We held our annual swap meet today at Montrose Beach in Chicago. The wind was marginal all day, but perfect for the people that were new to the sport and wanted to try trainer kites. The B2's and B3's had no problem flying enough to keep people entertained without pulling them around too much. Sitting in the grass all morning while the swap meet was taking place, we wondered if there was enough wind to ride on the water. The flag was flapping a bit, but not very much. The wind off the lake was cool and we knew that the cold wind has often fooled us into getting into the water for nothing. Around 2:30, I had finished rigging all my new equipment and packed up for the swap meet. A Slingshot rider from Minneapolis (Joe) showed up with his 19M kite, SX 141 board, and was going to try to get out on the water. He weighed more than me, so when I saw him riding I decided to give it a try. After pumping up and getting ready to go, I noticed Joe had come in, probably due to a lack of wind. In fact, nobody was on the water anymore, the wind had dropped to about 8 mph. Since I had a new bar setup (Ocean Rodeo Joystick) and harness (felix pivec with swivel hook), I figured I would head out anyway with my 19M Slingshot Fuel and Slingshot LFT board to battle the light wind. I am 185 lbs., and to my surprise, I was riding immediately! The wind was directly onshore, making for some small waves and difficulty getting offshore, but I could ride upwind just enough to keep heading out. After about 5 or 6 tacks, I was halfway out the Montrose seawall. I decided to press my luck and see if there was any chance to jump. Bad Idea, after a few tries (getting no air), I decided to go partly downwind to get speed and then force the kite way back to jump. Of course I got way ahead of the kite and it dumped into the water. To my surprise, it took me about 2 minutes to relaunch the 19M high aspect kite in 8 mph! I was amazed and decided to see how far upwind I could get. On my next two or three tacks I focused only on getting upwind as far as possible. I was already out at the end of the seawall. I have no idea, but I'm guessing it's about 200 yards out into the water. Once I got out there, the waves were too big to deal with in the light wind so I just rode back and forth a bunch, getting used to my new bar, harness, and swivel, which were all real nice! The swivel works great, the harness didn't ride up one inch (a major improvement from the DaKine I was using), and the bar felt great in my hands. It was actually a breeze to turn the 19M kite back and forth with the 60cm bar. The bar also features a safety release that will completely detach you from the kite by just pushing away forcefully. Anyway, the 19M Slingshot Fuel in combination with the Slingshot LFT board allows me to ride upwind in 8 mph directly onshore wind, fighting against the waves to get out. This is something I did not have a prayer to do at Montrose last year and I think it is going to greatly increase the amount of days I get on the water this summer!
We are expecting 15-20 mph SE wind today, which means dead flat water and 11-15M kites, can't wait to get out there!