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


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!

Day 19 – Less fin, more decisions

18 08 2010

Today was pretty unpleasant sailing and it is probably going to get worse tomorrow. I’m kiting almost directly downwind on a big board with big fins which is a bit like doing Formula 1, downhill……on ice!

My total distance today as the crow probably wasn’t all that much, but with me having to constantly tack back into the beach, I think I covered more mileage than it seemed.

The current combination of my big board and its big fins means that the board wants to drive upwind much more than I want it to.

The plan has always been to cut the fins when I got to this point, based on previous conversations with the board designers, so today was the day.

All 3 fins are now 6-8cm shorter than they were this morning and it will be interesting to see if I feel any difference tomorrow.

I stopped at Baua do Cunhau today for a look and break and it seemed like a perfect kite spot, with a combination of waves, flatwater and great wind angle.

After my break, I started to kite again, but the wind picked up to 20-25knots and I was still rigged on

the second knot (middle power setting) on my kite. I decided to come in and let it change it to the last knot (low power setting) so kited into the beach to change it.

With such strong winds, I had a few really nervous moments while trying to self land as I realized that there were powerlines just behind me and, I was trying to control a powered up kite.

During the self landing process, the clip for my leash completely bent which almost sent the kite into a loop heading straight for the powerlines!

To say I am lucky today is an understatement.

I ended up cutting the day 17km shorter that I had planned because there was a nearby surf factory that could cut and shape my fins and I was concerned about safety.

Although my legs feel OK today, even though it was slow going, I do think I would be much faster on a twin tip from now on.

My dilemma is that I started this as a one kite, one board mission, so switching out my board would invalidate this objective, however a twintip would be much safer and faster right now.

So I’m putting a question out to you, the readers, should I continue on my current board or switch to a twintip?

The decision is up to you  🙂

Days 17 & 18 – little bit of luxury.

18 08 2010

I have been resting up in Joao Pesosoa for the last 2 days and it feels like coming out of the wilderness back to civilization.

There’s a shopping mall just down the road with all the shops you would expect back home.

My hair was  starting to look kind of crazy, adding to the consensus by local kiters that I really am crazy. So, I have taken the opportunity to get a haircut even though I had been warned that getting your haircut by the like of this little fellow could spell trouble:

I didn’t speak Brazilian and my hairdresser didn’t speak English so the only thing for it was Google translate. It seemed to do the trick and got me a reasonable haircut, so I took my internet translation skills to the massage parlor next door and managed to get some of the aches worked out of my body too.

Bessa kite club is where I have been hanging out and it’s impressive. There’s a guy employed there to pump up your kite and rig your lines, then when you are finished he washes and dries your kite then stores it until you call for your next session.

The grass is perfectly manicured, speakers blare out a selection of funky tunes  and the fantastic kiting right out front all make for a brilliant setup. It’s a world away from the fishing hut and 50km of walking with all my gear.

The funky music lured me out for a bit of freestyle riding this afternoon although it felt weird being back on a twin-tip after riding my huge directional board for so long.

I’m waiting here in Joea Pessoa for a new cushy deckpad to be fitted for my back foot. Its a crucial change to the board as the my ball of foot and back knee have been taking a hammering in the chop. Hopefully it will be ready as promised tomorrow at 10am.

Although there was no wind forecast for today it blew 17-20 knots making weather forecasting in this area somewhat of lottery. What is certain though, is that the challenges of no wind are shortly to be replaced by too much wind the further north I go.

Winds up around 30 knots are commonplace which for those living in my hometown of Wellington may not seem like much, but I have a 11m kite and big board so progress might be difficult and hard on my body. The plan is to cut my fins down by 3cm as I don’t need big fins to go upwind now.

Something many people have been finding funny here is my self imposed rule of only walking or kiting to get anywhere. They have found a new way to amuse themselves is to offer me rides in their cars to parties and to see things amazing things.  Funny for them I’m sure, but I’m not really seeing the humour.

So if you want to help me my top requests are accommodation close to where I land, good food a shower, internet to check google earth and then I’m happy. Pretty simple really.

Day 18

I’m currently sitting in waiting impatiently for my board to be delivered with a new deck pad. Normally I’m pretty chilled out but I need to make Natal by tomorrow and don’t want to have to do it in one day.

Eventually the pads turned up and it was worth the wait as they worked a treat and looked professionally finished by Hugo Monetenegro from Xtreme Board.

I no longer feel like the ball of my foot is going to get a stress fracture and owe thanks to Theodore and Rafael from Bessa kite club for getting this organised for me.

Yesterday was the first day I made a mistake with the weather and really should have sailed instead of waiting on the board modification. To finish this trip in a reasonable time I need to take all the sailing opportunities that I can now and kite whenever there is wind.

I was joined by a young kiter today called Bruno Mendes who was keen to tag along. He was all hyped up and rushing around at launch time and I had to suggest he take a moment to calm down and take it easy. I have learnt from experience that when you’re in a hurry that you can forget to check crucial set-up parameters and that’s when things go wrong.

I picked up the habit from watching paragliders setup their gear, to follow a routine and double check everything, lines, canopy pack, GPS and inner dry bag etc before I leave.  This additional 2 minute check  could save me from a 2 hour swim.

It’s nice having someone along after the kiting is finished. I need all my concentration out in the ocean and at times it is distracting having someone else along. I have been thinking a lot about my inability to focus when kiting with others and I think I do have an explanation but that will have to wait for another post.

We ended up reaching a nice spot a little bit later in the day than I wanted, but it was still OK. Now that there is more wind I’m not so keen on pushing the daylight hours unless I really have to.

The forecast is for the wind to pick up to 20-25 knots tomorrow and I’m just not sure just how far my current board and kite combination can be pushed. For now, I’m happy to have some company with Bruno and I feel refreshed after my couple of days rest.  Armed with my new haircut, massaged body and the forecast for lots of wind, who knows where I will end up tomorrow.