Coastal Classic 261km in 13 hours

29 10 2009

Auckland To Bay of Islands by Kite- 261km 13 hoursNZ Record

Well the first 200km from Auckland harbor was a flyer and I completely exceeded my expectations and that of people following me. Sailing next to the record setting Alpha Romeo boat at the start was definitely a highlight. The kite of choice was a 13m Cabrinha Crossbow (2010) and this turned out to be perfect for the conditions. I had done some extensive testing before the event and new that it would cope in 8-30 knots of wind and was the fastest most user friendly kite out there. The PredictWind forecast for the day was bang on and was foretasting 20 knots most of the way up the coast with it dying out around late evening/midnight time.

Doing the Coastal Classic was never about trying to beat the yachts and was more about physical and mental challenge. The 261km covered between Auckland and the Bay of Islands is however a new NZ distance record, so am happy with that result. I was averaging 17 knots for my best hour and sustaining speeds in excess of 20 knots with peaks of 23knots (42km/h). My time for the first 200km to Cape Brett was 7 hours, which is also well under world record (333km) pace for 12 hours. To put it in perspective the record setting boat Alpha Romaeo finished the Coastal Classic race in 6 hours 43 minutes.

With an outgoing tide and dying wind, it was always going to be difficult to get the last 20km into Russell on a kite. The plan was to take a wide berth at Cape Brett as the kite won’t fly in less than 8 knots. The support boat was running low on petrol once we got to Cape Brett so a call was made for the boat (8.5m Protector) to head back into Russell and fuel up. That left me on my own for a bit, but with Spot Messenger, VHF, flares and a cell phone, Troutie Lights felt pretty comfortable on my own. I am really appreciative to the Coastguard for shadowing me until the support boat came back.

Full GPS track
In the end I pulled the pin 8nm from the finish at 10:30pm after the wind died around 10:15. I did consider swimming the last bit in the dark but was too far out to do this realistically. The body was still willing even after 13 hours and recovered well. The only ill effect was a sore wrist , which I got from sitting in front of a computer typing. Moral of the story, work is dangerous…(smile).

I was in Samoa immediately prior to the Tsunami training for this event and am thankful we returned safely to NZ. I really feel for those people affected by this terrible event. If you think kitesurfing the Coastal Classic is crazy or you would just like to support the Samoan community in their time of need, then please donate generously at:

Dirrect link to TV3 interview (may load a bit faster).

My strategy is to get the best gear I can buy as I have to rely totally on it. All the gear bellow has been thoroughly tested and meets my high standards.
Cabrinha the major sponsor who funded the cost of the support boat and produce such fast usable kites. I have the choice to kite any kite I use Cabrinha by choice, they rock.
WildWinds and WSP kite shops for believing in the event providing friendly advice.
Predictwind for providing such accurate weather forecasts
Troutie for providing the head lights. He is a light genius and builds fantastic lights that outperform the commercial options for less money.
Cutter Electronics for providing LEDs, optics and drivers for the Troutie lights
Sweet Helmets for provide great looking and safe helmets
ICOM for providing VHF radios
Telecom– for providing mobile broadband data sticks
John Amundson– for producing my downwindboard at short notice.

To make an event like this happen it can’t be done without the generous support of others;
Blake Cameron from Moorings for believing in the idea from the start providing accommodation in Russell, advice on local conditions, helping with logistics and boat driving.
Charlie and Brent
for their boat support sorting food, kites, logistics and driving gear around the country. Mike Morris from All Crane was a complete star providing his 8.5m Protector (Gamma Protector) for this event. I was without a support boat the night before and he stepped up to help without having met me before. Also big thanks for driving and organising boat logistics to and from Russell.
for all her support over the last 10 months leading up to the race.
Luke Wigglesworth
 was helpful talking though weather and tactics. He is the master of this event on a windsurfer having completed it 3 times over 10 years
Lincoln for use of his kites for backup.
Richard Finnie
 from the Metservice for his weather forecasts.
Catherine Bennett
 from Westpac for her assistance with media
Lee Hales from Give a Little for help with fund raising and editing.

If anyone is thinking about giving kitesurfing a go, I have written an independent article on my blog about learning to kite and what the costs involved are.