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Do I need a Beach?

 
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DadKid
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Joined: 21 Jan 2005
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City: Ottawa

PostPosted: Aug 23, 2006 9:22 am    Post subject: Do I need a Beach? Reply with quote

It's been a windy summer and the lake has not been great for wakeboarding. I've been thinking of getting into kiteboarding for a while. My first question is whether I can launch from our dock. I can wade out a short distance from shore but after that it's deep water. We don't have many beaches in cottage country here. The lake has fairly shifty winds because of its irregular shape and hills around it.

A little more background info. I would definitely take lessons from a kitesurfing school in Ottawa. I have been windsurfing since the 80's. I also have done a little practice with a trainer that I picked up in Florida (Cabrinha Shift 1.5 m). Is this a good trainer btw? I find it needs a fairly strong wind to stay up. I'd also want to use my snowboard when the lake is frozen. Thanks for any suggestions.
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IlliniBoarder
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PostPosted: Aug 28, 2006 10:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes, you're going to need a nice, wide, open, preferably sandy beach when you are beginning. Smaller inland lakes (if that is what you are talking about) generally wouldn't meet these requirements, and as a beginner you will be heading downwind pretty quick and won't be able to get back to where you started. Also, the wind on a smaller lake would be quite iffy due to the landscape in the area and whatever it has to travel over or around, causing shifty, gusty winds. You wouldn't really be able to ride in conditions like this unless someone tells you which winds will work from experience, and the launch spots, and you will probably need to be able to stay upwind. Of course this is all in general, so maybe you have a better spot.

Lake Eerie would probably work pretty well, although I think you would be pretty far away. The ottawa river could possibly be good depending on the location and wind direction, but of course I know nothing about it, so your best bet would be to contact some local kiteboarders and/or kiteboarding shops.

Actually, in a quik search I just found a pretty good link for ottawa kiteboarding which might give you a good idea of the situation you would have from wherever youre located.

http://kitesurfingschool.org/ottawa.htm

Also try www.kitebeaches.com, look at the list of beaches in Canada, and see if there are any that would work well for you. But definitely get in touch with local riders and shops, the board at www.kiteforum.com would probably be a good start for this. Good luck in your search.
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DadKid
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PostPosted: Aug 29, 2006 6:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the sound advice and the links, IlliniBoarder. In my windsurfing days I’ve been to some of the listed beaches in southern Ontario. Northern Ontario has some great beaches but they’re a long distance away. I am planning to check out the Otttawa Kiteboarding school. I believe they ride out of Britannia Beach, which is on a very wide section of the Ottawa River.

My only remaining question is, if I spend my first season learning on that beach, after gaining a lot of experience, would I be able to launch from a small inland lake? If I take the plunge and get into this I would be doing it mainly in the city (near the beach) but would also want to ride on the lake at some point.
Regards.
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IlliniBoarder
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PostPosted: Aug 29, 2006 7:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well there are plenty of good inland lakes that you can ride on, but you should find out more information from the other kiteboarders in the area. You will need to find out which wind direction works best on the lake, and where to launch according to the wind (you willl learn more about this in your lessons). If the wind is right (not incredibly gusty or blowing on shore) you should be able to ride well on a smaller lake, as long as you can stay upwind. So if you have one nice wide beach for launching which works well with the wind, you can stay right out there without heading down towards docks, trees to crash your kite into, etc.

I would just say, don't try it until you are quite confident riding, and preferably if someone else has ridden there and knows the wind needed for the launch spots. In order to ride upwind well, you will usually need to be quite powered up and be able to edge well against the kite, which should probably be easier for you to figure out than most with your wakeboarding experience. Just make sure you know about how the wind works there, and make sure you know you can stay upwind, or else you might end up with some really sketchy launches/landings, kite crashes, or swims back through the lake.

Also, if you plan on kiting at a place like this as a beginner, make sure to purchase a cheap, used kite that won't matter too much if it gets destroyed. Smile But, also make sure that it has a reliable chicken loop safety release, which is the issue with older kites, as safety greatly improves by the year.

Let us know if you have any more questions! I'm actually still a progressive "beginner" myself, although I'm a self-sufficient rider...unfortunately my location doesn't allow me to ride at all on a regular basis (although it might work for snowkiting if we actually get snow this year). Once you get the hang of it though, you will be doing all you can to get on the water. I am already hatching schemes of spring break trips, summer housing relocations, etc in order to kite. I have found that my board control skills from wakeboarding really helped me get started as a beginner. Since you already have that, combined with trainer kite experience, you should do pretty well.

Brian
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DadKid
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PostPosted: Aug 30, 2006 6:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for all this info. Much appreciated. It's great to see people passionate about their sports.

I think I know as much as I can to get started. I'll have to book a lesson when summer vacation ends. Just a matter of finding a free weekend.

Sounds like I won't want to try the lake until it's frozen (which feels just around the corner with temperatures in the 40's in the am this week). I'm presuming that kite snowboarding would be less problematic on the lake. We had a cool northwest wind today so I hauled out the old windsurfer. Gusty but good.
Thanks again. Very Happy Very Happy Very Happy
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jason_ssr
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PostPosted: Aug 31, 2006 5:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dadkid, welcome to the addiction. You already understand wind, from your windsurfing, and understand the board from wakeboarding. The things you will be needing to get used to are serious power from the sail (kite) and a sail that is pulling you not just horizontally, but also vertically. Also, you will be dealing with serious amounts of power, compared to windsurfing.

Yes, mechanically, you can ride on a small lake just fine, but in less than perfect conditions a kite is a very volitile thing. This is easily managed when you have plenty of room, but in tight areas, theis presents serisou risk.

All possibilites but be considered with every location you ride. This is why Brian says to talk to others in the area, because they have seen every scenario at those places. A kite is much more fun and responsive than a windsurfer, but also offers more variables for failure. For example, your ripping up the lake on a windsurfer in 25kt wind. What happens if it backs off to 14kts? On a windsurfer, you have to putt back in upwind and get a bigger sail from your beach. Well, a kite doesnt go upwind AT ALL when the wind drops out of its range. So, now where do you come in?

The spots kiteboarders ride in are chosen not just for the ability to go out, but places that have reasonable allowances for problems, like a safe downwind landing area in case of a problem. So, yes, if you can get a kite to fly, you can ride anywhere....but would you want to if there are no tollerances for failure?

Ive ridden iin alot of places that had no tollerance for failure. Sometimes everything went fine and I had a great time. Other times Ive had to swim miles dragging my gear in bitter cold water, or destroyed gear having to come into shore in to trees or obsticles.

Like Brian alluded to, we really dont need to tell you this, because after your lesson and you fell the power of what a kite can do, it will all make sense. That big wooden post out in the lake that you casually windsurf past will look different. You will suddenly see it as a solid object that you can easily get out of control and be hurled into at 50mph! Location choice will be just a big a part of your safety as quick releases and wind conditions.

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DadKid
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Joined: 21 Jan 2005
Posts: 140
City: Ottawa

PostPosted: Sep 02, 2006 4:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for joining in here jason ssr. What you're saying certainly makes sense. I'm safety conscious to begin with but I appreciate the detailed explanations from both of you. I'll update you on the Ottawa scene when I get started.
Cheers,
Very Happy Very Happy Very Happy
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gene3x
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PostPosted: Sep 05, 2006 3:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ahhhhhhh Jason.... Thanks for showing us the darkside. Wink
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