View Full Version : 60 MILE DOWNWINDER PRE-RACE, 33 mph, 15 ft. seas!!!

11-06-2006, 09:30 AM

The official race is still coming on the first good wind weekend after Thanksgiving ... first, there was the pre-race on November 4, 2006.

Organized by Damien and Alex (Neil had to be on the West Coast), a bunch of riders converged on Jupiter Beach Saturday morning. We were met by balmy 27 mph NE winds ranging between 20 and 33 mph and 6 to 15 ft. wave faces for a downwinder run to Ft. Lauderdale. The run is about 58 miles as the crow flys (they got birds in them satellites?) but with tacking quite a bit more. This was a fairly EXTREME session, NOT like what I hope Neil runs the actual race in. With the high wind, waves and all the pro talent it still was a bit of a trial, fun though!

Alex slips in a warmup run.

We knew it would be pretty big outside and a fairly interesting ride. Getting barreled and wound up in a large breaking wave can be really bad. To see just how bad checkout "TANGLED IN KITE LINES, DRAGGED UW BY KITE IN 15 FT. WAVES" HERE (http://fksa.org/viewtopic.php?t=704) There's no assurance that you will even be able to find, grab, hold onto and actually use a knife to good effect, still if you don't have one, it's sure to do you no good. I was careful to avoid breaking waves but was still grabbed about about ten of them. I tried to keep the kite high, powered up and to avoid tumbling. Some of the guys actually in the heat of the race and avoiding broad tacking may have been hammered a bit harder. I believe Billy and Sean both suffered kite/line damage when they were spun in breaking waves nearshore.

We started about a 1/4 mile south of Jupiter Inlet at about 10:30 am.

Rick heads out

They're off!

I watched Damien and Billy shear off from the rest of the riders and surge south. Billy would keep tossing these monster jumps ala handle pass, etc.. Just hanging out. Damien boosted some big ones too. Me no extra jumps just trying to go the distance. There was a 30 ft. jump that I accidentally boosted off of an 8 inch wavelet. The wind was honking!

Kent, Garry and Tom started a bit further south. I thought they had launched before us until about 20 minutes into things I saw this Cabrinha kite rocket past me hell bent for leather ripping to the south. It was Kent playing catchup. Apparently we had past them before they even had their kites inflated.

Kent hauling ass in the surf!

Kent caught up with the leaders at the time, Damien and Billy about 20 minutes after he launched and about 18 miles (?) south. Talk about a flying start, had to take some substantial extra energy too.

The wind record for Jupiter. Actual gusts offshore were higher however the winds did seem to ease off a bit as the day went on and with progress further south.

CLICK FOR FULL SIZED IMAGE (http://www.fksa.org/gallery/view_photo.php?full=1&set_albumName=album213&id=dig001)
I should have thought to do this on Sunday but let it slip until today, Monday. The wind has eased down to about 20 mph. or less so the surf has come down a bit. This is a panoramic shot of the surf off of Jupiter. It was larger a couple of days ago.

Moving on

We had to pass five fishing piers, like the Juno Pier shown above, ideally by a healthy margin to seaward. If your kite goes down or you are thrown into the spin cycle in a barreling wave you don't want to be flushed into the pier pilings. This meant working seaward through some fairly heavy waves through various breaker zones. At some points double head high. Many of these Sat. images were taken in pretty calm water. What we saw were three parallel breaks along the pier with still larger stuff turning to white water beyond that. It is quite a contrast.

Going around the first of five piers in Juno


North of Lake Worth Inlet we had another road hazard, masses of seagulls. Great fat wads of about 50 of these sea buzzards were resting on the sea or boiling up en masse to fish. Worried about sucking a bird into the kite turbine? Nope. Working flocks of seabirds, mackerel actively kicking up at the surface, what's that mean? Sharks, particularly along this fairly active stretch of coast in the north. I tried to steer around the flocks of birds but with the heavy waves it became too much of a pain in the butt. So, I just barreled through the flocks and tried not to get gobbled by a wave in those areas. There were about four such flocks. Didn't see any sharks, a good thing and somewhat rare too in such circumstances. We once tried to get a government contract to study mackerel "fallout" from gill nets a long time ago. One of the RFP requirements was to have a shark armored wetsub to deal with all the sharks that escort these massive schools. Well, I had a hook knife so no worries about getting "T-boned by Tiburóns," right?

We also passed four inlets, the largest one, Lake Worth Inlet shown above. The current fairly screams out of some of these cuts at certain phases of the tide. Fortunately, we took off close to high tide. With the current blasting out during low tide opposing the waves and wind out of the NE you can develop some very large, steep waves around the inlets and a lot of confused sea. It is best to give the inlets a WIDE berth. Mainly because I was tacking particularly heavily along this stretch of coast, I passed this inlet about 2 miles offshore. I suspect most of the guys avoided tacking by holding rock hard edges and firing parallel to the coast nearer to shore most of the way. If the race goes off with strong incoming tides, it would still be good to give the cuts a wide berth. Being vacuumed inland up a cut dragging lines and a mega sea anchor to jerk you under and keep you there is a no joy proposition.

There are a ton, dozens?, of concrete and rock beach erosion control structures or groins along the coast. They can be nicely hidden by the surf and yet provide a nasty impact zone for kiters or wrap hazard for kite lines. Usually they end within a couple of hundred feet of shore. Neil wants folks to stay a minimum 300 ft. offshore, this should spare riders. Then again, at low tide, calmer water and irate lifeguards are inside this distance. Guess we'll just have to tough it out further offshore. There are numerous stretches of coast across Palm Beach and Broward County with guarded beaches, which we want to avoid to try to dodge future hassles for kiters.

I lost my board about five times, once I went onshore to wait a few minutes for it to showup as it got lost in the whitewater. It would be good to hear some of the other experiences plowing through the surf.

I wonder if some of the guys rode through the break in the Lake Worth Pier? With major surf and funky windshadow to potentially stall kites, doesn't seem like a great choice. Do you see that brown stuff near the shore to the south of the pier? That's beach rock, there is a lot of this stuff in intermittant exposures south to Hillsboro Inlet. You don't want to be driven into a head or have your lines catch one in high surf. More road hazards. This is the same stuff the Roads of Atlantis are made of in Bimini (shhh, don't tell anybody).

Lots of inlets to skirt to seaward, like Boynton Inlet.

I decided to take a break at Kite Beach in Delray or about 33 miles down the course. There were a lot of guys riding in the excellent wind and surf that day. Some of the other riders had stopped ahead of me.

Boca Raton Inlet
BTW, this is the venue of one of my favorite Kiteflix.com clips staring Andy Hurdman and a cast of shredders "Day 1" (http://www.kiteflix.com/day1.html)

The waves were consistently the largest off Jupiter and to the north of Lake Worth Inlet in my opinion. Head high initially at the launch and going double head high or larger further offshore. Still, there were some major waves further south, they would kind of sneak up on you out of nowhere, up to 15 ft. faces. Some guys were impressed by some heavy stuff that showed up around Hillsboro Inlet. I will say that working seaward of that inlet was particularly tricky probably because I was starting to feel some fatigue and the combers were LARGE with hard stuff, jetties, day marks, etc. just to leeward.

Hillsboro Inlet
Pompano's Kite Beach is just to the south here. Not being in any particular hurry, (race, what's that?), I stopped by to say hello to the guys ripping it up and to scraf a powerbar. I carried a camelpak, an excellent idea to avoid undue fatigue and to washout the ample amount of saltwater I chugged at odd times. I had a cell phone double bagged in water-proof sacks. Next time I'll use all three. In much of the run if you went ashore, you might be miles from the nearest working pay phone. Cell phones make sense. Also, I carried enough cash for a fairly hefty cab fare, assuming one would show up in a couple of hours if called.

The waves nearshore diminished in height as we rode southward from Lake Worth Inlet. The coastal shelf is particularly narrow in northern Palm Beach County. This means that deepwater waves "feel" bottom a lot closer to shore and in turn break, sometimes at a greater height. There are other variables such as coastal sand bars, worm or beach rock reefs and the like. Speaking of reefs, see that line of breakers that seems to extend southward from the northern jetty of Hillsboro Inlet? That is the "First Reef" or landwardmost of three reef terraces that parallel the shore off of much of Broward County. It actually goes inland at the northern jetty of this inlet. Notice how the water is calmer inside the reef to the south of the inlet and is heavier to the north?

Deerfield Pier with some nicely fairly clean swells running, another time!

Commercial Pier, only about six miles to go! It helps to parse the distances from landmarks on googleearth.com. When I did the 27 mile pre-race downwinder last weekend in St. Pete I was largely clueless about landmarks and so was uncertain about my progress or time of arrival. Not this time, shred and learn. Was last in that one too, sigh. I went overpowered with a 14 m Contra that time. I swore not this time and went on an easier handling 9 m SB. Still had some power though particularly on the outside.

The finish line at Tiki Beach, Ft. Lauderdale, FL, USA. The guys that were driving hard throughout the race made it in just under 3 hours. At times they averaged speeds of 30 mph and about 20 mph for the entire run. Not really racing anyone other than myself and the interesting conditions I coasted in after about 5 hours of riding time, ready to go a bit further but opting not to!

Damien walks ashore, several weeks ago during the the Bikinis-From-Brazil Calendar Model Shoot. Hey, I wasn't carrying a camera and this shot was laying around. Thanks to Laura and the Google Gnomes for the shots above!

Seeya from Ft. Lauderdale, for now! The real thing is coming up the first good weekend wind after Thanksgiving. Hopefully not quite a much wind as we had for this memorable pre-race. It should be interesting. For more details checkout HERE (http://www.xratedkiteboarding.com/xtreme) and HERE (http://www.fksa.org/albums/album213/12_G.jpg).

11-06-2006, 03:31 PM
Hey since I was way the hell in the back, WHO WON??? Also, what order did the guys come in who were racing. While we're at it, what are the names of all the guys in the pre-race. But, here's what we really want to hear, all those juicy race stories of overtaking, drifting back, messed up kites, broken lines, getting tumbled in surf, you know the stuff that sticks in your recollection. I think Tiffany has some great digital shots that Billy said I should be able to get my hands on and upload. So more to come and over to you ...

p.s. - I have lots of stock shots of many of the guys in this race. As you post I will add an action shot for perspective. So throw those comments up!

11-06-2006, 05:24 PM
Kent shredding hard at Tampa Kitemasters '05

Great write up Rick. There is a lot of great info in your post for anyone looking to do the event. I personally wouldn't compete in a long race like this unless I had run it first. An hour of racing on one tack is far more taxing than 3-4 hrs. of wave riding.

My group did take off about a half mile south of the first group and approximately 20 minutes after they went by. Garry and I rigged 12 bow kites. I was on a CB2 12 and Garry on a Contra 12. Tom, the smart guy, was on a 9.0 CB1. It took me about 10-11 miles to catch all of the riders from the first group minus Billy and Damien T. Fortunately, about 18 miles in, they decided to take it easy and ride some waves. Both Damien and I commented that our kites (he was on a 14 Octane) were far too large to ride any waves given the winds. Once we decided to kick it into high gear again, in my opinion, Billy was noticeably faster while Damien and I averaged a very similar speed. At one point in the flats between the waves big Damien put the hammer down and went past me at at least 30knts! I was saying, oh well I guess I'll see him later, but then he exploded into a garage sale and came up smiling.

After about 40 miles, it was clear to me that every rider could potentially ride at the same speed for limited amounts of time. The difference was simply that the riders with stronger jumpers could hold it down longer. Each rider seemed to hit the "zone" for about 20 minutes at time. During this time, the rider, no matter who it was seemed to be uncatchable. Usually the zone ended with a fall, which takes away energy and your line. The time in between the zone lasted for me about 10 minutes of hell and slowness.

I don't think that any of us really pushed it that hard, but I can tell you that Damien T. and I almost got run over by a car crossing the street in Ft. Lauderdale, because our legs weren't listening to our heads. Damien pulled in about 30 ft. in front of me and we were followed by Mikey on a 7 meter kite! It was painfully obvious that a 9 Cab CB would have given me a far faster speed, not to mention much more fun.

As it stands now, I think that Damien T., Billy P, Mike G., and Damien L., will all be pretty tough to beat. I'm sure that there are about 2-3 other riders that will prove to be competitive. I personally think that unless you are Damien T., a bow of any type will be a huge advantage in a race like this. Instant on, instant off, it sure helps to pick a line. I guess that the proof will be at the finish line.

We did the ride fairly fast, and I actually think that we broke a world record that I don't care to break again....



11-08-2006, 07:52 AM
Great input and insights there Kent. I bet some of the other guys learned some good things on this run and have some intriguing stories to tell, so you guys put in the time and exertion ... let's hear about it!

Also, I spoke to Neil and he said the race is definitely not going to go off on Thanksgiving Weekend, so that means it could happen on any day after November 26, 2006. Hopefully, good useable winds will come on the weekend of December 2, 2006. He said it might even happen on a weekday. Hey, just take an early, 3 hour lunch, and blast back to work the rest of the day, easy!

I've heard a lot of different comments about board choices for these open ocean races. Guys are experimenting with different custom boards as well. Although not destined to hump it to the winners circle by choice, I have had good performance from my Waterboard. Waves and chop don't really bother it, it just slices through and hammers on. My formerly beloved directional boards bounce the hell out of me, so they get to stay in the closet. What have other folks experienced out there?

11-09-2006, 10:30 PM
I rode up in morning with Alex, Chad, Damien from Lauderdale...couple others in Alex's van. Launched around 10 south of jupiter inlet hung around offshore till everyone got out and headed south around 10:30 and finished around 2:15. I had camel pack and it saved me. I also wore gloves which I have never done before but I think it helped my hands from cramping. I rode a Jimmy Lewis 139 Model III and had a 11mtr SS Fuel and fortunately a sweet Liquid Force waist harness. I also carried a cell phone in a waterproof case in my camel pack.I weigh 200 and felt I had the right kite and right board for these conditions. I probalby would have been underpowered at very end if I had a 9....the 11 worked better. I wish it were a bow so I could have more depower because I got absolutely LAUNCED over the board a couple times when those 35 gusts came throught...OMG...gusts!!! Also a gust and a massive breaker are a bad combo for me. I never stopped because I was too freaked out with massive shore break situation. I went on Google earth before and kinda made mental notes of landmarks and inlets. That really helped me. When I started I was down in the shore/bar break and was mostly on butter/foam and all was fairly cool cause I seemed able to smoke past most breaker situations. I wasn't doing any wave riding..I was doing wave avoiding. Waves were so HUGE.
Then I saw the first pier in distance and I had to get through the huge break. It totally freaked me out and I got taken out hard three times and my board got washed up on beach..I thougth I was done but somehow persisted and got my ass back out beyond the break and around that pier. I'm not a confident jumper....i'm an old man cruiser. Both my kids kite but they weren't on this run.
But this time I had to jump cause it was the only way to get over the breakers and I fricking did it!! I hucked over a couple and now know that I will focus on jumping because now i realize its NECESSARY!! So a new horizon to look forward too...Next time I'll be on my new SwitchbladeII when Jessie @ Waterplay pulls through for me. Brazil for a week is next Friday and I'm taking his kite if mine doesn't get in....right, Jessie?

I was so stoked that I made the whole trip. 3h45m!!! Damien helped me brave it back in the shore/sandbar break north of Boca Inlet and I gotta tell you that I was rockin in that condition. thanks Damien!! I had to be hitting 25 to 30mph and hung right behind Damien and Mike Bradley on his green and white little kite also,,another blue Kite Cabrinha dude that rents a place from my ex-wife and another on a switchblade (I think). That wite foam and froth allow you to get so LIT....I was so digging on it.

Next time I'm going to stay closer to shore more and work the flat water between sets better. I'm going to learn better how to jump over breaks and look for openings between breakers. fly a swithchblade II, eat more pasta in morning and get up earlier,

Alex hung with me some at the start for the first hour and kept an eye on me...great people and great company in our kite group. I don't get to hang too much with the local Tiki Beach crew cause I live just south on them on beach and i just walk out my apt complex and just kite on my "own" beach...But everyone is so cool and helpful I've got to thanks Alex and Damien for pulling this group together and being the ambassadors to the local sport! and Alex...thanks for fixing my ripped kites!!

It was an epic trip. I saw so much marine life, got a seagull in my lines, had a school of baitfish hit my ankles...I had sore muscles and definitely got my spinal column totally re-adjusted.....
I'm going to think more about Neils big race...I just like the concept of going a big 60 mile distance about as fast as you can go without an engine.

RickI, sorry I missed meeting you, I enjoy all your good words!! Looking forward to the race in December )

11-10-2006, 02:19 PM
Hey Bill,

Thanks for posting the great account! I almost feel like I was there, again. Good stuff. Also, great time for your run!

Yes, I think a bow kite would serve you well under those sort of conditions between the gusts and the sudden waves it helps to easily dump and build power more readily. When those big gusts come you just sheet out or maybe get ripped off the crest of a wave or maybe you would still wipeout. It's all good, unless of course it isn't.

You might want to do a road trip up the coast to Delray when the waves are on. It can be a lot harder to get offshore than in Ft. Lauderdale which is better protected by a wider coastal shelf, an extra reef and the Bahamas to some degree. It is good practice for dealing with waves. I would avoid going up for easterly winds however it can sometimes be a little too tough, getting out while getting kneecapped by steep waves running near parallel to your heading.

What part of the trip sticks out most in your mind? Did you wear a wetsuit? What would you have done differently, if anything?

Kent and Bill got it started, how about some more rider input on this unique session? I've heard enough fragments in conversations, your stories should be told.

11-12-2006, 10:45 PM
the part of the trip that sticks out the most was getting crushed by the surf break...after reading about the other guy I was lucky not to get blown/washed through my lines while under all that water. I probably lost a good half hour screwing around within 7 miles of the start. Then I got timid and stayed beyond the surf break for too long. I have to get my jumps going better so I'll focus on that in the waves off Paracuru next week. Maybe I'll get a chance to meet Toby while there. I definitely need to get more comfortable jumping. I know I don't have to bang 25 feet in vertical...but maybe 8 foot would have got me over those big ass waves. I did do it but it was in more of a full panic mode.

I also loved the fast speed between the breaks when you could ride on the wave faces and crack off a little and just smoke along. I felt pretty comfortable handling the speed and that was encouraging. I've got to check better on my bindings. I didn't feel tight and secure as I would of liked. I don't know if others feel snug in their bindings but I did feel that I had problems holding my feet in expecially when i was in the chop outside of the breakers....

I didn't wear a wetsuit but probably should have. I had a long sleeve rash guard that had a little bit of insulating quality to it. But I do think I picked up a few mini-man-o-war stings. I think next time a full body wetsuit will be better expecially if the water cools off a little. My fingers and hands were turning blue i noticed once i got on shore.

I've only flown a bow kite once before but I guess think that will be the kite to use for distance events. Something about the distance stuff is intriguing to me. I'll never be able to carry the speed of my younger counterparts but I do think that the accomplishment of just going the distance will be reward enough!!

11-14-2006, 03:50 PM

A map of waypoints and approximate distances appears above. The Pre-Race started about two miles further north than where I believe the actual race will kickoff. Be grateful for the extra beach width. Our starting beach at high tide was about 10 ft. wide!

With tacking the distance will increase of course. Hopefully a few guys will have GPS units to give distance, speed and time of travel. Should be fun!

11-21-2006, 04:04 PM
Neil just put up an important message about the race and REGISTRATION DEADLINE at:


12-06-2006, 11:05 PM
Here's a preview. Wonder if the wind might be stronger and waves bigger this time around?

11-28-2007, 06:29 AM
Not sure what sort of conditions will be served up this year. The pre-race last time was pretty intense with high wind and waves.