The Straits of Florida await, again!
Imagine flying hell bent for leather over on 50 mile+ hazardous run from one country to the next across the fast moving deeps of the Straits of Florida. The start could be fairy easy or a bear with adverse pale offshore breeze followed by honking strong wind as you head further across. Seas might be a limp wristed 7 ft. or rage up to 15 ft. perhaps more at points. Conditions could change a few times during the race. Despite starting in a a field of 25 teams you may end up feeling like the last pair of kiters on earth on the wide, blue ocean. Sound interesting?
I just spoke to Neil Hutchinson about his plans for holding a second race from Florida to the Bahmas. He told me that YES he is working hard to pull this unique exciting kitesurfing event together again. All of this is preliminary and making this year's race a reality is going to take a lot of planning, work, help and sponsorship
. Note the last two points, having participated in last year's incredible experience you don't want to miss out on a repeat for lack of support.
* Neil is currently planning to have the race from Ft. Lauderdale, FL to Bimini, Bahamas to occur within a two week time window starting December 2, 2006.
Last year's course chart
* He is contemplating having a maximum of 25 teams this year. Teams will consist of two riders, equipped with required safety gear, a boat capable of handling up to 15 ft. seas and necessary crew. He is thinking of perhaps requiring Satellite phones on each team boat this year due to communication limitations with VHF and cellphones out in the Straits of Florida. Other safety equipment and team requirements will follow in future communications.
The starting line in Ft. Lauderdale, FL, USA. Photo by Eric Castalin
* Media attention is heating up after last years stimulating run. Neil is working on coverage through the Discovery Channel, Mens Health, Outside Magazine and other prominent media.
They're off ...
By the way, shown above is the location of Neil's new operation, Tiki Beach Watersports, the licensed concession holder and operator of what may be one of the first designated kitesurfing launches in the USA. Neil has some good ideas on continuing to preserve access to this launch and Slingshot Gear Retailer & Testing Center.
* Registration is still pending as is the website to present the Race Challenge for Year Two. Things are still in the planning stages but Neil wanted to pass along an update on things.
Kent and Gephy, the ultimate winners of the race, getting away from land. Photo credit: Guido Fleck
* Conditions, it was calm last year with roughly 7 ft. seas or less during the crossing. Winds were very light and side offshore at the launch with building wind shadow. Just getting offshore was a significant challenge for many teams. As they crossed the Straits, the winds built up. Riders changed boards and some even braved changing kites, not an easy process among waves and wind in the open ocean.
Photo credit: Guido Fleck
This year, who knows? We may be looking for winds in the 10 to 15 kt. range from the N to NE. Those are frontal winds directions and as many of us know, December cold fronts in SE Florida can be a lot stronger or weaker than that. The Florida Current will be blasting northward at around 3 kts. into the face of this wind setting up some choppy seas. It was interesting and should be again.
How does the helicopter-kite detangling drill go again? Photo credit: Guido Fleck
Details about last year's race can be found at:
Near the finish line in the Bahamas!
Interested? Keep that thought and more importantly if:
* You are interested in helping,
* You are interested in sponsoring the race,
Be sure to get in touch with Neil Hutchinson to help make this great event a reality again! Stay tuned, more details to follow.
TikiBeach Watersports and