OK, well that was quite a session. Reporting back here in case anybody is interested.
So, I was on the water from 2:30pm until about 4:30pm. You can see the wind strength in the chart below for that timeframe. Y-axis is wind speed in mph (yes, miles per hour... ugh.
). Green is lulls, Blue is average, Red is gusts.
I saw 3 kiters on the water during my session - everybody else stayed on the beach. I was on the 14m Naish Pivot and Liquid Force 160x50 board, my friend Chris was on a 17m Cabrinha Contra and a similarly sized board, and there was also a foiler with a single strut kite. Believe it or not, I managed to have a somewhat fun session even during that chunk of time where lulls were sub-5mph, the average was about 7, and gusts were in the 11-12 range. I had to work the kite pretty hard, but I was surprisingly able to stay upwind, or at least even with my starting point on the beach. I just couldn't keep the kite still, almost ever. It had to move constantly
. If I put it up to 12 o'clock (for example, when getting my feet into the straps), it would start to back-stall. I finally dropped the kite into the water around 4:15pm when the lulls went to ZERO and the average windspeed was 2 to 3mph, with gusts at 6 or 7. Even the foiler had come in at that point, and the windsurfers were basically standing still. I guess when you have zero wind, nothing's going to save you.
It was a pain having to land the kite in the water and do a self-rescue, especially since the place was busy with lots of beach-goers today, but overall it was fun and I think it was a success. It was fun seeing how far I could push myself into the lightwind zone, and there's something fun about trying to eek out every little bit of performance and efficiency in order to stay upwind in the lightest conditions possible. I even managed to get a small jump in at one point.
Anyway, long story short, I think this setup will keep me going in pretty much anything up until the kite basically won't fly anymore.