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Dirtsurfer - Kitewing Wingsailing


Dirtsurfer

I know it sounds like the latest crime fighting duo (that's not a bad idea actually) but it isn't! These are the latest sports designed specifically for the thrill seekers amongst us. Many attempts have been made to recreate the feelings we all experience during our holidays abroad.

If you liked skiing I remember a time when they released what can only be described as a short ski with wheels. Not only did this seem very dangerous but it didn't look to be to much fun either! Certainly not the replica of skiing they tried to make it out as! So what then? Well there was a three wheeled snowboarding simulator. Hmmm, I never had a go but this looked an improvement on the 'grass ski' but still didn't seem to quite get it right. They did have a skateboard style board and truck system which gave the board its more realistic steering mecha-nism (you turned by leaning).

Dirtsurfer with sail

Kitewing wingsailing with Dirtsurfer

This did actually look like fun but for some reason the three wheels (two at the front incidentally) seemed a little 'not right'. It's a little hard to put into words but imagine being a motorbike fanatic and being told you'd have to drive a Robin Reliant. They have the same basic principles of engine and wheels to get you to your destination but in no way is the experience the same. This was kind of how snowboarder and skateboarders felt about this land surfing inventions. It's good but it's just not right.

Well this brings us a little more up to date. So then as you may have guessed by now the Dirtsurfer 2001 is the latest of these on land surfing devices. I don't want to jump the gun or anything but this looks fan-tastic. Two wheels is certainly an improvement. It's simple design is always a good sign. We want our boards etc to look very simple and yet more often than not there has been an extremely high level of research gone into the product. Invariably they may look simple but they're not and this is the brilliance in their design.

The frame is an aircraft grade 7005 T6 alloy, the front tyre is a Super East SE-130 (20" by 1.95") and the rear tyre a Kenda K-850 (20" x 2.0"). The rims are a Jalco JL-DM30 Deep V Alloy, 20" by 1.5" 36H 6061 T6 anodised silver. The hubs are Quando Alloy KT-WM6F loose ball, 36Hilver finish. The axles are of a high strength solid (with 15mm nuts). The deck also has a black skateboard style deck grip. There is a primary and an emergency brake. The primary brake is a patented new calf lever operated v brake sys-tem, fitted and assembled: Rotating swivel holder on Tektro G15AS V-Brake with adjustable cable guide pipe. The emergency brake is a deadmans style brake where it automatically activates after falling or dismounting.

This seems like the most surfer friendly model that I've seen and should perform well on a variety of sur-faces and in different manoeuvres. They claim that anyone can pick it up after a couple of minutes if they start on a hill and not on flat ground.

Now I don't know if anyone will be able to do it but it's certainly true from my snowboarding experience that people learn quicker on steeper slopes that they do on the flatter ones. One ever so slight down side seems to be that you have to push with your front foot. Now I know this isn't a disaster but I prefer push-ing with my rear foot though I'm sure I'd get used to it. Turning is achieved by leaning which means that when not turning the deck should be remarkably stable which means a quick learning curve. They are also perfect for modifying and using with other implements such as power kites etc. I'll talk more of this in a minute. The manufacturers claim that the unofficial speed record stands at 65 mph (105kph) and the longest distance travelled on the flat is 55km in 3 hours when Cahn Mitchell ran out of petrol on Great Northern highway, Western Australia.

Apparently he would have made it quicker if he hadn't run over a pesky roo on the way (they claim this to be absolutely true)!

I can't really say what it's like to ride one of these but this looks to be one of the best innovations in the land surfing sport that I have seen. I highly commend the people that design them and their dedication to the cause - SUPPORT THEM.

The Kitewing Wingsail

This is the dirtsurfer's sidekick! Kitewing wingsurfers are ultralight efficient sails designed for sailing on a wide variety of surfaces. They have been tested with downhill skis, snowboards and skates. They have even been tested on sea and lakes as well as Finnish mountains. Wingsailing combines windsurfing, skiing, snowboarding hang gliding, flying and kite surfing. In short the sail/wing can be used to go skiing uphill, or alternatively to give some serious lift to jumps creating some huge and I mean HUGE air. The-se are strong, durable and light and can be taken anywhere extreme sports exist. Flexible antennas ma-de of epoxy-reinforced glassfibre profiles at the wing tips can deal with even hard impacts and they keep the sail tightly rigged. The antennas also improve the wing's aerodynamical properties by reducing tip vortex and improving pitch stability with the help of sail twist. There are different sizes of wing and a choice of two different materials to be used on the sail. I imagine you've kind of guessed where I'm going with this article now.

What do you get one you combine a dirtsurfer with a Kitewing sail? The answer is adrenalin. Imagine, if you will, surfing uphill on a dirtsurfer holding on to your Kitewing sail.Once you reach the top you turn around and head back down, perhaps grabbing a couple of huge airs on the way. This for me appears to be the only way we can really expect to develop any kind of action sport in Britain. We've seen kite surf-ing in those little karts and windsurfing has been around a while but this wing is more versatile than any other. You don't have to secure it on to a board or surfboard, you can just cling on to it and see where it takes you. Although a wing/sail is not an original idea it has been developed in a fantastic way and could well be the start of a huge new sport. I often feel that there are very few opportunities for exciting sports in Britain but this looks like its set to change. They are unfortunately still quite expensive but this is un-avoidable due to the extensive research, development and testing which the product undergoes. Unfortunately this translates to the price of the product, but with time and a growth in popularity the prices should come down.

A big thanks to all the people who put these products on the market especially to those at Dirtsurfers and Kitewing for letting us use their pictures. I highly recommend a visit to both websites which you can find at www.dirtsurf.com and www.kitewing.com.

Nathan Travers
F22
Bigwideworld

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