Kiting #7 (25 Jan): First outing in the UK. Fk'ing freezing. Went to NEWBOROUGH WARREN (Llanddwyn Bay) on ANGLESEY, NORTH WALES. Cracking venue. Plenty of wind - cross to on-shore. Almost too much wind. In fact - too much wind. Took my bro to show off my new talents. Very foolish. All my strings were tangled so took a good half hour to sort that shambles out. Was a bit chilly - and he being a diver had all the equipment for that (a Welsh winter, murky quarries un'all diver). I came with my 2.5mm shortie. Well I managed to squeeze another wetsuit over. But no socks. And none of the sexy headgear (probably not necessary - we're not ice diving).

Tangled again

Sexy hat!

So, string untangled, we get the bugger set up. The tide's fked off out to sea about half a mile so we plod over there. Not too bad on the launch. Off we go...........Well not too bad in the start, plenty of swinging left and right and a bit of well controlled body dragging. The water temperature on my bod is not too bad. Just my feet really (totally numb a few minutes later). But then - we're off, There's a massive gust and my nicely controlled body dragging is taking me at 25 knots along the beach. SHIT. OK, got the thing under control. Sort of. But then off again. Struggling big time and having flashbacks from my day under the runway at Queenstown (kite over the hill). So a bit more dragging then big gust again and I'm off down the beach totally out of control. SHIT SHIT. I've gotta stop this. Cack my pants as try to get kite down and having much trouble. Get it down to the ground to find that the bloody thing is trying to relaunch. And is still dragging my along. So frantically wave to Richard to come and assist. But he's nowhere to be seen. Yes he is - about two miles back up the beach. Fortunately he's been studying his brother's methodology for own use later - so sees frantic waving a rushes over. All the while the kite is trying to get back up, and does, and I get it back down. God I need some serious practice at this!!!

So he arrives, seems like hours later, probably about 5 mins. Gets it down. I come in out the water. "Wow" blah blah blah. "So me next then?"......"Um, no, don't think so Richard. Could well be a bit of accident here." Which is all a bit of a shame as he's come all this way and is gagging to get wet, and to die perhaps. But fortunately we're saved by Will from Chester who ambles over for a chat after dropping his own kite.

To let Rich have a go with the kite - I go to launch her while Will (who actually knows what he's doing!) assists Richard with the bar, and holds on to him in case it gets a bit hairy. Well, fk me it does. Richard's straight up in the air, launching straight thru the powerzone. His ankles are at Will's face and Will is stretching to keep him in this galaxy. This is looking a tad scary, so I grab hold of Will and we get the thing down to ground (not a bad landing Rich!).

Will and his mate

Enough for one day. And thanks Will.

More on Newborough Warren (Llanddwyn Bay): You pay two squids to get into the privately owned Newborough Forest, which presumably pays for the spanking new toilets. You could avoid the toll but have to walk 2 kms through the forest or across the dunes. You're only a minute from the sand. The beach is enormous, with lovely shallow water, gentle waves. You can see the Welsh mainland from the beach, a mile or so away. There's not so many people around - just the odd dog walker and fellow kiters (6 when we were there). Bags of space. I was told there's a beach called Dilas just over the water which is almost as good but has no other kiters - so in the summer when this one fulls up, off yer go.

Newborough Warren - The water

Directions: A55 to Anglesey going over the Pont Britannia bridge. First left is the old A5, down that. Then first decent left down the A4080, sign posted from there.



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Kiting #6 (12 Jan): So the next session was a touch calmer. Pofty and Linda - friends from the UK were in town so we met up for drinking Sunday night, where over some stunning pool victories I persuaded Pofty to have a go on the kite the following morning. So yesterday afternoon we made it out to FRANKTON again (see prior day's blog below). Definitely no chance of any accidents. The wind must have blown itself out the day before. But we go for a launch. Me in the water, Pofty in only his trunks attempting launches. Fairly unsuccessfully. But we get it up once and I mange a good minute or so flying before the wind stops dead, the strings lose all tension and the kite crashes into the water. Many more attempts, Pofty's feet now numb (I'd rather cleverly worn socks! - Oh, and had my wetsuit on!) - but no luck. So we swap round. I give him some in depth instruction, covering all the theory, scenarios and technique I've learnt so far. So a good ten seconds later he's in the water with the harness on and I'm launching. The wind is crap. We just about feel the occasional gnats breath. I struggle to launch. He struggles to launch. But then......we're up. Pofty's flying the bloody thing. For a good 20 secs before he's attached by the same deadness and the strings slacken to give way for a splendid emergency landing/shot at my head.

We swap and try the other way round but after valiantly trying for about one a half hours, give up to sit on the bank and sun ourselves.

Our only rejoicing coming from the inability of a couple of paragliders to launch their (even larger) kites a few moments later! So maybe we're weren't just crap.


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Kiting #5: Sunday's outing was FRANKTON, just a few km from QUEENSTOWN on LAKE WAKATIPU. And scary it was too. The wind was onshore, but fairly strong. As yet I'm still no good at judging what a strong and not so strong wind is. So bugger it, I set up and went for it. By the time I'd finished inflating the kite, untangling the strings and dipping my toes into the incredibly cold water; it had started to rain and was a little gusty. But having been disappointed by Lake Wanaka, the water here was shallow enough for a beginner, albeit a little choppy.

The location is a 1-2m strip of gravel on the edge of the lake, just under the flight path from the runway at the local airport, with a grassy bank leading at 30 degrees up about 20m to a park before houses.

View from top of the hill

So I dragged K out of the car and she bravely assisted in the launch. It was unsuccessful. So she tentatively got her ankles wet. Still no good! Then a launch, but straight into the tree to my right - but under control, I pulled it free, and we tried again. Now it got more exciting - my lovely assistant dropped her top, hitched up her sarong and went for it. Getting waist deep in the water we launched again. But now I'm getting further out and am just on tiptoes. So we launch again - straight into the tree. OK. New strategy: move away from tree! She gets in the water properly and the kite's up - straight to 12 o'clock. No probs - but I'm hanging out of the water - this wind is a little strong for my 12m kite I think. Shit. How am I gonna get it down. So I tentatively swing her to the right - and I'M OFF - SHIT. Heading toward the shore, I swing her to the left, but no use. I'm choking on water and we're well out of control, the gravel beach hurtling towards me. Bollocks. I try to depower the kite but can't see what the fk is going on. OK, nothing for it. I pull the cord you're never to pull, and the kite detaches from me. I look up to see the kite flying into the grassy bank…….and a white bra and knickers running up the bank after it. I run out the water, then come to a stop as I realise the board is attached to me still. Struggling to release the leash, I hear shouts of "I've got it".


No cars with kite wrapped round the front windscreen. No planes taking of with kite wrapped round the front windscreen.

So I've worked out wind conditions I really shouldn't fly the kite in!


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So the weather was shit and the lake not as easy as I'd thought. it gets deep quickly and, given that I'm not on the board yet, I figured I'd either get dragged out the 20k's to the middle of Lake Wanaka, or would end up with my kite tangled round the conifer trees. So, yes, I wimped out today. So, LAKE WANAKA = not that great. Queenstown we headeth tomorrow so hopefully more luck there.

And Ben - if you got here - maybe we can have a quick go down in BRIGHTON (definitely good place for it) in a few weeks. Get yourself a sickie and borrow a wetsuit from someone and we'll have a day being dragged around the cold cold waters of wintery England.


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Driving down the West Coast now - discovered a couple other places good for kiting. Just to the east of the Abel Tasman national park you've got a large beach called MARAHAU, and there's a local school there called kitescool me thinks. Then further down the coast at the beautiful OKARITO there's a large salt water logoon - which, of you get the the few hours either side of high tide would be great too. Now we're in Lake Wanaka, which I'll be testing out this afternoon, weather permitting.


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Kiting #3&4: So out on the kite again today and also yesterday. Yesterday (new year's eve) was my final and third lesson. But all conspired to go wrong. Out at ARAWHAI (spelling, not sure) to the east of NELSON. Nice weather. Wind OK as we set up. The instructor was the German guy from Adventure Paragliding and Kitesurfing (can't remember his name - but I now remember that the other girl - the British instructor of the other day is called Sue). And there were two students - me and a girl it transpired was from the local rag - the Nelson Mail - and had been sent to do lesson so she could write up an article - for the 13th/14th Jan. So she was a total beginner. So we went out - me on 6m kite, she on 8m. But I was useless, and kept dropping the kite in the water - but there was f all wind - so kept dropping from the sky. So the instructor got fed up relaunching - and I couldn't't get the thing to relaunch itself either. And I took my kite in so we could share the 88m. Time wasted. And as I get back out again, the other two are coming back in as the 8m has torn. So we set up a 9m. Pump it up from scratch etc. To go out and discover that the wind has completely disappeared! So he showed us a couple of things - for me first time I'd used/had explained the four line thing, depowering etc. And that was that.

Now on to today. 12 midday woke up with a stinking hangover and a mouth like a desert with the disgusting taste of the Edam I raided last night from the campsite fridge - having had our own Camembert nicked by some other bugger. So I headed off down to the shop to get my kite. After the palaver in Wellington/here over finding a kite - I didn't want to miss this opportunity before we head off to walk the Abel Tasman track tomorrow. So I went for a 12m Naish Boxer and a 157cm Naish board and harness for a whopping NZ$3,000, - but that did include the two lessons here in Nelson. And then a bag on top for another NZ$170! But it's about time I treated myself (after a 5 month holiday!) - but it's my reward for pulling off the job in Sydney to start in Feb.

So we took the kite out this av. All a bit dodgy. Hangover. All a bit different to the training equipment. And the first time I'm doing it all alone with no instruction. Kate helps best she can. Lines tangled. Stupidly put the lines on up by the car (we go to TAHUNANUI BEACH - which seems an excellent place for the job) - and end up carrying the thing through the undergrowth and getting all tangled up. So Kate helps me launch. It's an amazing beach - tide out, lovely warm shallowish water, calm water, enough wind. The launch is a bit messy - I can't instruct her as I'm not really sure myself - but the main thing is we get it airborne. then I realise the lines aren't right. Oh well. Do a load of good body dragging in the water and build up some confidence with using this larger kite, and being more aggressive with the power. And land it nicely to Kate to stop and sort out my harness which is not done right and sort the lines. So some friendly bloke comes along to help me launch but it's all tangled up and it is evident I don't really know what's going on. So he helps and I think is astounded by my lack of knowledge - to the extent that i don;t know what the lines are called or where they go - they'recolour coded you see (as were the ones when I was learning).

Me with the kite on Tahunanui beach

It really is me!

Others doing it properly

We get it together. he launches and I have another good session body dragging and playing around. The wind drops and i retire for the day. Next time I'll be on the board - but must get a leash first!


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