Sunday, December 10, 2017

My race in the 2017 Lighthouse to Leighton kitesurfing event - stoked to do it!

Session 430. Racing at last!  I was lucky to get a good start on the upwind side of the course. I was very wary as the huge throng of kiters dashed off.  I got upwind and stayed there, keeping out of trouble.

It was quite a spectacle watching the bulk of kites progressing downwind, with those on foil boards soon getting a significant lead.  

I was feeling tired after the "one hour warm up" so I was concentrating on keeping the kite flying well and resting my rear leg occasionally.  It was nice to relax a bit and enjoy the mission.

My Flite 14.5 was providing good power.  Several kiters on twin tips were keeping pace with me, and one passed when I stacked briefly into a wave (one of two stacks).   The water wasn't rough but there were odd waves and peaks so concentration was required.

Heading just left of the cranes on Fremantle Docks two large moored ships eventually came into view.  I steered well downwind to avoid the wind shadow behind one, the other was downwind. Even so, I got a brief lull as I passed the stern of the ship.   A couple of racers that went close would have been scared their kites would fall out of the sky.

Then I picked the final target just left of the Fremantle Life Saving Club. Kiters were converging on the fairly narrow gate between a moored boat and a buoy.   There was almost a traffic jam getting through the gate with a couple of kites just behind me.

I DID IT!  Stoked to finish.

I came into the beach a bit overcooked in a bit of a daze and boosted off my board to land on the sand.  Then it was kite down and time for a drink.  A couple of cans of Red Bull (event sponsor) went down well to replenish my well depleted energy levels.

I finished 43rd overall and 26th in the Male Foil/Race/Surfboard category with a time of 35:59.  Olly Bridge, the winner, did it in 19:34 on a foil!  Here are the provisional results.

Several twin tip riders finished ahead of me including Jordan Girdis (1) Aaron Hadlow (2) and Rou Chater. 

I caught up with Nat, she had a good run and was hoping she got second in the female foil/surfboard class, which was later confirmed.  Well done Natalie.

For more photos of Rottnest Island and my pre-race kitesurfing warm-up see here

Just before the start

The start, just pass the boat.

Getting upwind

Relaxing on the course

Mid point.  Photo: Paul Smith

Coming in to Leighton Beach, my kite is on the right.  Photo: Peta-Ann North

Kent Wright and Peter Campbell, happy finishers

Refreshments. Photo: Daniel De Giosa

Was it worth it? Yes, this race is definitely worth doing. You may not be aiming for a very fast time but its a great accomplishment and has a really good vibe.

A few tips:

  • Some training around Leighton Beach is good to get familiar with landmarks and the wind direction.
  • Its a crosswinder rather than a downwinder so train for that.
  • Have a big kite in your quiver in case the wind is light, my 14.5 was great.
  • Use a board that is good in light wind.
  • Do a few race starts before you enter so you are familiar with how they work
  • Allow a few days to partake in some excellent kitesurfing along Perth's beaches.
  • Enjoy yourself!
I would like to thank Tim Turner (the Race Director) for his invitation and support for this great event.


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