimir Belinsky DNF DNS* 14 19 DNF DNS 117
39 White 14 Peter Schiebel 13 DNF DNS* DNS DNS DNS 125
40 Red 14 Vlad Morozz DNS* DNF 16 DNS DNS DNS 128
41 Yellow 4 James Donaldson DNS* DNS DNS 18 DNS DNS 130
42 White 7 Erin Loscocco DNS* DNS 20 DNS DNS DNS 132
43 Blue 10 Michael Scott DNS* DNS DNS DNS DNS DNS 140
44 Blue 2 Steph Bridge DNS* DNS DNS DNS DNS DNS 140
45 Blue 3 Raymond Deiter DNS* DNS DNS DNS DNS DNS 140
46 Blue 6 Bobby Hall DNS* DNS DNS DNS DNS DNS 140
47 Blue 7 Lance Larivee DNS* DNS DNS DNS DNS DNS 140
48 Red 15 Ryan Lamb DNS* DNS DNS DNS DNS DNS 140
49 Red 2 Shawn Ewing DNS* DNS DNS DNS DNS DNS 140
50 Red 7 Jeffrey Klein DNS* DNS DNS DNS DNS DNS 140
51 White 1 Darren Bass DNS* DNS DNS DNS DNS DNS 140
52 White 12 Jason Trupkin DNS* DNS DNS DNS DNS DNS 140
53 White 8 Jeffrey Ruoss DNS* DNS DNS DNS DNS DNS 140

Of our Bay Area past top place finishers, Anthony Chavez (Naish) currently sits in 5th place, Jeff Kafka (Cabrinha) is in 9th place, and Chip Wasson (Ozone) is in a very surprising 17th place due to having missed a race as a result of some equipment changes he had to make.

Posted in Kitesurfing & Extreme Sports | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Kiteboarding Nationals 2008 – “Let’s get it on!”

Posted by direwolff on June 10, 2008

Some good coverage and shots of the start of the U.S. Kiteboarding Nationals on the SFGate site today. Unlike last year, it really looks like the weather is cooperating right from the get-go, as you’ll see from the pictures in the SF Gate article, the sun and win are ON!

Good to see some of the local kiters, like Chip Wasson, Jeff Kafka, and race organizer John Gomes, get mentioned in the article. John Gomes deserves special kudos as the driving force behind this event. Fortunately, he put together an excellent support committee to help him pull all of this off. It’s great when a plan comes together :)

Posted in Kitesurfing & Extreme Sports | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

RONSTAN Bay Challenge – Kite Class: A good time had by all

Posted by direwolff on June 1, 2008

The Kite Class of the RONSTAN Bay Challenge was very exciting. There’s also a Formula Windsurfing Class, but as a participant in the kitesurfing race, it’s tough to keep up with the windsurfing action since they start the race 5 minutes before us and go much faster. Special thanks shout out to both the St. Francis Yacht Club race committee for managing this event and all of the volunteers who participated in the effort. Also, thanks to RONSTAN for their long time support of such a great event.

The event is broken down into two days, with the first being the long distance race which goes from Crissy Field, west towards the Golden Gate Bridge approximately a half mile to a windward mark, then back down wind (east) all the way to Berkeley for the leeward mark, then back up the St. Francis Yacht Club for the finish. The weather was very uncooperative with light winds under 20 kts for the down wind leg, and foggy skies the whole race. The upwind leg showed signs of life with winds ranging up to the low 20 kts.

There were lots of choices to be made in terms of how best to reach Berkeley and the different strategies paid off in different ways. The top three racers split at Alcatraz with one of the favorites, Shawn Richman, staying close to Angel Island the whole way down, while Chip Wasson and Anthony Chavez stayed on the city front side. Shawn’s down wind strategy paid off in spades giving him what seemed like an early 1 to 2 mile lead by the time he crossed the Berkeley marker. Nils Stolzlechner and John Gomes like Shawn, also went down on the north side of Alcatraz and were eventually joined by Chip and Anthony rounding the leeward mark. At this point, Shawn’s board became a hindrance and Chip, Nils and John were all able to catch him on the up wind leg between Berkeley and the St. Francis Yacht Club finish line to claim 1st, 2nd and 3rd place ahead of Shawn’s 4th place and Anthony’s close 5th place finish. The standings for Saturday’s race are as follows:

Overall
Position Skipper Finish Time
1. Chip Wasson 14:22:32.0
2. Nils Stolzlechner 14:25:24.0
3. John Gomes 14:27:07.0
4. Shawn Richman 14:30:57.0
5. Anthony Chavez 14:32:34.0
6. Chris Brown 14:37:29.0
7. Pierre Wolff (me) 14:41:00.0
8. Bret Herscher 14:45:03.0
9. Steve Gibson 14:45:14.0
10. Gabe Brown 14:56:41.0
11. Vlad Moroz 15:06:47.0
12. Tim Jackson 15:21:23.0
DNF Bill Kiriakis
DNS Raymond Dieter

Start Time was 13:10:00.0
DNF = Did Not Finish
DNS = Did Not Start

Bill Kiriakis who got a DNF had actually passed both Chris Brown and I on the upwind leg but suffered a fallen kite incident from which he could not recover as we passed by him. Sadly, he was only 4 reaches away from the finish line. Also noteworthy is that the top 3 finishers were all using boards designed and built by Nils.

While I had been advised that we might get strong winds on the way back up wind, I still elected to ride the Eclipse 14m Thruster and didn’t regret it one bit. It was nicely powered on the way back only requiring me to sheet in 1/3 of the way a couple of times, and provided plenty of kick on the down wind leg to even pass a couple of the racers around me.

Sunday brought the course racing legs of the RONSTAN Bay Challenge. This consisted of three races encompassing two laps each with markers that went from Crissy Field to approximately a quarter mile from the Golden Gate Bridge. Starting position is key to doing well in this race and it’s very tricky timing. This is similar to the Thursday Night Cabrinha Race Series most of us also participate in, so the riders were all experienced racers.

This event was dominated by the three favorites, Shawn Richman (19 year old kitesurfing prodigy who moved from Maui to attend U.C. Santa Cruz), Anthony Chavez and Chip Wasson. These three riders took turns at coming in 1st, 2nd or 3rd, with Shawn getting two wins and a 2nd place to win the overall event, Anthony taking 2nd, 3rd and 1st place finishes, while Chip took in 3rd, 2nd and 3rd place finishes. It certainly seemed like Shawn was riding with a mission after having been caught from behind in the previous day’s long distance event.

The Standings for Sunday’s course races were as follows:

Overall
Position Skipper Race 1 | Race 2 | Race 3
1. Shawn Richman 1 | 1 | 2
2. Anthony Chavez 2 | 3 | 1
3. Chip Wasson 3 | 2 | 3
4. John Gomes 6 | 5 | 4
5. Nils Stolzlechner 4 | 6 | 7
6. Bill Kiriakis 5 | 7 | 5
7. Pierre Wolff (me) 10 | 4 | 6
8. Bret Herscher 9 | 8 | 9
9. Steve Gibson 8 | 9 | 10
10. Geoff Headington 7 | DNF | 8
11. Tim Jackson 12 | 10 | 11
12. Raymond Dieter 11 | 11 | 12

The winds were howling at 25-27 kts accompanied by an ebb tide which made for perfect racing conditions. General strategy on where to make jibes played a major role in these races as well as the impact of small mistakes like falling off one’s board during a jibe, or spacing out and missing the location of the finish line altogether, as happened to me in the first race in what led to my 10th place finish…d’oh! Where some riders dominated on the up wind legs, others had a clear advantage on the down wind legs. When all is said and done, everyone had an enjoyable time racing under sunny skies.

For this race, I tried to go with the Eclipse 12m Thruster, but the winds were just too overpowering and since my 10m has yet to arrive, I settled into my 10m Best Bularoo which worked like a charm in what was sometimes very gusty conditions. Something about the nice long throw on the Bularoo bar which really opens up the range of this kite.

After the races, Bill our other friend Charlie, who unfortunately couldn’t race due to an arm injury that he’s allowing himself to heal from, and I went out under the Golden Gate Bridge to catch shoulder high swell. Steady rollers going from the top of the south tower down to the east side of the north tower. Amazingly well shaped swell. We lasted about 45 minutes before yelling “uncle” as our legs were mush from close to two hours of racing followed by this surfing session. Nice way to end the weekend :)

*** Update 6/2/08 @ 9:05am: There was a photographer on the start boat named Sergei Zavarin who took a bunch of pictures of the event. Unfortunately, because they’re for sale I can’t link to them, but you can view them for free on his SmugMug page at http://ultimate-yachtshots.smugmug.com/?preview=1.

Posted in Kitesurfing & Extreme Sports | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Eclipse Kites, a layman’s review

Posted by direwolff on May 28, 2008

This past Saturday, my buddy Charlie and I had a chance to borrow and ride our friend Gabe’s Eclipse Thruster 14m and Eclipse Nano 12m kites back to back, with a third session on our respective mainstay kites, which for me is the Best Bularoo ’07 10m. Oh yeah, and made a new friend along the way. But first, the kites.

I started on the Thruster at around 2:25pm in what were relatively low winds for Crissy Field on a flood tide. Here’s what the day’s wind graph looked like:

The 14m Thruster handled these conditions like a champ (note the dip to an average of below 10 kts at around 2:40pm). It felt powered the whole ride, and at times even went into near over-powered situations in the gusts (hard to tell from the graph above, but the other side of the Bay is quite a bit more powered than where the meter readings are coming from). The Thruster stays further ahead of the window and was just pulling me ahead faster rather than off the edge of the directional board as the Bularoo tends to do when over powered. So long as I kept a good streamlined body position and handled the speed it never felt like there would be a need to downwind to slow down. For the Cabrinha Race Series at Crissy Field, this kite is going to be very interesting. The kite also wanted to be moved to avoid allowing it to get into its low-end. Moving the kite created tremendous effective wind and I never felt that it would drop out of the sky on the heavy lulls we experienced. The low-end did feel a bit weaker and less stable than my Bularoo, but I attribute this more to the higher aspect ratio of this kite.

After about 40-45 minutes, Charlie and I switched kites. The Nano is a completely different type of kite. First off, it’s much more medium-to-low aspect, which is quickly noticeable by its profile. The Nano is considered Eclipse’s true wave kite and for good reason. The turning speed on this kite was unreal and the effective wind it generates was significantly more powerful than the Thruster’s. It feels like it’s always ready for a fast turn, to the point that it’s a bit twitchy for my style of riding and in the locations that I frequent. I do enjoy riding waves a lot, but unlike the serious wave riders, I still prefer a more stable kite that I don’t have to move as much. Having said that, it was amazing how a 12m kite was just as powerful as a 14m of a different design. Lest you think this has something to do with the Eclipse riding small, another friend was out on his 14m Ocean Rodeo Rise and he was just as powered as we were on the Thruster.

If I was going to start to do more strapless wave riding and was a regular stance rider, the Nano would probably be the smarter kite to ride, but as a goofy footer who likes to use a seat harness and gets a little lazy, the stability of the Thruster is much more welcomed.

As the winds picked up, Charlie and I moved back to our smaller kites. The big difference I could feel (besides the obvious size differences), was that the Bullie a bit more stable, but would quickly loose ground on an upwind tack compared to the Thruster. Actually, when Charlie, whom I can easily out upwind because of my quad fin board, was leaving me in the dust when he was on the Thruster and I was on the Nano. He had at least a 2 to 5 degree advantage which may not make much of a difference over a few feet, but makes a heck of a difference over a quarter or half mile reach. I’m really looking forward to trying the 10m Thruster and experience the combination of its smaller kite turning speed with its upwindability.

The one significant down side I see with the Eclipse kites is their bar, in two regards. First, the throw is very short relative to the Best bars. What’s nice about the long throw is that you can dump 100% of the power which is very handy in strong gusty conditions which we often have to deal with in the Bay area. Second, the locking device to shorten the throw is very clumsy. Best and Slingshot long ago figured out a very simple stopper system that can be moved with one hand under most circumstances. The Eclipse mechanism requires more steps than should be necessary. While the shorter throw would normally be a big issue to me, with the kite upwinding as it does, I’m confident that it’s just a matter of getting used to this because I shouldn’t get yanked off my edge in the direction the kite pulls.

Now for my new acquaintance. As I was walking to my car after the cold Crissy Field shower, I saw this guy that looked familiar but couldn’t place him. And then it struck me. Several friends (most recently fellow Seesmic co-conspirator, Cathy Brooks) had mentioned to me that the well known international blogger Loic Le Meur of Le Web and Seesmic fame was a kiteboarder at Crissy, but for some reason we had never run into each other. Well, that all changed on Saturday. We had actually been riding near each other for part of our last session, so conversation was easy and pretty much kiting oriented. Put two kiters in the same room and no matter what they do outside of this sport will remain a mystery to by-standers as all they will talk about is the latest session…or the one before that. It was no different between us that day :) As an ol’ hand on the Bay area kiting scene I was able to share some of the webcam links we use to track local conditions. You’ll see these now appearing on his del.icio.us page. Always fun to meet a fellow addict, and it’s clear that Loic fits that bill well.

*** Update 5/28/08, late evening: Forgot to mention that I was so psyched after riding the Thruster that I ordered 10 & 14m kites.  Can’t wait to ride’em :)

Posted in Kitesurfing & Extreme Sports | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

U.S. Kiteboarding Nationals are COMING!!!

Posted by direwolff on May 23, 2008

Yee-ha, can’t wait!!!

June 9th through June 15th 2008, San Francisco will be the lucky host of the U.S. Kiteboarding National Championships – 2008.  Should be very exciting with team riders flying in from all over the world to participate in the excitement.  Crissy Field will be where it all goes down.  Whether you’re enthusiast or just curious, come down to check out the pagentry of this event.  For registration information you can check out: http://www.uskitenationals.com.

There will also be parties in the evenings where all are welcome.

Posted in Kitesurfing & Extreme Sports | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Bularoo Update…

Posted by direwolff on May 1, 2008

As you may recall from my previous post on this matter, “Best Bularoo Quiver; the Good, the Bad and the Ugly“, I mentioned the mishap that happened with my 10m Bularoo that was suffering from two slow leaks. The good news is that my dealer, Live2kite.com, replaced it without incident and told me that he would take care of this with Best. The bad news is that today is day number 4 of riding the new kite, and again a slow leak seems to have manifested itself. This time I was in very intense waters just outside of the Golden Gate Bridge, with big swells and somewhat gusty winds averaging 21kts (16-26kt range). After falling off a swell, while holding my kite up above me and reaching for my board I noticed the kite nearly fold up then straighten out again. This sometimes happens if a big gust hits it followed by a big lull. But something about the way it folded didn’t feel right.

I immediately signaled to my buddy Bill that I was going to head back to shore, and we both motored down wind. It took about 15 minutes to get back to Crissy Field and sure enough upon landing the kite and checking the main bladder it had lost tons of air. The leading edge was very soft and I was very lucky to have made it back to shore when I did or I would have surely experienced another kitemare. This is nuts!!! As I let it sit for a bit longer, more air escaped so that it was nearly all flat within another hour. This is the second brand new Bularoo 10m kite I’ve gotten in a month that’s had this happen to it. I’m pumping it up to the recommended 10psi and making sure every valve is properly closed (especially these days since my last incidents).

Well, I need to get to the bottom of this and find out what’s going on here. I’d hate to believe that Best is selling defective kites. I’m a big fan and have lots of other friends riding their other kites. One of my buddies is riding the Bullies too and two days ago he felt one of his end rib bladders was low. Not good. I’ll update this post with what I learn, but suffice it to say, I “ain’t” happy. Given the conditions and situations we get into up here in Nor Cal, having unreliable kites is not only disconcerting but downright dangerous and the last thing you want on your mind as you get out to sea.

*** UPDATE 5/2/08: After the Cabrinha Thursday Night Race Series at Crissy Field last night, the racers are invited to unwind at St. Francis Yacht Club adjacent to the park. While there, I met a young guy whose name escapes me, but he flies a Best Nemesis XP quiver. We got to talking about the slow leak issue I’ve been facing and he explained that it’s a known problem. What’s happening is that the small plugs for the valves on the struts are actually a tiny bit too small. Under air pressure from being pumped up, they tend to release air. This was also happening to his kites. He explained what he learned from another friend.

Pull the plugs off the velcro and the plastic ring that keeps them attached to the valve. Find a pencil or something that can be inserted into the hollow end of the plug that will stretch this. Next, boil some water, then drop the plugs in (I’d recommend one at a time since it doesn’t take long to soften a plug) for a minute. While soft from having been in the hot water, insert the pencil or other device into the hollow end of the plug so that it’s forced to stretch just a tiny bit (the pencil seemed to work best as it barely fit and provided just enough stretch for the plug). Stretching the plug too much will mean that it won’t be able to fit in the valve when you put it all back together, so err on the side of less stretching, not more. After putting the pencil into the plug, then dip the two into cold water to harden the plastic. Consider twisting the pencil while inside the plug before dipping in the cold water just to make sure that the plug is legitimately stretched. That’s it. Then put the plugs back in the velcro and in the plastic holder that’s attached to the valve, and you should be good to go.

Yesterday I pumped my kite up to check on it before fixing it, and it deflated sufficiently to notice within 10 mins. and by 30 mins. it had lost a lot of air. After fixing it today, I left it out for 3 hours and no air had escaped. This afternoon, with a bit of confidence under my belt, I went out to Crissy Field again in 25 kt winds and it held up perfectly. Checked all the ribs and the leading edge, and everything appeared to hold up fine. While I’m no fan of buying a new kite that I then have to work on, I’m just happy to gain some peace of mind from having this issue resolved. I wish Best Kiteboarding would take the time to make this information available as it’s my understanding that this problem is not occurring with Bularoos only, but with all of their kites. Nothing on their web site or their forums explicitly addresses this issue, and from what I understand from the guy who shared this, he has discussed it with Shannon Best to no avail. Sad but true.

*** UPDATE 5/17/08: So the saga continues. Well, I had a re-occurrence of the slow leak issue on 5/15 after 45 mins of riding. Just had a sneaking suspicion I should come in just to check things out despite not having had recent problems since applying “the fix”. Well, sure enough it was slow leaking again. Anyway, on the second page of the thread where we have been discussing this issue on the Best Kiteboarding forums, you should be able to find a link to the instructions from Best on fixing this problem w/zipties, and another forum participant actually put up some pics of where the zipties should be applied. Check out: http://forum.bestkiteboarding.com/viewtopic.php?t=4621&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start=15 for more info.

Posted in Kitesurfing & Extreme Sports, reviews | Tagged: , , , | 10 Comments »

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.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Naish Torch ’07 Kite…Having Exploding Issues

Posted by direwolff on May 22, 2007

(See my update below, as I’ve gotten some more info since originally reporting this story yesterday.)

What’s sadder than a boy with his broken dreams? Well, that would be a boy with a torn kite three days before getting ready to go do some wave riding down the California coast. And here’s what that boy with broken dreams’ face looks like…

This late afternoon, just as my buddy Charlie picked up his kite and began turning it over on its back to deflate it, after a most excellent kitesurfing session at Crissy Field, we all heard a loud bang, like that of a blown tire. Well, it was the leading edge of Charlie’s kite basically exploding right at one of the seams. According to another fellow kiteboarder, this is the second time this has happened this season with the Naish Torch 12 meter kite. Another friend of ours experienced the same phenomena recently. The tear is clean along the seam and through the bladder. To say that Charlie, who has really liked this kite since he’s been riding it this season, was not terribly disappointed, would be an understatement. We all tried to console him, but you could tell that this wasn’t easy on him. He put his faith in Naish, and he was let down with what appears to have been a defective product. Wwe’re only now hopeful that the company is prepared to stand by its product and provide Charlie an exchange, but given that it’s not the first time this has happened, there’s obvious cause for concern.

Of course, most disconcerting of all, is that Charlie and his wife had big plans for some coastal riding this weekend which may now be up in the air as a result of this fiasco. I’ve always had respect for the quality of Naish kites, and I just hope that they make good here, as it would be very sad if they let this event, witnessed by 15 local Crissy Field kitesurfers including a Naish team rider, represent the new image of the company.

(Update – 5/23/07: In the spirit of fairness in reporting, I had a chance to speak to the other kiter who had experienced the blown bladder on his Torch. First off, he loves the kite and continues to fly it, and he explained that while the bladder exploding was certainly unusual, he was willing to attribute this to perhaps having over-inflated it. When I relayed Charlie’s experience and we realized that these two events took place within two weeks of each other, lots of questions loom, but given his positive experience with the kite, the fact that he continues to swear by it and ride it, the fact that Charlie also really likes this kite, we might conclude that these incidents were flukes that shouldn’t get in the way of a kite that so many people enjoy riding.)

(Update – 7/29/07: So it appears that at the recent Crissy Kite Week here in San Francisco, 4 more kites including that of two other good friends of mine also exploded in the same way as Charlie’s.  I took a lot of heat from some friends on the original post but I have to say now, that given the number of people I know who kitesurf, the percentage of those who use a Torch, and the percentage of those who have had it explode in the exact same place, this is faulty construction issue if I’ve ever seen a case for one.  More importantly, it was one of those who gave me the upbeat talking to that fell victim to a blown bladder…he apologized and now supports my assertion ;)

(Update – 9/28/08: Well, it’s not just over a year later and Charlie’s misadventures with Naish Torches are still happening.  Needless to say, he *really* likes these kites, but I think he’s beginning to rethink his commitment here.  Below are pics of his kite and the recent exploding bladder in the exact same spot…)

Posted in Kitesurfing & Extreme Sports | Tagged: , , | 18 Comments »