Disaster in High Winds + Lessons Learned

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Disaster in High Winds + Lessons Learned

Postby nick_80044 » Fri Mar 08, 2013 10:11 pm

Fifth season kiting, and there's still new stuff happening. The fun never stops!

Launched at Alameda around 2 pm. It didn't seem incredibly windy on shore, and folks were pumping 12m's so I went with the 12--I like to be a little overpowered for jumps. Be careful what you wish for--I was overpowered right from the start, but it seemed manageable and I did, in fact, get some big jumps. The wind picked up even more, and I finally had to admit defeat and head back to the beach. I'm downwind because of all the jumping---it was a slog, fighting the kite all the way which was at or close to 12 o'clock.

Finally reach the shack area, and the tiny launch zone is packed--at least seven or eight kites being set up. A few more kites across the path. There's no easy place to land. I'm tired and still super-powered up.

This was a new one for me.

I signal for a landing, and I'm trying to "thread the needle" and land in an empty patch between people and kites, but the wind is really whipping and I can't get a good angle or get the kite closer than about 20 feet to the ground. Suddenly, the kite dives head-first into the grass and then hot launches. I get jerked forward, dragged across the path (or maybe flew over it), smashed through somebody's bagged gear (which was probably a good thing for me), and then I roll and bounce a bit before stopping. I FINALLY pulled my quick release. The kite ended up in the tree next to the road. Some very nice fellows helped with my kite and showed the appropriate concern for my health.

This, in case you're wondering, was not fun. Thankfully, no injuries save a tiny cut on my pinkie which didn't even bleed. I was lucky.

So lessons learned:

1. It was low, low tide. The wind on the beach is not always indicative of the wind out in the (distant) water.

2. I should've been more conservative and gone back for my 9m as soon as I saw how strong the wind was. I was swayed by the siren song of big lofty jumps.

3. You do not tell the wind how you will land your kite, the wind tells you. I should've found an alternative to landing in the middle of a packed kite zone. The beach would've been a better option, though I also worry about getting dragged into the berm if there's a mishap. But I need space, even if I have to go out and land in some mud and shallow pools.

4. I got cocky and said "I can land this thing." I should've ramped up disaster preparation and been mentally rehearsing pulling my quick release *immediately.*

5. Probably not a good idea in such conditions to land close to the path, or anything hard, pointy, or abrasive.

6. Being overdressed is a good thing. I think I'll keep wearing the helmet.
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Re: Disaster in High Winds + Lessons Learned

Postby WindMuch » Fri Mar 08, 2013 10:23 pm

Glad you're OK Vinnie!
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Re: Disaster in High Winds + Lessons Learned

Postby Bulldog » Fri Mar 08, 2013 10:37 pm

I still can't figure out why anyone would actually choose to go out on a 12 if it was windy enough for a 9. Big, lofty jumps? If Ollie was there he would have been on his 7, getting bigger air than most mortals dream of...As long as you have enough wind, you can get just as much or more air with the appropriate sized kite as with a bigger kite. A bigger kite makes it harder to edge and pop, not easier. If the kite is dragging you downwind, you are not going to have good control over your jumps.

I could go on, but it sounds like you learned your lesson.
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Re: Disaster in High Winds + Lessons Learned

Postby Thor29 » Sat Mar 09, 2013 10:41 am

Kite size vs jumping is an interesting subject. I've noticed that if the 9m is powered up it seems like I can actually get higher jumps than on the 12m even when the 12m is almost maxed out.

I do understand why you would take out the 12m though - I would much rather be on the upper limit of the 12m than having to sine the 9m constantly. And once I am out there I really don't want to come back in to swap out kites if I can help it. I'm sure there have been a few times that I was pushing my luck by riding the 12m fully depowered and having gusts almost rip the bar out of my hands. But hearing this and thinking about how hard it can be to land safely with an overpowered kite I plan on being a bit more cautious in the future.
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Re: Disaster in High Winds + Lessons Learned

Postby nick_80044 » Sat Mar 09, 2013 2:16 pm

WindMuch wrote:Glad you're OK Vinnie!


Thanks, Kirk!
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Re: Disaster in High Winds + Lessons Learned

Postby nick_80044 » Sat Mar 09, 2013 2:51 pm

Bulldog wrote:I still can't figure out why anyone would actually choose to go out on a 12 if it was windy enough for a 9. Big, lofty jumps? If Ollie was there he would have been on his 7, getting bigger air than most mortals dream of...As long as you have enough wind, you can get just as much or more air with the appropriate sized kite as with a bigger kite.


Hmm....interesting. I find that to not be the case. In wind like yesterday's, I barely have to do anything to get substantial height off the water with the 12m. After my incident, I went back out on my 9m and there was a noticeable difference. Jumps were okay, but not like with the 12m. Additionally, the 9m was less stable. I liken jumping in gusty winds with my 9m to riding on the Bay Bridge in a Volkswagen next to tractor trailers.

I do have a theory about this: I'm using a bar that's not optimized for my kites (different brand). Turning seems a little sluggish, with non-fluid timing. (Yes, I know--I should have the right bar). So maybe this is causing me to not get all the benefits of quickness/maneuverability a smaller kite offers, which affects jumping height. I don't know if this is true or not.

As to why to choose the 12m over the 9m: If it's clearly 9m wind, I take the 9m. If it's in between, it's a judgment call. As you pointed out, it's no fun being overpowered to the point where you're getting dragged downwind. But like Thor29 said, I'd rather be a little overpowered on a 12m than be a little underpowered on the 9m. It seems that, in my experience at least, the wind is far more likely to die down than to ramp up.
Last edited by nick_80044 on Sat Mar 09, 2013 6:47 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Disaster in High Winds + Lessons Learned

Postby lieutenantglorp » Sat Mar 09, 2013 2:54 pm

Water self rescue on the inside would likely have been the safest way to come in from what you describe. Glad you were lucky instead :-)
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Re: Disaster in High Winds + Lessons Learned

Postby nick_80044 » Sat Mar 09, 2013 3:12 pm

lieutenantglorp wrote:Water self rescue on the inside would likely have been the safest way to come in from what you describe. Glad you were lucky instead :-)


Thanks.

I agree, water would've been safer. It would've been tough yesterday, though. I was walking up the beach, and the tide was so low, and wind so strong, that getting back out to water would've been a major trek while I struggled with the kite the whole way. I was focused on landing ASAP and I didn't see how crowded the landing zone was until I actually got there and climbed the sand berm.

Of course, even punching out in the mud would've been better than what eventually happened.
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Re: Disaster in High Winds + Lessons Learned

Postby le noun » Sat Mar 09, 2013 3:46 pm

nick_80044 wrote: until I actually got there and climbed the sand berm.


So wait, did you try to land your kite behind de shack? because that's a BIG wind shadow right there, which could explain why your kite dropped for no reason...

You land from the beach at alameda, not from the sand berm.
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Re: Disaster in High Winds + Lessons Learned

Postby nick_80044 » Sat Mar 09, 2013 6:59 pm

le noun wrote:
nick_80044 wrote: until I actually got there and climbed the sand berm.


So wait, did you try to land your kite behind de shack? because that's a BIG wind shadow right there, which could explain why your kite dropped for no reason...


It wasn't behind the shack per se, but maybe there was some turbulence coming off of the shack that was a factor. I also think my not-quite-right bar was a possible factor, because it did a similar thing once before (I was in the water, though, so less danger).

You land from the beach at alameda, not from the sand berm.


Not sure what you mean by that. I think you mean that when you bring your kite down, you should still be on the beach, which makes sense. But when the landing zone is packed, it's a little hard to see over the berm and locate an empty spot. Unless you don't care and just bring your kite down on whoever and whatever happens to be there, which I see some people do. I think that makes people unhappy, though.
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