Pretty Soon Everyone Will Be Doing It : Zeeko Spitfire Hydrofoil Review

I’ve been kitesurfing for a long time. Years before there was even water relaunchable tube kites, I was flying foil kites on land and in the snow. I remember how excited I was when I first discovered there were other people who flew kites in Ithaca one winter long ago on the ice shelf at Stewart Park. Together we worked to figure out how to ride on the lake and failed tragically to stay upwind until Wing Eng finally went out on a 4.9 non-water relaunchable Blade II buggy racing foil kite and a 6′ long piece of plywood strapped to his feet with chopped up mousepads. Oh, how the times have changed.

The Spitfire is designed for jumping and wave riding, but the best part about it is the way it feels to ride. Not me, this guy uses straps.

After thousands of hours riding over almost 2 decades the sport was starting to lose interest for me. At 44 I had reached the peak of what I was able to do without seriously injuring myself. I tried lots of harder powered tricks, including some kite looping tricks and always ended up hurting myself bad enough to wonder why I was trying them. For the most part, I wanted to just get out on the water and jump 30 feet in the air and do nice slow front rolls all day long. The kites got better and better until the kites I ride today are what I really wanted to ride when I started but had not been designed yet. The Flysurfer Speed and Sonic FR kites I fly today are what I wanted to by flying back when I first started to ride. I laugh when I think about the first water relaunchable tube kite I bought, a 13.5 AR5 Naish with a wrist leash attached to a rear line and no chicken loop release. If I ever had to dump the kite, I couldn’t and it probably would have ripped my arm out of it’s socket if I did. That kite was so bad that I didn’t even sell it, I just threw it away because it was so dangerous. $2000 down the toilet. Such is life.

Continue reading “Pretty Soon Everyone Will Be Doing It : Zeeko Spitfire Hydrofoil Review”

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Kiting With Dolphins And Stand Up Paddleboarding With Manatees – 2 Weeks On Florida’s NE Coast

Thilde and I were ready for vacation in early October until her car got hit in Syracuse. After months of hell fighting with the insurance company, we finally got a settlement and got her RAV4 fixed and hit the road. By the time we were able to leave it was December so we decided to drive down to Florida since Thilde had never been there and we knew it would be warm. We ended up having one of my best trips yet and found lots of great spots to SUP, hike, bike and kite at. It was a trip to remember and gave me a new appreciation for our southern flat land state.

We were able to drive the sprinter for miles on the beach which made the kiting really nice.
We were able to drive the Sprinter for miles on the beach which made the kiting really nice. The sand control was a nightmare.

Continue reading “Kiting With Dolphins And Stand Up Paddleboarding With Manatees – 2 Weeks On Florida’s NE Coast”

Why I Choose To Risk It All Flying Racing Foil Kites In Big Surf

I have a lot of quirks about my personality. One of the strangest quirks is my preference for flying oversized high aspect ratio race kites in overhead surf. It’s clearly ‘the wrong tool for the job’ so why would I risk life, limb and overpriced kites by not flying a nice tiny inflatable kite that turns and maneuvers much faster in the surf?

A kite designed just to race, not ride waves.
Sonic FR a kite designed just to race, not ride waves.

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Kite Through 3 Feet Of Powder, Launch 15 Feet In The Air, Do A Trick, Repeat

Tug Hill Kite Festival 2014 was the best day of snow kiting in my entire life. I had made plans to spend the weekend at The Flurry Festival, a 3 day dance festival in Saratoga Springs, but I decided to cancel at the last-minute because of an impending snowstorm. Instead I packed the van with 6 kites, 2 Snowboards, 3 pairs of Micro skis, XC skis, Ski, XC and snowboard boots, some food, my portable heater and camping gear and a couple sleeping bags and started on my personal Mecca to Tug Hill, the promised land for snowkiting.

Zebulon Crabnebula doing what he does best
The Lean Green Snowkite Machine – Zebulon Crabnebula doing what he does best

Continue reading “Kite Through 3 Feet Of Powder, Launch 15 Feet In The Air, Do A Trick, Repeat”

10 Years Of Snowkiting In Marginal Conditions Was All To Prepare Me For Tughill Festival 2011

If I had one word to describe my experience at Tug Hill this year it would be ‘Epic’. I rode for about 14 hours over the course of 3 days, most of the time in foot deep powder.

Zebulon Crabnebula doing what he does best
Zebulon Crabnebula doing what he does best

I drove up Friday after work to meet Zebulon ‘Crab Nebula’ at Deer River Farm. The winds were very light and he was giving lessons to a very nice couple. Later on in the weekend I would discover that the woman thought the Speed 3 was sexy, and is probably the only woman in the USA that thinks that ANY kite is sexy. I put up the 19 Speed 3 but the winds were too light to ride in such thick powder and I forgot my spare lineset so I couldn’t make the linesets longer. I setup a new triple release system on my 19 and 15 meter kites which works like a suicide leash and keeps you from dropping like a rock in the event of harness, spreader bar, chickenloop, chickendick, chickenloopline or depowerstrap failure. The only failure that could drop you hard would be a front line failure which would still leave 3 lines to support you on the way down. Last winter I had a close call when my third spreader bar broke and left me 20+ feet up off the ground with a fully powered up Speed 2 15 in 20 mph of wind. If I had let go of the bar its certain that I would have broken both legs at best or been dead as a doornail at worst.  The redundant kite support system worked well with my climbing harness and I tested it extensively in light winds. I have destroyed 3 spreader bars, 5 harnesses, 10 chickenloops, 2 depower straps and countless chickenloop lines. The equipment is designed for 150lb guys that are far less aggressive riders than I am. Continue reading “10 Years Of Snowkiting In Marginal Conditions Was All To Prepare Me For Tughill Festival 2011”

French Canadians Really Know How To Have A Good Time In The Carribean

I met Norm at one of my many trips to Hatteras that I take whenever I just can’t get my kite fix in Ithaca. I was down in NC for a couple of days riding by myself and I pulled into kite point and saw their larger than life camper retrofitted greyhound bus and the Flysurfer kite and I immediately struck up a conversation with Norm. I knew from my paddling experiences that French Canadians in general are some of the friendliest people you will meet in all of North America. Norm and his crew did not disappoint. He invited me to sleep in the driveway of their overpriced rental home which I gladly took them up on. It is quite fatiguing when you poach a sleeping spot under these million dollar homes thinking you’ll get woken up by the cops at any minute, but I could not afford one of those nice $150 tickets for sleeping in my van and being a world-class kite bum.

Photo by Thilde Jensen
Photo by Thilde Jensen

After a while my buddy Gregg showed up and he camped in their driveway with his minivan too. It was heaven, kiting all day then warm showers and our own toilet by the pool. We made all the Canadian’s dinner one night to show our gratitude and they were incredibly hospitable for the entire week. Norm even let me fly his Speed 3 15 demo he had borrowed from Ted. That demo kite inspired me to buy 2 new Speed 3’s for my quiver. After I returned, Norm invited me to tag along with them to the Caribbean for a week so I bought a ticket to fly out of Montreal and join them for a week of kiting madness.

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10 Days Of Epic Kiting In Panama Followed By $1500 Of Damage To A Helicopter

bus
Public transportation.
I spent 9 days of kiting in very good conditions for 5-7 hours a day in 2007

I got to see over 30 stingrays flying through the water while kiting
I was stung by a couple of jellyfish
The stray dogs ate through my nice tent twice to eat my food
The same dog broke into the bathhouse and ate my soap twice, yuk!
On the last day I was there I broke the rear window of a very nice $500,000 helicopter and caused over $1500 in damage

Continue reading “10 Days Of Epic Kiting In Panama Followed By $1500 Of Damage To A Helicopter”