Dan Eisaman, of Madison Heights, Michigan (USA), would be considered an unusual character in any crowd. He's certainly one of the most ambitious small boat voyagers this writer has met. The fact that he voyages under kite power might make him seem even more unusual, but it's a perfectly logical conclusion, given his personality and temperament.
Dan's credo; "The most fun for the least money" fits his lifestyle. After 20 years sailing small dinghies for fun, he bought a 16 ft. Hobiecat and set out to cross the Atlantic Ocean. Turned back by the US Coast Guard (who felt the daysailing cat was "a bit small" for the attempt), Dan turned to a kite-powered 8 ft. inflatable raft and set out to cross each of America's Great Lakes. He's managed 4 of 5 so far. Dan's own words convey his unique approach best.
"You see, I'm not into all these racing 'games.' When I look at a boat, I immediately start thinking of far-away places with strange sounding names; I'm not going to spend a bunch of money on a boat just to race in. I feel that speed is a useful factor, but not an end in itself.
"Of course, when I tell someone I'm going across the lake in my inflatable, they wonder if I've got a screw loose. They've got the 'toy' mentality that says you can't do such things in 'toys.' I'm not going to have much to say to your subscribers who want to flash by on waterskis to impress the chickie-poos. I'm more interested in getting across the Atlantic in something I can sleep in while a kite like my 'Blue Mule' hauls away.
"Let me tell you about crossing Lake Ontario last summer. I took off about 0730 from Grimsby, Ontario, on a course of 17° true. They told me it was a little less than 30 miles across to Toronto, so I figured I'd be there well before sundown. I was in my 8 1/2' inflatable with a new aluminum keel/skeg fixed to a board running fore and aft beneath the boat (this was the first time I'd used a keel). I had my big Sutton Flo-Form 60 up. This was the first time I'd used it and I had a little trouble getting it up. The wind was nice and steady and it finally inflated and scooted across the water drinking in about a bucket of water. I had to wait while the water drained out of the left rear corner of the kite, and up it went.
"I had a two-legged bridle on the bow and I noticed the boat yawing quite a bit. It wasn't supposed to do that. I fiddled with the bridles for the next hour or so, putting them first in one place, then another. I finally put them on either side a little aft and the boat swapped ends and stopped its yawing. I was crossing Lake Ontario backwards! The skeg was put too far forward. That's what I get for not trying it out first. Well, it didn't make much difference to me which way I went, forwards or backwards, as long as I was going steadily along at about 2 kts; or maybe 3 in a gust.
"Only once did the wind slacken enough that I was afraid the kite would dip into the lake. I quickly put out my drogue, and let the kite up another couple hundred feet. The drogue is handy for putting up a kite when you need all the wind you can get. I just drop it over the side and the boat virtually stops. I've found a drogue is also handy when you need to stop, such as when there's a big commercial boat coming up on you.
"Nothing much exciting happened. Didn't see too many people out there. I was investigated by only a couple of boats, one of which asked me the usual dumb questions. The last did tell me that I was making 3 kts. (Wow!)
"It was quite hazy out on the lake and I never really got a good look at Toronto's 'needle' all that day until quite late in the afternoon. When I finally spotted it, I was a little west of where I wanted to be, so rather than head for downtown Toronto, I went ashore a 5 minute bus ride west of downtown."
Regarding safety and visibility in open waters, Dan offers this: "A Coast Guard cutter stopped me when I crossed Lake Michigan. They seemed interested in what I was doing. Checked to see that I had the required safety gear. They reported that the aluminized mylar strips I had on my kite line gave a good radar picture, and that I shouldn't have them up too high as commercial radar doesn't scan up very high. All this stuff (including flags, mylar strips, & pennants) makes you visible to people out on the lake. Before this I got dumped one Sunday morning (about 0300) in the middle of Lake Michigan by a laker (a large commercial ship) who didn't see my lights. Thank God they heard me yell and saw the kite go by on the port side. They stopped and picked me up."
Keep up the good work. And, Dan, be careful out there!
Washington State (USA) kiteskier Cory Roeseler took first place as fastest craft under 10 m2 sail area at the 16th annual Johnnie Walker International Speedsailing Championships at Portland Harbor, Dorset, England, October 15-21, 1988.
While prevailing winds throughout the regatta were too light to imperil world speed records, Roeseler took full advantage of available breezes to best the next place finisher by fully 2 nautical miles per hour. This performance by a kite powered waterskiier against an open field of no-holds-barred designs impressed the international audience of spectators and competitors alike. It demonstrated to many the inherent advantages of kite power in high speed sailing. Roeseler's top speed of 19.87 kts. (about 22 mph) over the 500 meter course was clocked with about 18 kts of wind. Just as impressive was a 12 kt. run Cory made in fluky winds of only 7-8 kts. He managed this feat carrying a stack of 5-4m (13') span Flexifoil kites totaling 14.2 sq. meters (160 sq ft.).
In other kitesailing news, newcomer Giles Durand, of Rambouillet, France demonstrated his innovative new O„PAF system (patent pending). This trimaran hydrofoil hull platform features unique surface sensing hydrofoils, very light weight, and a very efficient parafoil-like kite designed and built by Durand. This kite has a higher aspect ratio and a cleaner, more efficient airfoil than existing parafoil kites. It is built of rip-stop nylon and has no rigid spars. Durand had three sizes at Portland: 8,12,&22 sq. meters (88,132, &240 sq. ft.). He intends to manufacture and market the kite.
Performance of this computer designed and (theoretically) optimized, but largely untested kite/hydrofoil system was surprising. In the moderate winds prevailing at Portland, the craft flew fully foilborne, under perfect control, and made timed runs near 20 kts. In practice runs outside the official course, the boat topped estimated speeds of 25 kts. For his elegant design work and demonstrated performance, Durand and his team were awarded the Amateur Yacht Research Society's prestigious design prize.
In addition to these "true" kite powered entries, there were three other "kite rig" boats at Portland. These are boats with inclined sails, or "captive kites" attached to masts or spars on the boats. They're sometimes called "kite rigs" since they take advantage of the lifting power of kites, either to reduce effective displacement or to prevent capsize.
Perhaps most unusual was sail #65, a miniature trimaran (see photo). While this boat's rig bears a surface resemblance to the Wind Weapon® boardsailing rig, it is quite different. All attitude controls are via cables, gears and chains leading inside the mast. The hulls are displacement/planing type, with minimal displacement. The boat proved to be stable and controllable, despite the usual break-in and shake-down problems.
The other two; Ned Snead's modified Monomaran and Diedre Costes Exoplane IV, while quite similar in appearance and approach, are in fact the result of 15-20 years of convergent but independent research and development by their respective designers. Each takes advantage of the inclined rig to minimize heeling moment, and each has two freely pivoting hulls to control placement of their center of lateral pressure. Both sailed quite reliably and controllably, but are still in proof of concept stages and not optimized for high speed.
After years of research and development, entrepreneurs Phil Huff and John Stanford have entered the snow skiing market aggressively with their company, UpSki Inc., of Frisco, Colorado (USA). Their product, an impressive 50m2 (600ft2) controllably vented parachute canopy, is attached via control lines and emergency quick release to a purpose-built harness and day pack. Everything needed to begin UpSkiing is included in their UpSki package.
Huff and Stanford, who hold patents on the innovative venting method and control system on UpSki, claim impressive performance for their device. UpSki is capable of pulling a large man on level, hard snow in wind light as 6-7 mph. It can pull most people up most slopes in 15 mph, up "anything skiable" in 20 mph winds. With their venting system, they claim reasonably safe skiing, by trained UpSkiers, in winds up to 35 mph, and survivability in 45-50 mph gales. The combination of UpSki's very large sail area and quick power dumping through their venting system makes this a much broader range of wind conditions than that claimed for other kiteskiing systems.
While direct courses are limited to down, or across the wind, upwind work is possible if the wind blows across the slope. This is accomplished by "gravity tacks;" sailing upslope across the wind, then dousing the UpSki and skiing downslope, upwind, and repeating. The designers point out that UpSkiing opens up huge areas to alpine skiers that would otherwise be unavailable to them. Further, UpSki allows the utilization of level, snow covered areas, such as frozen lakes, in the same manner as slopes, substituting wind power for gravity power.
There are enough UpSkiers out there to warrant organized racing events. Two UpSki races will be held in the US in February, 1989; a 25-miler plus slalom racing in New York State, February 4th & 5th (contact Neal Sekse @(315) 797-3715), and a 25-miler at Lake Mille Lacs, Minnesota, February 17-19 (contact Tom Nygarrd @(612) 824-5703). In addition, UpSki organizes UpSkiing adventures to exotic places like Sweden and to Chilean volcanos (contact Condor Adventures @(303) 331-9977).
UpSki has been featured in Outside and Snow Country magazines, and will be in the 2/89 issue of National Geographic World.
The UpSki package, complete with canopy with patented venting system, harness with emergency release, pack, windmeter, owners manual, and instructional video, retails for US $1,299. Dealers and trainers are located throughout the US, Alaska, Sweden, and England. For more details and their newsletter, contact UpSki, Inc., Box 1269, Frisco, CO 80443; or UpSki Europe, Garden Cottage, High Close, Langdale, Cumbria, England.
Information for this article was taken from the December, 1988 issue of "The UpSkier."
Here, then, is the current Who's Who in kitesailing:
(NB: These addresses and contacts were substantially accurate in 1988. They may not be now--ed)
Advanced Sailing, Inc. Dr. Enrique Petrovich has designed an unusual 3 hulled catamaran (not a trimaran) connected through a pivoting mast to a "captive kite." This doesn't strictly qualify as a kite powered boat, but the kite-rig principle is exactly the same: 620 SE 18th Ave., Pompano Beach, Florida, USA 33060.
Steve Callahan. Noted naval architect and professional skipper. Author of Adrift, a chronicle of his 78 days at sea on a life raft. Steve's trying to put together a kite-powered Atlantic crossing and is looking for sponsors and suppliers: Box 277, RFD 2, Ellsworth, Maine, USA 04605.
Dave Culp Speedsailing. Dave designs, builds, and races high speed kiteboats. He flies a 5-10 stack of Flex i foil Super 10's; and a 3-6 stack of Flexifoil Special 13's. Projects include a 4-boat series of 26-30 ft. proas for Stewkie Ltd. in England (1978-84), the 16 ft planing proa, Whigmaleerie (1986„88), kite drawn waterskiing gear (1988„89), and a 14 ft. planing catamaran (1988-89). Dave Culp is also editor and publisher of Kitesailing International: 2004 Silver Lake Way, Martinez, California, USA 94553.
Ian Day. Ian and his team literally put kitesailing on the map. Their 20 ft. converted Olympic-class Tornado cat a ma ran was flying with a mammoth 15 stack of Flexifoil Super 10's (300ft2) in 1978! They held the world record for C„class unlimited speedsailboats from 1982-88. They currently are sailing a 30 ft. hydrofoil supported canard configuration trimaran: 19 Carisbrooke Court, New Milton, Hampshire, England BH25 5US
Giles Durand. Giles designed and built the computer optimized O-PAF system (featured in KI 12/88). It's a patented surface sensing hydrofoil trimaran pulled by high aspect ratio 22 m2 parafoil kite of his own design. Very unusual, very fast: Route DuPoteau des 3 Seignuers, La Villeneuve, 78120 Rambouillet, France.
Dan Eisaman. Dan sails an 8 ft. inflatable raft pulled by a 60 ft2 parafoil kite (featured in KI 12/88). Dan has crossed 4 of 5 Great Lakes and plans to cross Lake Superior in the spring of '89. He wants to tackle the Atlantic next: 26521 Barrington Rd., Madison Heights, Michigan, USA 48071.
Flexifoil. Ray Merry and Andrew Jones developed and patented this kite in the 70's. Their product has become more or less the standard in the field, due primarily to the great power and durability of the kite. Ray is world-wide distributor: Ray Merry, Box 290, Lavallette, New Jersey, USA 08735. Andrew Jones, September Cottage, High Street, Brinkley, Near Newmarket, Suffolk, England, CB8 0SF.
Roger Glencross. Roger designed and is experimenting with a hanglider/floatplane connected to a "hapa" (a free swimming, paravane-like device; it acts as a centerboard without a hull) of his own design: 6 Melville Ave., W. Wimbleton, London, England, SW20 0NS.
Pierluigi Greppi. Greppi designed and built a 39 ft. lightweight aluminum trimaran and flies a 10 stack of Flexifoil Hyper 16 kites (500 ft2 total). This very ambitious boat is afloat and is experimenting with a smaller rig. The team is working on a sophisticated self-launch system for these very large kites: Largo Richini 6, 20122 Milano, Italy.
Kitesail Progress. Kite drawn waterskier (featured in KI 10„88, 12„88).This father/son team includes Bill, an aeronautical engineer, and Cory, an engineering student and keen competition waterskier. The Roeselers fly from a 2 stack of Flexifoil Super 10's, to a 5 stack of Flexifoil Special 13's. They're trying for the unlimited world record of 44 mph. Cory won his division at the JWISS championships in England in 10„88, and claims unmeasured speeds above 35 mph: Cory Roeseler, Box 255, 6850 El Colegio Rd., Goleta, California, USA 93117. Bill Roeseler, 10858 Valiente Ct., San Diego, California, USA 92124.
James Labouchere. James de signed and built the 39 ft. superventilated hydrofoil supported airplane configuration trimaran, Hydrosled. It flies a 38 ft. radio controlled "glider-sail". This promising boat has never sailed, but is built full size; sail is currently a one fourth scale model. The project is looking for funding: Kington St. Michael, Chippenham, Wiltshire, England SN14 6JR.
Bruno Legaignour. Bruno flies kite-powered waterskis and boats. He uses an inflated kite of his own design, about 110 ft2. (KI has little information on this project, but will feature it soon.): 26 Chemin de Kernoter, 29000 Quim per, France.
Richard Newick. World famous multihull designer; Newick boats al ways finish first. Dick has expressed a keen interest in the kitesailing concept and is soliciting commissions to develop/design world-class kitesailboats: RFD, Box 309, Vineyard Haven, Massa chusetts, USA 02568.
Troy Novarro. Another kite drawn waterskier, Troy flies a 3-9 stack of Flexi Super 10's from a Skurfer® water ski/surfboard. Troy hand holds his kites (no harness or control bar) and looks great on the water. He skis very fast and is the world's first (only?) kite-hot dogger: P O Box 3813, Liuhe, Hawaii, USA 96766.
Tony Rusi. Boeing aircraft engineer and avid boardsailor, Tony's interested in kite, board, and fin design for kite-powered waterskis and sailboards. He crewed, along with Dave Culp, for Skysail Progress at the JWISS championships in England in 10/88: 4269 148th Ave. NE #D101, Bellevue, Washington, USA 98007.
Theo Schmidt. Flies kite drawn waterskis, snow skis, mud skis, and a back packable inflated hull 16 ft. catamaran. He flies a 1-3 stack of Flexi Special 13's from a self launching control bar/line reel. His interests in clude human and solar-powered vehicles, both land and water: Rebackerweg 19, 4402ÊFrenkendorf, Switzerland.
Skyrods®. Red McClarran sells aftermarket hollow graphite spars for Flexifoils (among other kites). These lightweight spars allow Flexis to fly when wet. Red claims other advantages; quicker response and lighter wind capability than with standard spars (all true). Of course, any hollow spar will be more fragile than the solid stockers: Box 750, Rockaway, Oregon, USAÊ97136.
Stewkie Ltd. Keith Stewart has built and raced kiteboats since 1977, typically 20-30 ft. displacement proas. He flies "aerodynamic balloons" of his own design. These are inflated polyurethane kites; delta, semicircle, and rectangular planforms, usually inflated with helium. Speeds to about 20 mph. Stewkie is also developing inflatable boats: Manor Farmhouse, Melbury Osmond, Dorset, England DT2 0LS.
UpSki® Inc. These are large (600ft2), controllably vented round parachute/kites (featured in KI 12/88). Designed and built for snow skiing upslope and on the flats. Inventors Phil Huff and John Stanford have sold enough of these to offer organized races and to offer charter UpSki adventures worldwide: Box 1269, Frisco, Colorado, USA 80443.
John Waters. John is a professional kiteflier for Catch the Wind kites. He's probably one of the first to sand ski-on the soles of his shoes-along Oregon beaches; first with 6-8 stacks of Flexi Super 10's, later behind converted parafoil sport parachutes. John is often seen at altitudes of 25 ft. and at speeds of 25 mph: Catch the Wind, 266 SE Highway 101, Lincoln City, Oregon, USA 97367.
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