Why I like a bigger kite in bigger surf

Why I like a bigger kite in bigger surf

A very quick blog post and photo of a kitesurf session I had in Newquay on Sunday, when the swell was reading a paltry 4m at 15 seconds. Except for one quick session at Bantham, South Devon, I hadn’t had a kite up since we’d come back from Margaret River and I had been especially looking forward to pumping up the 9.5m Ocean Rodeo Prodigy and getting it out there into some of those winds.

My biggest wave of 2014 so far, towed into courtesy of the kite.
My biggest wave of 2014 so far, towed into courtesy of the kite.

When the swell’s up in Cornwall I like to go out really powered up as unlike some places around the world we have acres of aerated foam on the inside which coupled with the current sweeping up the coast really kills your speed and ability to hit the gas and get out of trouble.

Once you’re on a wave like this, I tend to find you aren’t so much as looking for a lip to smack as just picking the right line between staying in the steep part and not dragging out into the shoulder. This requires you keep your board speed down, which in turn reduces the apparent wind in the kite, and it makes things quite easy to handle despite you being powered up.

If however, in my experience, you try and keep the board speed down by merely using a smaller kite with less power, when the time comes for you to pull the bar in and escape the avalanche, the power isn’t there and you get munched. The anti-thesis of a good time.

Another thing I tell the clients of my courses when you want to kill speed in an overpowered situation on a wave, such as when you’re running in fast from the deep and trying to drop into it, is to ‘cutback’ towards the trailing edge of the kite. This is as simple as it sounds. At a certain point, edging to try and kill the speed of the kite stops working because the dynamic wind window will have positioned your kite so far downwind of you that any more edging forces on the board will just encourage it to pull harder.

So what works in that situation is to quickly carve your surfboard downwind and determinately towards the trailing edge of the kite. This puts you in a much more ‘cross wind’ position in relation to the kite, kind of like where you would be if you were launching or landing. Now with the kite out to the side of the window, the power is reduced, and once more you have options and control.

I think of kites around the 9-10m mark like the superbly balance 9.5m Prodigy as big engines with a smooth, wide power band. There’s low end torque when you need it and it doesn’t get bouncy at the top end. Keep the kite trucking along and move yourself around it rather than it around you and it works.