The key to the success of this expedition is preparation. What most people haven’t seen is all of the ground work, planning, and attention to the tiniest details that have gone on in the months preceding this adventure. Equipment modification, contingency plans, and physical training in New Zealand have all led up to this week where I got to test the gear and experience the conditions right here in Brazil.
The past few days have been spent familiarising myself with the local community, topography and conditions as well as pushing my gear to its limits to ensure I can anticipate as many possible scenarios as I can.
Due to the extreme length of this trip, I have to be able to trust all of my equipment with my life, and that means making some decisions now which will hopefully help me on the journey when the conditions may not be ideal. One thing that people involved in this project have commented on is how fanatical I am about my gear and there have been many variations of each prior to what I have with me now. Most of the equipment I am taking has been modified to tailor the nature of this specific expedition, and I have been involved in all aspects from the big projects such as new custom board designs to the smallest detail of the stitching in my waterproof backpack.
The decision as to which board to take is still playing on my mind as I will have to make some compromises which ever board I decide to take. The board needs to cope with a huge variation in conditions through my journey. The initial portion will be light wind conditions and thus the board needs to carve upwind easily. However, the second part of my trip is downwind and involves potentially large swells and choppy water. Add to this the comfort factor as I will be spending hundreds of hours on this board, and the figures calculate that I need to take two very different boards.
Unfortunately this is not an option, and so my compromise is that I will have to pick the board which will accommodate the upwind section in light wind conditions, as this will at least allow me to start the challenge.
I did have a custom board made by Mark Nelson and designed by Ian Pointing for this trip, but it was only delivered from Hawaii yesterday, and it had suffered some damage during shipping. Mark has done a great job getting this board to me at relatively short notice. I managed to fix it up and make it watertight again, but I am concerned that I do not have enough experience using this board to predict how it will respond under a variety of conditions (particularly high winds), and thus I am reluctant to use equipment that I am not 100% familiar with. A big twintip is looking like plan C and may potentially be more comfortable and safer in the long run.
I also need to finalise the decision on which size of my Cabrinha 2011 Crossbow kites to take. I am comfortable on the 11m and it can be pushed pretty hard over a wide wind range, however it may be too big for the 30 knot wind days with a big board, but probably perfect for the 10-20 knot wind days. The 9m would be ideal with a big board for the latter portion of the trip, but potentially not large enough for the start. I am certainly leaning towards the 11m as it has a huge wind range and some fantastic ability to depower.
So there are still some things I need to finalise, but hopefully with some more time testing gear on the water, I will be able to make the right decision in the next day or two. There looks to be a potential weather window for a start on the 22nd July so really not much time at all to finish preparations.
Now it’s not all about adventure seeking and pushing my limits, part of this trip is also about meeting new people along the way. I have managed to make some great contacts for the second portion of my trip, but I am still looking to find some kiters for the first portion which is a less popular kiting location. Local knowledge is going to prove invaluable to the success of this expedition and so my next challenge is to find as many people as possible who can help me to predict the upcoming conditions and give me insight into what might lie ahead.
Here is how you can help – if you live between Natal and Salvador and would like to be a critical part to this journey, then I would love to hear from you. You can contact me directly at sciangocee (@) garrifulio.mailexpire.com and track my location online here http://yakers.co.nz/where-is-louis-map/<http://yakers.co.nz/where-is-louis-map/>
Many thanks to De Benedetti Diego from Durobeach for the pictures.