Hugh2 wrote: ↑
Sun Jan 06, 2019 8:52 am
On the other hand, sometimes they are problematic, although in this case mostly operator mis-judgements. This happened on Friday along Bloubergstrand. The wind was persistently SW, directly onshore, as it often is when the SEaster is not in force. There were a few kiters on the beach, some trying to ride 12m alongshore, while others sat and waited for a possible late afternoon SEaster, which had already started at my flat in Milnerton. This was at Dolphin beach, where I was chatting with a Swiss couple who had just arrived and were somewhat disappointed that the much vaunted SEaster was not there (I correctly promised them the next day, yesterday, would be a good one, as will today and the next two, woohoo!).
Eventually around 6PM, another Swiss guy, tall with long black hair, Oscar by name, set up a green 13m Ozone foil kite and a strapless Slingshot foil board and Hoverglide foil and launches, with a little help from me. The waves are small, so after body-dragging through them he gets going fine headed north to Bloubergstrand proper. He's obviously a very capable foil kiter in both regards (I've only tried a foil kite once, and found it very difficult, sort of like the old C-kites with limited depower and only a narrow sweet zone, and I struggle to foil strapless). Then he gybes and heads south past us towards Sunset Beach, all the time heading considerably upwind and out into the bay. I mention to the Swiss couple that he should not go too far, either upwind out to sea or further south, as he will run into the beginnings of the SEaster, and where these two wind patterns clash there is often little or no wind for a while as they compete to see which will win out. Sure enough, he is suddenly clearly struggling to keep the kite flying and eventually drops it, recovers it, drops it, recovers it, drops it, recovers it, and finally down for the count. The Swiss couple are concerned, so once I pack up my kite, giving up on the SEaster coming through strongly enough for my 9m, I promise to check in on him.
Down at Sunset beach, I find him still swimming in his kite, his board already lolling in the small waves on shore. So I go down, help him drag the sodden kite out of the water, and slowly drain it by the tiny flaps on the wingtips, and help him sort the messed up lines. Eventually we get it to fly again and he flies it back and forth on the beach as the gentle SEaster comes through. I encourage him to do that a bit more to dry the kite and I'll give him a lift back to Dolphin beach, but he can feel the SEaster and wants to ride it back downwind. I warn him that when the SEaster is that weak, as he goes downwind he will encounter the opposite problem, the same clash with the SWester somewhere between Sunset and Dolphin. But he is adamant and I wish him luck and not too long a walk, encouraging him to gybe his way downwind just beyond the breaking waves. But you know what it is like, once you get going you don't want to stop, so he heads out and way too far offshore for my liking, and in a couple hundred yards, without even doing one gybe, he is back in the water. It was near sunset now, so I walked down the beach to watch him slowly swim his kite back in, commiserated with him, and left him to drain it and walk the remaining halfway back to Dolphin beach. It doesn't look that far, but I bet he was exhausted from carrying a large wet kite and foilboard all that way, and surely it was long after dark before he got to his car.