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Introduction to Snowkiting: A Snowy Season with Wind Power

The winter season is fast approaching, and here at Wind Power we have been receiving a lot of interest in the snow sports that we participate in. So today, we decided to create a quick overview of the winter sport “Snowkiting”.

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(Wind Power’s own Ben Herdrich Snowkiting on a warm day)

In this blog we will explore the concept of Snowkiting and the types of kites used while Snowkiting. Snowkiting is an amazing new sport that has been the talk of the town for a few years now, with all the new and advanced equipment, it makes the sport easier and more versatile for all types of riders.

Let’s look a little bit into what exactly Snowkiting is and why it is becoming such a popular sport. Snowkiting is basically skiing or snowboarding with a kite. There is a lot that goes into this sport however, understanding the wind, flying the kite, edging, jumping, etc… With all these things going on, Snowkiting can become a very challenging sport that tests your limits each and every session. Wind Power recommends at first taking lessons (Snowkiting Lessons) to learn important safety concerns with kiting, and also how to actually FLY the kite. Learning how to properly fly the kite from an instructor makes it that much easier, and quicker, to get you up and running on your board or skis. A few safety factors are important to understand, you need equipment that will protect you in case you crash, fall, make a mistake flying the kite, or any other factor that can come into play. Pads are highly recommended since here in Wisconsin, we are mostly Snowkiting on frozen lakes and this can cause injuries if you are not properly protected. For safety, protection equipment and gear, check out this past article written by Wind Power: Winter Safety Equipment.

Let’s talk a little bit about the types of kites used for Snowkiting. There are two specific styles of kites used in the winter season. The more traditional kite that is commonly used for Snowkiting is a Foil Kite link to Ozone Foil Kites.

Foil Kites are non-inflatable kites that capture air inside of various cells located on the leading edge of the kite (very front of the kite) to create the classic C-shaped outline the kite requires to properly fly. Below in Image 1 is an image of an Ozone Foil Kite. A few benefits to having a foil kite is the ease of packing up, the power that foil kites are able to generate, and the ability to kite in lower wind ranges. The foil kite is able to be easily packed away into a small backpack when in the backcountry, no need to release any valves to deflate the kite (we will explain this feature in the paragraph to come). A foil kite can also be used on land, some rider use foil kites to power buggies, mountainboards, and other land cruisers. These are just a few benefits to having a foil kite in the winter.

Image 1: Ozone Foil Kite

The second type of kite used in Snowkiting is a Power Kite or Inflatable Kite. This style requires air to be pumped into a “bladder” on the leading edge. In doing so, the kite takes on a “fixed” shape. A benefit of an inflatable kite compared to a foil kite is that inflatable kites can be used more easily on both water surfaces and snow/ land surfaces. This is due to the fact that inflatable kites can be “re-launched” from water surfaces much easier than foil kites. This allows kiteboarders to use the same type of kite on both water and snow/land surfaces. Referencing the previous paragraph, these kites have sometimes multiple struts lining the canopy to help give the kite its shape. Located below in Image 2 is a great picture by North Kites showing the leading edge, and the struts located on the kite.

Image 2: Leading edge and Struts

The bladder and all the struts fill with air and this air needs to be removed to store the kite in its specific bag. This process is not a lengthy one so packing up takes just a little bit longer than the foil kite. Located below in Image 3 is a picture of a Naish Inflatable Kite. 

Image 3: Naish Inflatable Kite

Wind Power has been involved in Snowkiting from the beginning. Not only do we host races, events, demo, etc, we are also actively involved with Snowkiting instruction all winter long! Link to Winter Snowkiting Lessons page. Wind Power has the knowledge, experience, resources, location and support for ANYONE interested in pursuing Snowkiting.

~Team Wind Power~

Wind Power goes to the Strictly Sail Show at the Navy Pier in Chicago!

Wind Power will have a booth at the 2012 Strictly Sail Show in Chicago.  The Show will be held Jan. 26 – 29 at the Navy Pier.  Strictly Sail is the largest yearly event for Sailing craft and related equipment held in the Mid-west. This is the first time Wind Power has been to this show.  Plans are made to display the O’Pen Bic youth sailboat, Windsurfing gear summer and winter, Kiting equipment, Kayaks and the latest rage in water sports, the SUP or Stand Up Paddle.  Wind Power has donated a lesson package for Windsurfing or Winter Kiting and a SUP to give-away at the show.  To sign-up for the drawings or to get more information on the show got to: http://www.strictlysailchicago.com/attendees/features/promotions.aspx

Wind Power has a New Weather Center!

The Wind Power web site has a New Weather Center! 

On Monday June 20 the New Weather Center was added to the Wind Power Web site. The Site has it’s own URL at WindPowerWeather.com .  A Weather Center link is available on Wind Power home page and under Information pull-down menu.

As you can see in the picture above the Wind Sensor is mounted much higher than in the past.  It will give a more realistic reading in more directions due to the added height.  My brother Andy donated an A-Scow mast which we put on top of the shop.  The Wind Sensor is on top of it which should put it at 60 plus feet.  This is around the height of the neighboring trees.

But that is not all that the Weather Center is about.  It has a very detailed graphs of the wind speed with gusts,  direction and speed, temperature and wind chill.  There is also a tabular data.  Forecast are available from several popular weather links.  Water Temperature is also available.  There are graphs with a detailed history of the past weather. Personally I like to see the peak gusts.

A local advisory tells you what launches are good for the current conditions as well as the type of equipment to use.  Don’t forget to add the Wind Power Weather Gadget to your desktop.  It will keep you up-to-date with the wind conditions on Lake Winnebago’s south end. WindPowerWeather.com/gadget

The Weather Center is dedicated to Stellablue, a longtime companion of the developer of this site. Stellablue was a yellow Labrador retriever and learned to windsurf as a puppy and loved cruising on the long-board. As you can see in the photo, she was ready to go, but was not much help up-hauling the sail. The Weather Center is dedicated to her memory.

The Weather Center was many hours in development and deciphering data find what would work best for Wind Power. Some of the unique features are the recommended Launch Sites and desktop gadget (for Windows). The Weather Center not only provides weather data, but provides a lot of explanations and educational information. Check out the Information and Sensor pages for example.

We are excited to bring this new service and it’s features to you.  Feel free to blog back or contact us with any comments and suggestions.  Enjoy the weather Center and make the most of it to increase you fun in the WIND on Lake Winnebago.

Kevin   USA 8

Summer 2011 is just around the Corner

Have you blown the dust off you soft water sailing equipment?  Well it’s time.  Lake Winnebago opened on April 7th, as far as we could see to the north from Wind Power .  The water temps are in the upper 50’s already.  A few more warm days and you can put the drysuits away.

Spring is a great time for those with experience to get out and enjoy some high wind action.  Be sure to check all you cold weather gear so it’s going to protect you as designed.  Don’t forget to also check over your equipment; u-joint, lines, all screws.  Breakdowns can quickly become a much bigger problem with colder water temps.

Wind Power enjoyed it’s annual spring trip to Hatteras. A great group of 14 enjoyed warm temps in the 70’s and lots of wind.  I windsurfed overpowered on my 4.2 and kited with an 8m.  Christy, Pat and Greg, new kiters, worked on getting rides on soft water and Debbie learned how to Windsurf.

Wind Power’s Online Store has been busy this spring and new items are being added daily.   Check it out at http://www.windpowerwindsurfing.com/shop/ The Mid-West largest used inventory and replacement parts will soon be showcased in the online store!   The road construction on Winnebago Drive (in front of the shop) is completed and it’s a big improvement to the area.  Come and enjoy a sail out of Roosevelt County Park.

School will be out Soon! Wind Power is currently taking registration for the Kid’s Classes on wed.  Starting Wednesday June 15th there will be a morning kids class from 10:00 to noon and an afternoon class from 1:00 to 3:00.  Last year the classes were full.  We will add a Thursday program if there is enough demand.     Call Kevin at Wind Power or see the web site for more information: http://www.windpowerwindsurfing.com/lessons/windsurf#kids

Are we having FUN yet?

Wednesday night will be the Advanced Windsurf classes.  This program covers all levels, from those who have just learned to the aspiring racer.  If you are nervous and not real comfortable out in the water, this is the class for you.  Kevin will get you relaxed and having fun while learning how to windsurf better.  Class curriculum is adjusted to the students level and the wind conditions of the day.

Beginner Windsurf Lessons are available anytime just call ahead to set a lesson time.  Wind Power prides itself on having the best lesson equipment available.  We want you learning experience to be easy , fun and fast! Roosevelt County Park has a nice shallow sandy area where the beginner lessons take place, it’s an ideal location.  See our web site for more information: http://www.windpowerwindsurfing.com/lessons

Kiting Lessons are available, Wind Power supplies the equipment if you don’t have it.  A large Pontoon boat is the launch site and a Jet-ski is the chase vehicle.  Contact Wind Power for more information and to setup a time.

Stand Up Paddling (SUP) Lessons and equipment are also available.  If the wind dies stop over to the shop and pick up a paddle.  Paddling along the shore checking out the houses is interesting, you can paddle back in the channel behind Wind Power or cruise up to the Light House and even go in Supply’s marsh.

Jay and Dr. D

Increase your Summer Fun with Wind Power!

The Walleye Wagatta is this Weekend

The Annual Walleye Wagatta is this weekend May 14th and 15th.  This is the first spring regatta of the 2011 MoWind racing season.  See the MoWind website for information on the upcoming Regattas.  www.mowind.org Arden Anderson is the Principle Race Officer, PRO.  With the help of his family he will run the regatta out of Wind Power and Roosevelt County Park.  Wind Power supplies the boats and buoys along with free camping in their spacious back yard.  After dark on Saturday the bonfire will be lite and tales will be told, there might even be a game of Bite the Bag.  Remember a Regatta is a Party!  Don’t let the weather dictate whether you participate or not.  Party first, sailing is a bonus.

There will be a Workshop Fleet for beginner and less experienced racers.  Arden and other racers will assist those in the Workshop fleet so they understand the course and feel comfortable sailing with others.  The Workshop Fleet race course is shorter and will be easy for them to get around.  MOWind goal is to promote Windsurfing in the Mid-West and Racing is one of the best ways to learn and improveEvery race is a lesson and your sailing with some of the best in the Mid-West.

The Sport Fleet is for graduates of the Workshop Fleet, but who choose start with the A-Fleet, but not to sail the longer course of the A-Fleet.  There will be the new KONA One-Design Fleet along with the new 9.5 Raceboard Class.  Racing will consist of Course Slalom, and Long Distance racing, weather permitting.

Again this year Ted Schweitzer will be coming to the Walleye Wagatta and he is bringing a trailer with Original Windsurfers for racers and others to test drive.  If you want to reserve an Original Windsurfer or learn more about them got to Ted’s web site: http://www.originalwindsurfer.com/site/index.html In the 70’s and early 80’s the Original Windsurfer had One-Design regattas all over the World with attendance up to 450 racers.  It’s a great board for lightwind sailing and for freestyle.  The Rig is very light and the board manuvers really fast.  Come and meet Ted (his father is the co-inventor of Windsurfing) and try an Original Windsurfer.

Ted on the Original Windsurfer

Why would I attend a Regatta or an Event?

I can think of many reasons to attend a Regatta,  a Windsurfing, Kiting, or sailing event.

No.1 It’s a party! A get-together with friends that enjoy the same sports you do. Everyone likes to have others around them to kite, windsurf or sail with when they are enjoying their sport. You have to admit it’s more fun when there are others to watch and hoot, holler and encourage when doing your sport. Most people find the  social aspect of the sport a big part of the sport and a boost to the fun factor. You meet new friends that enjoy the same thrills you do.  At work your fellow workers are probably sick of listening to you babble about how much fun you had in the wind. Why, they hate the wind, for it makes their sports harder or impossible. They don’t understand your psych, nor do they want to. When you get to the beach it’s a whole different story. Everyone wants to hear you story and share theirs.  So go and party with those who enjoy those who enjoy your sport.

No. 2 It’s a great way to learn and improve! For those new to the sport, they can hang with those experienced and learn from them. Most of the those I have meet are more than willing to share and HELP those who are learning. Remember all of us were Beginners at one time and we don’t forget those days. We want to help beginners get through the tough times as fast as possible and enjoy the sport at a higher level.  I have personally watch  and experienced everyone who competes improve a much greater rate than those who fine every excuse to not compete.  How many have said they are not competitive but when you see them on the water they are trying to out do others.  Jumping higher, going faster, or doing harder or more tricks.  Those sailors should be honest to themselves and join the FUN.

No.3 It’s Fun Competition! It’s fun to compare yourself to others.  Getting the jitters on the starting line is exciting.  Where else do you get a rush like that?  It’s great fun to be next to your friends pushing eachother to do your best.  You will find you push yourself harder than when you are alone.  I enjoy cheering others on and hooting it up.  It will promote you to pay more attention to techniques, equipment setup and tuning, tactics and weather.

No.4 Help Promote your great sport! Having a Competition bring a bigger group than normal and showcases our sport. It entices and creates interest in those who watch to join the fun.  How can one not help wanting to participate in a sport where everyone is having so much fun.We all want to share our enjoyment of our great sport and help it grow.  So we have more friends to Party with!

No.5 Don’t be a Party Pooper! If you enjoy Competitions and would like to see more of them as well as see the existing ones grow to higher levels, you must attend.  Not attending an event because of lack of wind is the most common excuse.  Forecast are often wrong, weather always changes.  Wind can come out of no-where.

That mentality is the quickest and sure way to kill a Competition or Event.  Think of the big picture of the makings of an Event.  You must have a race organizer, support personnel and sponsorship of some kind.  A lot of behind the scene work goes on.  Not attending because the forecast does not look good puts all their work in vain.  The sponsors do not see a return for their investment, therefore they pull out.  Soon the event is history.

So remember instead of  contacting your friends and telling them you are not going to make the Event because of  a poor forecast.  Contact all you’re friends and tell them to come and join you at the Party!


Winter Sailing with Wind Power on Winterboard & Freeskate

The 2010/11 Winter Sailing Season started Dec 5 – 7 for Team Wind Power. Ed Schneider, Bruce Jondle and myself sailed off Wendt’s Supper Club located on the west side of Winnebago, half way between Oshkosh and Fond du Lac.  As you can see in the video the ice was black and smooooth.  3″ of awesome ice.  Monday Ed and I returned to get more of it.  Tuesday I sailed the Winterboard in front of the shop.  The ice there was rough for a freeskate but oka for the Winterboard.

Checkout the video below for sampling of the action we enjoyed.
(note: there are 2 videos that play sequentially)

Get the Flash Player to see this content.

Freeskate and Winterboard on Lake Winnebago - See more images in the photo gallery

The following Saturday Matt Schmitz, Jeff Ross, Don Altmeyer and Steve Shapson kited at Wendt’s in 50/50 ice/snow conditions.  Ed Schneider and myself tried the Freeskates and Winterboards.  The ensuing Blizzard conditions, quickly drove us to Wendt’s friendly and finely stocked bar.  Sunday we had the first Blizzard of the season, which blew all the snow off the lake.  The 40 to 50 mph winds opened the north end of Lake Winnebago.  After the Blizzard and few very cold days we have crystally ice/snow on most of the lake but the North end has glassy ice where it opened Sunday.  There is a tentative DN Iceboat regatta to be held on the north end near Neenah Sat and Sun Dec. 18 & 19.  Team Wind Power plans to be there to sail the freeskates and Winterboards and enjoy the Regatta action.

Wind Power just found some brand new Winterboards which are really hard to find.  Don’t wait get your winter ride today!  There are also Freeskates available.  See online store for more information.

We currently have 10 -12 ” of ice in front of the shop. Contact Wind Power to get the latest ice conditions and where we are sailing or kiting. Kevin’s cell 920-251-1002.

Weather:3 mph WNW   51 °F   
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