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Sterkies Event Update - Spring 2009 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Basil Cambanis   
Tuesday, 18 August 2009 21:16

22 September

The Sterkies event will take place from Wednesday 23 September until Sunday 27 September.
The best wind is expected this Wednesday and Thursday (mid-20's), but there'll still be moderate wind peaking in the low 20's over the weekend. So at least 4 days of kiting will be possible.

I'm opting to hold the speed event this week as there's a public holiday on Thursday, good attendance is expected, and there'll be decent wind this Wednesday and Thursday.
Should we not hold the event this week, we'd have to wait for at least 2 more weeks for a chance of decent wind, but I'm going to Luderitz mid-October and the top KZN guys will be in Ponta around then. 
The long range prospect is a front that's still West of South America, and it might not materialise as the strengthening Atlantic high could easily block it.


There are no chalets available as I let the ones I'd booked go late last week, but there are many B&B's in and around Harrismith, or there's Backpackers lodge, or you can camp in the resort near the bathrooms on mowed lawn (with power points) or camp at the water's edge which is what I'll be doing.
Have a look at these accommodation links too.

18 September

I returned yesterday evening from a quick business trip to Cape Town (Monday-Thursday); I did not have enough time to surf or sail, but enjoyed the cooler weather and some rain, as it's bone dry in Joburg.

I stayed at Brad's B&B (Kite Nest) which was most pleasant and it's a stone throw away from Sunset beach.
I also popped in to say hello to an old friend from PE on my last day (Conti Triple-Crown days), Brian Wilson from Suntrax who has a very well kitted out shop, and picked up some killer deck pads from the Liquid Force shop in preparation for Luderitz, thanks Kyle, these babies are the best on the planet.

Along the way I stopped to snap a few photos of the infamous recent wreck by Table View and got a lovely picture of table mountain with lion's head and a rainbow caused by a shrowd of cloud over the mountain.

Table Mountain

Table View Wreck

 

When will the Spring event be held ?

As soon as there's a decent forecast (20+ knots), on any day of the week; and there's a decent forecast this coming week (Tue-Thrs), so be ready !!!
The reason for the urgency is that the wind has been very poor throughout Winter which is typically our windy season, and I see the Atlantic high already getting ready to park off by Cape Town, which means the SE will start to blow and we'll get very little wind there after.
So time is of the essence, else the event might not happen this Spring which will be a great pity as everything is ready and waiting.

Here's what the event trophies look like, there will be 6 larger trophies for 1st to 3rd place in both divisions, and 5 smaller trophies for the minor placings which I'll hand out based on merit; so 11 in all.
Spring 2009 Trophies

My banged up knee from the bike crash is starting to swell and stiffen up, so I didn't get off scott free as I thought.
But this added challenge just makes me appreciate all the other blessings I do have.


5 September

I've been in the wars a bit while mountain biking today, a few scrapes and bruises after a wipe, but nothing serious.

It's good for the head space and fitness until there's a proper blow.

I'm busy with the design of second generation Airtool speedboard based on all the lessons learnt over the past year. This board should make 60+ knot peak possible, more news on this in a few weeks time.

I've posted a video taken at Sterkies on Thursday while holding the camera for a great fly by view of the bay and run. View it HERE

Tilmann further improved his GPS record times yesterday, by recording a 90+ km per hour 10 second run and a 40 knot nautical mile; impressive stuff.
The GPS record for 1x10 second might already be in the upper 50's by the end of this year.

In the last run of the day on Friday 4 Sept the L'Hydroptere did a 48.8 knot (56.12mph) nautical mile and a NEW 500m RECORD of 51.38 knots (59 mph). Peak speed of the day was 55.8 knots (64mph).
This is the first time since 1993 (Yellow Pages) that a boat has held the outright world record !


The bar is being raised at such a rapid rate that it's becoming the realm of the top pro's and those with deep pockets.
It's interesting to watch from the sidelines, but us amateurs can still have a great time and try to improve upon our personal bests. You'll be amazed at how much you can improve with a little practice and the right mind set.

4 September

More news just in, Hydroptere set a new NM record (48.7) and 500m record (50.3) today subject to WSSRC ratification.

There's even talk that they might have eclipsed Alex's record (50.57) with a 51 knot 500m, let's wait and see.
Read more HERE

3 September

The wind was lighter on Thursday and not suitable for speed, but I had fun doing some soul surfing and freestyle.

The wind has been light this Winter, and when it has blown it's been mid-week, so the speed event is still on hold for now. 

Wind decline
Note the year on year decline of forecast wind, we need the pink/orange stuff to hold the event

We'll remain on hold up to end of September, after which I'll call the event as soon as the wind blows, even if it's mid-week. You'll get ample notice of this, but be prepared to put in a day's leave if we're still on hold by the end of this month. The event will still go ahead.

I hinted a few days ago that "an 
interesting speedboard test is planned", well it happened in style on Thursday.
Garry Robinson, Jason Ribbink (big wave surfer) and Paul Railton tested the new Airtool speedboard at a dam near Durban and achieved stunning results.
Paul Railton attained a speed of
110 km per hour while being towed behind a powerful jetski, the only limiting factor was the jetski. But plans are already underway to get a super-charged jetski capable of 150 km per hour for the next trial.
Paul said that the board felt ultra stable under foot which gave him the confidence to take it over 100 km per hour. Amazing when you consider that this was not done in mirror conditions either, there was a 7-8 knot breeze blowing at the time.
Paul behind Jetski

Paul's first attempt at speed was at the May 2009 Sterkies speed event where he posted the second fastest peak speed of 45 knots. This is truly impressive for a new comer to speed, and he has shown grit and determination right from the start.


2 September

Another mid-week front hit today, so I decided at the last minute to try and catch it as it might be a while before the next one.
I rushed off at 12pm after a meeting and got to Sterkies just after 3pm due to bad traffic on the N3 (multi-car accident).
I managed to catch the tail end of the wind and got a few decent runs in gusty wind (15-25 knots), but it was still worth the trip.
A couple hours earlier would have made all the difference, as the wind peaked at 40 knots earlier in the day.

I wore 2 GT-31's configured correctly and a helmet cam (footage to follow) as prescribed by the rules.
This will act as a good test case for GPS record submissions, and if I've fallen foul of the rules in any way, then we'll all learn from it.

My speeds based on the average of 2 GPS's were :
46.12 Peak speed
41.51 5x 10 second average

You can download my track file HERE
You can view the video HERE

Wind graph
Wind graph for the day


1 September
 

Exciting news !!  
The international GPS ranking sites http://www.gps-speedsurfing.com/ (Windsurfing) and http://www.gps-kitesurfing.com/ (Kiting) have launched the long awaited GPS record ranking and national GPS records as of today.
This will be in a testing phase until January 2010, but it's now possible to set a world and national GPS record.
All you need are 2x GT-31's, but I recommend you read the full GPS Record Rules before attempting this to ensure you don't fall foul in any way.

An interesting speedboard test is also planned within a week, keep an eye out for more news about this. Let's just say that speed will be redefined. 

30 August 

We had a quick trip to Warmbaths (Bela Bela) this past week and our boys had lots of fun on the tube rides, slides, wall climbing and mechanical bull.
The bird life in the area is also amazing, and I saw warthog, duiker, nyala, zebra, and a squirrel while on my evening bike rides.

I had a few goes at their cable park which was great fun, and got some excecise to make up for the lack of wind we're having.

I took my youngest boy, Peter who is 8 years old for a few laps on my Airtool directional (5'10"), and he was over the moon with the ride; thanks for the lovely board Garry.

Cable park
Peter beaming after his first session at the cable park

Last turn
Letting go on our last lap for a free ride in to shore, prior to this Peter was hands free 

 
24 August 

The Sterkies event will be postponed this coming week (29-30 Aug), as there's nothing solid forecast and there's no fronts with fire-power at present.
This pattern might continue for a few weeks as I don't see any strong fronts to the West either.
I'll wait as long as it takes to land the big one.

18-19 August
 

The next Sterkies event is almost upon us, and I've opted to postpone the first possible week of racing as the front is hitting mid-week. I came to Sterkies today (late Tuesday) to gauge the conditions and fix the weather station which is a crucial tool to help me decide when to hold the event, as I've learnt the pre-cursor signs that preceed a big blow at Sterkies. This coupled with synoptic charts, satellite images and forecasts gives me a clearer picture when making the call. 

So far we've had 30+ knots at every event which proves this method has merit.

The water level has dropped a fair bit which has improved the water state inside the bay (shallower), there are much fewer rocks to watch out for, and the grass is short.
The nature reserve have burnt fire breaks around the dam, but there's still a strip on the point to rig, launch and land your kite on which is a clean and safe surface. I hope we get some rain before the event to wash the ash away.
The water temperature has dropped to 10 degees in the deeper water and 11 degrees in the shallows of the bay.
The air temperature was much warmer than during my last visit which compensates for the colder water.

I'll give you feedback about tomorrow's wind (Wed), I expect it to blow a fair lick as the front that's caused chaos in Cape Town hits.
It's been 2 months since I last kited at Sterkies, so I'll be rusty; but tomorrow should rid me of the cob webs.

The wind is howling at the edge of the escarpment this evening (Catepillar & Catfish), I'll try to record the sound of it; but the wind at Sterkies is still moderate (18 knots) which shows the massive effect the rapid change in altitude has. Basically it blows stronger the closer one gets to the edge of the escarpment when there's a flow off the escarpment, this is enhanced when the earth heats up during the day due to the thermal variance.

Sterkies Point
What the point looked like today (Wed 19 Aug)

Sterkies Bank
Note the drop in water level and the burnt grass to the right

 

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