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.