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.