Pacasmayo Wind and Wave Forecasts

18 10 2011

I have been asked many questions about predicting the weather and swell by competitors attending the KSP wave kiting event here in Pacasmayo. The following is an attempt to answer those questions. The information and advice is based off realtime observations, watching the weather, talking to locals and reading forecasts over the last 2 months. If anyone can provide further insight into wind forecasting in Peru,  I am interested in hearing from you. Please leave a message in the comments section if you have something to say or if this post has helped you in some way.

One of the challenges about kitesurfing in a new place, is being able to read the weather like a local. I really try to understand how accurate weather forecasting is in a particular area. The long-term Peruvian wind forecasts are probably the worst I have encountered in the last 7 months of travelling to France, Sardinia, Brazil and Morocco. I almost didn’t come to Pacasmayo because of low wind forecasts , but have been pleasantly surprised that there is usually 12- 25 knots  if the sun is shining.

Because the waves in Peru often originate from such a long distance (15-20 sec period), wave forecasting is usually predictable a week out.  Locals I have talked to look more at the swell period (15 sec+) rather than height to predict when the good swell will arrive. Magic Seaweed or Windguru are both reliable sites for wave forecasting.

The most reliable real-time source of  wind information is the weather sensor in Chiclayo. This sensor provides a good indication of what is happening in Pacasmayo, despite being 50km away and inland. Wind Alert provides the easiest to understand wind stats and historical data from this sensor. If you want to see the raw data it can also be found on the NOAA website (select Peru and Chiclayo). Dewpoint and temperature are the most interesting as explained below.

Wind forecasting  in Peru is so erratic that I have given up trusting the long-range forecasts. Predictwind and Windguru are, however, your best sources of information and are usually more accurate on the day, providing the sun is shining. All the sites I have been following are particularly poor at predicting the cloud cover which might account for the erratic forecasts.

In Pacasmayo the wind blows more cross-shore in the morning and early afternoon swings to more cross off. The time at which the wind swings and peaks, can vary anywhere between 1-5pm. Often the best sessions are late afternoon after the wind has swung more cross off .

The following 5 sites are worth looking at;


Look for the high period days of 15 seconds or more.


Good for real-time and historical information, but don’t trust the forecasts. Look for the wind angle to be 180 or less and 20mph+ for a good session. Wind becomes more cross offshore and it’s easier to get upwind at angles of 180 or less.


Add roughly 30% or more onto figures that Windguru predicts. If the day is cloudy then the raw figures will be correct and it is time to go surfing instead of kiting. Any swell over 2-3 m with a 15+ second period will be the longest rides of your life!


Good for real-time wind, temperature and dew point readings. For those that want to get more technical and detailed view of what is happening, this is your source. Dew point is critical when it comes to forecasting fog that is likely to kill the wind. Fog is likely when the surface air temperature and dew point temperature are the same. Dew point is however different from humidity as this article explains.


PredictWind is one of my favorite sites because it uses two independent weather models to predict the weather. Comparing the PredictWind forecasts (GFS or CMC) can give you confidence in the forecast. If CMC and GFS models are showing the same numbers then the forecast is more reliable.

Kiteworld Magazine- 2000km World Record

9 10 2011

Thanks to Ariana for putting this Kiteworld article together. It has been a long time coming but here it is, for those that haven’t seen it yet.

Have you ever thought about solo kiting for thousands of kilometres in a foreign country without a tent or your teddy bear?…Or a support boat? Or more than one kite? Yeah, me neither. Sounds a bit mad really. But 36-year old Wellington kitesurfer Louis Tapper kited the Brazilian coastline, from Salvador to Praia do Meio Beach in Sao Luis, breaking the record for the longest kite journey in the process. I checked in with him after his triumphant return to find out that he doesn’t dig the ‘crazy’ label, and that there were moments of ‘flow’ on his epic adventure.

Kiteworld Magazine Article

Onwards to South America

12 07 2011

The journey continues but my time travelling and kiting around France, Sardinia and Morocco is almost done.  Next, its time to start booking flights as I turn my attention to South America.

Downwinders in Essaouira

I’m being lured by the waves and wind in Northern Peru, and the fresh powdery snow on the volcano peaks of Chile are making me drool over some potential snowkiting.  I’m finding it tough to get reliable information about snowkiting in Chile and Argentina so if anybody can point me in the right direction then that would be great!

Play time in Dakhala

I also really want to go back to Brazil, which may seem crazy after all the time I spent there last year, but I have some unfinished business to do.  While rushing through my 2000km world record I passed by what looked like some of the most pristine, untouched kite beaches that offered both flat water and wave riding options.  They are what I call my secret spots (and yes I am keeping them a secret for now), while I pull together some ideas about potentially sharing these locations with others through a new business venture which will offer a very different kite holiday compared to the current downwinder between Fortaleza and Jeri option.

Unhooked moves in Dakhala

I am however looking for some kite guinea pigs who might want to help share the adventure with me, so if you are an advanced kitesurfer and in Brazil during August or November then drop me a note.  Also if you have a well run Pousada or accommodation service north of Fortaleza or provide kite services or downwind trips in Brazil or Peru then I am also looking for partners and can help promote your services, just leave a comment below.

Mingling with the rich and famous in Antibes

Hanging on beaches and kitespots of Sardina

Snow kiting in France

A story of Crocodiles, Hippos, a kayaker and the best day ever

27 04 2011
“yes please” -tribute to Hendri Cotez
I met Hendri in Uganda 4 years ago when he was training for the first solo descent of the Murchison falls section of the White Nile. Solo trips from Nile River Explores down to the Hairy Lemon island were standard training runs for Hendri at the time. He was somewhat of a legend in the area after leading the first source to sea trip of the White Nile.
 A few of us kiwis were asked if we wanted to Join Hendri on a road trip to Murchison Falls to help start his solo adventure. The departure time was early sometime around 5am as we packed ourselves into the van. Half asleep I was struggling to close the back boot of the van and  Hendri quips ” I wouldn’t rely on you in an emergency in a warzone”.  In my half asleep state I thought to myself, I would love to prove you wrong one day.

 As we unpacked at the get in for the start of Henrys’ paddle there was a surreal sense of will we see this guy again? The odds weren’t in his favour given the stats. The highest concentration of Hippos and Crocs in Africa, 3 rebel groups, including the Lords resistance Army… oh and did I mention that it was also solid class 4/5 whitewater and solo? My question about what he thought the risks were, met with a “no comment”.

Perhaps in that moment it set my benchmark for risky which I would later compare my own adventures to. Part of me is like, well kiting solo can’t be so bad, at least I don’t have to worry about Hippos and Crocs. Hendi himself was to comment in one of his posts that he was surprised to make 30 and what that entailed.

Thankfully he  was successful in completing the trip in 2 days, something that have taken other teams at least 4 days. We greeted him at the take-out above the spectacular Murchison Falls. “Hendi where’s your helmet? Oh, I had to feed to the crocs. I got charged by 7 times on the trip, the last one got a bit close so I threw my helmet at the croc to distract it and paddled off” The conversation followed all night by a very understated “Did I tell you how brave I was?”. I truth, none of us could really understand and certainly one of the things I was later to appreciate on my own Solo trip.

I have met plenty of dirt bag kayakers travelling the world and making their money off the river. There was something different about him that I was only to understand later after reading the few Facebook notes he had written about a trip into the heart of Congo. Articulate and intelligent, not your usual deadhead kayaker. Not concerned about fame or fortune but in search of the “Best Day Ever” (BDE). Before you write off the BDE as some sort of hedonist pursuit, it’s actually more of a time worn philosophy which I am only just realising now.

But the best day ever (BDE) is not just a saying, it is a philosophy. The need for the best day ever was born out of the simple premises that it is impossible to ever life in any other day than today. Yesterday did exist and it will have a influence on today. But no matter how good yesterday was, come today it’s just another memory gathering dust, its bright colors either being distorted to fit your needs, or fading with ever passing minute. Tomorrow will always be a day away. Its dreams and hopes just like memories, nothing but mental constructs. Bringing us… today.!/note.php?note_id=32268697489

I read a lot of others adventures and some people have written that society needs more adventures like Hendri. I have always been a bit sceptical as one could argue that these sort of adventures are nothing more that a selfish pursuit and what really does society gain out of it? I can only talk about what Hendri has left us and I think it is to challenge our reality and to live in the present. His concept of the Best Day ever (see below) might sound a little strange to most but if you read carefully,  it’s actually pretty sound thinking and I think stems from 2 ideas; Flow and The Power of Now

 RIP Hendri 1975-2010- eaten by a crocodile

I do not propose that you live everyday as if it will be your last. My personal experience living that theory was disappointing, as it left me very unprepared for reaching, beyond all my expectations, my 30s. In fact for tomorrow to be the best day ever, it has to be built on today, how else could it be better, if today did not serve as a stepping stone for an even better day tomorrow.

One might be tempted to call my theory “the best day yet”, but this could imply than one is waiting for a better tomorrow, which is counter to what BDE stands for. I hope it will become clear soon enough.

The aim of DBE is to do your best, in whatever the day offers, the BDE is filled with the best, but only you’re best, since it is your day. It does not matter if your boss is being a freak, it does not matter if it’s
raining when it supposed to be sunny. Do your best in your day.

Sport as example. In a football game only a few goals are scored, however there is movement during the whole game, attack, defense. Every one of these parts as important as the other. Back and forth, the most persistent team will, more often than not win. By wearing down the opposition they
eventually, break through.

The best day ever is based on this well tested, widely accepted principle. You keep trying to give it your best, during training, during defense, during attack, eventually without you knowing which day, you score. You actually manage to give it your best. You have a Best Day Ever. The discipline from past attempts helps you to go one step further than you have ever gone before. This does not have to translate into physical performance, while striving towards a goal, you fight more battles mentally
in a day, than you ever will fight physically in a life time.

Everyday will not be the BDE. You can only maintain a certain level of happiness for a prolonged time. After an emotionally high you will experience a low. Newton’s 3de law, for every action there has to be an equal and opposite reaction. The best day ever is about achieving days of ultimate highs more often, but it is more than that, it is about making the multitude of days that will not reach those highs, amazing days in there own right, by giving them a purpose or a chance at greatness, days where
you recognize the challenges and except them, even if there is no reward. Its about giving yourself an opportunity to do something worth remembering, even if its just for a few minutes at night as you drift of to sleep, perhaps just one little thing to help you make tomorrow the BDE.

Today, yesterday and tomorrow are not in competition. Taste that meal like it’s the first time you have tasted it, enjoy something as if you have never enjoyed it before and you will have the best day ever. Appreciate what is given to you in your day and it becomes the BDE.

Its not about winning, its not about recognition, it about living in the moment, good or bad, feel it, lap it up, good or bad, its all a miracle in some way.

So how do you live in the now?

By realizing that you are god, that everything that is happing is happening to you. The universe is infinite, making you the centre no matter where you stand.

How do you come to the understanding that you are god?

By making a difference in your life, by realizing that everything you do has consequences. By taking control of your life, the realization grows in you; I am the one who drives my universe. Don’t expect it to be easy, you will have learnt nothing if it was, the better you become at driving your universe the bigger the challenges will become but the stronger you will be to handle them.

Why then all this struggle if all that awaits is more struggle? Because the more you fight the good fight, the clearer you see that external factors are subject to your perspective of them. You can choose not to drive your universe, inside you the spark will die, and your appreciation for life with it, because without that spark, life is not worth living.

Or maybe its all means nothing, I really cant be sure…


Learn to Paraglide- Part 2

25 04 2011
Paragliding accident photo copied from Brian Stipaks’ paragliding safety page

 One of the things that has held me back from learning paragliding up until now has been a question: am I going to get enough out of this sport for the amount of risk involved? I assess IT risk for a living and is something that I also talk about in my Brazil presentation. I talk about the  familiar risks or things that we perceive we have control over that often gets us into trouble.

The first thing I look at when trying a new risky sport, is the accident statistics. It’s not that I want to freak myself out, but it’s more to understand what mistakes people commonly make and how I can reduce my risk. Ok, you might be thinking this is a bit of a morbid or geeky thing to do. Accident statistics and discussions, however,  help everyone continue to learn from the experiences of others, and to constantly question peoples’ own perception of how much of a commitment to safety they are willing to make.

Pinned in the Whataroa river

To give you an example, as  a whitewater kayaker, I actively follow the accident statistics in this sport. One statistic which stands out, is that half of all white water kayakers killed are a result of being pinned on wood. I used to get a ribbing about carrying a pruning saw kayaking. People would comment “who do you think you are Crocodile Dundee” or “why do you need something like that”. Well, they were not asking the same question after incident on the Whataroa, where a pruning saw was vital to cutting open kayak and saving a life after being pinned by wood.

I have thought for some time that the kitesurfing community could learn from paragliding. For a start there are really good yearly accident statistics, in addition to the safety and mindset being emphasised. I’m not trying to imply that kitesurf instructors are doing a bad job or that kitesurfing is unsafe. However, the best we have in the kitesurfing community are statistics from pre 2004. The gear in kitesurfing has become much safer and easier to use after these statistics were gathered, but did it really make us safer in our attitude? I have always maintained that mountain biking is far more dangerous than kitesurfing , but have never been able to prove it.

The first 2 days of learning to paraglide went well without incident. Yes, it turns out there are some real risks in paragliding especially for the over-confident pilot who wants to push the limits. Under the right conditions, paragliding can however be relatively safe. Quality of pilot decision-making, skill level, experience and quality of equipment are things that were highlighted in my reading of the risk factors.  However as glider pilot Mike Meier has pointed out;

“More skill gives you a higher limit, as does more experience or better equipment. But safety is not a function of how high your limits are, but rather of how well you stay within those limits. And that is determined by one thing: the quality of the decisions you make”. 

As with kitesurfing, launch and landings are the most critical moments where people seem to come unstuck in paragliding. The decision-making process does start well before you decide to get on the water to kitesurf, on a river to kayak or in the air to paraglide.

I am at the stage of  making small (100m) flights after running down the hill. Now I am ready for a longer flight, but unfortunately the weather hasn’t co-operated for the last 2 days of the course. I am now researching other areas where I can learn cost effectively. My criteria for locations are consistent wind and high amount of flying days. An instructor who speaks good English, is safe and  enables me to progress efficiently to a fully competent level are high on the list. If there is kitesurfing nearby for the windy days then that is a bonus.

So here is my honest opinion on the Alto Paraglide school where I have been learning to paraglide.  The school is run by experienced  and safety conscious people who also provide good kit to learn with. Alto also has a nice family atmosphere and I was lucky to have good competent fellow students who didn’t hold back the progression. Unfortunately English spoken by the instructor wasn’t what I was hoping for. We did get there in the end with a bit of translation, but it was not ideal. Pierre who runs the school, does have good enough English and is a very experienced pilot. If Alto were able to offer good English-speaking instructors, then I would have no hesitation in recommending them in the future to English-speaking people. If your French is good, I would have no hesitation in learning to paraglide at Alto.

Alto Parapente

Learn to paraglide part 1

Learn to Paraglide Part 1

20 04 2011

Have you ever lived somewhere or gone on holiday and been frustrated by the weather conditions? If you have ever lived in Wellington NZ you may will have been frustrated by how windy it is. Fair call, it really is one of the windiest cities in the world, the stats say so. You probably start asking your self questions like why it’s so windy and continue to get frustrated unless you are into sailing or kitesurfing.

Over 3.5 half years ago I was frustrated by having to drive 3-8 hours each weekend to get good kayaking. Rather than get frustrated I asked myself the question, what can I do right here in Wellington NZ, that will keep me entertained and give me Flow . Bingo, it is windy in Wellington and kitesurfing looks good.

Over 3.5 years have passed and a world record later, I am here in France chasing snow kiting. I have arrived at the end of a bad snow season, with beautiful blue skys, 20-25 degrees and perfectly still wind conditions. Now that sounds pretty good if you enjoy summer, but not if you are a snow kiter.

I have spent over a week up at the Col du Lautaret and unfortunately only managed one half day of snow kiting. I have however managed to meet some cool people up there and been hosted by The Kite Legende snow kite school . Great bunch of guys and a fantastic spot with good access. If you are ever in the area do look up Rémi Borgioli, he runs Frances oldest kite school, has good English, is an all round nice guy and has good knowledge of the weather.

So I am back in Lans en Vercors (Close to Grenoble) and am asking myself the same question as 3.5 years ago. What can I do in Lans en Vercors that can take advantage of the nice weather stunning scenery and that also lets me perform baby minding duties. You have probably guessed from the title that it’s paragliding. The idea has been eating away at me for some time now and was cemented but watching Dave Cornthwaite learning to paraglide. He has a great blog and an interesting series of adventures planned. Go check his blog out.

I have chosen to learn to paraglide with Parapente Alto who has been operating since 1995 and has a good safety record. My main concern was to find someone who can speak English, because I really am not keen on a lost in translation moment, while hanging from a bit of cloth, a few strings and dangling hundreds of feet up in the air. Thankfully they do have instructors that speak good English. We we, was that left or right you wanted me to go?

My next few blogs will be about the adventure of learning to Paraglide. I hope to be able to provide an insight into what its like and what I am thinking along the way. This will be an honest warts and all account. As a full disclosure I have been tandem paragliding passenger twice with my cousin, who runs Coronet Peak Tandems. He is based Queenstown NZ and has in the past has been the best performing kiwi on the world cup paragliding circuit, as well as 4 times NZ champion. Other than that I have no experience of paragliding other that being related to someone really good at the sport.

What have you thought about wanting to try, but never got around to it?

1Man 1Kite 2000km Presentation- 16th March 6pm

3 03 2011

There are plenty of ways to travel 2000 kms in comfort, safety and speed. Riding ocean waves on a board smaller than an ironing table holding a kite is not one of them. So what was Louis Tapper thinking when he made the world record attempt – kite-surfing solo 2000kms of Brazilian coastline? And more importantly – how did he turn this dream into a reality?
Whether you are a kite-surfer or not, you want to discover Louis’ method, and use it to realise your own goals, or you just want to have a great evening with a friend listening to an inspiring story – you’ll not want to miss this event.
When: 16 March. Social drinks from 6pm, presentation  starts at 7pm.
Where: Estadio- 17-19 Blair St Wellington
Admission by $10 donation to Red Cross earthquake appeal.
Spaces are limited, so please RSVP via Facebook or for those of you not on Facebook, email- hola [@]

Surfing into the record books- Love Red magazine article

8 02 2011

NZ Summer Weather Outlook

17 12 2010

Wondering what the weather is going to do this Summer and want to optimise your kitesurfing/paddling holiday? Bob McDavitt the Metservice weather ambassador just emailed me some fantastic information in a way that makes sense for me. Hope this makes sense for you as well.  Thanks Bob!

This is a La Nina summer.  To understand the varying impact of La Nina on winds around New Zealand, let us first look at the three normal weather zones in our part of the world.  First, to the north we have the tropics with trade winds that mostly blow from the east. Second, to the south and in the “roaring 40s” we have a zone of disturbed westerly winds and the low-pressure systems of the Southern Ocean.  Third, in between, we have the latitude zone which we see cells of high-pressure take as they migrate from west to east across our weather map- let us call this the “sub tropical ridge”.

These weather zones tend to follow the sun.   The strong cool westerlies dominate our winter and spring when the sun is overhead in the northern hemisphere, and then recede to the south when the sun is seen to get higher in our sky during our summer.  Click on the animation above and watch how the orange belt, which marks the subtropical ridge, shifts from the Australian Bight / NZ latitude belt in summer, to the Australian Desert/north of NZ zone in winter.  This annual solar-driven cycle is so dependable we use it to name our seasons and we track time in years.
The second strongest weather cycle is called the El Nino-Southern Oscillation cycle (ENSO) At present it is in it’s La Nina phase and this occurs when the sea temperatures along the eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean go through an episode of being cooler than normal.  This can last for a year or so and the current event has already been going for six months and should last at least until autumn.

La Nina deflects the normal weather zones southwards around New Zealand.   The subtropical ridge shifted southwards across New Zealand during late spring, much earlier than normal this year, and that helps explains the dry period since Labour weekend and the late November “heat wave”.  This zone is likely to stay in the south until March so that the anticyclones may take a path along 45 South, as shown by the pink arrow in the weather map.  Individual highs may linger around southern New Zealand and the Chatham Islands, producing extended periods of dry sunny weather with light winds around the southwest of the South Island.

Watch the highs on the weather maps and  – when one of them peals off to east of Chathams Island, as shown above, note that northern New Zealand then becomes vulnerable to anything that more form in the tropics to the north.  If a low-pressure system forms north of New Zealand at this time then winds around it may combine with winds around the high like the wheels of an eggbeater, and focus their fury onto a localised area.  This weather map can produce a day or two of wind driven rain and heavy surf, and eastern places between Kerikeri and Gisborne are the most likely targets.

During the coming summer the windscape is, in general (but NOT all the time) likely to favor more than normal wind from between north and east- mainly affecting places northern and eastern parts of the North Island.  With the subtropical ridge lingering over the South Island that is the place where there may be extended periods of sunny dry weather with light winds.

The subtropical ridge should make its way north again around Easter.

Our seasonal weather outlook is also on our rural page ,

Bob McDavitt
MetService Weather Ambassador
Meteorological Service of New Zealand Limited

In search of flow

24 09 2010

I have contemplated for some time what this “adventure kitesurfing” malarky really means. Many of my friends who have done big and even small adventures, talk about the inevitable post adventure restlessness and in many cases depression. All complain about the big visa bill and having to work again. Most also get viewed by their non adventurous friends, as just anther crazy adrenaline seeking person and can’t really relate to what they have been through. So is adventure really worth it if all you have to look forward to is post adventure depression, a big Visa bill and being viewed as crazy person?

I am an avid follower of other people’s adventures and am really interested in the psychology behind why people go and do adventures like I have just done. Many cite reasons such as leading a more fulfilling life on return from pushing themselves to the edge.
I am somewhat sceptical about these claims and think many people, without realising it, are really in search of something called “flow”. I hope to explain this concept further and introduce factors needed to achieve it.

What is Flow?
Before you start thinking this is just about sport, it’s not, the concept also applies to other aspects of your life such as work and has been well-studied among artists, musicians and scientist’s. The best explanation of flow I have seen is the following Wikipedia article, it basically summarises and expands on some work by a psychology researcher called Csíkszentmihályi.

“being completely involved in an activity for its own sake. The ego falls away. Time flies. Every action, movement, and thought follows inevitably from the previous one, like playing jazz. Your whole being is involved, and you’re using your skills to the utmost. To achieve a flow state, a balance must be struck between the challenge of the task and the skill of the performer. If the task is too easy or too difficult, flow cannot occur. Both skill level and challenge level must be matched and high; if skill and challenge are low and matched, then apathy results.
The flow state also implies a kind of focused attention, and indeed, it has been noted that mindfulness, meditation, yoga, and martial arts seem to improve a person’s capacity for flow. Among other benefits, all of these activities train and improve attention.
In short, flow could be described as a state where attention, motivation, and the situation meet, resulting in a kind of productive harmony or feedback.

A longer explanation of how and why he came up with the idea of is detailed on this if you have the time.

I experienced moments of flow on the Cook Strait crossing and definitely during the Coastal Classic race. It’s almost like time just accelerated and everything worked harmoniously make the goal. I felt it at times on the Brazil trip but not as often. Mostly I was just pleased to be safe at the end of each day and there was no big euphoria on finishing at the end of 2000km.

A friend of mine also summarised a concept I have advocated for some time which is a site called Feed The Rat. In reality feeding the rat is just describing a lifestyle that is seeking flow and a break from boredom.

I was once asked about why I do jiujitsu, and I remember clearly stating that it was the only time in my life when the noise inside my head stopped. My brain is going at a million miles a minute, there are always thoughts about work, life, money, goals etc, it never stops. In jiujitsu, another person is either trying to choke you out into unconsciousness or break your arm. You stop thinking about jiujitsu in your mind and you allow it to become you. You give everything you have, all of your senses to the artform and use it to not only survive but prevent further danger by attacking your opponent to unconsciousness. I found that it was one of the few times in my life when the noises in my head stopped, time almost stood still and I could focus intently on something else. I craved that feeling again.

How to achieve flow?
People search a lifetime to experience flow moments and sometimes they can be few and far between. How to achieve flow is probably another blog post and requires some more research on my part to explain properly. For the moment this is the simplistic explanation.

1. One must be involved in an activity with a clear set of goals. This adds direction and structure to the task.
2. One must have a good balance between the perceived challenges of the task at hand and his or her own perceived skills. One must have confidence that he or she is capable to do the task at hand.
3. The task at hand must have clear and immediate feedback. This helps the person negotiate any changing demands and allows him or her to adjust his or her performance to maintain the flow state.

Just in case you were wondering, I haven’t been affected by the post adventure depression or restlessness yet. Maybe because it’s still the honeymoon period or maybe because I am pleased to be done putting myself at risk every day. I certainly have a big visa bill however, and yes the media are happy to frame me as just another crazy guy because that’s just easier for people to grasp. It was however nice last week to be interviewed by someone who actually understands adventures and didn’t immediately ask “what about the sharks”.

Funny enough I don’t have a desperate urge to go out kitesurfing and am quite happy contemplating other activities to occupy my time. Activities this week have included 2 yoga sessions, a social run and tonight I will try my first Copeira session.

If only more people understood the concept of flow maybe the world would be a happier place. So I am interested in others thoughts on this topic. Have you experienced flow in sport or life in general and what were you doing to achieve that.

Kiwi kite-surfer back in NZ after Brazil adventure

15 09 2010

By Jeff McTainsh

Wellington’s Louis Tapper has just completed a 2000km journey on his kite-board down the coast of Brazil.

As well as setting a new world record, the 36-year-old also raised money for SurfAid – a charity looking to help communities in isolated surfing regions in Indonesia.

Tapper is back to his day job in IT risk management after just completing one of the most high-risk adventures of his life.

“Great to be finished,” he says. “The world record was really just a by-product of the 2000km but I’m just happy to be finished and ready to do some stress-free kiting now.”

Tapper’s month-long voyage wasn’t so stress-free though; he surfed down along Brazil’s coastline from Salvador to Sao Luis.

Light winds and shallow reefs during the first half of his journey caused headaches for the 36-year-old – and that wasn’t his only issue.

“Couple of close calls with broken gear; had some line wraps around both of my feet at one point,” he says. “It took myself and a passing fisherman a good hour to unwrap me.”

With no support crew it was that kind of local hospitality that made Tapper’s journey a lot easier.

“Some stretches of the coast are very remote so I was having to stay on the beach or with fisherman in their huts with them.”

The flying Kiwi also became quite a hit with the locals.

“Every place I’d stop they’d be like, ‘Oh, you’re the guy that’s doing this kite surfing mad mission,’ so I think they had this word called ‘loco’ which translated in English means ‘crazy’.

Perhaps Tapper is loco – he doesn’t intend to be at his desk for long – he is already scheming his next risk management plan.

3 News


15 09 2010

Now I’m aware that I haven’t updated the blog in the last week of kitesurfing and there is some interest to hear the rest of the story. The blogs are written and there are some interesting moments especially in the last 3 days.

So here’s the deal, I really want to help the SurfAid charity as I think they are a fantastic award-winning organisation. They have made a real difference to the lives of people in the Mentawai and Nias islands, off Indonesia’s Sumatran coast.

If you have enjoyed reading the blog, been entertained or think it’s just plain crazy, then it would be fantastic if you could donate some money to SurfAid.  You can do this via their website: And please write “Louis Tapper” where it asks:  How did you hear about us (SurfAid)?

In return I will publish a blog post for each 200 dollars donated.  Some of the tales included in these posts include tips on how to fix a kite harness the “Kiwi Number 8 wire” way, and why viewing a GPS device through a condom is not always easy.

I realise there are many other organizations asking for your hard earned money, but I genuinely think SurfAid has a very responsible community development approach and have made a significant, long term difference with the work they have done.

I can also come and talk to groups or organizations about the trip, if a donation is made to the SurfAid charity.  It might take me a while to sort through the photos but I certainly have some good stories to tell.


15 09 2010

Check out TV3 tonight (6pm) for a follow up story on the trip.


9 09 2010

Arriving in Jeri felt like arriving in Vegas after being in the countryside. This weekend was busier that most because of a Brazilian holiday.

We arrived in a 5 person vehicle with 8 people a ton of windsurf kit and kites. The party started as soon as we arrived at 10.30 and didn’t let up until the sun rose. The only challenge then became making it up again for sunset.

Every night from 5 until 6, everyone congregates on the nearby sunset dune to watch the amazing sun go down. Sunset watching had a tribal feel to it with people applauding as the sun disappeared off into the water.

Jeri has been a internationally famous windsurf location for some time and more recently for kitesurfing. It’s one of the windier spots on the North Eastern coast. The unique thing about this place is the sand lined streets, funky bars and restaurants.

Today I sat in Club Ventos overlooking the bay and watched life go by. The place is in a prime location next to the designated world class windsurf area. Prea seems to be more popular for kiters and makes for a great downwind at sunset back to Jeri.

The end of my trip is rapidly nearing the end, so its back to the reality of work soon. For the moment, I am en route to Cumbuco to pack and sort out gear.

Globo TV interview

9 09 2010

Another interview after my finish in Sao Luis

Chilling in Barra Grande

4 09 2010

I am making my way back to Cumbuco, slowly via some good spots I spotted on my downwinder. Barra Grande is one of those spots that is free from the husstle, has great kiting and is uncrowded. I think the areal photo says it all.
My body is still waking up at 6.30 but the automatic urge to check the weather and get organisned has gone. The nightmares and waking up in a cold sweat over light wind, off shore wind and reefs has stopped…I think.
Anyway off to Jerri next for some party and a bit of kiting. Just waiting for a ride and I will be there.

Fortune does favour the bold

30 08 2010

Quick post to say I have finished the 2000km today, 30 days after I started. Yes I am pleased to finish and somewhat relived. I am looking forward to do some stress free kiting and waking up late.
The last 3 days were not really stress free kiting, finishing with a 40km open water crossing today.
The last 3 days have been some of the most epic kiting of the whole trip and I will do a full post in time. For the moment beer and food awaits!

Day 23

27 08 2010

A fantastic start to the day with breakfast served up at 5.15am this morning.

It felt like the longest offshore wind that I have experienced so far and with really light wind conditions.  The wind dropped down to 7 knots at times leaving me with no option to concentrate on keeping the kite flying at all costs. Eventually I made it back into land after 1.5 hours of being so far out I was only 3-4km from the oil drilling platforms. The reason for heading out so far out was to avoid the nearby river system and wind shadow which could have caused me lots of problems.

Globo, one of the big Brazilian TV channels ran a story on my trip a couple of days ago which has made me a bit of a celebrity out here.

So now when I land in what I think is the most random and remote place, people run up to me asking “are you the crazy guy we saw on TV.

The wind swung in the afternoon and picked up to a pleasant 17-20 knots which gave me an afternoon of stress free kiting right next to the beach.

I’m could get used to this stress free kiting, I’m so over the harsh offshore winds, sharp reefs, sharks and rain.

Day 21 –

22 08 2010

Every day has its ups and downs and today was no exception. This whole trip is one big adventure and today is one of those days I will be talking about for a long time to come. So it all started out well, with Jon Brands from Pointa Negra Gym loaning me his Cabrinha 140cm Custom board in exchange for him being able to ride my directional board. The Cabrinha Custom is my favorite board for freestyle but wasn’t my first thought for a long distance speed mission.

When I started riding I realized this board was the polar opposite of what I had been riding. Its tiny 3.5 cm fins, super rocker and designed for freestyle sliders made it feel like I was switching from driving a fast racing car with good tires to a using a skateboard. After 25km of riding and changing the binding setup to something more “normal” I finally got to a point where the board felt good.

Everything was going well until I rapidly felt my eyes deteriorating to the point where I was struggling to keep them open. Thinking it was a combination of sun and salt water I made a bee line for the nearest beach which was only 10m wide. There was nowhere to self land so I tried to control the kite with one hand and open my bag with the other. I got out some water for my eyes and a T-shirt to act as a sun shield and waited for 10-15 minutes to see if my eyes would settle down all while trying to control my 11m kite in 25 knots. I headed out again hoping my eyes would improve and to find a better landing spot but my eyes deteriorated to the point where I could barely see and I was forced to close my eyes them, kiting only by feel alone.

Spotting the next inhabited beach I made a dash towards some boats to a spot where I could self land. With the turbulent wind and my poor eyesight I only barely managed to do this. My eyes were painfully stinging and I noticed that my had nose blocked up, so I self-diagnosed an allergic reaction and dug through my first aid kit to find some antihistamines. It was the right call and over the next hour my eyes improved to the point where I could see again without pain. I’m not sure what caused it and have never experienced anything like it before, but I’m glad it could be resolved relatively quickly. The next part of my journey was uneventful and I felt that I had made real progress when I kited around the curve of Brazil today.

A large lighthouse at signaled the tuning point, but to me it also signaled how far I had come.

Around 4.30pm, just before my destination of Sao Miguel do Gostoso, both my front lines broke about 800m offshore while I was mid kiteloop. I pulled the kite in by one line but my previous experience had taught me to be really careful around floating kitelines. Eventually I was forced to let go of the kite make a 800m swim for the shore while trying to keep an eye on the kite. Once I got to the beach I made a 800m dash down the beach to asses the situation and saw the kite floating half way out to a reef just under 1km away. Sensing this was to be a crux moment of the trip I stripped everything off (apart from my NPX board shorts) and made a swim for it that even Danyon Loader would have been proud of. The kite bar eventually hooked up on the reef and I managed to retrieve my undamaged kite. With only 30 minutes of daylight left I still had to get the kite back to the beach in a 15 knot offshore wind. I saw a windsurf instructor from the Dr. Wind Center come out to help but I tried to signal to him to keep an eye on me which he translated to mean some crazy guy is wanting to practice self rescue at 5.30 at night. I managed to get back to the beach with my new swimming stroke of one hand on the kite, the other attempting a one handed breaststroke just as the sun set.

Anyway the day ended safely with only a mildly stiff calf from kiting 80km of the 120km toeside which I am sure my friend Ali will be pleased to hear ☺

Hope tomorrow has a little less drama in it.

Day 20 – Twin tip wins

19 08 2010

Well I have broken pretty much everything on this trip, 2 GPS, 5 kite lines, 1 spot messenger unit, booties, 2 drink bladders and a mouth piece, a pump (not mine) and a watch.

Today the Go Pro mount and the backpack shoulder attachment broke during a shoot for Reuters and Globo TV, I’m pretty sure I have broken almost everything I brought with me other than my kite and board!

The day started off with me contemplating whether it was safe to kite in the cross offshore conditions. Now that I am half way there its closer to go straight across over to Africa that up to Sao Luis.

The only thing stopping me from seriously considering it is inability to carry enough food and water for the trip.

I kited 17km into Ponta Negra beach to meet the TV guys and landed a little bit short due to the funky wind spilling off the hillside.

The TV guys wanted me to do 3 passes to get footage, but I was barely able to keep the kite in the sky on the way in so I was worried that it wasn’t going to work.  There was an additional threat of rain which added to the stress, and when I got to pass number 2 I hit a wave which caused the Go Pro camera to thrash around the front of the board.

We looked at trying to get it fixed but decided it wasn’t possible, and by the time I tried to leave that afternoon the wind was blowing 30 knots (55km/h).  This was just too much wind for my kite and big board and would have projected me like a missile.

My tactic was to get going early and ride the lower winds but the interview made this impossible.

Even simple things like getting the kite back down and self landing are a serious challenge in that amount wind.

I have figured out that my maximum limit going downwind with the current kite and board combination is 25 knots.

Chopping the fins improved the performance downwind a bit but not enough to convince me that riding it in direct downwind angles is going to be a safe idea.

So, in the interest of safety, I have decided to forego the one board idea and make it on one kite and whatever board works. The one board idea was self imposed and just something to make it harder for myself.

Kiting is about fun and as some have pointed out a twintip is just plain fun so I’m looking forward to doing some big boosty jumps, kiteloops and popping a few waves on the way.

I thank all of those who voted for me to keep the big board on my last post, but if any of you think that this is really a good idea then I challenge you to find yourself a 60l windsurf board and strap on a 11m kite in 30 knot winds, oh and please post footage, because  I’m in need a good laugh.

So the next challenge is to find a suitable Cabrinha board here in Natal. I haven’t managed to track anything down yet. So if anyone in natal has a suitable board that’s at least 138 is fast and good in chop, please let me know. I think something like a Cabrinha Caliber would be perfect.  I guess this is the beginning of the one kite, any board part of my journey and I’m excited to start picking up some serious speed!