mercoledì, dicembre 24, 2014


It's been a while since I came back from Brazil, but hey, I've been quite busy with work and family and I had very little time even for myself. Now that Christmas holidays have started, I hope I can close the gap and fill this blog with some nice picturer and comments on the latest surf trip to Jericoacoara.

Despite the fact I've been hijacked by a TAP airstrike on a 36h flight instead of the scheduled 21, I finally made it to Jeri, a little bit tired and without my friends coming from Italy which were also affected by the airstrike. I spent the very first three days in the pousada my frineds and I booked completely alone, so I had time to relax and digest the never ending trip down there.

This time the wind in Jeri was pretty consistent. Waves were not, unfortunately, since no swell was hitting the Brazilian coast during those days. So, we got just somewhat a one meter waves, mostly generated by the tradewinds. Nothing special, nevertheless some of the pro were able to jump on those small ramps and score some memorable manouvres.

So, some numbers. I scored 9 out 11 days, most of the time the wind was blowing quite strong. 8 windsurf sessions, just one with the kite. Reasons for that:

1) No or small waves, and I get bored with the kite;
2) Club dos Ventos doesn't rent any kite surf board, they only have twintips - and only a limited number - so downwinds were definitely not an option also because of 1);
3) My friends are old style windsurfers, so I mostly enjoy riding with them

[by the way, if you ever want to rent a combo gear (kite + wind) at the Club dos Ventos please be aware that this can be really expensive. You're not only paying for the gear, but also you double pay for insurance, which is somehow stupid from my point of view... if I'm windsurfing I am not kiting and vice versa. Why paying two times, then?]

Biggest sail used: 5.4m (but most of the time it was a 4.8m), biggest board 103lt. For the kite session it was a Cabrinha 7m. Every day three hours in the water splitted into two sessions, plus an "afterhour" surfing session on the small but fun shore waves.

martedì, agosto 05, 2014

Back to Italy

So, I'm back to Italy for summer holiday. As I did two years ago I went back by boat via Barcelona, as I "have" to travel with my wife and two little kids/devils and all their stuff. So I packed my car with my kite gear too, my 10m Rebel and the Takii 6'0" as I definitely don't want to use a twintip anymore - there are different reasons behind this, but I will post them later on. So the trip from my home town to Barcelona takes round about 6 to 7 hours, which includes the mandatory stops for resting and let the boys stretch their legs (and stop messing the car around).

The ferry takes less than one day to cross the Mediterranean sea and the trip it's quite relaxing as you can sleep in your cabin with private bathroom. Not first class cruise, of course, but the ticket price (which includes your car) isn't too expensive, at least if you compare it with the air fares during the high season... not considering the extra baggage I was able to carry on board....

So, what conditions can you expect to find in Italy during summer time? Let's start from the beginning: the cold, hot, wet Italian summer could drive you crazy, especially in the peninsula. The beaches are always so crowded that rigging your gear -no matter if you are a windsurfer or a kiter - could be difficult, unless the weather conditions becomes really bad keeping tourists away from the sand.

Finding a parking slot could also be a stressing experience. Unless the spot you want to surf is a secret one (but then you are supposed to know a local which will give you the right directions), either urban and remote beaches are always being assaulted by locals. If you want to find a decent parking slot, then you should keep in mind that it's better getting there early in the morning. Don't forget that parking fees could cost you a lot of money too.

Weather conditions are quite similar in all the peninsula, with high pressures crossing the Mediterranean, which keeps storms and winds far away. From time to time a small perturbation could cross the country, but it usually fades away in a couple of days. The hardcore wave surfers will find that most of the time the sea is flat, especially if you are not heading Sardinia (so far one of the best destinations in the whole Mediterranean sea). But don't worry as you can find a lot of spots where thermal winds can really make your day - especially if you love freestyle and bump and jump conditions.

One of the best resource I can suggest is to buy the Windsurf/Kitesurf Atlas, available also for iOS or Android (and gives you more freedom to choose and pay for a specific region. I used it during my Canary Island and Andalusia trips last year and I find it very useful. Not all the sposts are listed (the secret one remains "secret") but at least you got a good indication of the directions and the conditions for a particular ones.

In less than ten days I scored two windsurfing and two kite sessions (and I lost one because I'm sick at home) so it seems to be quite consistent. As I'm using a GPS I can show you some data. The first one was recorded during a windsurfing session where I used a slalom (RRD X-Fire 135lt) on a Hot Sails GPS 8.0:

As you see from the speed graph, nothing really special and typical summer on-off condition for a thermal wind. The 70kph spike I guess is an error. The spot is Il Carrubo, south of Rome, and it usually works when high pressure is stable over Italy and there's a small SW wind component.
The second image has been recorded at "La Bufalara" spot on a kite, nice wave session (small ones) but pretty consistent. 

lunedì, maggio 19, 2014

North Trust bar 2012 issues

In the picture above, a North Trustbar 2012 (bought may 2013) which has been used for something like 30 to 40 kite sessions. Beside the fact North is well known (as a german company) to make "bomb proof" kites, I cannot say the same for the trustbar (I got several different models, 2010, 2011 and 2012), especially in terms of durability (which by the way should be considered as an investment, security and moneywise). 
First, the very well known problem with the depower line, which wear too fast and its a pain in the ass when you need to change it. Looking around on the Net, it seems that one way to solve it is to put some wax on the rope to limit its consumption. Anyway, this should be a problem that North customer shouldn't solve on their own. 
Second, it seems that the Trustbar could potentially has some security issue with the fifth line as  the redline could get stucked in the vario cleat. I experienced just once in the hundreth of  session I had in the last three years, but still this could be lead to dangerous situation since 100% depower is not assured anymore in case the red line is not free to slide. North should be aware of this and improved the vario cleat design in the >2013 Trustbar model which now has a 5th line channel allowing the red line to pass into it. Still, <2012 as="" aware="" be="" compromise="" div="" issue="" it="" might="" of="" security.="" should="" this="" users="">
2012 vario cleat
                         2013 Vario cleat
Moreover, the velcro strap isn't really reliable, and the depower line often get tangled over the front lines. Still, 2013 model should have improved the stiffness of the depower line inserting a red plastic line.
Third point, and this is a quality issue,  is related to the EVA grip of the bar, which often peels off the bar itself. Mine started peeling off just after a few use, and now is completely unusable. It seems this is a common problem (see here) also in the 2013 bars, something that you wouldn't expect from a 400€ bar. Luckily I registered the product with North and have 6 months warranty extension. I sent an email to the reseller (Surfpirates) and they will send me a new bar (plain, of course) for free. But just in case I reordered a depower line too...

21.05.2014 Update #1
Just received a brand new 2014 plain trustbar directly from North. I will have now to substitute all lines (including the f**king depower one). I also discovered that one of the frontlines appears to be overstretched, I will probably have to change it.

30.05.2014 Update #2
Just found out that the irohead is completely oxidized. While hammering the f@@ing pin out of the pinhole (Thanks North to make things a little bit more practical) to  the ironheart broke in two pieces. No way. I got a new bar, lines, a new depower but I miss the iroheart, let's see if warranty claims will sort this out.

venerdì, maggio 16, 2014

GoPro Accessories: broken quick release buckle

So, just a couple of recomendation for your GoPro shooting when out in the water: always

 1) tether your camera to your board/helmet/kite
 2) use the buoy attacched to the back door (if possible)
 3) use the rubber locking plug which comes with the quick release buckle.

Nothing new I guess for you all, and everything is well described in the video tutorial from GoPro.

Not following the steps above could cause loosing your camera. Trust me, I'm experienced in that.

Never, *NEVER* trust a single protection mechanism (that's why the word "redundancy"). I lost two GoPro camera in the sea, and one got soaked in salt water - and it is always been my fault. I'm so excited to get into the water that I forget to proceed through the three steps above (again, redundancy) and one protection mechanism fails. And - believe me - it happens quite often.

Please, GoPro staff, I would prefer buying original accessories/mounting systems if they would only be more reliable than they actually are:

This buckle broke on its own. No crash, just the typical bumping of the surfboard when sliding on the water. Tether leash saved my 4th gen GoPro to be lost in the sea.

martedì, maggio 13, 2014

Wizmount backpack review

As you probably saw in the latest post, during the shooting in Fuerteventura I've been been using different mount systems for my GoPro Camera (I call it my 4th generation GoPro Hero camera since I already lost/break three of them). Most of the accessory can be easily found on the Internet, either original ("expensive") or "chinese" made (check out at which in my opinion are as good as the GoPro ones.

Recently I've been looking for a backpack mount too give my shooting a better look and a different POV. At the beginning I was thinking in building one on my own but my skills on DYI projects are poor and most of all I have very little time to spend on this stuff (by the way, if you have time check the following blog which is full of useful hacks for your GoPro camera). I moved to one of the few orderable on the internet, the Wizmount and the VuVantage. Final decision was for the first one, simply because it seems to be the most available on the online shops (spare parts too).

The Wizmount is a well built, lightweight backpack. The backplate is made out of rigid plastic, stiff enough to provide a decent attachment to the aluminium poles. When I put it on I barely feel its weight making it quite comfortable. The backpack is provided also with some extra pads on its back providing extra comfort for action sports shootings.

The camera mount is composed by three aluminium poles which can be attached together and can be fixed using specific joints. The poles slides in to for a telescopic system and can be rotated in virtually thousand of different shooting positions, and come with a specific GoPro attachment which permit to rotate you camera 360º and pivot it on the horizontal axis. Unfortunately Wizmount provides traditional screws which in my opinion are useless since to fix the camera you are supposed to use a screwdriver, something you can easily miss just before your shooting session. I substituted it with the traditional knobs from GoPro which are more practical.

I also strongly suggest you to buy or build a safety leash for your camera, especially if you practice water sports. It can be found online or if you want you can build it on your own (as I did) spending a few bucks in the local hardware store.

The cons: Though the Wizmount offers virtually thousand of different shooting positions, it is a pain in the ass to find the correct angle each time you want to shoot. I use it during my kiting sessions, and getting prepared could take you 10 to 15 minutes. Be sure to strongly tighten the pole and the camera together or they can slide back, ruining your shootings without you can even realize anything till you end your session.

Overall, I am quite satisfied with the backpack. It provides a good POV for your shootings, at a decent price. There are in my opinion some improvements to be made from Wizmount, but it is definitely worth the money.

Laredo - WizMount


lunedì, maggio 12, 2014

One Year (or more) later...

I'm always surprised to see how much life changes in one year. If I look back to my latest post in this blog, dated on January 2013, I realize that in such a short timeframe lots of things have happened. You never get bored... even if it seems your day by day life is actually boring - you know, same work, same activities and on.

Well, my last year has been quite intense, my second son was born in august and from there on I forgot what the word sleeping really means. And guys, it is really harder to get into the water when you have to take care after two little devils. Their mother will certainly help, but it's not enough. I discovered the time available through out the day is alway shorter - like two or three hours out of 24 are always missing. But I will try to keep this up to date, as kite is still my passion.

I recently spent some holydays in Sotavento, Fuerteventura (Canary Islands) where I scored six out of six days with strong winds (average 27knots). Good weather, good friend and lot of fun. Check this video out, brought to you by Spaghetti Production as usual ;-)