Claro amigo - por tu todos es posible.
Actually, Andres..this is a little like one of your stories from sunny Baja. Enviado.
Oh yes! And what a wonderful, whacky trip it was!!
I weaseled a magnificent vehicle out of my old man for the trip: A two-tone 14-passenger Ford Club Wagon
with turbo diesel, four wheel drive, a lift kit, and a winch. Tim, Neil, and me were stylin', with the van garnering favorable comment from kitesurfers and
general bystanders alike, virtually everywhere we went. The beauty of this beast was its ability to hold the entirety of all the kiting and camping gear for the three of us with tons of space left over, and its ability to deliver us to heretofore inaccessible kiting locations. For much of the trip I had my entire quiver, struts inflated, ready for action in the back.
We left early Thursday, ~6am, once I had convinced Timand Neil not to spray paint daisies all over the van.
There were 11 kites and 4 boards between us. Oh Yeah.
During the trip down, we scrutinized the surfaces of the copious bodies of water we passed, fruitlessly in search of whitecaps. Upon driving through Nags Head, the wind appeared to pick up some and we eagerly sped southward.
About 11:30, we disembarked at the Salvo day use area (near the Civil War cemetery) and dug out the gear.
The sun was shining, and we were stoked to get out, though the wind appeared a bit light. It was coming
from the Southwest (side onshore) at perhaps 12 mph. I started out on the 8.5 FreeAir, but couldn't hold my ground. Tim fared better on the ARC 840, but Neil was
screamin' on the 15.5 AR5! I came in and switched to the 16, and was MUCH happier.
In preparation for the trip, I had watched again the jumping sections of the "How to Rip Harder" and "Boost" videos, discovering that I was likely starting
my jumps with the kite from too low in the window. I was overjoyed with my newfound ease in landing jumps
and increasing my altitude with starting with the kite higher in the window! BTW, I highly recommend "How to Rip" and "How to Rip Harder" for folks learning to
kitesurf -- no substitute for lessons of course, but they are helpful and well-produced videos.
The first day at Salvo reminded me that there's no substitute for a 30-mile fetch and waist-deep water as far as the eye can see or the kite can surf. Zipping
along over clear, sunlit water is surely one of the most liberating experiences there is. We didn't even need wetsuits, as the water and air temperatures were
delightfully comfortable. In the shallows, the water was womb warm. Seeing the seaweed on the bottom of the sound as you zoom over it on sparkling water gives
you real appreciation for just how fast you're going! It was a dreamy, breezy day of sunshine and rooster tail rainbows.
As the day progressed, the wind picked up and I switched to the 8.5. One thing that astonished me throughout the trip was the prevalence of kiters EVERYWHERE. It quickly became clear that east coast kitesurfing has expanded to the point that there no longer just a small community where you can know or
have heard of most of the riders. I initially figured most were in town for Windfest, but many didn't even know about it! Probably the majority of the non-local
riders are still novices, based on the wipeouts, scary launches, dropped kites, and rampant incompetence we
There were some riders that had undeniably Mad Skillz. Even the first day at Salvo, there was a rider who came blasting off the beach immediately doing flips and spins, landing them immaculately.
At one point Thursday, Tim had lent Neil ("Sir Jumps-a-lot") the 840. I was chatting with the normally mild-mannered Tim when suddenly his eyes widened in amazement and he exclaimed "HOLY CRAP!! LOOK AT THAT!!!" I turned in time to see Neil dangling high in the air under the ARC, boardless, perhaps as much as 20 feet off the water. This jump was the topic of discussion repeatedly during the
weekend, and showed two things:(1) ARCs are capable of hard-core air (2) Neil is one big-air sucka!!
We didn't leave until after 7pm, weary but jubilant, agreeing that the trip had already been a success before even the first night. Heading to the Frisco Woods campground (the site of Windfest), we got some dinnah and milled around the Windfest activities, which were decidedly dominated by windsurfers.
The next day, after a refreshing and blissfully minimally mosquito afflicted night's rest, we arose to some of Neil's slammin' hot-off-the-campstove egg n'
cheese bagels and went to the water's edge to check out the conditions. One kiter was out, a friendly fellow named Greg on a black and silver Aero. He was
popping all kinds of spins, jumps, and aerial transitions in contrast to the more or less toddling windsurfers. The entry at Frisco woods seemed extremely ill-suited to kite launches, with no beach or open area to speak of. Despite this, it appeared
as though at least Kitty Hawk Kites was letting learners launch there amidst, albeit downwind of, hordes of windsurfers. After examining the wares of
Kitty Hawk Kites(who had the new F-ARCs), H2Air, HiFly, and the omnipresent REAL Kiteboarding we
decided to head back north in search of a better kite spot.
Just south of Canadian Hole, we found Kite beach and another kite point, already populated with over a dozen kiters. The wind was STRONG, likely hitting the
high 20s - low 30s, again from the SW. There were plenty of great riders out on 9 and 10 meter kites, boosting huge airs and pulling off startling Hart Attacks and other tricks that until that moment I had
only read about in magazines. I threw the van in 4-wheel drive and we headed along the beach to kite point.
Sand was blowing around, and after seeing someone lose it on a 3.0, I figured it wasn't too cautious to throw up the 3.5 Wipi Classic. Even though I had brought
the Naish Butt Pirate, I ended up using the Wake'n style the whole weekend, just like Neil and Tim. It was the first time it occurred to me that a smaller
wakeboard board might be in order for those really powered-up days.
I was able to hold ground with the 3.5, but I had to work the kite a lot and my arms were still tired from the previous day's extended session. Coming in, we
switched my 5.0 FreeAir to 4-line mode on the beach, and it worked beautifully. I'd never gotten such big air off the 5.0, even landing some of the larger jumps. The conditions were surpringly gusty, and we
decide to head farther north, where according to one the locals it was a bit lighter and steadier. Before we left, we were treated to a Hart Attack that was
botched in mid-air, resulting in a flying board and an airborne cartwheeling rider, and close up viewing of some awesome aerial transitions and 30+ foot jumps by
someone who appeared to be a sponsored rider for Ocean
Rodeo. Neil spotted Hatt local Dimitri (the firstkiter he ever saw some years ago) on a Cabrinha getting monster air and pulling off ridiculous tricks. Before heading north, we watched Dimitri shredding something fierce on the ocean side of Canadian Hole, doing insane moves in the surf in offshore wind among
a phalanx of windsurfers. His movements were so quick and fluid, his interaction with the waves so natural and graceful, it caused you to question the ownership
of his soul. A crowd of people stared in awe at his seemingly effortless airs off of crashing waves and adept taming of oncoming rollers.
Just north of Avon on the sound side, we found an isolated pulloff spot where once again the Diesel Demon's 4WD proved invaluable. The wind was still at least as strong, and Neil went out on my 4-lined 5.0. Tim, with some trepidation, set up the ARC 630. Shortly after launching, he realized he was unecessarily endangering himself, and he brought it
back down. Taking over the 5.0 from Neil some time later, I set out with increasing boldness. To my detriment, at one point I loaded up hard, got lifted unexpectedly, came out of the chicken loop, and swung
way under kite, which promptly luffed, despite the 30 mph wind. Hoping to maintain a semblance of control
in the impending power-up, I grabbed the chicken loop with my right hand in a misguided attempt to keep the
kite's power manageable. The kite powered up and slammed my fingers into the bar, which I immediately dropped. Because this was a "backup" line set that I had cobbled together from a mix of Q-line and dynema ines, there wasn't a stopper to prevent the Airush bar from going all the way up the left line to the
kite, which it did in about a quarter of a second. The kite spiralled into a death dive and hit the water as a tangled mess. Fortunately, I was rather near shore and started trudging in, feeling as if my right
hand hand been slammed in a car door. Near land I had to swim because of the deep channel just before the shore. Neil appeared confused that I wasn't walking
as he pulled my kite in, not realizing I couldn't stand. My ring finger swelled up like a hot dog and became generally useless, but my spirits were undimmed.
Tim was itching to get out, but still unsure it would be wise on the 630. He figured he'd launch it and let Neil, who is heavier, have a quick go on it to see how it went. What followed was a launch that would have been even more nightmarish had there been any obstacles in the downwind area -- the ARC shot up like
a rocket, yanking Tim haplessly through the water, with him kicking up a rooster tail before coming fully on to a plane. 50 yards later, Tim was getting lifted
with the ARC in neutral. Somehow Neil managed to take the kite and went out for some punishment, focusing
only on not being destroyed instead of boosting the usual 5-jumps-a-minute. He came back in exhausted and with a new respect for the ARC and strong winds.
That night we partook of the Windfest activities while I iced my finger. The most amusing event was the sailboard toss, in which everyone took turns hurling a
sailboard for maximum distance. It was quite a party, complete with free beer and a radio-controlled windsurfer dangerously bedecked with a flaming, sputtering sparkler careering through the onlookers.
We left our picturesque campsite, replete with scenic inlet and leaping fish, early Saturday morning to work in some more akshun before the drive back. I laughed
out loud upon reading the REAL Kiteboarding sticker on the campground's bathroom door that read
WINDSURFING has been cancelled
Sometimes it's sure hard not to be snide about the whole kitesurfing vs. windsurfing thing; we found ourselves having to restrain ourselves from mockery of windsurfers on a few occasions. I noticed that this particular sticker was tactfully not available with the others at the REAL/H2Air table the day before
I did get a chance to exercise tactfulness while speaking with windsurfer, NASA meteorologist, and iWindsurf forecaster Jay Titlow, whose name some of you may recognize from the Chesapeake/Delmarva iWind
forecasts among others. He reports he is now approaching his forecasts differently to take the kiter's perspective into account.
We got another fantastic day in at Salvo before heading home. I had several moments of glory, including boosting a nice air with a flawless landing in front of some whooping canoeists, and flying
through a large flock of migratory birds. The wind was just about perfect in the mid to high teens, with Neil on the 15.5, Tim miraculously holding ground on
the 630, and me on the 8.5. Thankfully, my smashed finger didn't prevent my kiting up a storm, at least not as much as my spent arms did after three days of
non-stop kite action. Kiters were out in force again, with most of them, beginners and experts alike, opting for downwinders, something of a Hatteras tradition apparently. Next time we'll bring a bike to facilitate just such an activity...