Monday, April 30, 2007

Still ice in Alberta!

By William Tuthill
Hey guys!
This is a report from Alberta where the spring ice sailing season is still going strong. It often stays good until Victoria Day weekend [that would be Memorial Day in the U.S.]!

What I like about this report is that it shows an in depth understanding of the factors that influence sailing conditions.

We all understand them in our own way, but THIS is well said.

By Barney Kenney

I am currently trying out a new method for making skis. If it works well and is economic, I may try selling a few. My preference is still to license the technology.

I was out at Spray again yesterday in strong gusty winds. Conditions were slushy because there was a snow/rain fall the night before. Normally the surface is fast and dry. Here's some of the physics.

The +15 C is produced by Chinook winds during the day. Westerly flow of warm moist Pacific air is forced upslope on the west side of the Rockies which causes rain and releases latent heat to the air. The downslope flow on the east side is therefore hotter and drier than at the same altitude on the west side. Often much hotter and drier.

Melt water produced by the warm dry wind either evaporates immediately or drains vertically along the candle boundaries and keeps the surface dry. (It is this vertical drainage that actually causes the ice to candle). Best time of year for ice sailing!

When it is clear, stability produced by back radiation decouples the surface from the westerly flow aloft at night. The surface wind stops and the temperature falls to below zero overnight. This helps to tighten everything up.

There is still a danger factor, however, because the ice sheet may be eroding from below by heat transported by baroclinic currents and stream inflows; the later you sail into spring, the more care is required.

It helps to know what you're doing, what to look for, and where not to go. We carry ice picks and drill test holes daily. It also helps if you have a board that can sail on water. Even then, one occasionally gets wet - but that's another story.

Photos from WISSA 2007 updated

Estonia 2007. Bend and twist - you get the gist.

By William Tuthil
I have much to report. We JUST got in from a LONG drive to Gaspisie and back. It is beautiful out there and WISSA 2008 accoms will be set up for families...
More later - much more.

For now, here are some fresh pics from Estonia.

[8 more images]

Do you need text?

Estonia 2007. Kalev Allikveer on a 3 blade sled.

Estonia 2007. Just after the start.

Estonia 2007 Vitold Nerling. Legendary windsurfing coach from Poland.

Estonia 2007. The technology and talent at WISSA World Championships is as up to date and radical as ANY windsurfing race on the planet. Here is to keeping the Open Class alive and strong FOREVER!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

This is some sweet April-May ice!

By William Tuthill

As we watch the grass turn green, Barney Kenney [organizer on WISSA
2001 Saskatchewan, Canada
] is tuning and refining his amazing foot
steering sled. Barney has created several clever inventions, but this
sled is closer to short board sailing than any ski sled that I have
ever sailed. Everything from the steering mechanism to the custom
built skis are of his design and manufacture. The sled is a jibing

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Report from Gaspe

By William Tuthill

Greetings All

Here is a quick report from lasts week's epic adventure to the race site for WISSA 2008.

It is Sunday night, and we have just returned from driving over 2000 km for WISSA. It was a productive trip.

The 3 day trip up took place during a record breaking storm that dumped 10- 50 cm. of snow and rain up and down the east coast. The whole family, with gear, and a load on the roof battled gale forced winds and swirling snow while packed into my rather small Honda. It was a stressful ordeal, but on Wednesday 18 April, 2007 we met up with Dominique Robichard [chief organizer for WISSA 2008] at Val Briiliant on the shores of Lac Matapedia. Things are looking GOOD!

There is a 9 member organizing committee, with a budget, and a plan.
The original accommodations were to be some condominiums on the lake, but they were just sold making them unavailable.
As a perhaps better substitute, the organizing committee has secured the base lodge at Val d'Irene Ski Mountain instead. Web: Val d'Irene

The base lodge has 26 rooms and a total capacity of 120 persons. It is 14 km. from the lake and will be connected by buses running continually between the two locations.

At the lake, there is a community center which will serve a center of activity for skipper's meetings, lunches, and equipment storage.

The lake is beautiful! We sailed on 60 cm. ice with the typical strong NW winds. At 20 km. x 3-5 km. there is plenty of room to move! The town of Sayabec is at one end and Amqui is at the other. Val Brillant is in the middle. There is NO DEVELOPMENT on the north side of the lake! This makes for exceptionally pure scenery.

Dominique has gone off to windsurf at Cape Hatteras, North Carolina for a week, and I have to get back to work. Just know this as you go into your summertime routines- WISSA 2008 is well under control! The dates are 10-17 February 2008, and we are looking forward to seeing you there. :-)

Look for more information and photos of Lac Matepedia on the WISSA web site soon.

Don't forget to "summerize" your skis!


p.s. The ice on Matapedia is still good!

Friday, April 20, 2007


Review by Zakharov

First tests on the snow... well, on the ice, really.

There is almost no wind at the ground level this morning! Even race "tens" could be launched with some serious running effort. On the height it is 3-4 m/s (6-8 knots). I was unfolding the new Psycho on the beach without complete confidence that it would fly, valves should make it difficult to pump it up... My peers also shared my doubts - all our previous experience with water foils on the bar was saying that it is not possible to lift the kite at zero wind.

To everybody's surprise the kite easily took off with minimal pumping at the ground and few steps running upwind.

Right after the start comes the first shock - when testing `Speed-13` in such wind it could barely move you across the wind direction yet `Psycho-13` accelerates very well, racing `Infinity-8.5` is noticeably slower.

Next thing you notice is very wide range of power covered by the bar. Push it away and the power drops in several times but the kite is still easily steered. Full forward and backward wing rotations are smooth with great acceleration. Pull the bar backwards 40 cm and get loads of power without any speed loss or attempts to stop or fall back. In today's conditions with slippery surface, 3-4 m/s winds and full speed up to 50 km/h the power control with the bar was sufficient, I did not touch depower at all.

The force on the bar is moderate, I set it to the middle position and did not get tired in a two hours session. I will experiment with this setting later.

In the end I was really satisfied with the dynamic and speed qualities of the kite, it went far beyond my expectations!

As for jumping - this is not my area of expertise. I let it play to Roman - one forward turn, two, three... The amplitude is 3-4 meters, Roman likes the new toy. He advises to pull the bar before the jump.

This is little unusual - I was always turning the kite into jump with freed bar and pulled it only after the take-off. It worked well on all kites that I have tested.

Let's try the new way. Yes! The jumps are high although I am heavier than Roman and can not do as nice as he does. I'd better learn to rotate in the summer on the water...

So, as of today the conclusions are the following.

`Psycho-13` is a universal kite for winter and summer adequately good for jumping and racing.

In winter the kite flies same well as in the summer! Easy start despite valves on the leading edge, great stability on the edges of the window, very forgiving to the mistakes on the jumps and great speed for the free ride!

This is the wing that alone lets you sail in moderate wind on water and ice equally without any loss of enjoyment! This is my first experience with such kite especially considering the incredible durability of ram-air kites on water and snow - they have no pressurized bladders.

And considering the manufacturer's claimed wind range of 4-15 m/s (8-30 knots)...

I still can not believe it! When testing `Speed-13` the 12 m/s was the limit. Of course, the Psycho wing is attached to the first row as the "bow" which should let it be stable at very small angle of attack thus providing a huge depower range...

But still, I will not believe it until try.

It's a dream coming true: two or even three kites in one!

And now ahead is sun, water and Yeysk! Stand by for the new impressions.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

PSYCHO-3 Part I.

Review by Zakharov

Just a while ago I was really stunned by this american pronounciation of the word "Psycho" - saiko, as in the old joke:
Writing `Liverpool` reading `Manchester`

And today this very "Psycho-3" is covering 13 square meters of freshly thawed sand near Neokom. Blue star on the black-and-white, as seen on TV!

For those who does not know: Psycho-3 is a new ram-air kite from Flysurfer with modified safety system and wider range of depower.

The manual claims wind range 4-15 m/s (8-30 knots). Can you imagine that?

The principle which makes it possible is the same as in bow-kites: at minimal angles the wing is tied to the leading edge, not to the two front rows as before, which enables the kite to stretch along the wind and fly as a banner with minimal lift. They also say that in such schema the breakaway over the leading edge is practically impossible at any gusts. We shall see...

It has a very interesting safety system - the line is tied not to the rear edge as before which was leaving a lot of drag when engaged in the strong wind but is distributed in three points along the chord of the wing.

This way the kite in safety mode folds in half hanging on the middle chord loosing all power. On DVD you can see water restart within seconds. It would be interesting to try how real it is.

Bar force is regulated to taste: somebody likes it "light" others prefer to apply power.

Safety leash is in the solid rubber case: to protect from tangling.

The bar is freely rotating to unwind the lines in a wink - nothing muddles. The system became simpler than in previous models, much less lines around the bar.

No luck launching today: no wind...

Saturday, April 14, 2007

splash splash session

Christelle Selen

I know WISSA is under reconstruction... or beauty
changes.... as William told me.
The video is made a month ago here in Finland when the ice
was still strong but covered of water, we called it
splash splash session....
otherwise you can always visit my blog to view more
kiting sessions or pictures... some of the WISSA 2007
too !

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

The spirit of the wind lives here. This is a place where individuals from all walks of life, and all parts of the world, join together to celebrate their passion for sailing on snow or ice. There are no restrictions or judgments - only enthusiasm and accommodation.
The history of this extraordinary sport flourishes in the hearts and minds of the many and varied individuals that make up the membership.
Since 1980 we have convened a once a year World Championships with the goal of finding the best racer in the world at that time.
In the beginning, we were a widely scattered group of windsurfers just learning about sailing on frozen surfaces. Over time, we have become the oldest and best established community of ice and snow sailors in the world.

On the race course we have three divisions:
1] OPEN CLASS: Any sled powered by a windsurfing rig- the only restriction is that the rider must stand while sailing
2] HAND HELD: Any sail or wing held by the sailor directly
3] KITES: All forms of tethered sails (sails on lines)

The World Ice and Snow Sailing Association (W.I.S.S.A.) was officially formed at Lake Worthsee in Germany, in 1987. At that time, the existing requirement of at least 5 different nations to make an official World Championships was formalized.
The WISSA organization was registered, rules and by laws were created and a degree of formality was established. Thankfully, it never got too far out of hand, and the informality that has been the hallmark of WISSA’s survival took over.
In 1991, Victor Hendriksson, acting on behalf of the Estonian Yachting Union organized a World Championships (in the then Soviet Socialist Republic of Estonia) that would forever change the course of WISSA – that’s all of ice and snow sailing history.
The incredible mass of talent, ideas, and enthusiasm that had been bottled up behind the “Iron Curtain” was introduced to the western world. The chemistry was magic and the sport was eternally altered for the better.

The first kite turned up in Finland in 1990. The first wing in 1991. By 1993 both were welcomed as official racing classes.
Throughout all of it, racing on an Olympic Course has been the constant. Speed Trials and a Long Distance Marathon have been important as well, but the main emphasis has been upon course racing- always.

Venues shift from North America to Europe in alternating years so as to be fair to all. We have affiliates in Australia, Asia, and New Zealand, but the main body of participation is centered about the Atlantic so racing continues to go between Europe and North America.

IceSurfing in Finlad

Still excellent conditions in Northern part of Finland although guys have started summer surfing "down in south"

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Saturday & Easter

What a weekend!

Lake Sunapee ROCKS! The nearly 1100 foot elevation makes for a different climactic designation for this unusual body of water. Everything south and down has melted, but Sunapee still has 12-14 inches of ice! Better still, the forecast is for more cold and a 10 inch dump on Thursday! This means that NEXT weekend is apt to be epic as well!

Almost Night: Shot by Charles Meding while flying the red kite in the foreground. We sailed all day on loose granular, and into the dark.

Last Year: Flying over the St. Lawrence River. By Michael Eudenbach

By way of reference, the sun angle and length of day is that of Labor Day weekend. Yep, that's right- count your days towards summer from the equinox and Easter is like Labor Day and next weekend is crowding AUGUST for sun angles! :)

Before I jinx the jet stream into a more seasonal pattern, I'll just give a quick weekend rundown and crash.

SATURDAY: Forecast- no wind. Reality- 10- 15 mph. Rick Hobbs had to skate with a 5,5 meter wing. He got some rides but he also skated and waited. It looked good some of the time, but I hate skating on skis so I changed teams and "took the kite".

With George Baskette and Charlie Meding as company, it is easy to see the potential of kites.

The surface was loose granular, and with a 4 line foil kite on handles it was fun to chuck the power of the kite around like a rock on the end of a string. Whip it up and down for speed, and send it back for a POWER jibe! Now TTHAT is fun- even if it does rip your arms and abs. BTW George with the 8 meter CA leader? Poetry in motion. And Charlie? How the hell can you fly a kite AND shoot photos?

EASTER SUNDAY: Arose and went to heaven. The overnight temperature was in the teens and the wind was a robust 15-25mph.

Bright sun, thin crispy snow atop hard ice with the new Kitewing Rage 5.5+.

Arose and went to heaven.

That docile powerhouse together with Volkl P30 Race Carver skis on such a surface IS heaven on earth!

The distance between Sunapee Harbor Lighthouse and Herrick Cove Lighthouse is just under 2 miles. I was making the run in under 5 minutes before I realized that I should start keeping track.

After about an hour I started blazing on a broad reach between the 2 points- [an approx. 4 mile round trip]-over and over while counting.

Long story short, I made 25 trips in about 5 hours. That SHOULD be about 100 miles, but without a GPS and a witness, it is quite unofficial. WHO CARES? I did it for me - not for the record books. That said, I plan to get a GPS this week. With luck, I'll have a dog in the hunt for the "Century Club" Award from the Chickawaukee Ice Sailing Club in Maine U.S.A.. before the season ends.

Happy Easter and god bless.

Winter RULES!!!!!!!!