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Submitted by ikiteboarding on 04/16/2005 - 14:58

It's early morning, the first day of 2005. The wind has been howling the whole night. Ever since the sun came up it's been 8 weather. 16 Year old World Champ, Aaron Hadlow, is busy rigging his kite. He arrived in South Africa last week - the Hadlows usually spend anything from three to five months a year in South Africa. According to Aaron and his dad Ian, South Africa is the best place to train for the PKRA tour - not only because of the consistently strong conditions, but because of the variety of conditions. Aaron asks me to Launch his kite. He's taking out a 9 Storm with 15 meter lines. His bar has tape around the depower line - not because it's broken but to stop his fingers from chafing when he does unhooked tricks. He uses the first 10 minutes of his session to warm up, by doing low powered and easier tricks. By the time he's finished with the warm-up people are standing on the beach watching him. He's fired up and his really going for it. He's doing mobes, a variety of handle pass kiteloop combinations, and he is working on some new aggressive wake style tricks. All the moves are unhooked. And then he goes for a new trick. He does a 720 mobe with the kite low and lands it. Later, when we're on the beach he tells me it's the first time he landed it. He's doing some of the most powerful moves that I've seen. When he does kiteloops he pulls with both hands on one side of the bar - unhooked, and he's always higher than the kite with the kite very low when he does kite loops. Aaron has this amazing cat-like ability to stick just about any airborne move. Even when you think there's no way that he can land it, he sticks it smoothly. A few days ago I saw him working on a double handle pass kite loop combination. Ian is sitting on the beach, watching Aaron. Aaron finishes the session on a positive note - he sticked a 720 mobe (which no one is landing yet) and it's going to be the new trick for the PKRA. In the afternoon I meet up with Aaron and his Parents at their house. We look at the pictures and chat about Aaron's achievement as PKRA world champion for 2004, and what they are planning for the next few months. Where does Aaron travel to? Aaron and his family spends a lot of time traveling - in the last year they travelled to all legs of the PKRA tour, trained in South Africa, went home to the UK, and participated in additional competitions held in California, Australia, Texas and Hawaii. Aaron's Sponsors Aaron is sponsored by Flexifoil, Chiemsee, Red Bull and Pro Limit. All the Flexifoil boards including the Aaron Hadlow Pro Model are manufactured by Ralph Hertweck from Xelerator kiteboarding in South Africa. Aaron's equipment Aarons choice of kites are the 9 and 12m Flexifoil Storms - the 9m being his kite of choice. He usually uses 22m lines on all his kites, but occasionally uses 15m. Aaron's results for 2004 PKRA number 1 (world champ) PKRA Austria 1st PKRA Belgium 1st PKRA Cabarete 2nd PKRA Germany 1st PKRA Fuerte 2nd PKRA Brazil 2nd Velocity Games, Texas 1st Gravity Games, Australia 3rd Hawaii Red Bull King of the Air 4th San Fransisco Red Bull King of the Bay 1st ...

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Submitted by ikiteboarding on 04/16/2005 - 14:52

Cape Point has got to be one of the most beautiful spots in the world - and it has huge potential for kitesurfing. The Poleboarders have been going to Cape Point since the eighties and now more and more kiters are waking up to the fact that we have a worldclass spot 85km's from TableView. Carlo from iKiteboarding.com will be venturing down to take photos over the coming weeks and we almost hit it perfect last Saturday with solid swell, but unfortunately only 10knots of wind - check out the pics. The pics with me sailing were taken a few weeks earlier in poor light and a, for Cape Point, small to medium swell. To gather when Cape Point has wind took the polers a few years to figure out so we won't be letting out all the secrets here - all I can say is that's often when you least expect it! Go explore Regards Peter Slingshot/Cyclone kiteboarding...

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Submitted by ikiteboarding on 04/16/2005 - 14:49

One of the most memorable places we've been to is the east coast of South Africa. Unlike the dry and windy west coast, the east coast is almost sub-tropical - the further east you go the warmer the water and air temperatures. At the time of our trip to the East Coast, we planned most of our activity around the Port Elizabeth area. We had some good days, but unfortunately we ran into a bad patch of overcast and windless days - which forced us to go and look for wind in other places. On one such day we headed in the direction of the legendary surf town, Jeffreys Bay. We were actually hoping to find some clear skies and surf, instead we found steady wind and a really awesome spot to kite - in fact we enjoyed it so much that we decided to spend a good number of days kiting Jeffreys. The beach we kited in J-Bay is called Paradise Beach. To get there you must turn right just before you enter Jeffreys Bay and drive for about 12 km's. During the days we kited there we only ran into two windsurfers and one local kiter. This place is so untouched that Riaan, the local kiter, encouraged us to promote the spot on iKiteboarding as they are looking for people to kite with. Jeffreys bay has plenty to offer besides kiting. If you do manage to find a windless day, there's plenty of places to surf. We didn't find much surf - according to the locals January till March doesn't offer much surf, and the winter months offers the best surf. Be sure to visit the Billabong and Quicksilver factory shops where you can buy clothes at half price or less. Every day we spent in J-Bay was windy. The easterly wind blows cross on - and blew in the region of 16 to 20 knots on a daily basis. It is possible to kite in Jeffreys Bay main beach, but it usually blows straight onshore there. Jeffreys bay is definitely one of the better places we have kited on the East Coast of South Africa. We were sad to leave it, but we will definitely be spending some more time there soon. ...

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Submitted by ikiteboarding on 04/16/2005 - 14:46

We hooked up with Kurt Schmeltzer in Port Elizabeth, a 15 year old kitegrom who is one of the hottest riders in PE. Port Elizabeth has plenty wind year round, warm waters (no wetsuits required), and no crowded beaches! On a perfect kiting day it is pretty normal to go to the beach and only find 2 or 3 kiters out - this in the middle of peak season! We are currently touring PE and surroundings and are writing a travel feature. We are staying on a friends yacht and go sailing twice a week. Yesterday, before our session at Blue Water Bay we managed to go out and get a glimpse of what the wind is doing out on the ocean and where it's blowing strongest. Here is the first pictures taken at Blue Water Bay. Here's some pictures of Kurt Schmeltzer in action : ...

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Submitted by ikiteboarding on 04/16/2005 - 14:36

by Peter Petersen Tales of pirates, cyclones and Malagasy handshakes is enough to get any seasoned traveler to reconsider the choice of visiting the worlds fourth largest island. Madagascar however, is truly a place of timelessness, poverty, despair, beauty and the wave-explorers paradise, all in one. The island inhabits 17 million people, yet does not have a single traffic signal and is in a stagnant mess after decades of political turmoil and neglect. But we went to find waves, and tales of Africa's G-land lured us to the South West away from the unique rainforests and tropical beaches up north. Many surfers, poleboarders and kiters have visited Madagascar to find waves and wind in abundance so our Team of kiters and surfers from Cape Town and Durban where in good spirits. Most spots that have been kited are situated South of Tulear from Androka to Fort Dauphin on the West Coast. Along this entire coast you find outer reefs with passes which pick up the predominant SW swell. The only problem is getting from spot to spot as overland travel is nigh impossible at 10km/h along sandy tracks.. Close to some of the reefs are tiny islands, some of which have bones of pirates buried there. These islands are ideal as launching pads for our kites. Last years cyclone came this far South and finding boats other than the local dug-out balsawood Pirouges can be tricky, as a number of Cats and bigger yachts were trashed. We were lucky though, and had booked with Captain Crusty who had access to a couple of boats with reasonable hp onboard. These islands are up toward 3km offshore and you will be ill-advised to kite without a safety boat (as we found out on numerous occasions). The wave we were chasing is called Flameballs and is a legend amongst surfers. Apparently it has never been kitet before so being the first ones to sample it's power and beauty was truly special. The lefthander is long, tubing, fast and with numerous sections. For surfers it is the ultimate challenge and you need skill and good wave selection to make it's 3-400meter ride. For kiters, it is perfect, the predominant tradewind blows from the left and is cross-off on the face (but not as bad as Ponta Preta and One Eye) so you can rip top to bottom on the glassiest wave ever - even in 30knots+. The wave is dope as it breaks so consistent that you quickly pick up courage to push harder and later on each and every wave. By the end of the day, Mike "Crash" Randle, Phil Marchand and Sebastian Cattelan were doing floaters and late re-entries to the holler of the guys on the boat. Getting tubed is possible as Phil Marchand and the Catman got numerous cover-ups. Craig Koleski from Gust Magazine shot thousands of pics - look out for the July edition of GUST.. Unfortunately we never got it bigger than 4-5ft and as we are told it holds solid 10ft with ease - there is so much more to do.. Best time of year for wind and waves is May-September which also happens to be the dry-season, so there are almost no mosquitoes and risk of malaria is very small. The beaches are insane, the water warm and tropical and the local girls love to give after-surf massages for a small fee. The beauty of the sea and beaches far outweigh the mess a lack of sanitary facilities cause, so if you are brave enough to enter the 3rd world and live like they did 1,000 years ago, then pack your bags for Madagascar - you'll never regret it. Best regards Peter Petersen Slingshot, Cyclone Kiteboards, Quiksilver Wetsuits. ...

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Submitted by ikiteboarding on 04/16/2005 - 14:27

Pat Goodman is the lead kite designer for Cabrinha Kiteboarding. After being actively involved in hang gliding for more than eight years, he took up windsurfing and immediately saw room for improvement in the equipment. In 1981 he started a sail loft on Oahu. Soon after, the craving for the ultimate sailing conditions led him to Maui where he made his own line of custom sails, "Goodsails Maui". Following the success of Goodsails Maui, he was approached by Gaastra Sails where he worked for 9 years before joining the Neil Pryde design team. There he worked together with current sail designer Robert Stroj until he was introduced to kitesurfing. In 2001 Neil Pryde and Pete Cabrinha created “Cabrinha” kites. They were sharing office space with the design team at the time and Pat immediately took interest and got “Hooked”. The rest of the story is obvious. Pat got in on the ground floor and has been there ever since. Where does the development of a new kite start? What and who determines what kind of characteristics a kite should have? Pat Goodman : The kites themselves are evolving as we go along, but we listen carefully to the demands from our distributors and their customers. I suppose the best way to look at things is to separate the kite design into two categories. The first being the evolution of the kites where we test, refine and improve things the best we can annually in means of performance, durability etc. The second being true R&D where we try and think outside the “bubble” and come up with new technology breakthroughs in both performance and especially safety. Safety sets a huge precedence for all of our new projects and products. The beginning of a new design is in many times a collaboration of ideas from market feedback, Pete Cabrinha who is heavily involved in all of the products bearing his name (and extremely creative by the way) and our team rider, testers, sales and product managers. We all meet regularly and discuss the direction of all products and monitor the progress of the testing. The motivating thing is we all share the same goals yet have very different ideas of how to get there. The group of people involved have decades of combined experience in the industry and are ALL avid kitesurfing participants. Tell us a bit about the new Cabrinha kites for 2006. There are rumors that there's two new kites - the Revolver and the Crossbow. How different are they from your current products, and what can we expect? Pat Goodman : I am not free to comment on the 2006 product line just yet as for the kites have not been introduced publicly. I can tell you that there are many new improvements and innovations. Cabrinha is committed to performance and safety reflecting heavily in the designs for 2006. How much does user feedback count? Do you keep track of how the market responds to Cabrinha products? Pat Goodman : User feedback is very important to us. We have a full time on-line support mail which is monitored and replies are sent out promptly. We also have had several on-line user surveys which have been very helpful in understanding the needs of the consumers. Our distributors are also very actively involved in communicating their needs and concerns within their markets. I work closely with both professional and non profession test people actively providing valuable feedback. A few years ago low aspect kites were meant for beginners and high aspect kites for the pros. Things have changed and just about everyone are on medium-high aspect kites. These days it seems that medium-high aspect kites have great performance whilst still being a suitable kind of kite for the beginner. How feasible is it to have 3 or 4 different designs - is it not better to focus all the design and R&D efforts on one or two kites, and bring out a great product instead of splitting all these man hours across a range of kites? A lot of kiteboarding companies have up to 5 different ranges of kites whilst the majority of the market only seems to be using one or two of these kites. Pat Goodman : I hear where you’re coming from on this one. Rather than dividing the kite ranges by skill level, it is getting to where the kites are more defined by feel and performance. High aspect ratio (or mid aspect ratio) kites with the help of re-launch systems such as Recon and even 5th lines have made the real issues with high aspect kite seem distant. What one can expect from a high aspect ratio kite is more airspeed, usually higher jumps and longer hang time. Although a fast turning kite will provide the pop needed to boost plenty high, it is the hang time that still shines in the higher aspect kites. To answer your question. Yes, as the range of the kites increase, the amount of actual different kite models needed can be simplified and what use to take four or five lines to cover can now easily be covered in three. We are heading this direction ourselves. What is your typical working day like? Do you get time to kite a lot? Pat Goodman : My days are not typical in any way. They vary quite a bit depending on where I am. I travel frequently between Maui and China for developing the kites. Throughout the year many organized test sessions take place and we head off to destinations most suitable for the kites we are testing. We can’t simply stay in Maui and test everything. As you know it is a windy place and the majority of the kites we sell are 12.0 and 14.0 sq. meters. For the most part I spend half of the day on the computer and then if visiting the factory I work with them in a “hands on” participation to make sure the designs are coming together as designed. When in Maui I likely test kites (along with my test team) approximately 3-4 days a week and then head back to the office to follow upon what I have learned. Then because I am totally hooked on kiting, I free sail on the weekends whenever possible. Cabrinha has a proven track record of innovative products. The Recon system and the Contra kites are legendary in their own right, and Cabrinha seems to be slotted in as one of the top 3 Kiteboarding brands in the world. But there has also been a few setbacks throughout the years, as with any other company. Every time there are big changes in any design, there is always a risk of things going wrong. With kiteboarding still in its infacy there seems to be a race against time to push innovative products on the market, and in doing so quality and durability can sometimes suffer as a consequence. The new kites seem to be a lot different from current designs. What kind of product testing will go into the new kites to ensure a solid and durable product, whilst maintaining innovation? Pat Goodman : You are correct and we are fully aware of this situation. We have set up a testing procedure that has documented reporting done on everything. Starting at the beginning with sophisticated computer controlled lab test equipment (recently upgraded to the best possible available) which tracks material elongation, breaking strengths, simulated UV resistance, color fastness, flutter testing and even testing materials after a washing simulation to compare the material finish durability and longevity. There is extensive water time hours logged on all of the new designs and products to ensure that they are ready for the consumer. Keep in mind we have a full time person monitoring and recording the testing both in-house and on the water all along each step of the development of any new product and or material. In the Metropolis DVD there was a whole section about R&D. There wasn't a lot of mention about how long these products were designed to last. How long are kites and control bars designed to last in terms of kiting hours? How often does the average kiteboarder upgrade their equipment, and how does this affect product design in terms of durability and longevity? Pat Goodman : This is a tough question to answer. Breaking the average rider’s annual usage into hours is a bit difficult. The environment in which the kite is rigged, used and abused is very different from region to region. For instance in a place like Maui (where it is very windy all summer long) it is easy to rack up the hours on an 8.0 where in many places a consumer will be lucky to kite once a week. On the flip side, where a consumer has to rig on asphalt and or concrete, the wear issues are completely different than those maybe in Tarifa where the kite is exposed to constant flapping in the wind when left on the beach. Typically as I mentioned above we track the wear and tear of the products as we test them and 100 hours is the first real bench mark for having a close look at how things are holding up. If we don’t make it to there, then we have a real close look at what is wearing and how it can be improved. I feel that it is safe to say that we design the kites with a lifespan intension of at least one year used by an avid participant. But in many cases this will equal a couple of seasons at least for an average consumer. Can you describe your personal riding style, choice of equipment, and how much of your personal riding style is reflected in the final designs? Pat Goodman : My riding style is pretty conservative actually. I am a perfect example of a high performance consumer (far from pro). I love to boost big air and love to ride in small to moderate sized surf. I am not a handle pass guy at all (as are many of my testers). I ride hooked in all of the time and will let the young guys bounce there bodies off of the sliders and kickers. I do have a very sensitive feel for the trim and performance of a kite. In many times much more sensitive than most I kite with. I can hop on a kite for two minutes and come back and tell you whether or not is trimmed properly, flying fast enough, sitting where I want it in the window, flying upwind well and turning fast. I am a little older than the rest of my testers. They actually call me “Dad”. I can still kick their butts so they don’t call me that too often :-) Way back in 2001 all the companies came out with the Variable Aspect Ratio concept - a concept that promised similar turning speed across a range of kites. In 2005, we are light years ahead in terms of kite design, but all the kites in a range still turn very different. A typical 8 square meter kite is a lot faster than a typical 12 square meter kite, and often different size kites don't even handle the same. Do you think it is possible to have kites from 8 square meter to 14 square meter to have the same turning speed and feeling? Pat Goodman : In a perfect world we would all have the same kiting style and demands from the kites. Unfortunately this is not the case. There are times when we need to slow down the 8.0’s for instance for a beginner and speed them up for the guy who boosts a double backs with a kite loop in the equation. I agree with you that it would be nice if all the kites had a similar feel. The hardest thing is to get the large kites to turn fast enough. This is always a challenge for all of us. The conditions themselves also really have an impact on the feel of the kites for you will agree that 16.0 conditions are just usually not as gusty and violent as when riding an 8.0. It is easy to slow down the small kites. I do my best to keep them fast but manageable. The 2005 Cabrinha C02 is a great kite. Will Cabrinha still offer this in their 2006 product range? Pat Goodman : Yes, and it is even better. Windsurfing seems to have reached a stage where innovation has slowed down and most companies can now focus on refinement. There seems to be room for a lot of innovation with kiteboarding. Where would you say kiteboarding is in terms of it's life cycle. How many years of rapid innovation do you foresee for kiteboarding, and would you say that Kiteboarding as a sport has peaked yet in terms of numbers? Pat Goodman : As far as kite development is concerned, this year in particular has proven to us that we are just scratching the surface of things to come. The room for improvement in performance and safety is wide open. I truly feel as we improve the safety of the sport the growth rate will increase along with it. Right now, the dangers involved in the sport is for sure keeping some people away. It is not really comparable to windsurfing either at this point. This sport attracts a wider variety of ages in its user group and brings in a lot of young people with also secures the growth of the sport. ...

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Submitted by ikiteboarding on 04/16/2005 - 14:23

It's currently winter in Cape Town and we can't complain about wind or swell as both have been in plenty of supply. Late Saturday evening I got a call from Peter Petersen - “Cape Point is on tomorrow morning”. We headed down to Cape Point at about 6am on Sunday morning. The air temperature was about 13 or 14 degrees without the wind chill, but the waves were epic. A few other kiteboarders were invited for the wave riding session, but no one pitched in time - Peter had the whole point to himself. ...

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Submitted by ikiteboarding on 04/16/2005 - 14:20

by Peter Petersen Carlo has asked me to comment on my use of directional boards for waveriding. Firstly, I think it comes from the fact that I come from a windsurfing background and a directional just feels more like what I'm used to. A lot of people ask if a directional is better for waves - I think the answer to that is very personal, it's all about the feeling you get when you ride your board. For me it seems like you can push harder and throw more spray on a twin-tip with thin rails, the downside is that everything has to be done with utmost precision and power in the kite. On a directional the rounder, thicker rails are more forgiving, and the volume allows you to make sections with less pull in the kite. This makes the ride more carving and flowing in my view, two aspects which I enjoy. On a directional you ride a lot on the fins, whereas the twin-tip relies almost entirely on it's rail. Rail to rail manouevers feel easier on a directional for me as I can do them over the fins as opposed to having to "jump" from rail to rail on a twinny. When I ride a twinny I constantly spin out on my bottom-turn because the set-up is very unforgiving, the grip is either on or off. Directionals have oodles of grip over the fins, some say too much as guys coming from twin-tips complain that it feels like you are dragging an anchor. This hasto do with the fin area being so big. Bottom curve and outline are two of the most important aspects of virtually any water craft, on a twin-tip you are making huge sacrifices as you cannot optimize scoop, rocker and outline to suit the waves you ride. On a twin-tip it's not unusual to see 5 cm or more rocker (you have to get the front-fins to clear) on my directionals we never have over 3cm. The twin-tip rider also can't put in bigger fins as he will trip over them going the other way, so design-wise the directional can be more tailormade. The pointy nose is another huge advantage when you punch through the roof of a wave. With a directional you can optimize your board to the wind and waves you ride, on a twin-tip or 60/40 you are invariably making sacrifices. But that is not to say that you can't rip on a non-directional, the best guys in the world (and SA) are riding twin-tips and 60/40's in the waves and making it look great. What matters to me is that it feels great, and I'm sure the guy who rips on his twinnie is as stoked as I am on my directionals... At the end of the day we are so fortunate that kitesurfing is so efficient that you can grab virtually anything and kite it.. Myths about directionals: You have to jibe - I agree you are better off if you do (no early hip-replacements) but I see quite a few guys going out switch stance. Jibing is difficult - It's all in the mind, some guys prefer getting hurt doing kiteloops, after that jibing is easy.. You can use a smaller kite - This formula doesn't seem to work unless your directional is a longboard, my directionals are all under 140cmx39cm so I can't take out a smaller kite if I want to stay upwind You go upwind better - Directionals have more fin-area, but they also have more curve in the outline which hampers upwind ability. The pointy nose also shortens the rail so all in all the upwind ability is probably on par. You can surf the wave without using kite - Unfortunately not, as the surface area of even the bigger directionals is too small to carry your weight properly. You look cool on the beach - Definately.. My latest board: Cyclone Destroyer 138cmx39cm. Continuing along the lines of my previous boards, this board has been tweaked in a number of areas. More volume in middle and front rails, less volume in the tail and a more curvy outline on sligthly longer template. This board is the board I rode most in Madagascar. I wouldn't know what to improve right now..... Fins and finboxes. You will notice that I have some Stealth looking fins in the board, these are 4wayfinsystems from Dean Geraghty which I'm busy testing - they are fast as s$@#@#. The boxes are also 4wfs which are unique in that you can change the finsize/type, splay, toe, back and forward position of the fin by turning a screw! This enables you to change characteristics of board quite substantially, you can make it more or less grippy, stiffer or looser, faster etc. I have tested system on 3 boards so far and have been able to tune each board to my personal style within minutes. If any of you have the 4wayfinsystems and need assistance in tweaking your board - drop me a line, with this system you can make any board become champ! And before you ask, there is no problem with strength provided boxes are installed correctly. For more info on 4wfs contact Peter on +27 82 658 7033 or http://www.4wfs.com ...

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Submitted by ikiteboarding on 04/16/2005 - 14:17

Tell us a bit about Cyclone kiteboarding. How did you start the business, and how long have you been running Cyclone? In the early days we were getting our Kiteboards shaped by the Surfboard manufacturers and I felt we were having difficulty explaining to them what was needed, so what better solution than to make it yourself. I have been making boards ever since - about 6- 7 years now. It is a known fact that you and your brother used to be on the World Surfing tour. How long were you on the tour for, and what sort of trophies did you bring home? Also would you say that the world tour gave you an edge in terms of gaining valuable experience that you can apply to the kiting industry? Yeah I was on the ASP world tour for about 4 years , my highlight was probably my first event outside SA , at Lacanau, France where I beat Tom Carrol the current world Champ at the time in the 1/4 finals and then lost to Gary Kong Elkerton. The experience gained by competing against the best surfers in the world definetly gives you an advantage when competing at Kiteboarding events - I suppose the most important thing to learn is heat management. What sort of conditions do you guys have in Durban - what's the biggest swell you've managed to charge on a kite? The conditins here in Natal are really a lot more intense than elsewhere in the world, probably more like Hawaii than anywhere else. There are always waves and therefore our style and equipment varies from say Cape Town . Myself and Alwin Van Breda kited the Mound during the Cyclone swell @ about 12ft, pretty sick conditions. How would you describe your kiting style - what sort of styles are you into (Surfing, new school, old school, etc.) Probably a mix of all three hey ! Surfing obviously plays a big part , no handle passes yet though. More recently a whole bunch of Slingshot riders went up to Madagascar. Can you tell us anything interesting / funny stories about the trip? Must have been the look on the faces of the more conservative CT guys when they arrived at base camp to find the DBN crew already at full tilt at the bar. What is your preferred board of choice at the moment? I currently have 2 boards , the 135x 39 Destroyer for waves and then a 125 x 38 Odyssey for freestyle kiting. What do you prefer at the moment - surfing or kiting? To be honest I hardly have time to go surfing , kiting takes up most of my time but it is really hard to beat a perfect 6ft Cave Rock barrel on a surfboard. It seems like big wave surfing is the thing at the moment. Everyone's surfing and towing into them. Kiteboarding is following that trend and by the looks of it we are able to pull into places where others can't. Have you or any of your team riders been charging big waves on kites lately? We have been getting some good swell here lately but not 15 - 20 ft that the guys get in Hawaii . There is a spot that I would love to kite when it breaks , Aliwal Shoal is about 7 kms out to sea and when the swell gets up that place is where I would like to take a kite . I have towed in there with a surfboard once , pretty gnarly , must have been about 20 ft but need backup though. Picture Credits : Al Nicol ...

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Submitted by ikiteboarding on 04/16/2005 - 14:14

A wetsuit is a wetsuit - right? Wrong! Do you know what you are looking for when you walk into the store and see a rack full of wetsuits? In my quest for the perfect suit, I have stumbled upon many facts that I would like to share with you, which will help you too to make the right decision when you next purchase yourself a suit. I will also discuss some handy hints on the maintenance of your suit and in my next review we will go into more detail about the brands that are available to us on the market. First of all we have to find out our needs. What water sport are you planning to do? A Scuba diver needs different suits to the Deep Sea Divers, and Surfers need different suits to Windsurfers. In this case I will be discussing purchasing a suit for a kiteboarder. The sport is still in its infancy, so there are not many kiteboarding specific wetsuits on the market yet. So far, the surfing wetsuits are best suited for us. What kind of protection does a kiteboarder need? What are the conditions like where you will be kiting? Warm water conditions will need different suits to cold water conditions. And generally speaking the wind is also colder where the water is colder and therefore your suit needs to protect you. Having a suit that is too warm will also affect you negatively. There are suits that protect your body from the heat of the sun. Today, there is a suit for everyone and you just have to know what you are looking for. Layers are always the key to maximum protection. What are you looking for in your suit? You want flexibility. You want comfort. You want to stay warm in cold water conditions and this I mean that you want to maintain your body temperature. You also want to stay dry for as long as possible. Can you afford to pay the price of not having the above? Let’s go into more detail and explain to you the differences between the various quality suits, but first we need to get a clear understanding of the material a suit is made of, see the glossery at the end of this discussion for more on material. How must a suit fit? My call is Snug-As-A-Bug-In-A-Rug. Any other way, and you’re loosing the benefit of the features. The collar must not strangle your neck, the wrist bands must not cut off your circulation, and there must not be space for air (or water) to enter into the suit. A suit might fit slightly restrictive outside the water, and sometimes you need to test it inside the water before you can really make a decision. This I would say is most relevant to very thick suits or the more entry level types. A top of the range surfing suit these days can be tried on inside the shop and you will know if you're gonna take it or not. The myth that you need water in your suit to stay warm is long gone. If you want to get cold then that is fine, but the best way to stay warm is to keep in what’s in and out what’s out. Like any medical practitioner will tell you, in an emergency, should you wish to assist someone suffering from hypothermia, place them in luke warm water. Water is the fastest and best way to change body temperature back to where it should be - hot or cold. So, back to wetsuits... Water takes away your body heat around 5 times more quickly than air and so it is vital that as little contact as possible is allowed between the two. Maintenance 1. Never wash your suit with any detergent. Rinse your suit in fresh water for at least 15 - 20 minutes, after every use. If you have to use soap, use a very little of a very mild dish soap and make sure you rinse it all out. 2. Do not machine wash your suit. 3. If you must hang the suit up, then don’t use a hanger, because it will cause irreparable bumps on the shoulders. Rather lay the suit down on the floor in a dark room. 4. Never turn your suit inside out and leave to dry, especially the top of the range ones! This will also cause compression of the neoprene gas cells, leading to permanent failure once the suit is being used again. Never dry your suit in the sun. Always dry your suit in a dark and ventilated area. 5. Do not fold your suit up. The creases will cause poor insulation at the folds. 6. Zips need periodic protection with bees wax. 7. Should you wish to lubricate your suit, you can use a little baby oil in the water, or you can purchase special silicone spray from the manufacturer. Do not use anything from an aerosol can on your suit, as it will most likely contain chemicals that will eat away the neoprene. 8. Velcro can cause allot of damage to your suit, therefore ensure that all Velcro tags are covered or tucked away. The final part of my review is the pricing structure. The more bubbles they pump into the material, the softer, and more flexible the material becomes. Comfort therefore means that your wetsuit will probably not last longer than a season, and right now comfort comes at a hefty price. Windsurfing suits are pure rubber, and not very flexible but they keep your dry and warm, which means they are also more expensive than the avarage suit. The less expensive suits are less flexible, more water absorbing and will last much much longer. Technology of the material has reached a stage where they have found the materials that provide comfort. They have also found materials that can maintain body temperature, and that is water resistant. But what they now need to do, give us a wetsuit that has all the bells and whistles, and that can last a long time. _______________________________________________________ The different types of wetsuit material and features that is available are the following: Spandex: This material is very thin and stretches really well. They are mainly for diving in tropical conditions protects your body from bluebottle stings, scrapes and the sun. People also often use these types of suits as an extra layer underneath their normal neoprene suits. Provides the body with 45% insulation. Thermoplastic: This material is between 1.2 and 1.2mm. This three ply material is sandwiched between two layers of Spandex, and is also used in warmer climates, and is windproof. Provides the body with 30% more insulation than the Spandex suits. Neoprene: This is the stuff we are mainly talking about that your suit is made of. Neoprene was discovered by Jack O'Neill in the 1940s. It is a stretchy rubber made from melted-down petroleum chips which come from Limestone that has been 80,000,000 years in the making. This Synthetic rubber is filled with tiny nitrogen gas bubbles, which gives it the insulation and flexibility that we are looking for. Thickness of material is from 3mm to 9mm. This foam type material has various degrees of water absorbsion and windproof abilities. Mobility of the suit reduces as the thickness increases and is typically laminated with other materials depending on the desired function of the material. Superstretch Trade names differ with each brand but its mainly referring to a particular brand's most flexible rubber. Mainly used in areas where most movement takes place (i.e., the shoulders). It's generally considered less warm and durable than other kinds of neoprene. Every year it's the relevant brands' top of the tops: what was last year's super ultrahigh stretch is this year's boring old neoprene. Titanium A soft metal weaved into neoprene to reflect heat back to the wearer. Nylon Lining Neoprene is often lined with a layer of Nylon. This gives the neoprene extra strength and comfort. Polypropylene Thin material that doesn't absorb water and has been replaced by nylon linings in suits in the late '80s and is often used for insulating rash guards today. Rubber outline Neoprene suits can be outlined with a Rubber Finish, which sheds wind and water. Zippers A zipper in your suit means a point of entry for either wind or water. Many suits have a zipper cover (also known as spine pads) which squeezes any unwanted elements out as your body moves along. Seams You want a seamless suit. Stitching causes water to enter your suit and is so yesterday anyway. In the same breath, most suits are stitched but some of the suits stitching has been covered with rubber, and is therefor called "seamless". The idea of seamless is that you dont want a point of entry for wind or water. Kneepads This feature is for when you're diving and spend time on your knees. Key Bags If your suit does not have one of these nifty bags somewhere in it, then you gotta reconsider your purchase. Dry Suits This suit is made from a 100% waterproof material of some kind and is specifically for Deep Sea Divers. They are able to inflate the suits as they go deeper, thus reducing the pressure they experience. Very advanced in their game but not very aesthetic, any way we are talking about suits for kiteboarders, not space kadettes, so you can ignore this option completely - unless you wanna look like a space kadette of course. Wet Suit Accessories Booties are generally made for protection against the elements such as wind, water, sun, and or the grounds your feet will be covering. Hoods can reduce the loss of heat by about 20 - 50 percent. Try using one that is attached to your suit for maximum protection. You also get hoodies that have a bib-like material to tuck in under your suit. Gloves are also available for the protection against the elements and for when you are catching sea creatures... _______________________________________________________ Look out for the next review of what brands and features are on the market today which combines all the aspects discussed above. ...

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