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Guide for kiting Melbourne's winter frontal winds

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Created by Peterc150 > 9 months ago, 15 May 2011
Peterc150
VIC, 710 posts
15 May 2011 6:36PM
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I have written this guide on how to kite winter frontal winds in Melbourne, with a strong emphasis on safety.

www.peterskiteboarding.com/2011/05/kitesurfing-winter-storm-fronts-in.html

These winter winds are very variable, so great caution is needed when choosing to go kitesurfing. It is definitely not the season for beginners.

A word of warning: strong gusts can overpower you and send you airborne with very serious consequences. You can wreck your gear, get seriously injured, or even lose your life. If in doubt, don't go out.

bm
VIC, 74 posts
16 May 2011 9:28AM
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Thanks for that great information.

Pedro Sexton
VIC, 112 posts
16 May 2011 10:14AM
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Good work mate and spot on. Get the message out. It is a bit of a worry the number of beginners who go out in these frontal conditions not understanding the consequences.

Gorgo
VIC, 4145 posts
16 May 2011 1:09PM
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Most squalls come in from the west. You can usually see them. A good rule of thumb is that if the ships parked out past Fawkner Beacon disappear into the gloom then take evasive action.

It's good to check Laverton and Avalon as well.

You need to get out of the water before the squall hits, or head well out to sea away from hard things that will kill you. It is very bad to try and land on the beach in the middle of a squall. It's probably better to land the kite on the water and possibly release to the safety leash if necessary.

The squall itself can miss you but the gust front can still blast you from the side of the storm cell.

Saffer
VIC, 4393 posts
16 May 2011 5:03PM
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The only thing I'd add is to keep your kite low if a squall hits. Worst case you get dragged side ways but its heaps better than being picked up in the air and thrown into buildings. If you're not sure if a squall is coming through and you're too far out to ditch your kite, keep it low to the water and ride with one hand on your safety so you can ditch the kite as soon as you need it.

I've been through two squalls. One inland that put a girl in a coma after she was lofted. I was fortunate enough to be well out on the water when it hit (no warning) and managed to survive after pulling my safety when I got lofted about 5m up. She was unfortunate enough to be on land and her and the guy holding the back of her harness were both lifted up in the air and she came down on her head. Coma for a month but she recovered. This happened on old style C kites so we didn't have any leeway and the squall hit with no warning, no clouds etc.

The second one hit when I was out at Brighton. 45 knots on a 2nd gen bow kite without warning. Kept my kite on the water at max depower and it was still strong enough to drag me all the way into shore standing on my board so the idea of complete depower is bull. I was stupid enough to not pull my QR immediately but survived without mishap as someone grabbed my kite the I got to shore. If you think the 45 knots is bull, some guy on a 9m pulled his QR because he was lofted in the squall.

laurie
WA, 3778 posts
16 May 2011 3:40PM
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Good stuff .. there's also a few extra words from others folks posts we've collected here:

www.seabreeze.com.au/Articles/Kitesurfing/Winter-Weather-Warning-for-new-Kitesurfers_2879690.aspx

Peterc150
VIC, 710 posts
16 May 2011 6:22PM
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Thanks guys. I have added a section incorporating your suggestions: What to do if you get caught in a bad gust

tarzan
VIC, 130 posts
16 May 2011 10:11PM
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Hey Saffer, I'm fascinated by your tales of the two squalls. I've been kiting for about 7 years now and haven't ever seen anything that vicious (apart from a honking 50 knots down at Sandy point but thats a different story...). Lucky me by the sounds of things.
Was there anything unusual about those days to look out for ? Any forecast changes or fronts coming through - or just freaks of nature ? Trying to make sure I can do this for at least another 7 years !

Gorgo
VIC, 4145 posts
16 May 2011 11:25PM
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There were all sorts of horrible things going down in the early days of kiting. The kites had such little range. People were taking out the power lines on Beach Rd almost every week and tea-bagging was common even without squalls.

A guy was hit by a squall at Brighton Yacht Club and deposited in the back yard of one of the houses.

That's almost impossible with modern kites.

Saffer
VIC, 4393 posts
16 May 2011 11:33PM
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tarzan said...

Hey Saffer, I'm fascinated by your tales of the two squalls. I've been kiting for about 7 years now and haven't ever seen anything that vicious (apart from a honking 50 knots down at Sandy point but thats a different story...). Lucky me by the sounds of things.
Was there anything unusual about those days to look out for ? Any forecast changes or fronts coming through - or just freaks of nature ? Trying to make sure I can do this for at least another 7 years !


One of them was inland in South Africa. Perfectly normal day, no mist or anything else suspicious to give us any clue as to what was coming. It was one of those wrong place, wrong time kind of scenarios like getting a small twister in Aus which do happen on occasion. I've never seen anything like this particular spike. It didn't progressively get stronger, it just went from 18 knots up to 35-40 in a second or two. I was busy gybing at the time so I just got picked straight up and I was 5m up in the air before I could even pull my safety. I reckon I covered 50m of water in no time because the wind was direct onshore and I was fairly far out and when I landed I could walk in to shore. It happens so quickly you don't have time to do anything.

The second was at brighton. Extremely hot day about 4 years back, around the 42 degree mark. Cold change came in and temp dropped by 20 degrees in 20 minutes and wind settled in at about 15-18 knots. I waited about 30 minutes for the wind to settle to be on the safe side (I'm usually pretty cautious) and then went on the water. About half an hour on the water the wind spiked big time. Sunny day so no cloud warning. Spike dropped after about 15 minutes to a more respectable 25 knots. I think part of the problem on that particular day was the high temps with the cold change. In retrospect, this particular one was quite survivable. The wind didn't suddenly jump to 45, it picked up over the space of about 30-60 seconds so you had the chance to get ready for it. I guess I put the kite low expecting it just to be a gust but it just kept getting stronger and stronger until my kite was touching the water and I was still riding on the board heading towards shore planing with the kite max depowered. I was planning on dumping my kite when I hit shore, but someone grabbed it.

In my experience, you generally have a chance to react with the kind of conditions we experience in Melbourne if you're an experienced rider. The danger is really to newbies who lose control of their kites when a big gust hits and then react in a manner which endangers themselves like grabbing the wrong side of the bar.

Pedro Sexton
VIC, 112 posts
17 May 2011 12:44PM
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Advice is all good.

Also people need to be wary that just because some kiters stay out in the midst of a storm does not mean you should. If in doubt go in and do it early (being close to beach when it hits is bad news as already said).

Remember the other kiters could be thinking the same as you i.e. no one else is going in so i am right.

Been caught a few times myself. Most of the time I knew better and had ample time to land before it hit.

BTW I noticed over time Saffer your posts are nearly always quality. Cheers for contribution.



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"Guide for kiting Melbourne's winter frontal winds" started by Peterc150