LOCAL KITER PIONEERS

Where are people riding, gear questions, share your ride, etc.

LOCAL KITER PIONEERS

Postby JRN » July 24th, 2013, 6:35 am

If you have seen the "Outdoors Wisconsin" segment of guys on skis with kites that look like old school parachutes, or heard the accounts of a couple of dudes in the early days, snow kiting, in the nude yet, on Mille Lacs, my recollections may seem relatively recent in contrast. I first saw Coach, aka Mark Kedrowsi, carrying what looked like a limp, wet bundle of rip stop at Bellaire. He had just returned from a down winder to Mahtomedi...it didn't look like fun to me. Shortly thereafter, it was Teran who was lauching another foil from the shores of Ramsey. Both these guys had multiple wins and speed records at the Mille lacs windsurf crossing, and among the best poleboarders around. It was the consensus among the rest of us that they were "nuts!" I'm guessing that it was in the first years of the New Millenium. With the great innovation of Inflateable kites, everything changed.

STAY TUNED FOR MORE RECOUNTS OF "THE EARLY DAYS" OF LOCAL KITING
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Re: LOCAL KITER PIONEERS

Postby JRN » July 25th, 2013, 6:46 am

HOWEVER, my boosting coach/beautician (yes, she's why I look this good :^), Dianne Nelson, informs me Judd & Teran had been experimenting with foils out on the snow during the previous winter. Alot of us jumped on the bandwagon the next winter. My windsurfer buddy, Pete, & I bought an Air Rush 3m trainer from The House. It was a snowless season, but we laced up our skates & hit the pond..I mean literally HIT the ice! I wonder if now, in retrospect, if the House regrets opting out of the kite game.

Pete, of course, was a natural: effortlessly flying the kite, keeping it in the sky, and moving all over WBL with no issues to the point of boredom. I, on the other hand, was a complete disaster. Crashing the kite near innocent children, dragged around, yanked skyward, doing headers over heaves, and dropping the kite with great regularity. I think Pete lost 10 lbs. our first session, chasing me around to relaunch. He finally left in disgust, & I wished I had spent the extra bucks for a relaunch kit.

MORE TO COME :P
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Re: LOCAL KITER PIONEERS

Postby JRN » July 29th, 2013, 6:23 am

lITTLE DID I KNOW, that in the western metro, other early adopters were busy as well. Voita, another highly skilled windsurfer (& madman), held an event that winter called, "Crashed Ice" out on Minnetonka. Several of the contestants were from the local sailboard racing world, and he even brought in some pro-level European kiters.
I was amazed to see how relaxed they seemed as they executed various jumps and tricks that seemed almost magical & was also impressed by the advanced skill levels of the locals. There was Mike Winter and Joe Levens boosting above our heads, not to mention Tighe, Nate B, local heartthrob Laura Maher, and some dude named Spotke. I think Mrs. Levens ended up on the winners' podium that day.
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Re: LOCAL KITER PIONEERS

Postby JRN » July 31st, 2013, 5:30 am

BEING ANXIOUS TO JOIN IN THE FUN, I learned that Eric S. had a kite for sale. I was invited to join him and other kiters and land sailors at Buffalo High School to try it out. I was hardly prepared for what ensued. On the tennis courts were two Jerrys. One was a old buddy, Jerry Wood, who was jibing around the light poles on a land sailer powered by a windsurf sail, and in hot pursuit was the legendary, Jerry Sandell, riding a skateboard while flying a foil. Some how he was managing to sine the kite in perfect timing so it went over the light poles on the upstroke and not get tangled. You can imagine how impressive this was to a newby to the kite world. Needless to say, I left that day the proud owner of an inflateable c-kite.
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Re: LOCAL KITER PIONEERS

Postby JRN » August 6th, 2013, 7:22 am

ALTHOUGH INFLATEABLE & ABLE TO FLOAT, the acquisition of a c-kite was not an automatic ticket to ride on water, but it was a beginning. Luckily, that summer provided ample opportunitities to experiment and explore at Lake Mille Lacs. My longtime pal & fellow windsurfer, Terry Dunklee, joined me in the challenge. We spent many an hour and long summer afternoon, trying to unlock the secrets of launching and flying our kites, along with brief moments of glory, actually riding.
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Re: LOCAL KITER PIONEERS

Postby JRN » September 28th, 2013, 3:28 pm

WE SOON DISCOVERED...the main disadvantage to the C-kite design, other than the lack of depower, was the inability to launch the larger sizes in light winds. Being MNsota, kiting in light wind was almost a prerequisite if you wanted to take advantage of our fickle breezes. The preferred technique at the time was to pull vigorously on the center lines until your hands were above your head, release, and charge the kite. This had to be timed perfectly during a gust, and hopefully in shallow enough water to move quickly. Which was fine in knee deep water, but made relaunch a chastening experience in the deep. Once the kite had rolled up on its nose, tips in the air, you could sometimes coax it into the air, providing the gust had sustained. What the sport needed was a technological breakthrough. And it was soon to follow...
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Re: LOCAL KITER PIONEERS

Postby JRN » October 5th, 2013, 8:02 am

The breakthrough was the "5th line." An additional line ran from the nose, around where the pump leash attached, & back to the bar. Now little effort was required to stand the kite on its ear and get it airborne. I first saw this on the Slingshot Machines, but other brands were not far behind. It wasn't long before all my big c-kites were equipped with the tinker's home brewed version. The difference was night & day: The energy expended on lauching could now be focused on riding. Plus, it made an excellent point to attach the safety leash. Not only would the kite now fly upside down, when the safety was deployed, it would also float genty down, and land tips up.

However, there were drawbacks. The extra line also added more chances for entanglement: It tended to pile up around the rider upon launching, and catch on any convenient protrusion, and would wrap around helmets, heads, harnesses, etc. & have havoc handed to harm the foolhardy. On the other end, a slack 5th line would unwillfully wrap in wonderment 'round tips, canopies, and cause caution to be created among closeby creatures.
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Re: LOCAL KITER PIONEERS

Postby JRN » November 16th, 2013, 7:00 am

DOES DEMAND SPUR THE INVENTION, or the invention create the demand? The 5th line had as many or more drawbacks than advantages. You may have seen ads from Caution and others touting the ultimate in safety and depower in early editions of kiter mags. How so? They began with modifications to the front line bridles. The early versions were basically traditional C-kites with attachment points along the leading edge, and someone coined the term, "Supported Leading Edge, or SLE." The added benefit was ease of relaunch, as well as much more adjustability in the AOA, the angle of the kite to the wind. The wind range was increased as a result, allowing for fewer kites needed to cover the forecasted cnditions. But wait, more developments were on the way...
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Re: LOCAL KITER PIONEERS

Postby JRN » November 21st, 2013, 6:35 pm

WAS IT JUST A COICIDENCE, that the delta symbol, in nerdville, stands for change? The next big change was the advent of the "Delta" kite design. Rather than the arched "C,"
the Delta shape was an elipse, rather like the outer skin of an orange slice. It took all the advances of the SLE, and added even greater ease of re-launch to the equation. Mike Winter was kind enough to provide my first Delta experience. I knew he had recently become an SS brand rider, and offered, albeit inadvisedly, to let me demo his SS-Tubo Diesel.
My skills as a snow-kiter were anything but polished, so I was confident in my ability to ride like a pro!

It was a Bluebird bright sky, as only a WBL winter morning can deliver. I grabbed the bar off the ice anchor, hooked in, and with just a twitch of the wrist, it rolled over an went skyward & flew off cross wind, my skis kicking up crystals. I reached toward the other shore, bore off, and headed down wind, initiating my turn. Another new feature was a bar stop which put pressure on the c-loop lines instead of the arms. My oversight, was having the stopper at full power as I headed back up wind. It went from luffing down wind to instant power, inverting it inside out. I know now it was inexperience, not design flaw.

Up roared Mike in his pickup, a frantic look along with choice phrases, "What did you do?" Something I hear often as you can imagine. A lesser man would have taken back his toy.
Apparently not a Philosophy in Ethics Prof, however & he RELAUCHED it for me! My Norski bravado sent me on to the launch point, where I once again inverted it on landing. Yes, he says he is still my friend to this day. I think he is just being philosophical. :?
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Re: LOCAL KITER PIONEERS

Postby JRN » November 23rd, 2013, 8:49 am

MY MISTAKEN CHARACTERIZATION OF THE SS DESIGN, led me to the BEST product line. The bargain price, mail order format, and non-conformist image appealed to my frugal nature. I soon had one on its way, and was flying the 1st Waroo in these parts. It arrived just in time for the lakes to turn to slush, but allowed one last session on WBL.

The design was a compromise between C & Delta. The hybrid had the arch on top, but tapered towards the wing tips. The relaunch was compromised as well, but it shared the great depower. It involved some of the same gyrations in light wind to get airbourne, but still an improvement over the C's. I remain a Best loyalist to this day, despite its oft maligned rep.

I expected to also be the 1st in SPI on a Best that spring. I ordered a 16 along with my 12. As I pumped up, I glanced about to see several others in the sky. All the MNsotans wanted a demo, so Denis, Chris B. & Eric P, gave it a thumbs up. I was so enthused that I rode way beyond the safety zone, blew my transition, dropped the kite. I heard a boat from the local Baptist church, motor up behind me..."Your friends are worried about you, Why?" I turned around to see the shore, miles away, kites like tiny specks on the horizon.

A combination of good judgement and giant treble hooks on board, led me to decline their offer of a ride back. With my advanced relaunch technique, it was not long before my lines were tangled in knots. There must be a Guiness Record category for the longest walk of shame, if not, I will claim it. It may have been hours of trudging through the Laguna Madre muck. Weakened, I was thankful to see Denis coming to my rescue. We untangled the lines, he rode it back to shore, and Eric drove me back to the launch. I remain eternally in their debt.
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