Adventure kitesurfer Louis Tapper is setting his sites on a new world record – to kite 2000km of Brazil’s coast to complete the “longest journey kitesurfing”.
Armed with one kite, one board and a backpack, Louis, 35, will spend the next month kiting and when there’s no wind, he’ll be walking.
Although multi-day adventures by paraglider, rowing and kayaking are well established, Kite expeditions of this nature are not common. “Kite surfing is slowly gaining popularity, but it deserves a better profile – it is a fantastic sport, it’s totally exhilerating and addictive,” says the New Zealander.
“I know many people (including my parents) think I’m a bit mad doing this, but it is a way for me to test my limits both physically and mentally, and also push the sport of adventure kitesurfing to the next level.” Louis, who lives in the notoriously windy city of Wellington, has pushed the limits of kiting before. In 2008, he traversed New Zealand’s dangerous Cook Strait (between the North and South Islands). And in 2009, he decided to fly with the big boys, kitesurfing 260km in 13 hours from Auckland to the Bay of Islands for yachting’s 2009 Coastal Classic race. Although not officially recognised, Eric Gramond is undisputably the kitesurf world distance record holder with his 13 day trip of 1450km along the coast of Brazil.
Louis trip aims to beat that by over 500km. The official Guinness record up until this point has been for distances completed under 24 hours (333km). This next adventure is expected to take a month – beginning around the 20-25th July in Salvador and ending in Sao Luis.
“To put the scale of 2000km into perspective, crossing from Australia to New Zealand in a straight line or following coastline of NZ from top to bottom is the same distance,” he says. “Brazil just happens to have mostly consistent wind and is much warmer, so I figured, why not?” Louis will carry minimal provisions – food, water, money, dry clothes, sandals, repair kit and pump – in a 35 litre backpack as he kites. Although a solo adventure, he is hoping other local kiters will join him for sections along the way.
Training has included regular kiting, yoga and running on a gym treadmill – “more to train myself mentally than for fitness,” he adds. His trip will be recorded via a point of view video and still camera and progress updated live on the Spot Messenger Satellite tracker site. Updates will be posted to the web on a daily basis where possible.
Louis is seeking donations for his expedition to go to SurfAid International, a charity that delivers humanitarian programs to remote parts of Indonesia. SurfAid’s mission is to improve the health, well being and self-reliance of people living in the Mentawai and Nias islands, off Sumatra, Indonesia.
Set up by Kiwi doctor and avid surfer Dave Jenkins 10 years ago, SurfAid has grown from the initial malaria program to encompass hygiene, sanitation, better nutrition, clean water projects, healthier pregnancy and birthing, and improving immunization.
“SurfAid has been in it for the long haul and has not been about quick fixes. Their community-driven projects are effective and really do make a difference to the people living in the Mentawai and Nias islands,” Louis says.
Louis has always been drawn to the sea. His interest began with swimming under legendary coach Duncan Lang, which then progressed to surf lifesaving; then running (ranked second in Steeplechase NZ), skiing, whitewater kayaking and for the past three years – kitesurfing and snow kiting.
You can read more about SurfAid’s programs, participate in upcoming events, and donate at www.surfaidinternational.org
For more information on Louis’ adventure go to http://yakers.co.nz