Holiday time is on in South Florida. The guys decide to do a downwinder, this time for charity.
The wind was forecast to be light, around 10 to 15 kts. and out of the northeast. The light winds may have cost some participation. We did have to guys who came all the way from Tampa to support the charity and join in on the ride. Still, a good 10 to 15 east would be enough to make the run, so we had at it. I arrive at the beach and see some guys out riding, adequately powered and even jumping.
We put a call out for kiting elves and Stacey of Best came out dressed for the part. Some others followed suit as you'll see below.
Paula and Kent come along. Kent is sporting a nice custom directional from DK Kiteboards that also doubles as a nifty sushi boat.
Paula, a rep from Water-Play, Meredith of Shake-A-Leg, Todd and Kent from Adventure Sports at the beach. We were encouraging donations from riders to the Shake-A-Leg Foundation. It is an incredible organization that works to pass along the stoke of ripping over the water via wind to blind and otherwise disabled children through sailing. Kent helped to organize things for the race and setup the donations.
I notice the wind it out of the southeast to SSE. This is the direction we want to go to. If the wind is strong enough it makes it into more of a tack fest but doable. Unfortunately, the wind starts to ebb as well.
Here's the reason way. A small squall line off to the south, heading to sea, slowly. Now Neil, Stewy, Luis and Eric (the kiting elf from Holland) were just about to launch from Ft. Lauderdale and bear south on the way to Matheson Hammock. They were going to do a sail by of 87th and show off their Christmas Regalia as they cruised by. Neil and Dewey had rigged a mastless Hobie Cat to ride under kite power. A 17 Machine kite to be specific with some unique rudder control rigging shown below.
So you have Neil and company cruising south under good power. They were running the Hobie in excess of 20 kts. at points too. Then you have the rest of us at 87th. A number for folks tried to work south on a test basis but there just wasn't enough wind to make much good on that heading. So, we decided let's go to Ft. Lauderdale to the north. I assumed that the light winds extended that far north and Neil may have been forced to not launch (whoops!). I had tried to call Neil to fill in him in on the situation.
So, as we tried to head offshore in winds that sometimes wouldn't keep a kite aloft, Neil and crew embarked on their own adventure to the north. They got offshore headed out about 1/2 mile or more and built up some speed. This was the maiden voyage for Neil's Kitecat. Hey Neil, what's your boats name anyway? Not having much time (none?) in rigging and sailing a Kitecat they did some amazing innovation for steering and sailing off points of the wind (more below).
Stewie is sitting in the seat for reaching off the wind. Neil is in the position for running downwind. Note the roller steering gear complete with foot controls, innovation underway.
The kite stalled and hit the water twice. The first time it was relaunched in short order using the 5th line. The second time it rolled disabling the 5th line function somewhat. No worries, let's through Neil into the water to sort it out. He managed to do this but was almost abandoned by the kitecat as it surged forward.
Everybody back aboard and cruising along, Stewie looks aft and sees the have company, a 4 ft. blacktip shark has decided to join in on the charity ride. Easy to guess what it wants, but wonder what it is planning on giving? Eric the kiting elf had turned around before this time and so was removed from the menu. Sharks tell me they taste just like chicken, elves I mean.
Stewie asks Neil if he remembered to deploy the shark repellent to which he responds yeah. Last dip in the water spent a penny in the wetsuit. Doh, that's shark attractant, not repellent. Sounds repelling to me though, no accounting for shark preferences in these things.
Down south, some of the 87th crew get off the beach and claw for good ground making north. They go a few miles and the wind dies, so they land just north of Bakers Haulover Inlet.
Neil n crew along with the blacktip. The sharks grow that big by eating too many jettisoned "square groupers" in the Straits. Or, maybe they just think they do? Hey pass a brownie over sharky.
Neil glides into the same lull but manages to make it into shore about a mile north. Neil is begging Stewie, man whatever you do, DON'T land in front of that fenced off area. There is a nude beach there, populated by what I had assumed to be naturists from all over. Neil was uneasy at the prospect of landing in their midst and being offered a hand ... or, whatever!? Capt. Stewie managed to beach about 200 ft. to the north saving the day. So here you have two groups of riders originally all heading well to the south riding on converging courses until the wind fades. They land within about a mile of one another.
I had thrown in the towel, packed up and was cruising north when Neil gave me a call. He said he had landed just a ways up from the nude beach and could do with a hand in getting the hobie up to where Chris could get it on the trailer. I wasn't sure where the nude beach was exactly, scouts honor! So, I'm driving around and looking but not having much luck. Neil put a kite up to mark the spot making the locating easy.
With the four of us, moving the hobie a couple of hundred feet up the beach was fairly easy. Chris showed up with the trailer in short order, the park service opened a gate and the events came to a close ... UNTIL NEXT TIME.
Stacey, queen of the elfs is bummed as Boreus had taken five to grab a bit of tipple at Sobe. Be of good heart, we'll have at this charity ride again in January in the New Year. We'll do our best to cater good wind this time and fine shredding will be had by all. At the same time we'll raise more funds for the foundation to pass the wind stoke along!
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year
From the FKA!!!
Good Winds To Everyone
(especially Neil, NEXT time)