Kent assisted by Raul prepare to hit it in the first ever boarder cross kiteboarding event in Florida. It came down at North Beach, Mullet Key (Ft. DeSoto Park), Tampa, FL on February 4, 2006. Big thanks to Jayson, Neil, all the volunteers, sponsors and RIDERS for making this historic race a great success. This is the first competition over this way since November 3, 2001 when the first kitesurfing comp. in Florida went off in St. Pete! It was worth the wait.
Conditions were challenging, high wind and even waves.
The concept prepared by Neil was straight forward. An oblate course of various tacks including a high speed downwind run along the shore. Some guys would have to tack upwind to make the turn before that point however. Guys would have a Grand Prix start from the sand along the shore and go to it as the looped the course twice. Photos from the bordercross and free riding sessions appear in the following account.
The hard setup work begins in earnest
Strong wind, waves and current caused most of the marks to move off of station throughout the event.
Red Bull's here!
Andrea and Pete hike in, from Ft. Lauderdale
Eagle local instructor, kiteboarding paramedic and event organizer cons in the rib for support service during the event.
Neil and Kent work to get things ready to go
Jayson's lovely wife working to make this event a success
Randy geared up for weather gets ready to go
It was a day of contrasts as a powerful cold front passed over. In the morning, some evil looking clouds swept over. Looking north from the marina in St. Pete.
The radar is starting to clear as the front passes from Tampa Bay. The line of clouds shown above appears in this radar image. Such a powerful front contributed to the loss of a kiteboarder in the NE recently. You want to make SURE the radar is clear of inbound squall bands before putting up a kite as these guys did for the event.
Event organizer Jayson was treated to a tree falling over his roof the night BEFORE the frontal squall line arrived which in turn yanked a power pole and lines into his hot tube. Fortunately, he had just decamped from the tub a short time before. Good luck with the cleanup Jayson, hope it moves quickly.
Torrential rains and high squall winds the afternoon the day before the event contributed to some significant flooding, a roof collaspe and wind damage. There was a slow startup for the event the next morning, deliberately to make sure the powerful squalls at the frontal boundary had moved past to the southeast before the kites went up. By the afternoon the clouds had gone and were replaced by a surreal frontal high with blue skies and WIND.
Even after the squall line passed wind was strong. Riders were usually pretty conservative in kite selection (lots of 7 and 8 m kites) and riding (TRYING to stay on the water and avoiding tricks that might slow them down during heats).
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Melissa riding for JN Kiteboarding sets up
Kinda powered out there
Randy gets an assist during launch. This was a common practice throughout the day given the stronger winds.
Unknown rider heads out
How do you know if you are rigged too big? Uh, well ...
This 185 lb. fellow was out on a 3 m SS open cell foil at one point and ripping along just fine! I didn't catch your name, thanks for the assisted launch and landing.
A new "board off" trick, a fairly extreme one.
Damien floats along
Riders getting ready for the starting horn
Making to the downwind turn to the west
Riding upwind to the north
Rounding the upwind marker at the northern extreme of the course
Rocketing along the downwind leg to whip around the southern inshore mark to loop the course again
Company flew by. Don't let choppers get too close to your kite, particularly while moving at 150 mph! It was actually pretty far away in this shot.
Bill Parker throws one
Andrea head out
Damien from Ft. Lauderdale edges hard in strong conditions
Event organizer Jayson dons his special wetsuit for the cold conditions (none) and speaks with another fellow in an OR drysuit?!
An unknown rider heads out with a lid!
Bill's having fun now
So is Jayson
Andrea assists Maria
Stay tuned, more images from this event including the FINAL HEAT are coming up soon. Funky photos of the top riders going off in a surreal frontal high, more hard riding shots from the day and the wrap ceremony.
NOTE: If there are misidentified or worse, unidentified riders in the photos or other useful information please post your input.
More to come ...