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RickI 11-04-2005 01:29 PM

Bow/Flat Kite-o-rama - Matanzas Halloween Blast!!!
A big thanks to the guys at Extreme Kites of St. Augustine, FL, USA for organizing this great event! For storm refugees from
South Florida, no power thanks to Hurricane Wilma, it was a welcome get away.
Zooming in from space to St. Augustine.
The venue, just north of Matanzas Inlet. Wide open sandy beaches, few bystanders, shallow waters with little
or a lot of waves depending on where you are and WIND! It is a park so have a care out there and be sure to
check with the guys at Extreme Kites for guidelines to keep us flying there. Last fall this coast had the
state record for honking strong winds for almost an entire month. Checkout ikitesurf for last October, smoking by Florida standards!
We even had WIND for the event with no squalls in sight. A bit more wind on Saturday, shown above less
some of the actual gusts, than on Sunday shown below. It was a good set of conditions to evaluate the
flat/bow and C kites in.
A view of the centuries old fort, Castillo de San Marcos. St. Augustine is an OLD place. It was first discovered
by the Spanish in 1513 and passed back in forth between the British, Spanish and Americans in sucessive
centuries. More about the colorful history of this place HERE .
The locals are low key, friendly and helpful (Thanks Joey!).
The organizers included Daryl of Extreme Kites, flying into sheltered waters in the background ...
to throw one and look down over the inlet.
Pat also of EK working hard assisted by his lovely daughter. Eddie, Paul, Linda, Jim and more!
You pass right by the shop on the way to the launch on SR A1A. Daryl and the gang have always been
supporters of access and the FKA, thanks guys! The area reminds me a lot of the Outer Banks of North Carolina.
Let's get rigged up.

A bunch of kites were available for demo, including Cabrinha Crossbows, Swtichblades, SS Turbo Diesel,
Ocean Rodeo's One Kite. There was a Wipika Indy along with a bunch of new C kites like RRD and Slingshot
kites. A bunch of photos of the kites appear in this writeup.

There likely would have been even more demo kites and guys from South Florida but for the hurricane
gas shortage (HINT: make it to Port St. Lucie and you could have easily gotten all the gas you needed).

On Sunday, I didn't rig a kite up but changed from kite to kite all day. Fun times! I started with the
Cabrinha Crossbow. I flew 9, 12 and 16 m Crossbows and in the SAME wind, shown below. I moved on to a 12 m
Switchblade later on. I weigh 195 lbs. and was on a 130 cm TT board. Thanks to Paul from Jacksonville for
providing all the demo kites and to his wife Linda for tirelessly launching and landing kites all day!
These were the winds on Sunday, when I was able to try out the variety of bow and flat kites organized by
Extreme Kites and all the reps for the event.
Starting out with the higher aspect 12 m Cabrinha Crossbow.
A view over the trailing edge of a traditional C kite and a Crossbow.
Cabrinha Switchblade on the left and Crossbow on the right in flight.
A closer view of a Switchblade 12 m. One of the things that sets "Bow" kites apart from bridled "flat" kites
is the trailing edge. It distorts or turns concave dramatically impacting the kite power and facilitating the
automatic depowering when the bar is dropped and expanded wind range. The bridles and kite shape
of the other flat kites also impart expanded riding properties.
Here is a look at the Cabrinha control bar. One of the balls depowers the kite while the other depowers it
through the trimstrap. To almost completely depower the kite just let go of the bar.
Gul shown again demonstrating some excellent board skills on a skimboard. I would have sworn
his feet were superglued to this thing.
Paul catered all the demo Cabrinha kites and provides kiteboarding instruction in the Jacksonville area.
Arcsrule tools along in the background on a Flysurfer.
Your wives, girlfriends, SO's and kids will enjoy "Old Town" in St. Aug. Tons of shops and restaurants
with an old world feel. It isn't hard to imagine you are out of the country someplace at a wind destination
as you walk along the old buildings with the wind blowing through the trees.
There was a Wipika Indy there as well but unfortunately, I was never able to take it for a whirl.
A shot of the control bar which also includes a trim strap in the hands of a new Wipika team rider based in Florida's Panhandle.
More to come with photos of the SS Turbo Diesel, Ocean Rodeo One Kite, control bars and other demo kites at the
event, some riding impressions, along with more action photos!

Stay tuned

RickI 11-08-2005 10:00 AM

Heading back to St. Augustine for a look at
more new kites and riding action ...
Swinging by Castillo de San Marcos, one of the local fortifications from centuries past.
Sun's up, let's get to it!
Pat assisted by his daughter gets setup.
The launch.
The Slingshot Turbo Diesel kite for 2006.
The Turbo Diesel control bar. Note the black plastic slider/stopper on the central lines. You can move this up and down to fix the sheeting on the front lines to give your arms a rest. This simple device allows for fairly small adjustments in fixed power control. However, it defeats the emergency depowering unless it is moved up. So, if you are riding in marginally powered conditions and have the stopper pulled far down and are suddenly hit by a major gust you might get launched.

The control bar "cartridge" developed for the Turbo Diesel and for other '06 kites (with some variations such as a 5th line jam cleat) is shown above. The red knob completely releases the kite from the rider in a major emergency. It looks bulky but like helmets you really don't notice the size at all. Thanks to Jim for bringing down, launching and landing all the demo Slingshot Demo kites.

I would keep an eye on the lines used to attach the pulleys to the control bar (below the black foam cylinders). The one I tried may have been showing some early wear and could perhaps be of a larger diameter.
The launch just north of Matazas Inlet.
Let's swing by Extreme Kites in St. Augustine for a look inside. These are the folks that made this fun event possible.
Starting them out young.
Back to the beach, spectators and kite retrievers, woof!
I was impressed by the quantity of helmets in use at the event. People are getting more used to the idea of ripping hard while looking out for number one.
The Ocean Rodeo One Kite, the OR flat kite design for 2006.
The One Kite was setup with a new prototype control bar so it is uncertain what the production bar will be like. The proto bar had no stop so if you dropped the bar by accident or in fatigue it flew up several feet out of reach. You would need to pull the central lines down until you could be able to grab the bar again. I suspect that OR will roll out an interesting production control bar soon enough.
The One Kite was fun to fly although the arm strain did build up a bit with the proto bar.
Fun times on the water.
Getting sorted out on the beach.
There's Mark Rush over from Panama City where he has launched a new shop, Emerald Coast Kiteboarding He has always been a good supporter of the FKA, thanks Mark!
A Slingshot Octane and rider flying.

I tried the Octane for a short time with the new 2006 control bar. I was told the kite flew like a kite about 2 m smaller. By then the wind was starting to ease off a bit and I was a little underpowered. Still, it gave me a chance to checkout the SS 5th line setup and control features. The 5th line jam cleat allows for fairly precise adjustment of the 5th line tension fairly easily on the fly.
So long from St. Augustine, FL for now. It's been fun!

RickI 11-08-2005 10:41 AM

Now for some impressions about the demo kites. Understand, that it is hard to form deep, meaningful impressions about all the attributes of a kite and control system during a short demo session. Use over many sessions and under varied conditions is the best way to form a more complete idea of performance.

That said on to the bow/flat kites. It seems that if winds are in the moderate to higher range the bar pressure required to steer and fly the kite falls off substantially. At the low end, in limited experience it seems that substantial pressure is required to hold the bar in, to maintain steerage on the kite. So, for lower end operation you are tempted to have something to ease the load on your arms, something like a powerlock, fixed QR harness line or the SS sliding plug. For now it appears as though any of these options defeat the primary safety feature of the brideled bow and flat kites. So, in using these the rider is placing himself at greater risk particularly in gusty conditions. Riders tend to get used to the additional pressure with time on the water.

I was impressed to be able to fly Cabrinha 9, 12 and 16 m Crossbows and a 12 m Switchblade in similar wind conditions. The 9 m was a little underpowered while the 16 m was a slightly overpowered but it was readily manageable in each of these cases. The 9 m was sined more often, the 16 m fully depowered on the trimming adjustment and parked near the zenith when riding. The 12 m kites were pretty much just locked in. The Switchblade was a bit slower in turning when compared to the Crossbow.

Jumping these kites is different from C kites as far as I have been able to determine so far. It is easy to launch long low jumps with fairly fast landings by jumping conventionallly. Increasing the height takes slightly different technique that I am still figuring out. One approach consists of building up a lot of speed, avoiding edging the board contrary to normal procedures, slowly edging the kite up to around 11 and then sheet the bar out rapidly into the jump. I was able to break out of the low jumps using this approach. I heard of another approach that consists of building speed into the jump with your board flat and then suddenly edging against the kite while raising it up slowly to around 11 and then sheeting out as you leave the water. What other techniques do folks use out there?

The Turbo Diesel flew well in a way similar to the Switchblade in a short session. I liked the stopper ball system for the ease it gave my arms. Just because you like something though doesn't mean it is good for you, too many french fries! I would be concerned about reacting fast enough to shove the stopper ball up and out of the way in an emergency. You would have the option of dropping the bar after you activated the chicken loop quick release and used the bypass leash. This can take some time though.

You do need to rest your arms at times by easing out the bar and even dropping it momentarily. This is easily done with the Crossbow particularly if the stopper ball is engaged and even if it isn't. With the Slingshot you can easily fix the angle of attack by sliding the stopper into position. I didn't have a chance to fly the Wipika so I can't comment on what you can do in that case. The Ocean Rodeo had a prototype bar that I don't think will make it into production. You really can't let go of that design to rest. I liked the way the kite flew but had trouble launching much in the way of higher jumps. It could have required different technique and perhaps I was just getting a bit tired at that point.

I have noticed a much greater wind range with the bow/flat kites as compared to C kites. I also have noticed that if you are flying in the higher wind range the margin for error goes down somewhat, just like with C kites really. Remember when everyone used two line kites? The effective wind range for many riders absent a variety of board and line lengths may have approached about 5 mph. Four line kites changed all that and substantially increased the wind range. Bow and flat kites are expanding that range even further.

RickI 11-09-2005 05:56 AM

I received the following comparison between the Crossbow and Switchblade prepared by Jon Modica. Jon is a team rider for Cabrinha. What other experiences have riders had out there with the various bow/flat kites?


The first noticeable difference between the two would be the quicker turning speed of the Crossbow and the additional grunt to the switchblade. The Switchblade turns much more similar to a C or traditional shaped kite. The aspect ratio is a bit lower than that of the crossbow as well. The switchblade has a definite advantage to unhooking than the Crossbow not only because it sits it the window with much more stable pull but since the Switchblade has more drag; handlepasses feel much more like doing it on a traditional Kite.

The bigger sizes of the crossbow in my opinion will have an advantage in wave riding due to its superior turning speed. The kite has an uncanny ability to pivot on its own axis without stalling the sail. This is similar to the switchblade but to a much smaller extent.

Hangtime goes to the crossbow hands down but the switchblade jumps a good bit higher than that of last years kites. Kite loops with the crossbow feel a lot different than any other kite. The Switchblade loops more like a traditional kite as well. The crossbow has just a bit more depower than the switchblade. I wouldn't say either kite is safer just because I couldn't even imagine a kite being safer then either one. The low end of the switchblade is only significantly greater and last but not least the reduced bar pressure of the switchblade is slightly noticeable.

My personal choice is the SWITCHBLADE due to its great stability and ease of unhooking without losing the great features the flat bow kites have to offer.


RickI 11-15-2005 11:16 PM

The guys at Extreme Kites put together a clip of the action at the event. Some limited images of bow/flat kites in action are covered. They held a raffle with all cash receipts ($1600.00 !), going to the American Red Cross for hurricane relief. Thanks guys! MORE HERE

RickI 10-04-2012 07:49 PM

The annual tradition continues, from Ocean Extreme Kites Facebook page ...

"Thursday, October 25, 2012

Ready to get wet?

WHEN: Oct. 25th - 28th

WHERE: St Augustine, FL

WHAT: Kite-SUP-Party.

The Halloween Blast is a 4 day kiteboarding and stand up paddle event being held in historic St Augustine, FL.

KITEBOARDING: The kiteboarding will be hosted by our friends from Best Kiteboarding as part of their RV Tour. Best will have all their new gear for 2013 on hand to demo and check out. Several pro riders from the brand will be here to help you by answering your questions or helping you land that trick you've been working on. Kiteboarding contests, races and related shenanigans are being planned.

SUP: There will be SUP races, a SUP surf event and lots of demos.

PARTY: 3 parties will be held throughout the event including a costume party with live bands.

All events are subject to weather conditions (wind & waves). Event specifics will be posted in the next couple days."

BOW kites have been out for at least seven years and what a lot of change they have brought to the sport. This was the first event in Florida at which a bunch of BOW and flat kites were present for demo.


RickI 10-23-2014 12:13 PM

The guys are doing it again at Ocean Extreme Sports. The fun runs between Friday, October 31 and Sunday, November 2, 2014.
There are lots of SUP events including this bizarre one.
Damo is putting on a kite gear demo

and there are to be kiting competitions:

"KiteSurf Contest:
Strapless Division
Strapped Division
4-5 Man 20 minute heats
Date/ Time: TBD on conditions

Kiteboard Freestyle Contest:
One Division
4-6 Person 20 minute heats
Date/ Time: TBD on conditions (Sat afternoon or Sunday)

Kiteboard Race:
One Division, winner take all
Peir to Matanzas Inlet (10 Miles)
Ride whatever you have "
There is also SUP racing including the longer run.
and sprints

More details at:


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