Here are four critical factors for maximizing upwind performance. I've generally posted this information before, but here it is again for easy reference. Don't forget, the better you go upwind, the more time you have for freeriding:
1. Use a flat board in light wind. A
Spleene Session or Door, or a homemade plywood board is even more
important than a big kite.
2. Edge very deliberately to
modulate your speed. Ride just fast enough to maintain an efficient
plane, but no faster. Otherwise, your apparent wind direction will
adversely affect your upwind ability. Take advantage of every slight
gust by carving upwind as much as you can without losing speed.
Play the current. At Jericho, it usually flows in from west to east
(part of a counterclockwise prevailing current in English Bay). In most
cases, stay as close to shore as you can without leaving clear wind.
Flat, shallow, inshore water generally has much slower currents, and in
some cases, beneficial back eddies.
4. Play the windshifts.
This is immensely important, and I think overlooked by many kiters.
Almost all wind near the surface oscillates. Depending on the location
and conditions, these oscillations often cycle back and forth through
5-20 degrees, or more, every couple of minutes or less.
you are riding upwind, your kite will occasionally fall back in the
window, which will cause you to alter course downwind (bearing off).
There are only two possible causes for the kite to fall back in the
window (unless you caused it by speeding up and altering your apparent
Cause #1: The wind changed direction, causing
you to bear off from your original course. That windshift is called a
header (bad) which is the opposite of a lift (good). Solution:
Transition immediately onto the other tack because the windshift that
hurt your upwind progress on one tack will help you on the other.
#2: The wind lulled, causing your apparent wind direction to change,
and causing you to bear off to maintain speed. Solution: In most cases,
tack immediately, because you may have rode out of a localized region
of stronger wind, and tacking may get you back into it.
regardless of what causes your kite to fall back in the window, in most
cases an immediate transition onto the other tack is the best course of
action. As an example, if you are able to ride upwind, making upwind
progress of 15 degrees in relation to the true wind, the difference
between riding in a 10-degree header and a 10-degree lift is the
diference between making actual upwind progress of 5 degrees versus 25
degrees, which is like the difference between a moped and a race bike.