I was rather surprised today when we drove down to Edgartown Great Pond to find the entire southern shoreline frozen solid. I was even able to walk out fifteen feet or so before I heard or felt any signs of breaking. So we decided to go to Katama Bay but unfortunately the Trustees of Reservation has closed the access road to Norton Point which made things difficult. But with temperatures hovering close to 60 degrees and a south wind at 25-32 Knots I was not going to be stopped. Even if it meant I had to break through some ice. So we rig up with me opting for a BEST Kiteboarding 12 Meter TS and head for a little spot up in Katama that had open water. IT was only about 200 Meters long and it didn't take long for one of us to venture through the ice. It was not me however as I was struggling trying to stay upright on my virgin homebuilt foiling speedboard. So after getting back up on top of the water I decided to head toward what I thought was a soft spot in the ice. It was not and I crashed hard. The ice was only about 2 inches thick and was breaking apart decently easy as the salt content is pretty high in the bay but it still kinda hurt against the legs and I thought a few times I was going to rip my wetsuit. So after struggling through the ice for 100 meters or so I was finally able to reach some open water.
With myself free of the ice I was now determined to see if I could ride this board. The first thing that I noticed was that the board was very difficult to ride when I leaned back into the harness. By increasing the boards heel angle I expected the lift to increase however the force was to windward instead of upwards. When I tested a curved forward Fin on my course board I found a similar problem in that as the fin loaded up and increased lift it became difficult to hold it in a straight line. In the case of the SpeedBoard this would indicate an improper pitch angle or a difference in pitch angles between the two foils. I found that by riding the board flatter it was easier to maintain course and when I pressed the nose of the board further downwind and shifter my weight back then the board would begin to lift up out of the water. The forward foil has an increased chord length and significantly more surface area so it tended to lift fast but as the lift increased the forward foil would often withdraw from the water and then the board would lose that opposing force and pitching forward begin. I got better at controlling the pitch but it seems that having sharper curve towards the bottom of the foil or even a very small horizontal wing might increase the stability.
For now I will focus on the pitch angles and perhaps trying it out when I am not fully overpowered on my 12 meter. Oh and maybe I will wait until there isn't any ice in the ponds. Although I did kind of enjoy the adventure of the ice present. It was beautiful to kite around although I did come close to making a fatal mistake. I switched to my buddy's twin tip to launch a few airs and after getting the feel of his board I boosted one a little harder than I meant to and enjoyed a long flight. So long in fact that I almost ended up landing on the ice. Luckily I was able to sheet out early enough to land about ten feet shy of the ice line.
All and all it was a fantastic day and it was an interesting experience to try my first attempt a foiling on my home built skunk labs special. I think that J Foils or perhaps L FOils can work on Kiteboards and I think they could have a benefit as they could decrease a reliance on perfect water texture. I will make some modifications and try it again. Maybe some of my Mothie friends who have a bit more experience in the foiling arena will weigh in and help me out.
Intersting just as I was clicking submit I saw an article in Scuttlebutt about the curved foils on the new Olympic Multihull the Nacra 17. Here is the link to the article if you are interested. http://sailingscuttlebutt.com/
Below is a few short clips showing what it looked like today.
All the best.