It was a true pleasure to be invited onboard Schmidt Ocean Institutes R/V Falkor. Take a look back at our adventures, science and discoveries.
While the Bahamas isn't far enough south to be in the tradewinds it does offer some of the best kiteboarding in the Caribbean. In early november as the fronts roll off the Eastern seaboard and the low pressures deepen in the North Atlantic the Bahahamas is inundated with solid swell and breeze. For this adventure I teamed up with Sunsail Holidays for the first Kiteboarding Flotilla. We had four boats booked with twenty two characters and a whole bunch of fun scheduled in the outer Abacos.
We kicked off in Marsh Harbor with everyone arriving from as far away as Vancouver, Seattle, Finland, and Argentina. The group immediately got into the fun with a kick off party and chart briefing sponsored by Nauti Seltzer. It was a great opportunity to look over the chart together and show everyone the possible locations for the week complete with waves, flat water cruising and pigs. With the sun setting and jet lag kicking in the group headed over to Snappas Restaurant for some dinner and dancing. The girls of the group were immediately taking over the dance floor while the guys seemed to congregate at the bar but after a few more libations the guys came out from the shadows and showed off their moves.
Needless to say the 0900 departure for Fowl Cay came quickly and with a solid 25 knots from the East Northeast the boats set sails for Fowl Cay. Fowl Cay is a National Preserve and is one of the most exquisite spots to kite and dive. On this day with 6 to 8 foot waves on the outside of the reef the diving would have to wait. This was just fine as most of the group was itching to pump up kites and explore the inside and outside of the reef. It was absolutely fantastic to ride the slicks on the inside with little kickers wrapping around and then go out around to the outside where there were some seriously good reef breaks. Some of us even decided to run a downwinder through the reef to Nippers Bar where the rest of the group met us for another night of dinner and drinks. This downwinder was definitely one of the highlights for me as it was challenging with large coral heads and some very large waves which had built all day.
Great Guana Cay
Day two kicked off on the beach off Nippers. At 0800 the wind was still ENE and around 22 knots. At lowtide Nippers offers a large beach with a fun shore break as well as some larger waves on the outside. The wind was a little weird for a bit with some lulls coming in around 17 knots but with most people running 11m Kites or larger the cruise down to Bakers Bay Resort was very fun and easy. The North side of Bakers Bay offers one of the most beautiful long beaches with side shore winds. You do need to be careful inside the channel as the current can be strong and the reef rather sharp. That afternoon everyone congregated onboard the boats for a late lunch of Fish Stew and Pina Coladas.
Baker's Bay and No Name Cay
Day three say more winds from the ENE and Bakers Bay continued to deliver with a little fun for everyone. Most people were rigging larger kites like 15 Meters or 12 Meters and surfboards but the fun and the beauty of the spot never held us back. That afternoon with the swell continuing to build we crossed over the flats behind Whale Cay at high tide and made it to No Name Cay and the famous Pigs of the Abacos. You can go to the windward side of Whale Cay but it is not advised when the swell is running.
Green Turtle Cay
That evening we made it to Green Turtle Cay which was really beautiful little town with small colorful houses, golf carts to rent and nice wide open anchorage. Since there were golf carts available right at the town dock we got one and decided to cruise the island and check it out before congregating back at Sundowners for some of the best Conch Quesedillas I have ever had, the lobster ones were too bad either.
Located at the southern end of Elbow Cay right on Tilloo Cut Tahiti Beach is the absolute epic tropical locale. With perfect white sand beach, palm trees and pristine turquise water it is everything we dreamed about on this trip. For kiting the spot does not work well if the wind is too far East as the hill where Abaco Inn sits is just too high and blocks the breeze. However we scored on the second to last day with a perfect 18 knot northerly. The boats were anchored just off the beach, you could ride in butter behind the beach and cold beverages were close at hand. The beach is even a short dinghy ride away from Fireflies restaurant which is one of the best in the Bahamas.
Look for the full article from Jen Jones in the Winter Edition of The Kiteboarder Magazine and of look at Sunsail Holidays to plan your next Kiteboarding Adventure.
By now most of you know that the first Sunsail Kiteboarding Flotilla will be this November 5-12 in the Bahamas. I have to say I am pretty freaking fired up for this event as the Abacos are a beautiful part of the Bahamas and the Sunsail 444 Catamarans are absolutely a perfect way to the see them. I am also pretty pumped about the fact that we have some great partners joining us including Nauti Seltzer.
So if you haven't signed up yet you better hurry as I think we only have one boat left out of the six we are taking. If you would like you can follow the link here. www.sunsail.com/flotilla-sailing/kiteboard
Les Voiles de Saint-Barth is far and away one of the best events ever created. The setting is beyond words, the racing is great and usually the company is pretty good too. It doesn't hurt to win for the third year in a row.
This year was exceptionally light air except for day one and thus provided us with two lay days which provided us with more time to explore the waters surrounding the island. I have included a number of pics from Lorient Beach and the reef underneath it was well as our cliff jumping from the cliffs around the corner from Shell Beach.
one of the things Les Voiles de Saint Barth always does well is the media. I love this wrap up video from NautiChannel.
Beautiful first day of racing here in Saint Barths with tight racing between Vesper and Spookie Racing. Spookie won the pin at the start and was able to extend their lead up the first beat. We trailed down the first run but were able to close the gap at the leeward mark they continued to extend up the second beat hitting more pressure and a solid right shift and maintained their lead until the run to Ile de Forchue. Downwind we seemed to do very well with a slightly building pressure and a few good shifts. By the time we dropped our kites at the Groupers we were neck and neck and luckily were able to draw closer line around the rocks to take position on their hip. We held there for a series of tacks when we were able to get in front of them and then lead them back to the finish. Overall it was a fantastic day of sailing here in Saint Barths.
One of the questions I get asked about a lot is how do we move the boats from one sailing venue to another. It is often assumed that we sail them from venue to venue but more often than not we ship the boats on a large freight carrier. Here is a short video of how we launched the boat using the single point lift and a crane from Caribbean Racing Logistics in St. Thomas who we have worked with for years.
Caribbean Racing Logistics offers full service logistics coordination in the Caribbean for Racing Programs with a 90 Ton Crane in St. Thomas.
Having done a number of events in the 52 Super Series over the last few years its great to see the efforts
This has to be one of the coolest videos circling the internet right now. Jean Baptiste Chandelier redefines what is possible as a pilot of a paraglider. I can't say that my Paragliding experience was quite as extreme as this and I think I would have tossed my cookies if it had been.
With the Pacific lighting up with winter swell its no surprise that two incredible videos have come out of Maui. The first is just a free ride session with some incredible athletes, the second is from the Pe'ahi Challenge. Both show the incredible power of this wave and the incredible skill that these athletes and watermen have for being able to interact with such a beast.
I suppose that Autumn is meant to be my slow period but for some reason I have trouble saying no. After 5 weeks in Europe with Team Moneypenny sailing Vesper to 3rd Place in the Cascais Cup and then a First place in Les Voiles de Saint Tropez one would think I might take a little time to chill. But with worklists to accomplish on Moneypenny 601, Vesper to unload in Florida, 11th Hour Racing's CONNECT in San Francisco, the North American Speed Sailing Championships on MVY and a Sunsail trip with my oldest son to the BVI's the Autumn has flown by at a rapid rate.
The Sunsail trip would certainly be the highlight of the fall for me. I have worked with Sunsail on a few different projects over the last year but to be involved with them on this photo and video project was definitely a different beast. Especially since I had my son with me. My son has only gone down to the Caribbean once before and he was only three years old at the time so the opportunity to take him back at age 7 and to spend some direct time with him on the Ocean was very special. He is a total water rat so the idea of spending a week on a boat snorkeling and exploring was a dream come true for him. I guess it was a dream come true for both of us actually. I probably average two trips a year to the Virgin Islands but I realized that I hadn't been down to just explore and enjoy it in almost 10 years - which is crazy. Its easy to see why it is such a popular cruising destination with short sails between the islands and great anchorages and swimming spots. Not to mention watering holes like Willy T's and Potters up at Anegada. Towards the end of the trip I started prying into him to see what his highlights were. Without question he answered snorkeling at the Indians, pretty great choice in my opinion as the Reef is still more alive there than anywhere. My snorkeling highlight would be at the Baths with the perfect sandy bottom and crystal clear water and to watch my son drop down 14 feet with ease. It wasn't so much about the venue but more about watching my son progress and gain a new sense of comfort in the Ocean.
It will be interesting to see the media that comes out from the trip as Tony Demin was there shooting still photography and AeroVest was there with multiple drones buzzing overhead. Their involvement was exceedingly interesting as I had not fully grasped their level of production or their ability to capture this moment in my life with my son. Its something that I will forever be grateful for and certainly there are captured moments that he and I will have a very big laugh about when he is a bit older.
Moving a bit further back into October I was fortunate enough to once again compete in the North American Speed Sailing Invitational. This year was a bit different in that I hadn't competed in over two years and I was going to miss a number of days in order to go to Florida and unload Vesper and participate in CONNECT with the other 11th Hour Racing Ambassadors. This meant that I had to shelve my ego and look at the event as an opportunity to develop my own skills and to see what the top guys were doing. I have to say it was amazing to see the level of guys like Nico Parlier, Max Nocher and Brian Kender were doing. Pushing the new Giant Speed Boards into the upper 40 knot range and riding them like wild men right on the edge of control. For me personally it was great to learn to ride the newly built Temo Vento Razzo 555. It is an absolute beast of a board and takes total commitment to push it above 41 Knots. The first few days I really struggled with trusting the board and myself to push it but by the end I was feeling very comfortable and really enjoying the feeling of pushing it. The other really interesting side of the development which I have just barely scratched the surface of is my new Delta Hydrofoil Speed Foil. Its a mini wing, mini strut little weapon that has the potential for some great speeds as all it wants to do is go fast and its so steady at speed. Without even really pushing it I hit 31 knots and I know it has so much more in it. The one thing that I had a purposely forgotten about the even and that I am going to do try really hard to remember for next time are the crashes. It really hurts to do be going over 40 knots one second on top of the board to going 40 knots on the top of your head. I think my chiropractor is going to have his work cut out for him over the next few months.
So now with all the hectic bits of travel and adventure over and done with for a few weeks its time to keep plugging away at the maintenance on Moneypenny which never stops. Besides its only 7 months until she is back in the water and sailing again and you never know what adventure might pop up between now and then.
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