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A beginners experience

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Maineframe
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A beginners experience

Postby Maineframe » Sat Dec 07, 2019 10:59 pm

I thought I would write a little bit about my experience as a beginner learning how to snow kite. Maybe it will be helpful to someone else just starting out to know what it is like to be out there trying to learn on your own.
A little back ground first.
I'm 40 years old, 140 lbs, I've been snowboarding for about 25 years, and have recently learned how to sail. I do not like taking lessons for anything and prefer to learn through trial and error as well as obsessive research. Like most people new to the sport I spent countless hours on the internet learning all that I could. Forums, manufacturers and retailers web pages, and of course you tube. About 8 years ago I owned a rush pro 250 but really could not justify the cost of buying a large kite for snow kiting. Well things have changed, and this year was the year to invest in some gear. I got some advice from the folks on this forum about kite size etc.. And eventually hooked up with Chris from HardwaterKiting. I live about 2 hours away from Hardwaterkiting’s home base in New Hampshire, so I was able to pick up my gear in person. I bought a Gin Shaman 2 9-meter kite and 2 used bars from Chris. I had previously purchased a “like new” apex V 3.5 meter kite from ebay for $120 and had a couple old harnesses from my sailboat.
Chris went above and beyond what could be expected. He spent time advising me through email and dug through his used gear to help me save a little bit of money. Most impressive, he spent a significant amount of time with me (as well as my wife and son) at a local field showing us the basics of the kites. This was extremely helpful when I went out for my first couple of flights on my own. Probably saved me countless hours of difficulty.

Maineframe
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Re: A beginners experience

Postby Maineframe » Sat Dec 07, 2019 10:59 pm

First day out.
12-15 mile an hour winds with gusts around 20 mph, and a few inches of fresh snow on the ground. I static flew the 3.5 meter apex and was thoroughly humbled. The power was impressive. I got dragged and slid around on my bottom plenty. I crashed and stalled and flew beyond the window and had plenty of opportunity to learn how to relaunch. In my book a successful outing. I learned the basics of when to sheet, how to manage stalls, how to relaunch from multiple positions, etc.

Maineframe
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Re: A beginners experience

Postby Maineframe » Sat Dec 07, 2019 11:00 pm

Second day out.
6” of snow on a 300-acre cow field down the road from my house. 6-9 mph winds, gusts around 12mph, lulls of 0-3 mph. I flew the big kite for about an hour static while sitting down. Practiced all the basics: holding position, one handed, sheeting in (forgive me if I mix up this term, I believe it is the opposite in sailing. Sheet in for power out for a reduction of power) to turn and out to avoid the stall, and power dives.
I also had the fabulous experience of bow tying my kite. Land it – untangle – relaunch – realize it is still not quite right- land – untangle again- relaunch.
At this point I am confident that I am terrible at flying the kite and have a lot to learn, so I decide it would be a good idea to strap in to my snowboard. I spend quite some time in a cycle of low wind with gust that are just barely enough to pull myself off my butt and lulls in the range of unflyable to manageable but difficult. Did a lot of rounds of unhooking my bindings, relaunching, stalling, etc. 90 percent frustration, 10 percent fun. Reminded me of learning how to snowboard as a teenager. I spent a lot of time digging myself out of deep powder in the woods.
I eventually did get up on my board and was able to ride in a beam reach to a broad reach. I was even able to ride upwind a bit but would loose my ground after a fall, when getting back up I would slide forward a bit before finding my balance and edging in. Total time riding my board was probably only about 15 minutes, but I’ll take it. Spent the rest of the time (3 hrs total including the 1 hour of static flying) learning the hard way about all the things that can go wrong. A typical experience for me learning new skills.
I will say that some aspects of flying were easier while on the board, mainly flying through the power zone as I could modulate the power using the snowboard instead of sliding on my butt.
While most of my 3-hour session was spent in frustration I am very happy with my progress and can’t wait to go out again tomorrow. It looks like another light wind day, difficult to fly in but probably best in the long run.
May the wind be with you.

Matteo V
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Re: A beginners experience

Postby Matteo V » Sun Dec 08, 2019 2:44 am

I hope that we in COREporate kiteboarding can get to Chris! He would be a valuable asset to the empire!


But that said, you own the best kite in the world to get to know the "querks" of foil kites. I mean that thing (Apex) is the only way to understand the full power of the dark side. It is terrible and will provide many horrible experiences to shape your path in snowkiting. It is in no way an easy Ozone "Access" that just mimics the world of tube kites.

I personally own one in the "Apex III" 3m size. It is the kite I teach advanced students how a kite really works, with respect to backstall and placement in the window. If you learn to make this kite work, you will be well on your way to understanding some of the more advanced race kites like the R1 or Elf, or understand the full potential of of the Chrono 2 or the Sonic or Soul. Keep it up and post your experiences here!

Herman
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Re: A beginners experience

Postby Herman » Sun Dec 08, 2019 12:04 pm

Glad to hear you are having fun and learning. If the wind is too sh1ty it does not matter how good your skills are the kite will not work properly. Using a bigger kite may make board control easier but it is safer to use a smaller kite and learn how to work it. Until you have experience start small you can always change up.

Sheeting is the same for kiting as sailing. If you really want to understand what's going on I suggest you think of it as angle of attack control rather than power control. Same for the trim strap. As in sailing more sheeting in does not always give you more power............ For example you use sheeting in to prevent over flying the window, sheeting out to prevent / recover from backstall , monster over sheeting for reverse launch............

Another example: If conditions are shifty and gusty you need to keep the kite away from the edge of the window, trim strap out and sheeting in does this, but it would be counter intuitive if you are having a hard time and you think of them as depower strap and power control.

Stay safe and have fun!

Regards Herman

fernmanus
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Re: A beginners experience

Postby fernmanus » Sun Dec 08, 2019 11:50 pm

Do I think that your idea of researching obsessively instead of taking lessons is foolish? yes

I had same attitude towards not taking lessons when I learned how to snowboard. My arrogance cost me a lot of wasted sessions and a minor injury. So when it came time to learn how to Kitesurf, I took lessons. Lessons helped me speed up my progression and helped me understand the practical application of everything that I read. And no, I am not an instructor, just a fellow kiter that has been enjoying the sport for over 20 years.

Fortunately, it sounds like you are learning by yourself away from other people and hopefully away from any fixed obstacles (trees, fences, homes, barns, roads, etc). I really don’t have a problem with people learning how to kite on their own in these type of conditions. Just remember, you only have one life and one body, so spending the bucks for a few lessons is not a bad investment. It would have saved you your poor choice of kites. I would have put you on a Peak. Much more forgiving and flies in very little wind.

The costly mistakes that beginners make are as follows: 1. riding or launching near fixed obstacles 2. riding in nasty wind 3. wrong kite size selection for the conditions 4. launching/riding near non-kiters 5. Improper kite purchase due to ignorance. 6. Improper flight setup due to ignorance and/or excitement.

Sure, you can read about these things, but hands-on experiences with a knowledgeable teacher are so much better.

I suggest that in addition to static flying, you test the release mechanisms every session. I wish you safety and the wisdom to know the days when it is better to not kite. “Live to kite another day” is what we say when we pack it in or do not even go out due to bad conditions.

GDTRFB
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Re: A beginners experience

Postby GDTRFB » Mon Dec 09, 2019 1:32 am

Sounds about right Maineframe....I figured it out by myself starting in 2003...never even saw another person snow kiting until 2010...but man do I wish I could have taken a couple of lessons. It would have made everything so much easier. Take a couple of lessons. If only to learn what NOT to do the easy way....By the way, I'm not too far from you up in Bar Harbor...

Maineframe
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Re: A beginners experience

Postby Maineframe » Mon Dec 09, 2019 12:45 pm

Overall I feel like my outings so far were a great success. I should have went out again yesterday but opted to play racket sports with my wife instead. It will be a waiting game now as we are getting rain and up to 50 degree weather this week. Hope to get new snow again soon. I'm grateful that I have a large field to learn on so that I do not have to wait for the lakes to freeze and deal with the additional hazards of ice. I think the field will hold the snow better too. As for lessons, I am sure every one is correct that they would speed up my progress, but they are just not easily accessible/affordable for me.

Matteo V
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Re: A beginners experience

Postby Matteo V » Mon Dec 09, 2019 8:19 pm

Maineframe wrote:
Mon Dec 09, 2019 12:45 pm
Overall I feel like my outings so far were a great success..... It will be a waiting game now as we are getting rain and up to 50 degree weather this week. Hope to get new snow again soon. I'm grateful that I have a large field to learn on so that I do not have to wait for the lakes to freeze and deal with the additional hazards of ice. I think the field will hold the snow better too. As for lessons, I am sure every one is correct that they would speed up my progress, but they are just not easily accessible/affordable for me.
No need for lessons with a tiny depower kite and some life insurance that definitely covers you if you blow it when you move up to a bigger kite. Many of us survived on the same path you are on.

But do not discount getting out and flying that Apex without riding a board. No snow is perfect for quickie static flying sessions. And if you have a large open parking lot, a longboard skateboard is tons of fun with a trainer kite too. I was 100kg when my Rush Pro 250 was all I wanted with a skateboard, even though I owned a 350. Definitely keep the Apex off the asphalt, as you do not need any extra power or sheet-ability.

And yes, lakes suck, except that sometimes they will hold snow from certain wind directions when the surrounding hills have only a few spots with deep snow.


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