While the Volvo Ocean Race was in Newport I was fortunate enough to be invited by 11th Hour Racing to participate in the Volvo Ocean Summit. This was an opportunity to listen to such speakers as Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, Knut Frostad and Wendy Schmidt. But one of the speakers that really stood out to me was the Senator's wife Sandra Whitehouse. Sandra sits on the board of the Ocean Conservancy and is a marine environmental policy advisor. I have included the entire video release by the Volvo Group but if you would like to listen to Sandra's speech forward to minute 33.
One of my favorite parts about working with foundations such as 11th Hour Racing and Rozalia Project is that I get the opportunity to go spend time and talk to Students. Yesterday was especially cool as it was my cousin Lee Russell's classroom at the Thompson Middle School in Newport that invited me in to talk a little bit about what I do and more about Ocean Health and Marine Debris.
In the past I have done this in conjunction with Rachael Zoe Miller and Jeff Brock for our Rozalia Project Kite Missions but this was the first time I have gone in by myself which was all fine until a few minutes before and I realized I was a little nervous to talk to 12 year olds for an hour. Luckily 11th Hour Racing had put together a great slide show with me and so the discussion went well. One of the things I always like about these discussion is to see what resonates with the students. In this case it was our brief discussion on MicroBeads. Being that the students are just shy of teenagers I asked how many of them used a face wash that advertised "Exfoliating Scrub" or similar. Nearly all the girls raised their hands. Then I asked him many of them realized they were washing their faces with tony plastic balls. The look of shock on their faces was extraordinary, they had no idea. "That's Disgusting!" was my favorite comment from one girl, and you know what she is right it is disgusting. Overall it was great to talk to the students about how very small changes in their lives can have a huge impact. What if every kid refused a straw? What if every adult passed on the plastic top for their coffee or the stirrer in their drink? Easy solutions like this add up and make a difference and I didn't think about them until nearly as much as I should have until I started working with people like Jenny Lybeck and Alessandra Ghezi at 11th Hour Racing and Rachael Zoe Miller at Rozalia Project. I have a huge amount of respect and gratitude for the work they put in every day.
In the coming year we will be expanding our school outreach programs and hopefully I can keep learning as much as the kids are. Thanks again to Newport Public Schools.
I am sure everyone is tired of hearing about how cold the winter has been, how much ice has been in the harbor, how much snow they shoveled off their roof. To be honest it has been pretty brutal for those who are here stuck here all winter but every once and while you get these glorious days out here and Monday was definitely one for the record books. It's spontaneity made it even better when Nevin Sayre and I pulled into the Squibnocket Beach parking lot at nearly the same time and both responded "I thought you were off island still." Tim Colon on the Skis and Tim Johnson out shooting some photos were right behind and Fin and Raz Sayre joined once they were out of their respective schools.
The last time I was out on the ice at Squibnocket Pond was 20 years ago when my father and I got to skate on it but I had never been able to explore it and rip all over it. The only spot that wasn't frozen over was the North corner where the culvert comes through from Menemsha pond and where there are a few springs. The rest was frozen solid. There was even enough snow drifted up into the dunes that you could ride up into them. With a little more snow and a little more wind the possibilities are endless. Here is a very shaky POV video from Monday. The highlight for me would definitely be towing Fin around on his sled at 35 mph. He fell off a few times but just kept wanting to get back on and encouraging me to go faster. Crazy Kid! I don't know where he gets it from.
One of the great things about Kiteboarding is that there are so many disciplines. As I was finishing up the edit from HydroFoil fun and testing in Antigua I came across this other little edit from last fall. It was the day before Brian and Evan Scall's wedding and Brian and I went over to Chappaquiddick Island for one of the most fun sessions of the entire Fall.
Take a look at the same sport applied in two different ways in two different locations and how different they look. Yet only our boards and location has changed.
Coming back to Antigua is always something special for me. Despite the fact that I have come here countless times for work I still walk off the plane and am transported back to being 4 years old. For me it isn't the warmth, it isn't the drastic contrast of the lush green hills to the grey bare oak trees that I have left in New England. Funny enough its a smell; something between the cactus and palms mixed with the sea and the slight essence of jet fuel. It's funny because it grabs me every time and it always makes me laugh because all of the tourists are filing out of the plane remarking on the heat and there are always a few oohs and ahhs but for me its just the smell.
As is often the case for me this trip has two parts the first part being that I am here to compete in the Antigua Superyacht Challenge. It will run from Friday the 29th of January to Monday February 1st. I will be sailing with Kawil(ex Gitana)which is a 34 Meter(112ft)Sloop designed by Sparkman and Stephens and built at Derecktor's. This will be my first time sailing on the boat but having previously met the permanent crew and knowing most of the race crew it should be a great week of sailing. There isn't too much on the web about the event but most of which can be found here: http://superyachtchallengeantigua.blogspot.com
As is often the case the second part of my trip will focus on kiting. Which will provide significantly less in financial means but significantly more in both the foil development I have been working on with Delta Hydrofoils and in my own development on the water. The last few days since I have arrived I have been able to do a bit of work on shore and then get out and test. For this trip I am working on testing two things: 1. Test the VeeBoard. 2. Test a reduction in angle on the aft stabilizer.
1. Testing the VeeBoard: George Hradil at Delta Hydrofoil is always tinkering trying to come up with any way possible to make his foils the stiffest, fastest and outright best foils available. He literally stops at nothing to try and achieve this goal. His latest concept was to build what he calls the VeeBoard. It's name comes front the fact that is shaped like a V which you can see from the photo.
The idea behind this design concept is that you can effectively shorten the strut length by 5" which in effect stiffens the strut immensely but not compromise the ride height of the board when heeled over upwind. It was definitely a little tricky to get started as the board has significantly more volume and with the large chine it tends to drive itself in the water but once you are on foil it really comes into its own. The large flat chine creates a very predictable upwind platform compared to other boards such as the MHL Custom and the Alex Aguerra. The flat surface allows you to very easily glance off the top of the wave without redirecting you and thus keep your speed up and wobbles to a minimum.
So far I have been able to test against my NorthBound KiteMission buddy Jeff Brock who is riding a Tarroa Sword Foil which is well known as a very competitive foil. Jeff has been putting in a lot of time on the foil in the last month and has been working hard at tuning his gear and has been riding very well on his Ozone Edge 9m. In the past the Delta has always been a click or two higher in pointing going upwind but lacks a touch of speed upwind and two touches of speed downwind. After going to see George and doing some new tests on the angle of the stabilizer and reducing the angle from 3 degrees down to almost 1 degree we found that the board still did 3-4 degrees higher upwind while maintaing the same speed as the Sword as long as I was fully powered on my 9m TS. Then downwind where Jeff had previously sailed lower and faster I now had a very slight speed advantage but the reduction in the stabilizer angle allowed me a much faster ride height adjustment and the ability to bear down on the puffs and overall sail lower and faster than any of the other Deltas previously.
Off for some more testing today and will try to post some videos from the testing if we get some good internet before we start on the water sailing tomorrow.
Very cool to hear that Sunsail Holidays will be a Port Sponsor when the Volvo Ocean Race visits Newport RI this May. I was happy to help Sunsail out by producing this short video for them to coincide with their announcement this past Friday. http://www.sunsail.com/news/volvo-ocean-race
106 Miles in 6 hours and 15 minutes! This establishes a new record for kiteboarding from Antigua to St. Martin which to the best of our knowledge has never been done. Jeff Brock and myself are elated with the success of this mission and have been busy editing the footage. This could not have been done without the huge support of all of our sponsors, friends and family.
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