Friday, August 25, 2006

Air Time

I'm in the SF Bay area for business - leaving for home later today. Yesterday I had a moment after meetings to stop and gaze out at the Bay from the Marina District, near the St. Francis Yacht Club. I was greeted by a sight (under the Golden Gate) that may be routine here...but isn't something widely practiced on Long Island Sound. It's called "kiteboarding" and it looks dangerously addictive, slightly hazardous to your health and quite capable of providing that adrenaline mainline serious adventure junkies crave.

Says wikipedia - kitesurfing, also known as kitesurfing and kiteboarding, and sometimes as flysurfing, involves using a power kite to pull a small surfboard, or wakeboard on water. Kitesurfing is an exhilarating and energetic sport. The current speed record over a 500 meter (1,640 ft) course is 77.4 kilometers per hour (41.79 knots) held by Olaf Marting.

42 fricking knots strapped to a board! Out of Olaf's way, mate.

Some terminology:

air time: the amount of time spent in the air while jumping. This can be remarkably long; the current record is probably Erik Eck's 39-second kitemare. Five to ten seconds is not unusual.

body dragging: being pulled through the water without standing on your board. This is an early step in the learning process, and is recommended before trying the board after flying a trainer kite.

chicken loop: a hard rubber loop attached to the middle line which has been fed through the control bar. It is used to attach the control bar to the harness so the kitesurfer can produce tension in the lines using their entire bodyweight instead of using purely arm strength.


Anonymous said...

If you want to check out some good video of people doing this, go to Adventure Online TV. I was at a regatta a few weeks ago, and a fella had one of these things. He busted it out, but could not get it going, as there was not quite enough breeze. Bummer, cause I really wanted to see it live.

Anonymous said...

Happens every day where I live. We have some of the best Cape Cod beaches right here in Falmouth on Buzzards Bay. I've shot training, too. Very interesting, especially the first time that big piece of cloth flies you right off the beach and into the air!

I watched Windsurf champion Nevin Sayre learn how to work the kite once, about four years ago before any one else was doing this. 2 hours practicing coming about - he fell every time. Exhausting, just thinking about it.

Zephyr (Sail) said...

Thanks guys for the comments. I'll check out the video link and as well learn more about Nevin.