If you were getting bored with the daily updates of waiting for wind, eating good food and drinking beer on the beach, then today’s adventure, or misadventure might just peak your interest again.
The incident today was potentially the most dangerous situation in my 3.5 years of kitesurfing.
I don’t need a reminder that there is a fine line between adventure and misadventure and fortunately today I stayed on the right side of that line.
The day started fine, at around 8am I left Aracaju with a steady 15 knots of wind and a choppy start across the Rio Sergipe River. Three of the local kiters had decided to join me to the last town for over 90km, Pirambua, and I thought the company would be nice.
As I made progress, fishermen with drag line nets and shallow water posed a constant hazard running inside the break, but I wanted to be social and try to stick with the local kiters so I chose remain inside the break against my better judgment. I paid the price on at least 3 occasions by getting snagged on the chord that’s used to connect to the fishing lines, and this just added more stress to my trip.
As I passed the last town for over 90km, I tried to assess the situation, but the wind seemed to be consistent and I wanted to make more progress. After another 10km, I could see an approaching front which was causing the wind to change direction, I had to make a decision, and decided to be conservative and kite back 10km to the last town and assess the new wind direction.
I knew the upcoming coast had limited resources to draw on if things went wrong, and I didn’t want to be stuck out there, potentially for a few days if the wind was going to be unreliable.
Having had the problems with fishing lines previously, I decided to make my way back up the coast outside the surf break.
The downwind angle was very difficult with the new NW wind direction and I ended dropping the kite ocean. I tried and tried to get control back, but I just couldn’t re-launch the kite and after fighting with the kite for what seemed like an eternity, my kite ended up in the surf zone where all 4 lines broke or were cut by my board fins about 500-800m offshore.
I had no choice, I had to swim back to shore, but I was wrapped in my kite lines and the more I swam the more tangled I got.
I felt like a floundering fish in a fishing net and when I finally got back to dry land, I was lucky that a passing local fisherman was able to help me. It took 2 of us over 1.5 hours to detangle the lines from my ankles, and although in hindsight it would have been easier to cut the lines off me legs, I was hoping they would have been repairable.
Hindsight is a wonderful thing, and I think back to the decision I made not to carry a knife with me, as I assumed I would be able to cut lines with the sharp c3 Venom fins on my board.
I managed to pick up a new set of lines and bar thanks to Glauber and Junior, and although I am carrying a spare set of lines I wanted to keep them as spares rather than have to kite with no backup.
Thinking about the incident, I know that I didn’t bring my A game today.
Kiting with others turned out seemed like a fun thing to do, but ended up being a distracting experience.
I know that this trip requires my complete attention and focus every day and it was there for the first 3 days however, sandy beaches and kiting with others put me in a more relaxed frame of mind and perhaps gave me a little overconfidence.
I was lucky today and I hope that this experience will help keep me focused and make sure I bring my A game every day.