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Old 01-23-2008, 09:54 AM
stacey stacey is offline
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Default Here's What I Remember

I don't see an actual post for remembrances, so I'm starting my own. This was NOT a good race for me.

Usually during these races, there aren't a lot of girls, so I don't have a lot of competition ... but this time I did: Melissa Gil, who's a better kiter than I am and has beaten me in almost every competition we've ever done together ... the only reason I'd won all my downwind races prior to this one is because she'd never done any of them with me before. So this race was not one where I could take my time and let off the gas, knowing all I had to do to be the first girl was to finish This time, I had to charge the entire time. She'd be ahead of me, then I'd catch up to her. Then she'd pass me, then I'd pass her. It was annoying, and I was not having any fun. I wanted to relax, not have to worry about anyone breathing down my neck, but I couldn't. (I feel sorry for the guys, who can NEVER let up. There are so many of them, and they're all so good, that they have to go full-on 100% the entire time.) It was not fun, it was hard, and it sucked.

Then, just as I could see the Ft. Myers Pier, Melissa started heading out to the left, away from the coastline. She was farther off the coast than I was, but ahead of me. I was closer to shore, but a little behind her. It was going to be a fight for the finish. I could make a straight tack to the end, while she'd have to do a little more work on the opposite tack to get in. Just as I'm thinking, "Ok, don't do anything stupid, don't drop your kite, don't lose your board," the wingtip of my kite catches on a wave as it's coming around through a loop, and the kite goes down. I see Melissa getting farther away from me, but I'm able to relaunch. It was looking less hopeful, but never give up ... you never know WHAT could happen. "Ok," I tell myself, "just don't do that again," and immediately, I do that again. This time, the wave catches it again, tumbles it, and it ends up with the wingtips pinched together, with the left bridle wrapped around the back of the kite. There goes first place. Melissa crosses the finish line.

I try for about 20 minutes to flip the kite around and straighten out the bridles, but nothing happens. I watch a couple of youths (with helmets) pass in front of me close to shore. Crap. I'd been doing so well. I'm so far away from shore, however, that a self-rescue would take hours, so I try to fix the problems out there. I carefully pull my way up the center line, get to the kite, fix the left bridle, and let the kite back out, being careful not to get tangled in the lines. Everything on the left looks fine, but somehow the right bridle is now caught over the right middle strut. I pull myself to the kite once again, which is tricky due to all the slack lines, but this time, I'm not so successful: when I let the kite out, the right bridle is still caught on the strut, and the back right line somehow gets crossed with the center lines. There is no way the kite is going to relaunch.

I've now been floating around in the ocean for about an hour or so, I'm glad I'm not the type to worry about sharks, and I'm not seeing the JetSki guy ANYWHERE. WTF?!! Things have gone so epically bad for me that my priorities have now changed. I've gone from "winning" to simply "finishing," and even if I have to swim my kite across the finish line, and it takes me until dark, I will do so. Shannon had taken bets that I wasn't going to finish the Jupiter Race, and I'd be damned if I didn't finish this race.

Right about then, a fishing/recreational boat of 4 older people comes by and asks me if I need help. I indicate that I do. In a judgemental tone, they ask me why I'm not wearing a life jacket. This does not bode well for our happy and productive relationship. "Because this was not supposed to happen," I explain. "I'm in a race, and I was doing VERY well!" They don’t seem to care and are not very sympathetic. I try to get them to let me hook my kite to the boat with my leash, so that I can swim out to the kite, fix the bridle and lines, and then relaunch, but they weren't having anything to do with THAT plan. They wanted to SAVE me, those heartless bastards! "Get into the boat," they say, "And let go of the kite!"

No way I'm letting go of the kite. I am going to finish this race if it kills me. They toss me a life cushion attached to a rope and somehow I'm able convince them to motor backward to try to force the kite into the relaunch position, as there seems to be no wind right where we are, and the kite is just sitting in a little ball. But, it doesn't work ... they're being very timid with their speed. In my frustration, I accidentally let go of the life cushion, which makes them very unhappy. "SHE LET GO!" I hear them scream about me in third person, as if I weren't there just a few feet ahead of them, listening to all their backtalk.

I guess I wasn't the most cooperative victim they ever saved, that's for sure. But I soon realized that my only hope was to let myself be saved as quickly as possible, get to shore, rerun my lines, relaunch, and then limp across the finish line. Despite what they said, I refused to let go of my kite, and begain winding in the lines around the bar. When I got to the kite, I grabbed the leading edge, and held it off the side of the boat, deciding it was best not to tell them that kites were deflatable. They motor slowly towards the sandbar, as close to the shore as they can get in the boat, which is about 1/4 mile from land. As we're driving towards shore, I see Cindy pass by on her green, red and yellow Flexi, and I swear out loud. There goes second place. "Does this boat go any faster?" I ask, not that it matters anyway at this point. I just lost the fricking race, so whether the boat captain drives 2 miles an hour, or 20 miles an hour, it's not like it's going to make much of a difference. He cut his eyes at me, and I backstep. "I mean, is the kite hanging off the back creating drag? Maybe I can hold it a different way if it is?" He speeds up a little, but not by much.

When we get to the sandbar, I thank them, although not as profusely as I should've (I probably go down in their history as the most Unwilling, Uncooperative, and Ungrateful Rescue Victim Ever) jump into the water, and start swimming to shore. It's slow going, and I accidentally let go of the kite. It takes off and goes tumbling to shore, which seems like a bad thing when it happens, but which actually works out better for me in the end. I jump onto my directional and paddle in, quicker than I could if I was swimming in an inflated kite. Some nice person runs into the water and grabs my kite as it gets to shore, and I quickly take it from him, rerun my lines, teach an innocent bystander how to hold my kite, give him the thumbs up, launch my kite, run to the water, jump on my board, and wave my thanks to all the people on the beach who helped me. I got along much better with the beach people than I did with the boat people.

It literally takes me one minute to kite to the finish line. ONE MINUTE.

As I get there, Kelly cheers and I say, "NO!!! Don't cheer for that! That was pathetic! I was a HALF MILE from the finish line! PATHETIC!" Everyone's there practically, and it's humiliating beyond belief. Damien says, "What happened? Melissa says you were neck and neck the whole time." WE WERE! Kent said, "That was the first time I ever saw you have a complete meltdown.” A meltdown? A meltdown implies something like a nervous breakdown, an inability to function and move on. I do not melt down. "BUT I FINISHED!" I say. "I FINISHED!"

But still. I've never lost a downwind race in my life. I can't even begin to say how humiliating that was. It was not like the SF Races, where I didn't have a chance on my stupid little twin tip. This time, I was actually competitive. It was embarrassing and I didn't want to hang out with all the winners at the after-party ... I wanted to go home and try to pull myself together. That night, and the next day, and the following night, was torture. You're only as good as your last result, and what if I'm on on downward spiral and this is it for me? Anything could happen in Jupiter. Lines breaking, kites going down, riding a directional the entire 56 miles on one reach? Plus, I had the weight of Shannon's mean little bet to mentally overcome. As I'm berating myself and halfheartedly watching "Batman Begins" on TV, one of Batman's mentors tells him that "The reason we fall is so that we can learn to pick ourselves up again," which I think maybe I can use, but I'm afraid if I do, I'll be getting ahead of myself. You just never know, and I don't like to instill myself with false hope. I'd rather set my goals low (I just want to finish Jupiter) and succeed with that, than say, "My goal is to win," and then lose. I'd really like to win Jupiter ... but I'm afraid to be too hopeful and too positive, because what if I jinx myself. Competition is so mental. Yuck. I wish I could retire.

Last edited by stacey; 01-23-2008 at 10:55 AM.
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Old 01-23-2008, 11:21 AM
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Hey Stacey,

Thanks for sharing your story! If you have a look at the Jupiter to Ft. Lauderdale run, lots of guys that kicked butt last year had a much rougher time this year. Shit happens to all of us it seems. Next time will go better. You went there knowing you would have to take on a second 60 mile race after a 24 hour break. That takes some guts all by itself. None of us knew what wind we would have in Naples but we were quite lucky with what cranked up in late morning.

Well done and see you in Jupiter, again!

Rick
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Old 01-23-2008, 12:56 PM
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Good/bad story, thanks for sharing. :-) I had a bit of a bad experience during the race as well but the after party was more than rewarding. It was my first downwind race and I chose a twin tip board and regretted it later on in the race. I had a tip get caught in a wave and lost my board to the Gulf after a 40 min search and 250 yard body drag into shore. Other than that it was an amazing experience that I plan on doing year after year. So many great people, riders, volunteers, organizers and sponsors that made this race something to remember. Thanks to Wind Stalkers for pulling it off after a months on end holding pattern. Hope we see more people turn out next year.

Fritz
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Old 01-23-2008, 01:29 PM
kent kent is offline
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I thought that the race was great as well. It was nice to see something organized in a different location. The wind finally came through for a great event. I remember getting an ok start and just trying to keep from wrapping anyone's kite. The wind seem very good at the start and looking around, I was surprised to see so many fast riders staying in the front of the pack. Damien managed to pull away from the first pack pretty well, but the 4-5 others including myself all seemed pretty close in speed. There were some advantages in angle or speed, but they seem to cancel eachother out a bit. What I really liked about this event was that it wasn't so focused on having strong legs but rather making good decisions going down wind. You really had to look for good gusts on either the right or left side of the run. Additionally, you had to really focus on turning at the right time to take advantage of the wind direction. Knowing that the wind was forecast to turn to the right as the day went on, you had to be careful to take hitches toward the beach at times to avoid being caught too far off shore and away from the finish line.

For me it really cae down to trying to stay in the race with a good opportunity to place high. Near the end, I managed to reel in Gebi a bit, but i really needed my mind to say that I could beat him to the finish line. Many times over the last 20 years i have been close to him in windsurfing races, but he generally had something extra. In the closing minute of the race, i noticed that my slightly larger kite gave me about 1 degree better angle down wind and I waited until the last minute to show it. I remember diving below Gebi just before he would have needed to jibe for the finish. This made him haveto jibe behind me to ride toeside toward the beach. I matched his toeside carve and stayed just to leeward. i waited from him to bring it back to heelside to go for the finish and I turned as well. Upon hitting the beach, I was stoked to finally come out on top of him in a very close race. It is races like this that keep the fires going and make us want to do it again and again.

In the end, I was very happy that we were riding left foot forward as my other side is terrible! I am hoping that others had as much fun as I did so that we can continue to epand on these racing concepts. As more riders get competitive boards and kites, I am looking forward to seeing course racing develop in Florida as it has in SF Bay with the Cabrinha Kite Race Series. If you are interested in finding the right board for upcoming races and need some advise, send me a PM and I'd be happy to help.

See you at Tampa!

Kent
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Old 01-24-2008, 10:57 AM
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I drove over to Naples that morning in a fog, literally! Normally, I would like to head over the night before but the events that weekend came on too fast for me to get my act together in time. The fog cleared about the time I made the left coast. The car was confused thinking I wanted to go to Marco instead of Naples. I think Icelandic cart horses have more horse sense about direction than my Nissan or perhaps myself? So, hit the beach eventually and strolled down to say hello to Enrique and others.

I had been expecting gnat sneeze breeze for a dead downwind run to the finish and was excited when the forecast reverted to 10 to 15 kts. south early that morning. I went home over lunch the day before and put two patches to join a third made the day before on my 16 m. Left it pumped up and came back to find that I hadn't caught all the leaks?! Never had that many perforations on a leading edge in over nine years. That left me with a new 13 m. I had it out in 10 kts. or less the night before so felt it would do the job on a downwinder, slowly. So, walking to the launch with my largest twin tip, a whopping 150 cm FL-XXXL. The wind was slowly freshening but was side off out of the SSE. Some early wind dummies launched and rode out powered providing encouragement to the guys on shore. Unlike Jupiter, I actually was early enough to rig up and go out for a test run to checkout conditions. Getting off the beach took a bit of care with frequent lulls from the wind shadow but the wind filled in nicely not far from shore. Decided, the 150 cm TT was too large, beached and ran to the car to change it out for my normal board. Got back, headed out still had time for some tacks before the green flag went up.

Guys headed out on a NNW to NW tack initially, so I followed suit. The wind was around 9 to 13 kts. SSE with small smooth waves around 1 to 2 ft. following from the south. Didn't want to edge very hard, wanting to run almost dead downwind. So, for the next hour worked on creative kite placement to maximize travel downwind while minimizing travel off the wind. Stacey coined an intriguing "Loop-Loop" technique that describes one approach. I would figure eight port and starboard myself or do a modified "half-sine" depending on conditions. It was easy to fall over the nose of the board in this, particularly a twin tip. Think a directional is definitely the way to go on these dead downwind runs particularly in fairly calm water. Near the end of the run the wind clocked further to the west and the coast turned to the NNW creating more side onshore conditions and making things a lot simpler, "lock and go."

I came on to a pod of three or more dolphin and hoped they would stay on the surface long enough for me to video them. No joy on that, must be into windsurfers or something cause they slipped away in no time. Didn't see any of the famous SW Fla. Tiburon's but wasn't excessively disappointed to miss out.

Didn't have time to do my normal google earth tour of landmarks, wasn't all that familiar with the seaward appearance of the shore in this area. So, kept wondering every time I saw kites near or on the shore, "is that it???" Still, it didn't seem far enough. Eventually, I saw a fuzzy land mass way to the NW thinking, that has to be Sanibel Island. Shortly after that the causeway bridge came into view clenching it. The finish has to be before the bridge. Saw it soon after and landed. Stood around for a few minutes, looking off to the NW and Sanibel and wondering about heading over for a look. Hadn't kited that area in probably seven years. Did a trial run to see how much tacking would be needed to return, didn't look like any would be required. Asked Enrique about getting back to Naples, mentioned I was thinking of heading over to the lighthouse and then headed out. It wasn't that far, less than ten miles to the lighthouse R/T as the crow flies and I was there in no time. Shot some video coming in, turned around and shot more video heading back to Ft. Myers. About a third of the way back the wind started to ebb. Tacked about five times over several miles and wasn't making upwind anymore. Whoops, someone screwed up, bigtime, me! Figured, better land and walk. A brisk walk two miles down the coast, thinking I was going to have a hefty taxi fare back to Naples. I found most of the folks cleared out but Enrique waiting. What a guy, he thinks of everything! I interviewed him about the race on video on the drive south. The wrap party followed with great food, company and awards ceremony.

So, long story short, it was a fun, very well organized and executed first time event. Huge thanks to Enrigue, his troops and all the kiters that participated. Looking forward to his next event already!
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Old 02-01-2008, 05:23 PM
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cybersunshine cybersunshine is offline
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Default I remember...

It was a good day for me but I think from now on I will just refer to it as a marathon since I not really in any position to call myself a racer.

Last edited by cybersunshine; 10-08-2008 at 06:22 AM.
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Old 02-03-2008, 02:43 PM
Daniel(BestKiteboarding) Daniel(BestKiteboarding) is offline
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Default Here is what I remember.

I remember trying my hardest to keep up with the other riders, helping competitors if they were in loose of there boards and having a great time.
When I was racing and I started to see the finish line it was a good feeling I didnít care what place I had come in, all I cared about was me finishing the race. This Naples pier to pier race is thee most organized race held on the south west coast of Florida. It was something to look forward too. Enrique, you pulled of a GREAT race, and a hell of an after party where families could enjoy them selves and a reasonable course distance for the racers.


Thank you,

Enrique Gianello,
Kellene Gianello, for everything youíve done. :-)
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Old 02-03-2008, 06:01 PM
lucas lucas is offline
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This is what I remember. I was riding and I got knocked off my board. I totally depowered so I really didnít go anywhere. So I turned back to get my board and it wasnít there. I think I body dragged for like 30 minutes and still couldnít find my board so I went to land. When the other two youth (Daniel gianello and Brandon Bowe) saw me walking on land they stopped and looked but had no luck finding it but I was really happy they tried. As they went on racing I walked about 20 minutes to the closest hotel and called my dad and he picked me up.
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Old 02-04-2008, 07:07 AM
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Sorry you lost your board Lucas. Unfortunately, lots of people lose their boards in these distance races. Most body drag and recover them, often several times. On occasion it stays lost. A sideshore wind and adverse currents, if any, in inlet areas can make recovery difficult at times. A reel leash with a weak link, helmet and impact vest could provide another option. I forgot to setup my reel leash for the Naples race but saved some aggravation by hooking it up for the Jupiter run. See you out there next year!
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