Kite Derby Race Strategy Part II

So after a full day of teaching lessons, I took my exhausted self out to the Hood River sandbar to attempt the KB4C Kite Derby Course. It was 7pm and the wind was still holding strong at 14-23 and straight west.

With the start drawing an east-west line from the big red barge buoy to the sandbar, there is not much room on the north side of the river (toward Washington) to tack upwind. So, I took off knowing that I would have a short tack, but rode as far upwind as I could, then stopped just shy of the fishing platform that jets out from the rocky Washington shoreline. The wind here is fine, but one could get backed up and stuck against the shore if other kiters are right behind.

I almost think that one could make a very short tack past the start line, transitioning early, then getting one very long tack to the south (toward Oregon) ahead of everyone else.

My second tack (toward Oregon now) took me upwind of the middle downwind buoy, then on my third tack (toward WA now), I made it right in front of the White Salmon Bridge. However, the upwind buoy is still about 1/4 mile upwind of the bridge and toward the shoreline, so I had to make 1 1/2 more tacks to get there.

Once around the top upwind buoy, I almost make one long cross tack (with a little downwind) toward the Well’s Island buoy, which is straight north of The Hook (windsurfing park & launch), but out from Well’s Island to avoid the wind shadow that we had last year.

As I round the Well’s Island buoy, this is where things could get interesting. I didn’t know whether I should point straight downwind, then turn north to the center of the river to make the middle buoy… or… tack north right away, and tack my way downwind to the middle buoy. I’m not good at going downwind fast, so I made the back-and-forth tacks right away after the Well’s Island buoy, all the way down to the middle buoy.

Once you go around the middle downwind buoy, you are now heading back across the river toward Oregon and just west of the event site. This is a cross-tack and almost an upwind tack to reach the Event Site buoy, located right in front of the 3rd piling and the yellow Luhr Jensen building.

When you clear this buoy, you better have an idea as to whether or not you’re going to attempt the Long Jump, because you’ll want to use the momentum to go one way or the other. At first I thought the setup would be overly-advantageous to goofy-side jumpers (jumping to the right), but after attempting the jump both ways, I think it’s about even. There are banana buoys stretched out at about a 30 degree angle on both sides (so pointed like a “V”, with the “V” point pointing upwind).

I jumped, but really got more air than distance, which ultimately is what we’re going for… the LONG jump. In my attempt to extend my distance, I ate it and blew up. Damn. That was an extra 42 seconds on my time. My last reach of the course is simply back to the big read start buoy, where I get to do it all over again!!

Test Course Gear:

Liquid Force Havoc 8m
Liquid Force Aura 131 Comp & Comp Straps
Dakine Wahine waist harness
Total time around course: 15 minutes and change, including about 30 seconds of crashing at the Long Jump.


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