1st Impressions

Assembled the Slingshot Alien Air and MHL N2F Foil at Hayling Island late one evening this week around high tide. I mounted the foil at the back of the track as advised for initial outings, and took a helmet and buoyancy aid. Felt pretty excited.

Wind was WSW 17 – 20 knots so I chose a Slingshot Rally 2014 8m, being stable with loads of de-power. Water was pretty choppy at c 1 1/2′ foot but it was worth a go. Self launched the kite and walked the board to the water with the foil pointing into the wind. Body dragged out to at least 5′ deep.

Found it a bit awkward to tip the board towards me with one hand to the water-start position with kite overhead. James (5 sessions on his Alien Air ahead of me) later suggested it’s easier with the nose pointed into the wind like righting a capsized dinghy. Next time!

Still, with straps very loose I dived the kite and got up on the board briefly and immediately the lateral resistance felt very weird. Fell off the back with the board turning into the wind. After several attempts alternatively falling forwards and back, I started to make forward progress slowly with the board on the water’s surface and went perhaps 40 yards on starboard tack trying to keep weight forward. Manoeuvred round a buoy from in the water.

Being alone on the water with the sun going down, I turned round in the water and headed inshore. Found it harder to get the trim on port tack since I’m Goofy footed, but soon got back to shore. Had to lift the foil clear of the shale in the shore break. I was well down-wind from my launch spot, so a “walk of shame” back to the car. Still, I learnt loads and cant wait for the next time and a longer session.

Learn points:
1. Everything I’ve read about being a complete beginner is right: and I’ve been kiting for 15 years and really only ride surfboards.

2. Fighting to position the board when rather windy is tiring: 12 – 15 knots would have done, but the tip about positioning relative to wind should help. Need to increase upper-body fitness and strength.

3. I’ll try 2 front straps rather than 1 to get more leverage on the rail next time

4. GoPro on a “Chesty” is a dead loss when also wearing a buoyance aid!

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