We found out yesterday that ice is still covering portions of the West Michigan shoreline. In the morning, the wind forecast was looking good for an after work ride but as 5 0′ clock started closing in the wind was shifting offshore and dropping in Muskegon. Last year we had good success whenever the wind started shifting North/Northeast on the north side of Holland(see Downwinder – Riley Beach to Tunnel Park) so we decided to give it a try last night.
We figured that the higher water levels might make it difficult to launch our kites at Riley. We stopped at Tunnel Park first. There was little sign of wind in the parking lot and we were underwhelmed by the wind on the beach which seemed to be around 8-10 knots. The real surprise was the ice and snow still blanketing the shoreline. This past Sunday I was riding in Manistee and Jetty was at Meinert with no sign of ice or snow. With the light wind and icy shoreline we decided to go further north and try our luck at Kuow Park.
Neither one of us had been to Kuow Park before so we didn’t know what to expect. There is a nice path and boardwalk that leads down to a beach that is wide and free of dunegrass. The wind was still light and there was ice on the shoreline but we decided to at least get some exercise pumping up our kites and see how they felt up in the air.
After launching my kite, and climbing over the ice and snow I took to the water. Chunks of ice big and small were floating along the shoreline and bumping into me as I waded into the lake. I powered up my kite and immediately knew that I wasn’t going to be able to stay up wind. After a couple tacks I brought the kite back into shore and let Jetty have a turn. He stayed up wind for a few tacks but soon was also struggling and came back to the beach.
As soon as Jetty landed the kite I had a feeling that the wind had picked up. Being overly optimistic about wind conditions is part of the kiteboarding experience. For me, it’s a big part 🙂 I’m always convincing myself that there is more wind than there really is, or that the wind has just started coming up again. This time was no different, at first. I hooked in and relaunched the kite. I had almost no power by the time I got to the water and was concerned my kite was going to drop into the icy dark blue water below. I headed out anyway, moving the kite all over the sky just to keep my board on top of the water. I was about to call it a day and then BAM! The wind picked up another 5 or 6 knots and suddenly I was shooting up wind. The wind stayed up for the next half hour which was long enough for me in these cold temps. I had a good time cruising and am glad I didn’t give up on the wind.
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