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 Post subject: 60 MILE DOWNWINDER PRE-RACE, 33 mph, 15 ft. seas!!!
PostPosted: Tue Nov 07, 2006 7:57 pm 
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Is coming ... first, there was the pre-race on November 4, 2006.

Organized by Damien and Alex (Neil had to be on the West Coast), a bunch of riders converged on Jupiter Beach Saturday morning. We were met by balmy 27 mph NE winds ranging between 20 and 33 mph and 6 to 15 ft. wave faces for a downwinder run to Ft. Lauderdale. The run is about 58 miles as the crow flys (they got birds in them satellites?) but with tacking quite a bit more. This was a fairly EXTREME session, NOT like what I hope Neil runs the actual race in. With the high wind, waves and all the pro talent it still was a bit of a trial, fun though!

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Alex slips in a warmup run.

We knew it would be pretty big outside and a fairly interesting ride. Getting barreled and wound up in a large breaking wave can be really bad. To see just how bad checkout "TANGLED IN KITE LINES, DRAGGED UW BY KITE IN 15 FT. WAVES" HERE There's no assurance that you will even be able to find, grab, hold onto and actually use a knife to good effect, still if you don't have one, it's sure to do you no good. I was careful to avoid breaking waves but was still grabbed about about ten of them. I tried to keep the kite high, powered up and to avoid tumbling. Some of the guys actually in the heat of the race and avoiding broad tacking may have been hammered a bit harder. I believe Billy and Sean both suffered kite/line damage when they were spun in breaking waves nearshore.

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We started about a 1/4 mile south of Jupiter Inlet at about 10:30 am.

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Rick heads out

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They're off!

I watched Damien and Billy shear off from the rest of the riders and surge south. Billy would keep tossing these monster jumps ala handle pass, etc.. Just hanging out. Damien boosted some big ones too. Me no extra jumps just trying to go the distance. There was a 30 ft. jump that I accidentally boosted off of an 8 inch wavelet. The wind was honking!

Kent, Garry and Tom started a bit further south. I thought they had launched before us until about 20 minutes into things I saw this Cabrinha kite rocket past me hell bent for leather ripping to the south. It was Kent playing catchup. Apparently we had past them before they even had their kites inflated.

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Kent hauling ass in the surf!

Kent caught up with the leaders at the time, Damien and Billy about 20 minutes after he launched and about 18 miles south. Talk about a flying start, had to take some substantial extra energy too.

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The wind record for Jupiter. Actual gusts offshore were higher however the winds did seem to ease off a bit as the day went on and with progress further south.

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I should have thought to do this on Sunday but let it slip until today, Monday. The wind has eased down to about 20 mph. or less so the surf has come down a bit. This is a panoramic shot of the surf off of Jupiter. It was larger a couple of days ago.

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Moving on

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We had to pass five fishing piers, like the Juno Pier shown above, ideally by a healthy margin to seaward. If your kite goes down or you are thrown into the spin cycle in a barreling wave you don't want to be flushed into the pier pilings. This meant working seaward through some fairly heavy waves through various breaker zones. At some points double head high. Many of these Sat. images were taken in pretty calm water. What we saw were three parallel breaks along the pier with still larger stuff turning to white water beyond that. It is quite a contrast.

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Going around the first of five piers in Juno

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North of Lake Worth Inlet we had another road hazard, masses of seagulls. Great fat wads of about 50 of these sea buzzards were resting on the sea or boiling up en masse to fish. Worried about sucking a bird into the kite turbine? Nope. Working flocks of seabirds, mackerel actively kicking up at the surface, what's that mean? Sharks, particularly along this fairly active stretch of coast in the north. I tried to steer around the flocks of birds but with the heavy waves it became too much of a pain in the butt. So, I just barreled through the flocks and tried not to get gobbled by a wave in those areas. There were about four such flocks. Didn't see any sharks, a good thing and somewhat rare too in such circumstances. We once tried to get a government contract to study mackerel "fallout" from gill nets a long time ago. One of the RFP requirements was to have a shark armored wetsub to deal with all the sharks that escort these massive schools. Well, I had a hook knife so no worries about getting "T-boned by Tiburóns," right?

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We also passed four inlets, the largest one, Lake Worth Inlet shown above. The current fairly screams out of some of these cuts at certain phases of the tide. Fortunately, we took off close to high tide. With the current blasting out during low tide opposing the waves and wind out of the NE you can develop some very large, steep waves around the inlets and a lot of confused sea. It is best to give the inlets a WIDE berth. Mainly because I was tacking particularly heavily along this stretch of coast, I passed this inlet about 2 miles offshore. I suspect most of the guys avoided tacking by holding rock hard edges and firing parallel to the coast nearer to shore most of the way. If the race goes off with strong incoming tides, it would still be good to give the cuts a wide berth. Being vacuumed inland up a cut dragging lines and a mega sea anchor to jerk you under and keep you there is a no joy proposition.

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There are a ton, dozens?, of concrete and rock beach erosion control structures or groins along the coast. They can be nicely hidden by the surf and yet provide a nasty impact zone for kiters or wrap hazard for kite lines. Usually they end within a couple of hundred feet of shore. Neil wants folks to stay a minimum 300 ft. offshore, this should spare riders. Then again, at low tide, calmer water and irate lifeguards are inside this distance. Guess we'll just have to tough it out further offshore. There are numerous stretches of coast across Palm Beach and Broward County with guarded beaches, which we want to avoid to try to dodge future hassles for kiters.

I lost my board about five times, once I went onshore to wait a few minutes for it to showup as it got lost in the whitewater. It would be good to hear some of the other experiences plowing through the surf.

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I wonder if some of the guys rode through the break in the Lake Worth Pier? With major surf and funky windshadow to potentially stall kites, doesn't seem like a great choice. Do you see that brown stuff near the shore to the south of the pier? That's beach rock, there is a lot of this stuff in intermittant exposures south to Hillsboro Inlet. You don't want to be driven into a head or have your lines catch one in high surf. More road hazards. This is the same stuff the Roads of Atlantis are made of in Bimini (shhh, don't tell anybody).

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Lots of inlets to skirt to seaward, like Boynton Inlet.

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I decided to take a break at Kite Beach in Delray or about 33 miles down the course. There were a lot of guys riding in the excellent wind and surf that day. Some of the other riders had stopped ahead of me.

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Boca Raton Inlet
BTW, this is the venue of one of my favorite Kiteflix.com clips staring Andy Hurdman and a cast of shredders "Day 1"

The waves were consistently the largest off Jupiter and to the north of Lake Worth Inlet in my opinion. Head high initially at the launch and going double head high or larger further offshore. Still, there were some major waves further south, they would kind of sneak up on you out of nowhere, up to 15 ft. faces. Some guys were impressed by some heavy stuff that showed up around Hillsboro Inlet. I will say that working seaward of that inlet was particularly tricky probably because I was starting to feel some fatigue and the combers were LARGE with hard stuff, jetties, day marks, etc. just to leeward.

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Hillsboro Inlet
Pompano's Kite Beach is just to the south here. Not being in any particular hurry, (race, what's that?), I stopped by to say hello to the guys ripping it up and to scraf a powerbar. I carried a camelpak, an excellent idea to avoid undue fatigue and to washout the ample amount of saltwater I chugged at odd times. The waves nearshore diminished in height as we rode southward from Lake Worth Inlet. The coastal shelf is particularly narrow in northern Palm Beach County. This means that deepwater waves "feel" bottom a lot closer to shore and in turn break, sometimes at a greater height. There are other variables such as coastal sand bars, worm or beach rock reefs and the like. Speaking of reefs, see that line of breakers that seems to extend southward from the northern jetty of Hillsboro Inlet? That is the "First Reef" or landwardmost of three reef terraces that parallel the shore off of much of Broward County. It actually goes inland at the northern jetty of this inlet. Notice how the water is calmer inside the reef to the south of the inlet and is heavier to the north?

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Deerfield Pier with some nicely fairly clean swells running, another time!

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Commercial Pier, only about six miles to go! It helps to parse the distances from landmarks on googleearth.com. When I did the 27 mile pre-race downwinder last weekend in St. Pete I was largely clueless about landmarks and so was uncertain about my progress or time of arrival. Not this time, shred and learn. Was last in that one too, sigh. I went overpowered with a 14 m Contra that time. I swore not this time and went on an easier handling 9 m SB. Still had some power though particularly on the outside.

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The finish line at Tiki Beach, Ft. Lauderdale, FL, USA. The guys that were driving hard throughout the race made it in just under 3 hours. At times they averaged speeds of 30 mph and about 20 mph for the entire run. Not really racing anyone other than myself and the interesting conditions I coasted in after about 5 hours of riding time, ready to go a bit further but opting not to!

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Damien walks ashore, several weeks ago during the the Bikinis-From-Brazil Calendar Model Shoot. Hey, I wasn't carrying a camera and this shot was laying around.

Seeya from Ft. Lauderdale, for now! The real thing is coming up the first good weekend wind after Thanksgiving. Hopefully not quite a much wind as we had for this memorable pre-race. It should be interesting. For more details checkout HERE and HERE.


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